Here we have the Edison at Disney Springs, Patina Restaurant Group's version of the downtown Los Angeles original – in which, it should be noted, Patina has no stake. Yet Herculean efforts have been made to replicate the post-industrial authenticity of its Left Coast cousin, itself an old power plant rescued, renovated and reanimated in the mid-aughts into a sophisticated and sexy supper club by design/construction guru Andrew Meieran.
The Disney Springs locale is impressively bedecked with working mechanical apparati one can't help but be dazzled by – Birchfield boilers, steam engines and a massive clock tower make for conversational pieces of the highest order, no doubt. There's a stunning mural next to the restaurant's upper-level bar and plush Deco nooks throughout the grand multilevel space. Roaming "inventors" in full steampunk costume seek out the curious to show off their gizmos and doodads – hey, Disney without the kitsch would be like Tesla without the coil. After 10 p.m., the Edison, umm, transforms into an adults-only venue with live music, aerial acrobats and cabaret performers. It's all quite fun and lively, unless you're asked to leave for dressing like a skateboarder.
But what of the inner workings and machinations in the kitchen? For one, the menu bears no similarity to the L.A. Edison, save for the worthy deviled eggs ($12) served over a rasher of prosciutto – which our server pronounced (incorrectly) three different ways. A fresh ahi tuna poke ($16) with pickled onions, toasted peanuts, cilantro and, perhaps, too much pineapple could be passed on in favor a trio of damn fine corn dogs ($13) "dancin'" upright on sticks. Oh, you'll be tempted to order the DB "Clothesline Candied Bacon" ($14) for its extremely Instagrammable presentation, but #resist these overly dark slabs and go for the "Hawkers Box of Balls" ($14), a shockingly fiery serving of lamb meatballs in harissa. The harissa really set our mouth ablaze, so no surprise we saw smoke rising to the rafters soon after we finished it.
- Photo by Rob Bartlett
The source, it turns out, was the bartender on the level beneath us crafting a cocktail with a smoked herbal garnish. But back to the bacon – the "DB" is likely a reference to Top Chef Master David Burke, the man who originally contrived the clothesline arrangement. Burke's cake lollipop tree ($18) also makes an appearance as a dessert offering, though it's a little baffling why the Edison chose to spotlight two of Burke's dishes, seeing as he's not in the Patina family – unlike Masaharu Morimoto, whose signature tamarind ribs are listed as a "patented specialty." Also baffling was all the negative space in the uninspired plating of jumbo lump crab cake ($34). Two puck-sized cakes (not one) sat on a large oval plate with a small mound of green papaya-mango salad, except that mango was replaced by carrots. The forgettable crab cakes themselves were held together by a goopy mustard sauce and a heavy panko breading. A plate of dry meatloaf and gravy ($24) contained very little gravy and more of the advertised spicy ketchup glaze, with a slab of bacon thrown atop the loaf. Mashed potatoes and roasted carrots were the passable accompaniments. A ($19) lamb burger coated in creamy goat cheese, cucumber slaw and tzatziki elicited nary a reaction.
Serving a banana split ($12) in a square bowl for dessert was more annoying than ingenious, and the kitsch returned with a Rocky Road shake ($16) served in a big-ass beaker. The beaker is fun, I suppose, and families will certainly get a kick out of it, but for a restaurant celebrating an era of invention and imagination, the creators of Edison's menu could use a few more light-bulb moments.