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FARING WELL SUSHI BAR ON THE WATERFRONT OFFERS SEAFOOD, TRANQUILLITY.

Byline: Larry Lipson Restaurant Critic

There's something about lakefront dining that's extremely calming.

A still body of water, shimmering in the sunlight or moonlight, with an occasional boat lazily moving through the water, forms the perfect backdrop for a leisurely meal.

The patio at the Landing Grill on the lake in Westlake Village provides one of the few opportunities to experience this locally.

The Landing is also one of those rare restaurants where the ambience can, to me, be more important than the food.

But, thankfully, the food here, for the most part, ranges from passable to respectable.

The Landing describes its fare as continental and Japanese. So one would expect distinctively artistic arrangements on entree plates. However, this doesn't happen. The expected Japanese aesthetic influence on plate and/or ingredient arrangements only shows up when a sushi order is placed.

But food can still be quite tasty without being handsome.

Probably the best dish out of the Landing kitchen is the seafood chowder ($6), a superbly flavorful bowl of soup bursting with scallops, shrimp and the like, noticeably without one bit of overcooked seafood in it.

In retrospect, this is eminently gratifying because in some instances the kitchen has a tendency to keep its fish cooking a mite too long. Uno, for example, as part of a bento box ($13) meal, suffered from overcooking one evening. However, it was replaced by seabass that was perfect.

Incidentally, the pan-fried seabass entree ($18) appears to be the top recommendation of the fish plates. Perhaps that's because it's harder to overcook.

On the other hand, pan-fried petrale sole ($14), a delicate, usually moist fish that doesn't need a lot of cooking, seems hampered somewhat by its weighty breading.

Although fairly decent anyway and helped by a refreshing diced tomato topping, the sole could really be a dynamite dish with a lighter coating and a little less fire.

From the handful of stir fry items, a shrimp-and-scallop mix ($14), nicely tossed with udon noodles, crunchy asparagus pieces, sliced carrot rounds and fresh shiitake mushrooms, is definitely worth trying.

So is the Creole pasta bowl ($11), a nifty mound of fusilli studded with shelled crawfish, sliced andouille sausage, red and green bell pepper, mushrooms and a smooth Creole-style saucing.

But the saucing may be too sweet and the meat too chewy for some in the Landing's flank steak rice bowl ($12), here delivered with stir-fried vegetables and a small salad. Plenty of meat, though.

Yet, if it's sweetness you want, you'll find it better represented in the sweet and spicy sauce with the half-dozen chicken-stuffed potstickers ($8). This dish, by the way, rates as the No. 2 starter after the seafood chowder.

As for endings, heated apple in puff pastry ($6) with vanilla ice cream gets the nod as a worthy way to end a romantic, evening dinner here.

Even a final cup of coffee will taste better in this setting.

THE LANDING GRILL & SUSHI BAR

Where: 32123 W. Lindero Road, Westlake Village.

When: Open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, for dinner from 4 to 9 p.m. nightly, to 9:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Recommended items: Seafood chowder, stir-fried chicken potstickers, Creole pasta, shrimp and scallop stir fry, pan-fried seabass, hot apple puff.

Children's menu: Three items: hamburger and fruit salad ($5.50), fettuccine Alfredo ($4.50), pasta and butter ($3.50).

How much: Starters and sushi from $2 to $10, pastas and entrees from $8 to $18, desserts from $4 to $6. Beer and wine. All major credit cards.

Wine list: Fair range of selections, mostly well-known labels. No vintage dates listed. No outstanding bargains. Sometimes a bottle listed is unavailable (i.e. Ferrari Carano sauvignon blanc priced at $20). Corkage: $10.

Reservations: Helpful. Call (818) 706-8887.

Our rating: Three stars for food; two and one half stars for service; two stars for wine; four stars for alfresco ambience.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Sushi, front, salads and entrees are featured at the Landing Grill and Sushi Bar.

David Sprague/Staff Photographer
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Title Annotation:Review; L.A. Life
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Restaurant Review
Date:Oct 5, 2001
Words:690
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