This past weekend, I decided to drive up to LA to hangout with one of my friends who lives there. Although I try to avoid this place like the plague, I knew that having dinner there would mean we could actually go somewhere a bit off the beaten path. Ultimately, my restaurant choice was more like swerving off the road, falling into a ditch, and driving off a cliff like Thelma and Louise.
Despite the fact that driving past the LA county sign automatically causes me to act like an emotional basket case thanks to the traffic and obscene amount of 40-year-old women in tall black boots, mini skirts, and Botox-dripping faces, my least favorite place in the world does have some really great restaurants.
The Stinking Rose was on a lot of “Must-Go to Restaurants in LA,” articles, and from the pictures of Yelp, it seemed relatively unique and quaint.
Maybe, I could actually get into being a foodie in LA.
After I had a quick five-minute panic attack parking my car at my friends house, we got into a Uber and headed to this “hot spot.” I put the words “hot spot” in quotations, because apparently some bloggers like to throw around this term liberally.
As soon as we walked in, I knew this was way more than I had bargained for. If I had to describe this place in one sentence it would be: A garlic lover’s paradise, complimented by a dash of absurd-ism, realism, carnival-ism, and a devilish nightmare.
When we first walked in, we were hit with the powerful smell of 90,000 garlic bulbs. Honestly, it was strong enough to make my eyes water, but eventually I became acclimated to the garlic seeping into my skin, hair, mental-state, and soul.
“Can you imagine if a guy took you here on a first date?” my friend Paloma asked me.
“They really did not disappoint when they said it was a restaurant full of garlic. I thought it was just a reference to the menu,” I replied, as a waitress with a giant garlic bulb hat walked past me.
The weird thing about this place was that it wasn’t cheesy. It was almost like a hyper-realistic version of a bad dream. Most dreams don’t necessarily make sense, but sometimes they can be incredibly detailed, which makes them feel real.
This restaurant was giving me an existential crisis.
While we waited, we noticed a young lady standing in the corner. And by that, I mean, we saw a stuffed doll dressed like a glamorous Hollywood star lurking in the shadows.
“Garlic Rose likes to have her photo taken with you, but be careful. She’s a delicate girl,” the sign beside this demon-possessed entity playfully teased.
The sight of Garlic Rose made my stomach churn.
Garlic Rose stood at a sickening 4’8, her bulbous head misshapen, and her skin made out of the same material as the Muppets. Actually, now that I look back on it, she looked exactly like Sloth from the Goonies, but with makeup and a dress on.
“Look at that bitch,” my friend said out loud in her thick Mexican accent, staring at Garlic Rose like she did not trust her.
“I feel like she comes alive at night. I’m honestly getting a bit creeped out here,” she continued, still eyeing Garlic Rose down.
Right about then, our buzzer went off and we were seated in a small aisle titled, “Garlic Lovers Lane.”
Garlic Lovers Lane was just a row of indoor black and white striped Parisian-looking tents, but we knew there was more to the restaurant then just this, so we asked to be seated in the main dining area.
The host led us into a floor-plan that included one large room, with two smaller side rooms. The smaller room to the right housed half of a carousel. In essence, the whole thing had a very American Horror Story feel to it.
The interior of the main room looked like the poor man’s version of the Venetian in Las Vegas. The space was filled with more black and white striped Parisian tents and a few booths, while the walls were covered with degenerate artwork and a few autographs from celebrities.
But mostly degenerate artwork.
My eyes focused on a Picasso replica that included two people in a sexual act of sorts, with their pickles and dickles covered up with, you guessed it — garlic bulbs.
I continued scanning the wall, only to find the famous painting “American Gothic” represented by two people with garlic shaped bodies.
Both sides of the room looked like a fake house, complete with a balcony and colored Christmas lights. At the top of one balcony, two three-foot hotdogs were doing what looked like the can-can.
What in the….
In the middle of the floor, there was a sign that pointed in different directions to particular areas of the building, including Dracula’s Way and Garlywood.
Since I have a morbid sense of humor, I found this funny, but there was no time for laughter, as I slowly began getting choked out by the thick garlic smog in the air. By the end of this experience, I felt like I needed an oxygen mask to start breathing normally again.
There were tiny hot air balloons, regular balloons, and clouds hanging from the ceiling.
I felt exposed in this garlic carnival meets Hollywood, meets Dracula’s castle, meets the modern art movement, meets Yoshi’s Story, meets Up, meets Venice, Italy.
By now, my friends should know not to allow me to pick a place to stay at or eat. I’m always going to go for the weirdest experience possible, so that I can write about it later.
Like the time my boyfriend tasked me with finding an Airbnb in Seattle, so I naturally selected one with a strange host and house. The host later sang “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics with his friend who played the cello, and another man who did not know how to play the guitar, but painfully tried. We watched in awe as the least talented of the three kept screaming out like the first man to discover fire.
Back in Garlywood, we were trying to decide what we were actually going to eat from a menu that was saturated with garlic. Garlic was literally in every single dish, including the ice cream.
I decided to get a steak, which ended up being a very poor decision.
The restaurant was packed, and as more people moved in for dinner, it felt nauseating, but an exciting way?
Through this strange lens, everyone looked like some freakish cartoon character. It felt like taking peyote in the desert.
The food was unimpressive, and it was clear that the restaurant was selling an experience, rather than a five-star meal. My steak seemed to have been boiled, which I knew this place was twisted, but boiled steak? That’s just wrong. The good only part of my meal were the two easiest things not to fuck up: mashed potatoes and bread. For $40, I’d say save your money and pass on eating at The Stinking Rose, no matter how much you love garlic and dadaism.
Even typing this is giving me heartburn of epic proportions.
Our last stop of the restaurant was the bathroom, which apparently did not receive any garlic love. It was just a regular old bathroom. At this point, I would’ve given up, too.
Before leaving, I politely told a girl that her dress was tucked into her underwear. Her entire butt cheek was exposed and ready for the world to see. She fixed her dress, gave me a dirty look, and didn’t even say thank you.
Ummm…. bitch? You’re welcome?
I literally just saved your ass. I know I’d bow down and kiss someone’s feet if they helped me not walk around Beverly Hills with my entire butt cheek hanging out, but maybe that’s just me.
We left the garlic restaurant agreeing to never go back again, but that it was an interesting experience. Not one that I’d necessarily recommend to others, but I’ll give props to whoever created the place. I went home feeling like I had enough garlic on my breath to breathe life into a bland pasta dish.
I ended the night by brushing my teeth 14 1/2 times.
Overall review of The Stinking Rose:
Food: 3/10 stars.
Total Overall: 5/10