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Aug 9, 2007 04:09 PM

FRAICHE - culver city

three married couples from WLA, OC, and SGV who love restaurants, cooking, and wine

restaurants, cooking, wine, ponzi schemes, and why people change their given names

- dinner
- browsed culver city farmer's market first for heirloom tomatoes (someone made a GIOIA run) and peaches (for peach margaritas)
- booth in the back near the kitchen
- corkage $15 two bottle max, we came with about a case and a half a wine between the six of us
- terrific wine list with fair prices almost made us not want to open our own bottles
- menus thoughtfully presented on cork board

- we all liked the space and the fact that most of the restaurant opened to the street
- no valet parking (okay by us)
- packed house filled with a well-dressed, age-diverse crowd
- lots o' jeans

- superb, but knew the waiter from PROVIDENCE

- Grand Plateau de Fruits de Mer (2002 Leflaive Vaudésir Chablis, $89 from the list and one Strawberry Sangria to compare the recipe from the LAT, it's definitely not as boozy)
solid chilled seafood (though the base it came on was not) with all the accoutrement, a bit awkward as it was hard for those of us sitting in the booth to stand up and see the top plate. northwestern oysters, clams, mussels, lobster, scallop ceviche, shrimp and calamari salad. most concurred the calamari salad was the best of the lot. wine was a perfect pairing.
- Beef Tartare with Bacon Sabayon, Chives and Arugala (1996 Maurice Écard Savigny-Lès-Beaunes)
served on crostini, bacon infused sabayon added richness and depth, delicious
- Baby Beets with Red Onion, Mâche, Sheep's Milk Ricotta, & Hazlenuts
chiogga beets artfully presented, delicious
- speck with Black Mission Figs, Burrata, & Aged Balsamic
very good quality speck, nice, simple combo
- Boudin Noir with Marinated Green Lentils, Dijon Crème Fraîche
this might have been the tables favorite, all apps nicely paired with our red burg

PASTE - these all seemed to be the most interesting dishes on the menu
- Passatelli in Brodo with Pulled Chicken (2000 Guado al Tasso, Bolgheri)
although good did not live up to the expectations of reviews and raves on this dish
- Tortelli with Rabbit, Artichokes, and Sage Brown Butter
winner! light and lovely, perfectly napped in brown butter, discovered if you flip it over it looks like a fish
- Risotto with Chanterelles, Asparagus, and Thyme
delicious, nicely balanced, déjà vu of octavio becerra's early PINOT BISTRO dish in the 90's
- Pappardelle with Short Ribs, Wild Mushrooms, & Arugala
rich and toothy, would love to have this in the autumn, great pairing with the vino

- Branzino en Papillote with Corn, Purple Potatoes, Leeks and Clams (1999 Cain Five)
great presentation deftly plied back by a skilled server, some of us thought it was a little fishy
- Lamb Spezzatino with Ricotta Gnocchi, & Gremolata
homey, rich, tartness of the tomato base cut the richness of the gnocchi
- Kurobuta Pork Chop with Braised Baby Veggie, Lemon, & Violet Mustard
best of the entrèes, perfectly cooked for some, a little rare for others, seasoning was right on, well executed pork chop, memorable

- Paris-Brest (an array of well pulled, delicious macchiatos, cappuccinos, and teas)
pastry cream filled pastry, couldn't sense the saffron, but could see it, fine, but not a standout
- Boboloni (donut filled with cream)
good, dough was a tiny bit tough
- Torta della Nonna
standout dessert, we could have eaten three of these, few of us commented we were nervous when this was ordered as it is often dry, but this was light, moist, we could have ordered three

total bill for six = $500 w/o tip

considered it better overall than our meal at OSTERIA MOZZA. a real value. great wine list. terrific service. we'd all return.

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  1. Excellent report; I've been wanting to visit Fraiche since S. Irene Virbila's review in the LA Times. Sounds like a wonderful evening.

    1. How were the portions sizes at dinner? I've been a couple of times for lunch and the portions were pretty small. I am by no means a fan of large serving sizes, and I'm not exactly a large person, but I would like to be served a portion size that I don't want to laugh at, especially when it's not cheap.
      I have a dinner reservation coming up, so I guess I'll see for myself, but wondering what to expect.

      1 Reply
      1. re: slacker

        we were warned by the waiter that the portions were not huge, so i don't think we were shocked when they arrived. still, we only ordered one portion of each of the above and we were all rolling out the door.

        speaking for the group, we found the portion size to be very fair for the price. our portion size at O'MOZZA has been smaller than FRAICHE.

        hope that helps.

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. Excellent report; well done! I love FRAICHE. On the strength of its amazing White Gazpacho alone, I would like the place. On the strength of everything else -- save the Kurobota Chop, ours was a tad underseasoned -- the place is one of my Top 5.

          1. now this is a report. well done.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jaydee

              thanks. makes a loser feel better. i lost the coin toss. i'm not normally comfortable reporting so this was written under duress. also forgot to mention that jason was not in the kitchen that evening which is a strong sign for the restaurant.