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Tracking COVID-19 at UCLADance Disassembled: Seeing Beyond the Curtain

Culinary Connoisseur: “The Stinking Rose”

By Clara Polley

Feb. 26, 2008 9:03 p.m.

A restaurant that serves a sauce made of 40 whole garlic cloves as an appetizer might not seem like the perfect place for a first date. But for couples or friends who feel comfortable enough around each other to stand some serious garlic breath after dinner, the Stinking Rose is worth a foray to Beverly Hills.

The name “Stinking Rose” is clearly an attempt to upgrade garlic from its simple existence as an herb to a more noble status as a member of the family of the queen of flowers. This restaurant truly embraces the fact that its main ingredient literally stinks, with slogans such as “We season our garlic with food,” and “Have a stinking good time.”

The ambience of the restaurant does not share the overly-stylish, minimalist and cool designs of many hip restaurants in Beverly Hills. Rather, the Stinking Rose indulges in a sort of unabashedly kitschy yet endearing interior design that takes away the pressure of having to act cool, by offering a relaxing and cozy dining environment.

The entrance hall, plastered with endless black-and-white pictures of famous Hollywood stars, fits with the movie-set atmosphere of the restaurant.

An elaborate reproduction of a quaint house facade, complete with a balcony ““ decorated with garlic, of course ““ frames one end of the restaurant, and the ceiling is covered with white and blue clouds and little hanging airplanes attached to strings.

From underneath one of the many red velvet canapes, which grant a semblance of privacy to all guests (See, it’s a date spot!), one looks onto a large wall featuring a giant pastel reproduction of a Van Gogh. In this colorful ensemble, only the waiters stand out with their black uniforms.

The wait for a table and food is not long, and the staff is refreshingly attentive. And you can definitely trust the waiter if he recommends that 40-clove appetizer. Though it looked unappetizing, one bite of pure garlic (on garlic bread) was enough to make anyone a convert. After all, the garlic is what counts here: The restaurant serves up to 3,000 pounds of garlic a month.

Almost every dish on the extensive Californian-Italian style menu contains garlic. If you are brave, try a glass of “Chateau du Garlique” at the restaurant’s bar, a garlic wine with, let’s say, a rather “unusual bouquet” ““ it actually tastes like pure liquid garlic. Do not expect whole garlic cloves in every dish, though. Garlic comes in all forms and quantities. The sizzling shrimp and mussels were served with a viciously tasty garlic dip. Not only was the garlic flavor a good addition, but the seafood itself was well-prepared and fresh.

As for those who are seafood resistant, there are the options of garlic chicken, garlic meatloaf and, for hard-core diners, some garlic ice cream for dessert.

And if you do decide to bring a date to the Stinking Rose, don’t worry so much about the danger of bad breath ““ you can ask for mint drops at the end of your stay.

““ Clara Polley

Email Polley at [email protected]

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