Here Comes a Chez Jay Regular To Set S. Irene Virbila Straight

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What's really changed? Photo: Chez Jay

Fabio Viviani might have let S. Irene Virbila off the hook after she slammed his restaurant and sure, Wolfgang Puck chided her for a senseless star system, but it's fans of Santa Monica stalwart Chez Jay that are making her backpedal. Last week, the L.A. Times critic called the restaurant out for not being the same since owner Jay Fiondella passed away in 2008. This small, but misguided, mention opened the door to a torrent of emails from regulars pointing out that improvements have been made since Mike Anderson took over and that Chez Jay remains "great" and even "better."

While Virbila doesn't exactly apologize for failing to notice the positive changes or labeling the restaurant, which serves a good steak, a "dive," she does clarify, using slang she must be picking up from her rap albums, that there's "No diss intended" on Chez Jay. Who knows when she hung out there last and made such judgments anyway? The eternally rowdy bar surely doesn't seem like her kind of place, no matter how much she says she'd like to "revel in the vibe of the 44-year-old-plus restaurant half a block south of the Santa Monica Pier." And has anything really changed here, where mixology, shiny shirts, and strobe lights have yet to invade?

What next? Is Virbila going to slag off the caliber of talent playing at Rusty's Surf Ranch?

No diss intended re Chez Jay [L.A. Times]