That Time I Went To SUR For Valentine’s Day
12:30 pm, February 25th | by Kristie Rohwedder
We wrote about reality television goddess Lisa Vanderpump’s latest business venture, a Bravo spinoff called Vanderpump Rules chronicling the (s)exploits of the young, irresponsible staff at her newest restaurant, SUR. After seeing how little the cast works, we wonder if Vanderpump regrets sacrificing restaurant quality for ratings. This is the tale of one woman’s sad pilgrimage to the mothership.
“I give this show two episodes before youʼre sick of it. I donʼt know how much of this show either of us can take.” – My boyfriend, 20 minutes into the series premiere of Vanderpump Rules.
The season ﬁnale of the instant classic Vanderpump Rules airs tonight. I am devastated. My obsession with the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills spinoff blindsided me. Although SUR (which stands
for “Sexy Unique Restaurant,” naturally) is located approximately 10 miles away from my couch, the show teleports me each week to a world that is so sparkly and opulent and glamorous, I hardly notice that I’m wearing Chicago Bears pajama pants while I watch it.
Vanderpump Rules has catapulted itself to the top of my reality show priority list; the romantic drama between the staff members, the “mactors”, the recording studio sessions, the heart-to-hearts between Lisa Vanderpump and her employees, everything about LAURA-LEIGH, intermittent Ken cameos…get Clooney and Wahlberg in here, because the show is the perfect storm. I (maybe ﬁguratively? Maybe literally?) drool while watching Lisa Vanderpump run her business with a rhinestone-encrusted ﬁst.
You know what else I drool over? Yelp reviews of SUR:
“We had the goat cheese balls- they were cold, the crab risotto was awful and salty, the pork chop was tough. None of it was good. Do not go for the food!” – Lorraine K., 2/19/2013
“I’m embarrassed and ashamed I spent money here.” – Dana R., 1/28/2013
“The room was cold, the decor looked a little cheesy like an upscale dorm room and the food was nothing special.” – p. Marie t. 2/13/2013
“The waitress [sic] aren’t as good looking/sexy as this place makes them out to me [sic]. Face wise they rate on a 5/10 and their attitudes are fake, slow and annoying…The male bartenders are a far cry from Brad Pit [sic] and a step shy from bikini waxing.” – Sandy O., 1/9/2013
“I have had better food on airplanes.” – Gregory G., 12/23/2012
I vowed that I would dine at Sexy Unique Restaurant even if it was the last dime I spent.
Now, I donʼt give two farts about Valentineʼs Day (last year I spent February 14th getting a chipped tooth ﬁxed), but I “jokingly” suggested to my boyfriend that we go to SUR for the holiday. Because our bond is special and true, he understood that I wasnʼt joking at all, and made a reservation. I was beside myself. My imagination went into overdrive, and I created the following list of expectations:
- The only cast member weʼd see would be Tom Sandoval
- Lisa Vanderpump would do a walkthrough and check in with every table
- Laura-Leigh would be our server
- The entire cast would be there and there would be a meet and greet
- There would be pictures of Giggy everywhere
- Lisa Vanderpump would ask me if I would like to be Giggyʼs dogsitter
- The food would be terrible
Spoiler alert: only one of the above expectations came true. Dream a little smaller, Rohwedder!
A week before the BIG DAY, my boyfriend received the following email (slightly edited by yours truly):
Get ready to celebrate the dumbest holiday of the year at the most ridiculous restaurant in town. BTW, we need a 50% deposit now to conﬁrm your reservation. Print out the attached dinner application, ﬁll it out, and fax it back, because eating at SUR is definitely more like work than recreation. If you try to PayPal money over to us, youʼll be sorry.
Also, we have a pre fixe menu, and everything on it looks mediocre at best, as weʼre banking exclusively on our reality show notoriety at this point. But youʼre an idiot who will shell out a ridiculous amount of money and fax a piece of paper with your credit card information on it to the same place where ex-meth addict and admitted thief Laura-Leigh is employed, so we’ll see you soon!
Vanderpump Valentine’s Day arrived. We were so nervous. We rolled up to the restaurant a half hour early, because we respect greatness, and decided to sit in the lounge. And by “sit”, I mean cram our butts into the TINIEST plush arm chairs Iʼve ever seen. The chairs could not have been more than 2 feet tall. When I moved to stand up, I thought I was going to be stuck for eternity. I imagined a life with a tiny plush armchair stuck to my body. The greatest obstacle would be driving, so Iʼd have to ﬁgure something out.
