Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Loving Fraîche Foods
Culver City restaurants are not necessarily known for their chic-ness -- cute and quaint, but rarely chic. However, one restaurant I kept driving past every week looked more like a place where the paparazzi could easily feel at home than a restaurant in my neck of the woods -- not to mention that the valet services blocked up traffic every night around five.
When a friend of mine suggested that we go to Fraîche, I was excited to go to the restaurant that is Culver City's new hot spot--so much so that I was ready to tell off the maitre d' if I couldn't get a table. Though it was still daylight outside, the inner section of the restaurant was ready for the night crowd; an intimate lighting complemented the terra cotta walls accented by paintings of the French countryside. Women were dressed as if they were going to the opera and not to dinner. Next to the open-style kitchen, at least 14 different cheeses held their place of honor. Eager diners watched each plate being brought to the tables and commented -- not so subtly, mind you -- on the beauty of other's dishes.
And the food definitely lived up to the hype.
Sitting outdoors on a gorgeous day in LA, I started with a lovely heirloom tomato salad with avocados, onions and tarragon aioli (pictured above). My appetizer was followed by some of the lightest pasta I have ever tasted -- a four cheese tortelli --ricotta, parmesan, robiola and pecorino -- topped by hazelnuts and cooked in brown butter.
Though I usually avoid carbs like the plague, I ate the entirety of this dish -- and I felt satiated and not stuffed. My beef-eating friend started with a colorful beef tartare and chose the monkfish for his entree, which had a savory, lemony flavor and tender texture.
For dessert, we had a simple cookie platter, but these weren't your mother's Toll House -- each cookie from chocolate chip to macaroon, was intricate, flavorful and well-designed -- the work of Miho Travi, a quality pastry chef.
It was one of those rare restaurant experiences where you are sure to put your next reservation in your Blackberry before leaving. And I did.