Take "cottage" to mean a cozy beach retreat, and you’ll have a good picture of Laura and John Wolfe’s acclaimed bungalow-turned-restaurant in La Jolla, California. Take it as an ironic diminution of an icily perfect Nantucket mansion, and you get the couple’s spinoff, recently opened in Wellesley. With its sky-high ceilings and art-gallery photo blowups, the décor does a fine job of impressing. Nothing during our visit, though, did much to make us feel at home. The music was loud, incongruous ’90s rock; the staff (eagerly vacuuming around the diners well before closing), notably green.
The kitchen likewise came off as indifferent. Instead of the hoped-for burst of So-Cal freshness, our dishes were mostly dull: overprocessed guacamole, underseasoned steak. Though we did luck out with a tangy pineapple-chicken appetizer and a spicy-rich apple-carrot cake, the Cottage needs more than a few menu highlights to lure us back. It needs to put out the welcome mat.
190 Linden St., Wellesley, 781-239-1100.