Trust Me, It’s Okay To Send Back The Food At The Vanderpump Rules Restaurant

Photo by: Cindy Ord/Bravo.
"You can send anything back that you don't like." That's the first thing my waiter said when I was seated at SUR, the restaurant made famous by Bravo TV's tacky yet delightful, Vanderpump Rules. I was still looking at the drinks menu, and hadn't even considered food yet (although my standards weren't too high), when the attractive, bearded server in the tight white SUR T-shirt leaned further over the wrought iron fence (yes, an indoor fence) separating him from my friend and I, and again casually repeated: "If you don't like what you get, I can just send it back and you can get something else." Basically, he was telling us that our food was about to taste awful, so instead of tipping him poorly, just send the food back, get a new meal and try again. And with that: Welcome to SUR, the Sexy Unique Restaurant that is not that sexy, not that unique, and not really a good restaurant at all. The restaurant is the brainchild of cocktail connoisseur and Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills fan favorite Lisa Vanderpump. The hookups, breakups, and make-ups of her modelesque staff became juicy enough for Lisa to carve out her own piece of the Bravo reality TV pie. Thus Vanderpump Rules was born. The show is now in its fifth season, but back in the early days (circa 2013) the restaurant and bar would have been teeming with familiar faces from the show. Now, it's mostly filled with a random slew of young twentysomethings, surely attracted to the bar-cum-lounge establishment for their chance to make it on the show. And by that I mean, everyone is very good-looking, super nice, and not great at SURving (get it) at all. But that, I discover, is not why people eat there. (It isn't the food either, but more on that later.) I made reservations at SUR (not Pump, because I thought I would have a better chance of catching a glimpse of Stassi or Jax in the wild at the true hub of all things Vanderpump) a week in advance. The day of, I had to move back my reservations by 30 minutes, and the girl on the phone politely accommodated my request. I arrived on time, with my willing friend in tow (she lives in Los Angeles and was curious about the restaurant but admitted she would never, ever go out of her way to dine there on her own), and we were escorted from the first hostess stand in the entryway which, like the rest of the space, was bathed in purple lights — to set the ~vibe~ I suppose. Other than the mood lighting, and a dinky candle in the middle of each table, it was nearly pitch black inside. From there, she guided us through the labyrinth that is SUR. We passed through the main bar area (bartender = not famous), which faced the casual lounge seating for those who were just there to drink, and took a right into the dining area. There, the first hostess left us with another hostess at the second hostess stand. We hadn't taken more a dozen steps, but here we were, being passed off. From there, new hostess walked us to our table, where we sat and took in the trying-too-hard decor, which included huge Buddha statues (straight from Pier 1?) and chairs covered with white cloth that were clearly supposed to look chic, but instead gave off a more "Sorry, we're renovating!" finish. Our table, decorated with wilted flowers, was also right next to a random wrought iron fence — in another life, perhaps, it was part of a patio set. The crowd around us can only be described as Jersey Shore meets How To Be Single meets Nordstrom Rack shoppers. All the booths were filled with groups of women celebrating their tipsy thirtieth birthdays, wearing sparkly cocktail dresses and blowing money on one of the worst restaurants in Los Angeles — but with name recognition, of course. At 9 p.m. on a random Thursday, the restaurant was packed. From there everything is a blur. Not because I was drunk (the drinks were light on the Vanderpump Vodka and heavy, HEAVY, on the sugary fruity mixers), but because the food was SO. BAD. After our waiter's disclaimer, we started accepting the fact that our food would surely taste more like Lean Cuisines and tried to play it safe. The"crispy chicken" is apparently a crowd favorite, which says a lot about the type of people who eat there as well as the caliber of the dishes. We ordered the Golden Beet Salad as a starter. Beets are delicious and good for you, mom was right. These beets, however, were not. They were frozen. As in, hard and icy. As in, I felt like I needed Sensodyne because I got that awkward feeling, like when you bite into a popsicle and every nerve in your front teeth shakes and you wonder if you'll survive. The frozen beets came with a side of ice cold baby kale, crumbled blue cheese, pine nuts, and Dijon dressing. My friend actually spit out a huge bite into her napkin. I guess we had been warned... Although we didn't send anything back, because we didn't want anyone to spit in our food. For whatever reason, we followed up the beet salad with the scallop entrée. (It's warm in L.A. and felt like a good idea at the time, but plot twist: it wasn't.) We split it (for a split plate fee, of course) and it came out pretty quickly. The dish was described on the menu as "cowboy kale quinoa salad with hot cajun scallops." I assume the "Cajun" referred to the red sauce used to cover up the fact that the kale was COLD again. "Cowboy" just meant that the cold kale and quinoa came with cold corn. I was expecting a great (or even decent) meal, and a strong cocktail, surrounded by semi-famous reality stars. Instead I got cold beets, slimy scallops, and a bunch of nobody SURvers. By 10 p.m. the restaurant was a ghost town, and I was in such a rush to leave that I forgot my credit card and had to go back inside, where I was greeted by three smiling hostesses. One of them handed over my card and I smiled sweetly, trying to figure out if at least ONE of them ever appeared on the show. Nope. So did anything good come of this? Food wise: no. Drink wise: nah. Celebrity-spotting wise: nay. But I did like these lights in the bathroom.

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