DINING AT MARILYN WENKER’S MA MAISON D’ART: A
RESTAURANT REVIEW BY MARK ROSENTHAL.
(Food *** Service ***1/2 Ambience **** : $$cc)
The old real estate maxim about the three most important things to consider when buying property – location, location, location – is certainly true for Art as well. Los Angeles maitress d’art Marilyn Wenker obviously heeded well that hoary saw when putting together her culinary gallery recently. Art should serve the public and Ms. Wenker served a heaping four courses to hungry patrons eager to sample the rich loft scene that has bedazzled and bankrupted a southland movement already replete with unaffordable space. Bon appetit! And Call my lawyer! Was the musical refrain, and this reviewer has not recalled ever seeing a so generously fed-up crowd dining at the smorgasbord of creativity. The old bistro of Al’s Bar down on Hewitt and Traction, the Rodeo and Wilshire of the Art scene, was marvelously transformed. Eager, leather-panted valets were quick to disgorge the hoi polloi from their German vehicles into the reception room of the banquet. The debilitating ambiguity of the downtown art scene was quickly resolved as diners were asked to choose between art and money as they met the hostess. “Are you here for the art or for the money?” The latter choice won each patron a crisp single unit of American currency and sent them into the heart of the dining room (1000 sq. ft. and good for sub-leasing) where a floor show was already in progress. Madame Wenker made sure that real estate agents were readily available to help connoisseurs with their selections. The fare ranged from a scrumptious ‘Traction on a half shell - $1.50/ sq. ft.’ to a slightly overcooked but nonetheless pungent ‘Sole of Bunker Hill (price varies according to political climate).’ The bar was striking though the bartender couldn’t serve, being under age (this reviewer is confident though that come May his 21st birthday, this petit problem will disappear).
And so the evening progressed. Good advice from Billy Riback, comedian extraordinaire, and a rousing rendition of ‘Viva Las Vegas’ by Phil Lee and Comic Waste kept spirits high and profits higher. “After all,” we were reminded by La Wenker, “isn’t that what Art in downtown Los Angeles is all about?”
Of course, the highlight of the soiree was a moving peroration by well-known patrol Marc Kreisel tracing his own superlative work in the gourmet field of artistic real estate. Monsieur Kreisel has seen it all, as one might say. The glorious passage of the Alameda basin from manufacturing to hobodom to the avante and finally, as it stands now the nouveau chateaux of lawyers, bankers and people who subscribe to Los Angeles Magazine. Ubi sunt? Goes the ancient lament – where are those who came before us? Why, moving down to Crenshaw, Watts and San Pedro, food stamps and all. If Art be the food of Life, the Eat On!
(MA MAISON D’ART: Located at Bank of America; M-S; reservations required. Master Charge accepted. Call your local broker for information.)