Ed Driscoll

Interstellar Pseudo-Psychedelic Quasi-Swank Dining

I’m in Los Angeles for a couple of days with Nina, who’s here on Official Pajamas Business.

We had dinner last night at the Encounter Restaurant, which is the “destination restaurant” in LAX — A.K.A., tourist trap, but we knew that going in. It’s done up in a cross between late George Jetson and early Austin Powers, a sort of psychedelic postmodern homage to late sixties swank, before the crushing stuck-on-stupidity of the wide sideburn brown bellbottom seventies came crashing in. (The atmosphere of the remodeled Brasserie in the Seagram building is very vaguely along similar lines, but the food is much better, and the atmosphere much less interstellar — more Ken Adam and Ed Straker, less Barbarella and Austin Powers.)

The Encounter, which first opened in 1997 (as did the Austin Powers franchise, curiously enough) is certainly a fun restaurant, housed at the top of a vaguely Eero Saarinen-inspired circular multistory building from the early ’60s that looks like it could have been George Jetson’s apartment complex. Back then, Saarinen’s architecture was the model for airports — pity that that era has passed. To complete the Jetsons atmosphere, you can hear the psychedelic techno-trance music pumped into the elevator ride up to the restaurant on their Website.

The Encounter’s service wasn’t bad, but the actual food and drink were definitely up and down. My Tanqueray Martinis were great, and in just the right sized glass. Not skimpy, but not a big humungous bucket-o-booze designed to quickly bring on insobriety. But the glass of B&B I had with dessert was definitely underfilled — a small puddle of brandy that looked lonely at the very bottom of its cognac glass.

The Apple Tart dessert was quite good, though. The shrimp and scallop appetizers that Nina and I shared at the start of the meal were dynamite — but my pepper-crusted New York Steak was tough and chewy. Not quite filet of Florsheim, but not too far from it, either.

But all-in-all, for someone looking to kill a couple of hours before a flight, it’s definitely worth stopping by — and certainly beats the food court-style dining so many airports have devolved into.