• Real Food Daily: Why do I bother?

    May 11th, 2009mr meanerLA restaurants, real food daily

    Let me set the stage. One of my most critical and trusted vendors (whom my company spends a lot of dollarz with every month) invited us out for a “nice dinner in West Hollywood” with him and his wife. After I suggested a few low-end vegan-friendly places, it was clear that he wanted to take us somewhere “much nicer”. Randomly, I suggested Real Food Daily, and he said “My wife went to the one in Santa Monica and really enjoyed it. I’d love to go there!”. So, it was with much delight that we met up for dinner.

    From the minute we were seated, it was clear that we were unwelcome. Each time our server approached the table she just began to ask her questions with NO preamble, loudly interrupting our conversation in such a rude way. She clearly wanted to turn the table as fast as possible, and rushed us through the ordering (clearly, we were not all ready to order). Rather than go away and come back she stood by our table looking fed up while we all placed our orders. We started with some nachos – which were pretty tasty and arrived within about 2 minutes of us ordering them (probably because they were a pre-made popular item in the kitchen).

    About 5 minutes after the nachos arrived, two servers showed up with our food, and started shoving it down in front of us, moving our nacho plates out of the way or (in my case) removing it entirely, even though I was mid-bite. One guest at the table grabbed her nacho plate and was left holding it with nowhere to set it down after the entrée plates were delivered to the tiny four-top.

    TV Dinner: Tempeh vegetable loaf, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables. $13.95

    TV Dinner: Tempeh vegetable loaf, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables. $13.95

    While the food was “OK”, it was VERY bland. There’s not one distinctive taste in any of it, and my choice (the TV dinner) I could prepare at home for a lot less than $14. During the brief time we spent there, our server never had eye contact with us once, the environment was so unpleasant that we could not wait to leave and the food so overpriced (with necessary “extras” costing $3 or more ON TOP OF entrées that were pushing fifteen bucks. One exception was the “Taco the Town” tacos, which got rave reviews.

    Tac-o' the Town: Seasoned seitan with onions, peppers, guacamole, pico de gallo, tofu sour cream, Spanish rice, black beans. $14.25

    Tac-o' the Town: Seasoned seitan with onions, peppers, guacamole, pico de gallo, tofu sour cream, Spanish rice, black beans. $14.25

    To my utter embarrassment, the person that invited us there, and paid for the meal had only a couple of bites of his food. I asked him if everything was OK, and he said “well, it seems to be all bell peppers and rice – not very good at all”.

    I’ve always disliked RFD, even after giving it many, many chances to succeed for me. There are no positives in my mind, but plenty of negatives: Rude staff, indifferent service, expensive and useless valet service, expensive and bland food, cramped tables crammed together, pre-made food that arrives WAY too quickly for it to be freshly prepared, an atmosphere of omnivores “trying” vegan food with vegan/trendy/vegetarian friends and a general shitty vibe about the entire place.

    I was terribly embarrassed that I suggested RFD as a dinner location for somebody generous enough to invite us out, and drive all the way from Santa Monica with his wife to spend time with us. I HATE RFD, and I will NEVER go back, EVER. Fuck their brunch, screw their servers that rudely interrupt conversation and damn to hell the fucking valet that left me standing there for 10 minutes in awkward conversation.

    Real Food Daily
    414 N La Cienega Blvd
    West Hollywood, CA 90048
    (310) 289-9910

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34 responses to “Real Food Daily: Why do I bother?” RSS icon

  • if you already know that you hate a restaurant, why suggest it for an Important Business Meeting?

  • That tempeh and gravy plate looks truly nasty.

  • Greg – it wasn’t an important business meeting. I’d never have taken a risk with that awful place! The point is that I keep giving RFD a chance to impress but it never does.

  • Michael Natkin – it was bland!

  • The only things I really like there are the nachos and the reuben with a caesar salad. I’ve had other items which have all been “blah.” The reuben is enough to keep me coming back, but I’m planning on trying the reuben at Follow Your Heart and Flore in the near future.

