I will preface this review by saying that I am a big foodie here in Los Angeles, and I am a big Top Chef fan, so it would seem The Gorbals would have an instant leg up. However, by the end my wife and I were trying to figure out how quickly we could get our check to escape "The Horribles."
We arrived at 7:30 on a Saturday night and found the restaurant pretty empty, always a bad sign considering this is prime dining time. You could blame that on the downtown Los Angeles location (still an emerging night scene), but places like Bottega Louie and Drago Centro were packed when we drove away. So maybe it is because it is a little early for the "trendier" folks to eat, but not sure that's it either.
In any case, we sat down promptly (thanks to ample available seating). Our server, who ended up being really sweet and attentive, took close to ten minutes to come greet us. After that, however, the service was fast and efficient. My cocktail (a spin on a Moscow Mule) was great and arrived quickly after ordering it.
We then worked through the menu ordering things that sounded good and that the server recommended. We started with the bacon wrapped matzo balls. As a 1/2 jew, I can attest that these matzo balls do not resemble anything I've had in the past, and that's a bad thing. Matzo balls are generally soft, supple and comforting, but these were dense, rubbery, and cool in the middle. The sad piece of bacon surrounding it did not help, and I cannot figure out the garlic sauce that was on the plate.
Next up was the broccoli, the "most popular dish" per the server. It has soy and chili and is flash fried. I certainly got an overly salty/sour taste from the soy sauce, but none of the spice you may expect. As a guy that likes broccoli, this was a miss.
Latkes were next on the menu. I actually liked the latkes themselves, but they were sitting on a bed of applesauce that was "smoked" so it smelled/tasted like a campfire and nothing like apples. This smoke flavor seemed to be a prevailing theme of the food here, and was overwhelming for us.
We then took on the chicken skin "BLT" sandwich. Can't put my finger on it, but it just wasn't good and did nothing for us.
Last up was the welsh rarebit. The bread used was dry, and the edges were burnt, not crisp, but black and burnt. Not good.
Not only do you get all of the above described undesirable food, but you also get the pleasure of venturing into an area adjacent to LA's skid row, so you are surrounded by street criminals as you approach the near condemned pay by the month hotel building where the Gorbals is in the lobby. The Gorbals has no windows, which is probably best so you can at least try to pretend you aren't in such a bad area. Unfortunately, the interior, with exposed extension cords and odd smells, doesn't help take your mind off of the adjacent skid row.
I'm not a boring eater and I'm not averse to going into areas I would normally avoid, but I just don't see why the few people that were there on this Saturday night were there at all.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.