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May 21, 2007 04:22 PM

Fraiche - long review w/ some [bad] photos

I have to say I am not as obsessively in love with the place or firmly on its bandwagon as many others are, but I do think it's good.

I had dinner there on Friday at 8pm, so it was full. Therefore it was very loud inside and difficult to converse, which made everyone use their loud voice, which just made the whole place louder – know what I mean? Not desirable but it was bearable. It would probably be much quieter sitting outside, once the weather gets warmer at night.

My one gripe with the design of the otherwise lovely space: probably the most uncomfortable chair in which I have ever sat. The back was a frame with two wood beams crossed in an X, so the X dug into my back in weird, not good places. I effectively could not lean back against my chair for the entire meal. All the chairs were like this, although a handful were actually blessed with armrests (mine was not – which was fine, but seeing others that did have them slightly annoyed me). Seriously – did anyone sit in these chairs before deciding to order them for the entire restaurant?

The wine list is a nice size at 16 pages of primarily French, Italian, and domestic wines, with a good number of others thrown in. And I particularly liked the selection of Meritages that I tend to not see on other wine lists. There was also one page of wines by the glass and one page of dessert wines. However, my friend and I were in less of a wine mood, more of a specialty cocktail mood. So I had the James Bond Melon Ball (organic California watermelon and vodka – came with a long spoon for scooping out the chunks of watermelon) and she had the Yellow Cab (pineapple, Malibu rum?, and something else…). Both drinks were way too strong.

We also had regular tap water, which comes cold and with no ice. We didn’t get our glasses refilled once. I guess once Fraiche has been open for a while this kink will get ironed out. Service otherwise was all very nice and smooth - I was overall impressed with everyone considering the short amount of time it has been open.

I loved the olive tapenade that came with the bread basket...

My friend had 6 oysters to start, which she said were very good, but 2 of them were very small, maybe 1-2 inches, "more like clams."

As my entrée, I got the Rigatoni with Lamb Bolognese. I asked for a large-sized one since it's planned on the menu as more of a small first course. When I got it, it was so not what I would call large at all, which was fine since I wasn’t particularly hungry, but it made me chuckle, wondering what size it normally is – 6 tubes of rigatoni?? It was really good though. The lamb ragu was a bit too salty (which I've seen someone else also note, so I guess it wasn't just me), but still great, hot, and very flavorful, with some wonderful chunks of meat. The dish was pretty much 50% pasta and 50% lamb ragu – so a lot of the ragu, which was wonderful.

My friend’s entrée was the English Pea Sformato – pureed peas with some greens on top, baby carrots, and onions. The pea "cake" was very light, fluffy, and fresh. Me being a total meat eater, it’s not something I would ordinarily ever consider ordering, but now I plan to keep it in mind for next time.

All in all, the food was fresh, tasty, and served in good healthy, i.e. not enormous, portion sizes. If I lived in Culver City, I’d probably be a regular here. But as it is, I will just keep it in mind as a nice light dinner option if I am in the area, and I would probably just sit at the bar. It is a very nice addition to the Culver City dining scene.

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  1. Did the restaurant say what kind of oysters they were serving, or whether it was an assorted plates? Many oysters are longer than 2 inches, but the best oysters available around these parts has to be the kumamoto, which is not usually more than an inch long. Maybe your friend was served those?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Pei

      They did not mention what kind of oysters they were, but the other 4 were like twice the size of the small guys. I will ask them next time...

      1. re: LisaStitch

        Fraiche offers three different varieties each night so, I suspect, your friend got a sampler of two of each. As Pei noted, if kumamotos were in the offering, they tend to be smaller but have a deep, cup-like shell, holding a plump, delicious morsel.

    2. My husband and I tried Fraiche this weekend as well. Ordered the oyesters to start and shared the same comment as your friend. A couple of oysters were a tad smaller than they should have been, but they were still delicious.
      Our main complaint was with our pastas. My husband had the braised rabbit tortelini and I had the pea raviolis. Both pasta dishes had a crunch to them. They needed another good minute or two of cooking before they were al dente. If they had been cooked correctly they would have both been delicious. The portions were on the small side..but the pricing is adequate for the size.
      I chalk it up to the restaurant opening recently. Hopefully they'll iron everything out.
      I will definitely give the restaurant another try. What is nice about Fraiche is that it's reasonably priced. Which is not easy to say for the type of food they serve, and being on the westside. Kind of refraiching.