  • The Santa Monica location is cramped & has serious fly problem upstairs that they can’t control, (think Amityville Horror) as for Weho I agree & had similar experience the last two times I was there.Haven’t eaten @ RFD in 3 years because everything about that place sucks! If your pay those prices go to Madeline Bistro.

  • their reuben is #2 on my “worst reubens” list, the waffle is #1. and the waffle is really only up there because they lie and it’s not really vegan.

  • As much as Madeline Bistro is slagged on this site for non-food related issues it is light years better than RFD. As far as the westside is concerned Native Foods has no ambiance but the food is great.

    We have no Millennium like restaurant in LA. We need one.

    SF has Millennium, Greens, etc.

    Hopefully Madeline Bistro opens their Westside/Hollywood location sometime in the next year or so. Most Vegan places in LA are super casual.


  • Jamestown James

    For some reason I found reading this incredibly stressful

  • Jamestown James- You think reading about RFD is stressful, that’s what the dining experience is like except your paying money for it

  • I have exactly the opposite experience when we go there. First off, it’s immediately obvious that my husband and I are SO NOT the hipster hollywood types, and yet we always are greeted and served with cheer and nothing but perfect friendliness.

    Our experience is SO opposite yours (and many people’s) that I have to wonder if you all walk in with “This place sucks!” t-shirts on or something. It’s just such a radically different description – I mean we’ve gone dozens of times and even at peak hours with celebs in da house.

    As for the food – well, I suppose that’s subjective, but I can’t say it’s bland at all. Then again, we’re pretty used to eating very simple unadorned home-cooked food most nights, so when we go to RFD, it’s really a flavor orgy when we get something like the TV dinner or salisbury seitan. I do have to say that we have the RFD cookbook and have made many of our favorites at home and they invariably have *even more* flavor when made at home from scratch.

  • I’ve been an RFD fan for over 10 years, but I really don’t eat there often and I rarely stray from my few “usuals” that I really love. I don’t even remember my last RFD trip. I agree that their food is overpriced and am dismayed at the service you received the other night. Food shouldn’t be slapped together in 2 minutes and thrown on your table, only to be cleared 5 minutes later (looks like you need a balance between 2 minutes and the 40 minutes you experienced at Sante!). RFD should be grateful to still have so much business with the plethora of vegan restaurants available to us in LA now and should reflect that gratitude in their service. I hope it was just a temporary glitch in the system when you were there the other night.

  • ballookey: I guess is depends what you’re used to. I keep going back to RFD after reformatting my brain with a new set of expectations, and every time they have let me down. I’m shocked how you could refer to RFD’s menu as a “flavor orgy”… I mean, few people actually admit to liking the food there and it’s deliberately middle of the road so as not to offend anybody.

  • ballookey- First off I had RFD cater my wedding 5 yrs ago, soon after IMO things started to slowly go down hill, much like Mr Meaner giving them chance after chance, we stopped going 3 yrs ago so I’m not jumping on any “bandwagon” As for the “flavor orgy” comment: all I have to say is you need to get out & try other L.A. veggie restaurants.

  • When it comes to bad restaurants like this, it’s important to spread the news to other vegans on sites like yours and http://www.rawpeople.com/?utm_source=A&utm_medium=B&utm_campaign=C so that people can avoid places like it. Your pictures gave me a tummy ache!

  • I’ve had every bad thing in the book of bad things that can happen at a restaurant happen to me at the WEHO RFD, its like its run by angry invisible gnomes that recognize me when I walk in the door and begin ruining my meal. I have only had 1 or 2 lousy meals at the Santa Monica location and have known a few of the people there for over 7 years! Never been rushed there or anything!

  • On the one hand, I keep hearing rave reviews from friends, especially about their brunch. On the other hand, I keep reading crappy/mixed reviews online about EVERYTHING @ RFD! Hm, Quarrygirl is my trusted source for all things LA & vegan…

  • RFD has always been overrated. I never understood that place. So many people are so horny about the food there… it’s just okay.

  • I suggest you take their name of your list of restaurants. Don’t give them any form of advertisement. Out of site, out of mind. We also HATE RFD.