Paired with the miniature chairs and table were Amazonian servers and gigantic menus. I am short as it is, but the combination of tiny furniture, six foot tall waitresses, and atlas-sized happy hour menus made me feel like the smallest human on earth. We sat for 30 minutes and admired the decor, which can only be described as “Z Gallerie on bath salts”. If you want to see enough tiled backsplash to nauseate Candice Olson, SUR lounge will be your bread AND butter. So many mirrors, rhinestones, velour, shiny surfaces, and faux antiques in my eyes at once. At one point, the television over the bar showed an image of a bunch of bloodied, dead bodies before it switched to a shot of a modelʼs face. Okay.
When it was time for our reservation, we were led to the restaurant side of the building. If you watch the show, you may have picked up on the winding, cramped layout. Walking through the place was like being on the Indiana Jones ride; no giant snakes, but lots of twists and turns. We were seated at a table on the patio, and as we walked by the main dining room, I saw it: Stassiʼs hair pulled into a perfect top bun. I verrrry subtly indicated my sighting to my boyfriend, but he was in a state of distress. He thought I had imagined Stassi, like an castaway on a desert island hallucinating a freshwater stream. We had yet to see ANY cast members, and he was convinced this was the biggest scam since Jimmy Cooperʼs ﬁnancial planning company.
I sat facing the front door, and my boyfriend faced the glass door separating us from the main dining room. His face went white. He sent me a text message: “Lisa Rinna is sitting behind you.”
Our server approached us. He was not a cast member, but he was very nice. He gave us the menu, which was two feet tall — as large as the aforementioned arm chairs — and covered in velour and a cross made of rhinestones. We perused a list of underwhelming-sounding appetizers, entrees, and desserts. I asked what the “Starlette Cake” was, because it sounded sort of exciting, and our server said the words “sugar free, fat free” and I starting shaking and barking “Nope nope nope,” so he suggested that since I was “splurging” I should order the “amazing” blackberry cobbler instead.
“It has ice cream on top,” he said. Sold!
Another server brought over our appetizers. My boyfriend ordered a vegetable soup, but it came out as a yellow puree. He politely told server #2 that he did not order the lobster bisque, which this soup clearly was, and server #2 proceeded to then pick up the bowl, SNIFF THE SOUP, and say “Yeah, this is the vegetable soup.” My boyfriend quietly ate the lobster bisque that he didnʼt order. My salad tasted like a pile of balsamic vinegar, so thatʼs where I was at.
At this point, my boyfriend hinted that I should “go to the bathroom” so that he could take my seat and ﬁnish my “outstanding-looking” salad, and then I could take his seat so that I could watch the magic unfolding behind me in the main dining room. This was the most romantic gesture in the history of the world. I shamelessly stared through the glass door at Stassi waiting on Lisa Rinna. I saw Kristen Doute walking around (SHE IS SO TALL), the Vanderpumps’ son bussing tables, and their business partner Guillermo chatting up patrons. I felt like I was in a dream.
Our entrees arrived, and they were fine. Then my boyfriend went rogue; he got up from our table, walked into the dining room out of my line of vision, and a minute later I received the following text: “Asked Stassi where the menʼs room is, ya bish”. My knuckles went white from gripping the table so tightly. My boyfriend engaged in potty talk with Stassi Schroeder, Reality TV Superstar. He later informed me that she was very nice. Warmed my heart.
Speaking of warmed hearts, our dessert arrived: a white porcelain cup holding a scoop of ice cream. What lay beneath the ice cream, you ask? A pile of room-temperature blackberry ﬁlling atop a thin crumbly crust. Iʼm no expert, but I think they scooped all of the berries from the bottom of a Dannon cup, put it in the microwave for 20 seconds and then put some ice cream on top. I am not picky about dessert, but I could only manage to eat maybe half of this nightmare.
The check was brought out, with a service charge already included. Thanks for assuming we donʼt know how to tip properly/we wouldnʼt tip at all, SUR staff. We might not be dripping in diamonds and furs, BUT WE CAN DO MATH.
My boyfriend suggested we walk back through the restaurant/lounge to exit, rather than using the door right by our table. So we walked through, giving the madhouse that is SUR one last lingering look, and then we were face to face with Jax. The colors of the room swirled and before I knew it, I was crawling on all fours on a velour-covered merry-go- round and the other people in the restaurant turned into rhinestoned lizards. Jax was working at the restaurant bar. We tried to act like we didnʼt know who he was, but I know our faces were dead giveaways.
We exited the restaurant, walked to the car, and rehashed the night during our entire drive home. The food was not good, the atmosphere was a sensory assault, and I saw Stassi and Jax in person. It was a perfect Valentineʼs Day. Lisa Vanderpump, you are a genius.