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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. 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.

          2. What a Post!
            For those about to Rock we Salute you! AC/DC or AH/DA just show up?
            We were at Fraiche a couple of days ago and all we can say is after sampling the food from OSTERIA MOZZA and CRAFT the consensus is that FRAICHE is the hands down winner food-wise!!!! by a mile! (BTW the Exec Chef was not there that night which speaks volumes about how great it really is). Side note: Jenn from Angelini Osteria is handling the Front so expect good things. We are going back "with or without you" U2

            1 Reply
            1. re: russkar

              i thought jenn looked familiar! thanks for solving that mystery.

            2. We had a great meal at Fraiche last night. Ordered Speck and merguez sausage. Loved the chili based dip sauce for the sausage and the smokey speck, which I've never tried before was so very tasty. Caprese salad with green heirloom tomatoes homemade mozzarella and pesto drizzle was very fresh tasting. Mozzarella slightly undersalted which is easily remedied. Main courses Lamb spezzatino with ricotta dumplings. OMG. Food for the soul, that dish. Also had the veal cheeks, which I've never had before. Moist inside and slightly crusty outside and I appreciated the textures and tastes of that.It's a little rich for me but was well prepared. Desserts: a bombolino (like a beignet, dusted with sugar filled with almond cream) with Santa Rosa Plums. The plums will be out of season very soon so that will be off the menu. I loved it but am not a big fan of almond cream so that was my only problem. Panna cotta was fine, but not remarkably better than anything I've tried. Bread at beginning with olive tapenade very good. Overall excellent meal and good service.

              2 Replies
              1. re: MirandazFood

                Your so right! With all the hoopla about Craft & O' Mozza it's hard to believe that Fraiche has risen to the top of the heap? We can't wait to go back, hopefully this week. Can't believe were returning to CC but you never know with the LA Dining scene?

                1. re: russkar

                  Russ - totally agree with your assessment of Osteria vs. Fraiche, yet have not tried Craft, yet the menu does not seem all that compelling in the first place, regardless of whose logo or name is on the menu, etc.
                  Fraiche just seems to bring a breath of fresh air to the menu world which Osteria does as well, yet Fraiche has accomplished more with less notoriety.- T/Perez notwithstanding?!!!
                  Superb space, staff is newish to the business, which can be a plus in some ways, in that that jaded issue with waitstaff that have been in one too many places does not exist.

              2. Did I order wrong? I had the sole, which was just awful. My date's chicken (yeah, I know, chicken is never something I order out but I was starving) was ok but nothing amazing. We had a couple of nice salads but I can't remember them. Should we try again? What to order this time?

                8 Replies
                1. re: djdebs

                  I had the corn soup and the Lamb Spezzatino with Ricotta Gnocchi, & Gremolata. It was excellent. The lamb was so flavorful and well seasoned. I was very pleased. I would highly recommend reservations. I went on a Sunday without them. I sat and enjoyed some wine and was able to be seated in an hour. I wasn't in a hurry, so it was fine.

                  1. re: djdebs

                    I'm with you, DJ Debs! I don't get it. I had the Tortelli with Rabbit, Artichokes, and Sage Brown Butter, all ingredients that I adore, and it did nothing for me. My dining companions were similarly unimpressed.

                    1. re: aching

                      interesting. this was one of the table's favorite dishes. consensus among six. maybe the gap is expectations. maybe an off night. maybe preferences. i always think the pearls are in the differences.

                      1. re: revets2

                        The biggest fault I found with it was that the pasta was egregiously undercooked, and others have said the same - but many others have loved it - which makes me wonder if they just have different people cooking the pasta at different times, some who know how to do it and some who don't! Our table's favorite dish was the farro salad - THAT I would have again.

                        1. re: aching

                          was thinking the same. sets my expectations for the next time we go. jason wasn't even in the kitchen the night we went and it was really good.

                          we didn't have the farro, so we'll try it the next time.

                            1. re: carter

                              Love the farro. The mint imparts a fresh flavor that's not quite evident in AOC's rendition, but both are very good for opposite reasons. The AOC farro is more earthy and, in larger portions, could turn into a meal, whereas the Fraiche version is a wonderful way to start a meal.

                              1. re: SauceSupreme

                                Each time I've gone, I never thought I'd like the farro, so haven't tried it. Now I'm intrigued, and will have to get it next time.

                    2. Overrated and overpriced.

                      Had the farro salad for openers, based on some of the wild raves from this board. Might as well give me a plate of plain white rice. Hello! It was the single most boring dish I've had this year! Where's the flavor? Farro and cherry tomatoes? Big hoopla over nothing.

                      The beef tartare was one of the winners. Can't find any fault with this dish, except that I wanted more of it.

                      The monkfish entree, I found to be again, a bit on the bland side. It was cooked fine, had the right texture, but could have used a bit more seasoning! I guess that's why they give you the little salt bowls at your table. Underflavored and overpriced.

                      The kurobuta pork chop fared better. Good texture and flavor, but still... didn't knock my socks off.

                      Enough with this. Maybe the dessert would be awesome.

                      The banana-chocolate dessert on the whole was way too sweet. There was a bit of glazed baby banana that I liked, but the chocolate ice cream and the other banana-whatever-it-is.... way too sweet. I left the rest on the plate uneaten.

                      The panna cotta was the other winner for the evening, because the custard complemented the most delicious berries that I've tasted in a long while. If the fruit had not been at their peak, the panna cotta would have just been another ho-hum dessert.

                      In the end, I satisfied my curiosity, but I don't think I'll be going to Fraiche again.

                      Completely snooty and overhyped.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: WBGuy

                        Cannot imagine the word snooty would fit the place as the waitstaff is not old enough to have developed such a trait!
                        Will defend the farro salad appetizer as way more than what you mentioned. We know off nights are off nights, yet I have ordered it twice, and loved it both times - but your loves and mine may vary!!!
                        As to monkfish, I find it too boring to order anywhere because of its blandness.