  • We were at RFD for my birthday a week ago. We got the nachos, which although pricey, are delish!

    My first trip I thought I’d be healthy and get steamed veggies, but yes, VERY BLAND and no real salt and pepper. Just that weird salt/sesame in a jar.

    This trip I got the Enchiladas which were actually quite good! Their mashed potatoes are ok but my husband loved them. We definitely don’t go and won’t go often. Being kosher though, it beats many of the trashy grungy kosher spots in the Jewborhood. We stick to Vegan and Veggie places.

  • i live in santa barbara (NO vegan restaurants at all), so a trip to LA would be made all the better with a trip to rfd. but it’s so damn hit-or-miss. sometimes food is great and service sux, sometimes the opposite. really, though, once they changed the menu, raised prices, and made me pay extra for a side of salad… kinda hard to swallow. and now after perusing through this blog and to live and eat, i’ve made a master checklist of other restaurants that i want to try. and my boyfriend and i are boycotting rfd in favor of all new places. that cost less. and are nicer.

  • I actually became ill from the mock sour cream once their about 8 years ago.. my friend Gena was working their and within minutes of leaving, I literally had to pull over to heave.. I called to tell her so they would stop serving it or go check it etc.. her manager overheard her talking with me and immediately got on the phone.. it became apparent really quickly that he was only concerned that I was going to cause problems or demand something.. I told him I just wanted to let them know so they could stop serving it and so no one else would get sick.. he actually manuvered the conversation around to say, maybe I had eaten something earlier and it was a reaction to this in my stomach.. really ?? it was quite unbelievable.. once he finally realized I wasn’t going to make trouble, as in calling someone else, he proceeded to offer me a free meal.. I politely declined and told him it wasn’t necessary.. what I didn’t tell him is that I wouldn’t be coming back, ever.. Gena called me later on that evening to tell me that someone else not more then an hour after me complained of a stomach ache and actually threw up in the RFD bathroom.. she quit about a week later and I still have never gone back..

  • compostbutt- here is a link to some vegan/veg/raw places in SB


  • I love Real Food Daily, and go there fairly often. I’ve never experienced service like this post suggests, but I also only go to the one in Santa Monica. I’m rarely disappointed with the food, usually loving any special that I try, and some of my favorite vegan dessert experiences have been at RFD. I’ve also taken quite a few non veggie vegan types there, who were surprised at how much they liked the food.

  • Yeah RFD is either bland or disgustingly over flavored the only decent things they don’t mess up are the baked deserts. I keep trying to give it a chance too, but on my last visit I made the mistake of getting the milk shake which they load up with ice(who the hell makes milkshakes with ice? It’s ice cream and soy rice or coconut milk with whatever other flavorings mixed in) anyways it of course was the worst I have ever had.

  • its all about the Santa Monica location, seriously if I was in LA right now I’d use a flip camera and secretly video tape going to both locations and ordering the exact same thing at the exact time / day just one week apart, you’d see how the waiter or waitress at santa monica is so great, remembers me always, food always rocks, substitutions are perfect (blackened tempeh in the burrito, etc) then I’d go to WEHO and get a cold plate of food, my roseberry tea would never be refilled, the waitress would be invisible and i’d probably have another scrub brush in my food…

  • i agree that the staff and service is much better in the SM location. the real food daily burger with the works is the best thing on the menu by far. their deserts are always lacking, but the size of the burger with the potato salad means there’s no room in my belly by then anyway. sometimes the specials are amazing. the brunch is pretty good – esp the scones and muffins. it’s kinda hit or miss, but what vegan restaurant isn’t?

  • My boyfriend and I went to the WeHo RFD about a month ago and had a pretty good experience. Granted, we go very rarely (it IS a bit too pricey – the last time was a year ago for my BF’s birthday), but we had a terrific waiter. However, while it was busy, it wasn’t crowded busy and I think that definitely makes a difference with this restaurant.

    I love their millet and quinoa, but was disappointed by their mashed potatoes and gravy.

    There are other places in L.A. that I prefer, though, which is why we frequent them much more often.

