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DineLA: Cobras & Matadors - Hollywood

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Cobra Pork Sushi

The second location of Cobra & Matadors is a warm, inviting restaurant that invites lingering. Diners share small plates and feed each other delicious bites that are exotic, yet comfortingly familiar. It is hip enough for your most fashionable friends, but cozy enough that you always feel at home.

The DineLA menu provided a wealth of options that made it difiicult to choose. My companion decided to order from the main menu, and I could not resist adding a few more tidbits from the extensive list. To start, we shared the "Bacalao Salt Cod Cakes with Aioli" I will admit to ordering cod cakes only to please my guest. I was pleasantly surprised. Heavy on the potatoes and devoid of any fishiness, the cod cakes were one of the standouts of the evening.

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The main course was a real Sophie's choice. Paella, skirt steak or game hen with guava and apples in a port reduction...decisions, decisions. We finally chose paella, since it's difficult to get a good paella in this town - and Cobras & Matadors is a Spanish restaurant after all. The seafood was delicious, and the spicing was spot on. Unfortunately the rice was gloppy, like a wet risotto.

The desserts did not seem that impressive at first - chocolate cake, churros or french toast. Ho hum. The chocolate cake turned out to be exactly the right choice. It was light, with a hint of cocoa and just sweet enough to satisfy. It was a relief from the cloyingly sweet desserts that have become so popular. The gentlemen at the next table were really enjoying the french toast, and after reading the food forums that seems to be a house specialty. Next visit perhaps.

The DineLA menu would not have been satisfying enough on its own, so we were lucky that we had ordered a number of other favorites. The sweet potato fries were delicious, if a little predictable. I enjoyed the Spanish tortilla, a potato-filled omelette that a Spanish room-mate got me hooked on years ago. The salmon was thinly sliced and had such a nice char it was almost crispy. The artichoke heart and goat cheese croquettes are probably one of the best things I have ever eaten. I never even imagined such a perfect dish could exist. An order of pork rolled with ham and cheese was pounded and fried like a cutlet, but served sliced like a dragon roll - it was an Atkins follower's dream - pork sushi! For me, it was Creosote's last mint - wafer thin - the final straw that made me practically explode. The food was so delicious I could have eaten myself to death like a goldfish.

The ambiance was lovely and the food was exquisite. Cobras & Matadors was like a dream. Unfortunately, it was also one of those dreams where you are invisible, and no one can see you. One of those dreams where you try shouting, but no one can hear you. The only thing that marred the near-perfect evening was the service.

I saw a lot of my waitress. She constantly passed by our table. And passed and passed, eyes straight forward. We were completely invisible. Never once did she glance at the table to see if we needed something. At one point she dropped a dish off and I asked, "What is this?" She mumbled "Lentils" as she whizzed off. We did not order lentils. It took me over five minutes to flag someone down to tell them they had brought the wrong dish. The music was so loud, and the acoustics were such that no one could hear me, including my dining partner across the table. This is tapas, the kind of restaurant where you are supposed to order as you go along, like sushi or dim sum. I don't see that happening with this kind of service. Luckily we had ordered all at once. At one point I finally got her attention to fill my empty iced tea glass. She did not fill my companion's glass, which was also iced tea. I don't think I'm a needy patron; I don't need coddling. But if there is a problem, I would like to be able to get somebody's attention to rectify the situation - someone - anyone.

I will definitely return to Cobras & Matadors. That artichoke and goat cheese croquette is already calling my name. But I might try the original location on Beverly - or maybe Sgt. Recruiter.

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Cobras & Matadors (323) 669-3922
4655 Hollywood Blvd Hollywood, CA 90027

All photos by Elise Thompson for LAist

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