    BTW, thanks for this website. I’m familiar with a fair amount of vegan/vegetarian restaurants in L.A., but it’s always great to find more.

  • I’ve been to RFD a total of… 4 times. And not once have I been disappointed. But that’s only 4 times. The first time was super busy dinner time and our waitress was nice and helped us decided because we’d never been there. Being Vegan, I like to eat at home rather than spend money on expensive food. We didn’t get any of her suggestions. I got the… I wanna say Club Sandwich.

    The second time I went, I’m pretty sure I got the club sandwich again. Just as good as the first time. Server took kind of a long time, but whatever.

    The third time was my last day in LA. I was moving to Boston. I saw someone order the Burger and it looked good. So I got it. And I had dreams about this burger for the entire month after I moved. We even got the hostess cupcake thing. Oh. My. God. So damn good. And we got the Raspberry Chocolate Cake that was equally delicious.

    The 4th time was Easter Sunday when I was back in town for a wedding. I say outside, by myself and read a magazine and ordered that delicious burger again. I wish I had one now… I sat there for 2 hours probably, reading and eating slowly. I wasn’t rushed. The waiter was nice. And it was all in all a good relaxing meal.

    I’ll have to go back and see if they can go 5 for 5.

  • I had forgotten all about RFD until this review and decided to go there Tuesday night with a buddy of mine. I don’t know what everyones bitching about but I liked it. Our waiter was very entertaining and the nachos were amazing. People always find what theyre looking for. I came in looking for a good time, and I had it.

  • Wow, that hasn’t been my experience at all at RFD, and actually their Taco Plate is one of my favorite dishes at any restaurant I’ve ever visited. I seem to have only eaten there at lunchtime when it’s relatively uncrowded – maybe they collapse under pressure.

  • I agree, people always find what they’re looking for. If you go into a place expecting the worst, that’s probably what you’re gonna get. Servers can sense your energy and don’t enjoy waiting on people with preconceived notions. Every time can be a new experience. I love the food there, and many of the servers at Weho. Reading this review WAS painful, and clearly written by a very angry person. Isn’t veganism about love?

  • i thought it was just me. RFD sucks. id only eat the nachos as a last-minute-work-lunch.

  • I agree that RFD can be hit or miss with the food, but I know the menu so well that I know what not to order. (Don’t ever get the burger. It’s disgusting!) I know that no other restaurant has a club sandwich or nachos like RFD. (I think the M Cafe club is downright gross, and the nachos at Follow Your Heart get a shrug and an “eh”.) I try to never go to the WeHo location. Santa Monica is where it’s at for the service and the atmosphere. Now that they have the bakery side there’s a lot more seating. Not to mention a tantalizing case full of vegan goodies! Still a little cramped, but every restaurant is on this coast. I agree the pricing is a bit outrageous, especially since I also come up with my own concoctions which end up costing way too much. For example, the Mexicali Chop done my way (add cashew shredded cheese and blackened tempeh) ends up costing close to $20, which while delicious, is so not worth $20. As far as the brunch, my husband and I dig their pancakes, french toast and waffles. Yes, they have vegan belgian waffles now. Totally yummy! And they also just this month put a to die for “Sea Cake” on the menu. It’s $8.95 for a tiny little crab cake type thing, which you won’t want to share, but it’s soooooo good! So, I’d say try RFD again, but forget about the WeHo location. Go to Santa Monica, and if you can get Manu to be your server, you’ll be way stoked. There’s a bunch of other great servers there too, but Manu takes the cake and has been working there for years and years. He knows all the best ways to tweak the menu items so that you’ll have an eating experience you’ll be happy with (he will also be totally honest about what is good and what is not so good on the menu, so make sure to ask if you’re considering trying something new). It will still hurt your wallet, but you might feel a little better about it. 😉

1 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  • […] i’m not gonna lie, there is a down side. the club at RFD is expensive as hell. i mean almost $14 for a sandwich and a small side salad?! that’s practically highway robbery. the thing is just so damn good though, i’d be lying if i said it didn’t deserve to win. it’s also worth noting that i got my sandwich to go, as eating in at real food daily can be an extremely unpleasant experience. […]

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