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Sep 13, 2007 02:16 PM

Fraiche, Culver City - Review

I ate at Fraiche in Culver City on Tuesday night after hearing a lot of hoopla about it. It was fairly difficult to get a reservation at a decent time and so i picked a tuesday night and was able to get in at 8.15. Upon arriving at the restaurant at 8.15 we were told that our table was not yet ready and that we needed to wait for a few minutes. We waited for about 10 minutes and then we were offered a table that stands on its own, kind of in the middle of the dining room. We asked the hostess if we could wait for a better table (since we had our reservation for 2 weeks) and were told that we would have to wait a little longer. After waiting a while longer we were offered a table outside and told that although we wanted an inside table, that would take a long time, so we should just sit outside. Needless to say the night was not starting off on the right foot.

After sitting, our waiter approached and asked us if we wanted "tap water" or if we wanted to buy a bottle of water. Although i appreciate the question being asked, it was asked in such a way that picking "tap water" was akin to asking for toilet water. Im a person who generally drinks bottled water anyway, but i dont really like it when the wait staff snobs the tap water option.

The next time we interacted with our waiter was when he came back to the table and said "do you know what you want?". No pleasantries, no smiles, just a "do you know what you want?"

Finally we ordered and our food arrived. I must say that the food was quite good. I started with the beef tartare which was quite good and then had the pork chop, which was cooked perfectly and delicious. My guests also found their food to be quite good.

In conclusion, I think that the food at Fraiche is above average and were it not for the unfriendly attitude of all the people working there and the snobby-LA club-type waiters. As it is, I think there are plenty of good restaurants in LA where one can go and get both a good meal as well as friendly, polite, professional service. Its a shame that I wont be going back, because based solely on the food the place is good...but there are too many good places in LA to waste your time, money and energy on a place where they act as though they are doing you a favor by letting you pay them to eat their food.

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  1. I think you were doomed once you moved outside. Kat works inside and she's absolutely delightful.

    It's a shame, also, that you won't be going back, because the front of the house attitude is far easier to fix than if the back of the house were putting out bad food, which from your comments, Chef Travi and Co. were doing quite well.

    1. Thanks so much for the report...

      And sadly I think that is the common thread of all the new 'big' Culver City Restaurants. We'd had just really cold service in all of them. Heck my very proper New England FSIL was ready to slap our water at Fords for a similar exchange to one you had...


      1. Did you make your reservation through OpenTable dot com? If so, the comments section is a place where table requests should be made as well as any other thoughts regarding your pending reservation, such as noise, temperature, etc.
        Do yourself a favor and try it again, requesting a specific area, inside or outside, etc. now that you know the lay of the land, and even request Kat if you feel that might change your feelings regarding the place.
        I go there from Sherman Oaks, as I feel it is one of the better restaurants to open this year where the $$$ are not over the top, and there is some value pricing going on.
        As to the waiters, most of the ones I have seen are almost too young/inexperienced to be the haughty/snotty club-types.

        6 Replies
        1. re: carter

          I agree. Fraiche is really one of the best new places for the money. The food is excellent and the service, while occasionally lacking is usually good. I don't really find calling tap water by it's commonly used name snobby, and they did offer a table inside within 10 minutes of the reservation time.

          1. re: carter

            Thierry Perez apparently does not, or did not, release prime time dinner reservation spots to OpenTable. I thought it was a little bit strange that I couldn't find any primetime reservations on OpenTable at all, so had to call the restaurant and found there were plenty of primetime slots available, just not released to Opentable. I had to call again to expand my res for an additional 2 people and got some grief from TP.

            With one exception, my experience with their service has been good, not excellent. That exception was for a lunch, their second week of lunch service, when we got that distracted waiter that some others here have experienced; I haven't seen him since.
            Everything I've eaten there has been quite excellent except for the duck leg confit, which was under seasoned and dull.

            1. re: slacker

              Many restaurants only list a small portion of their tables (primetime or otherwise) on Opentable, I would imagine this is the case with Fraiche as well.

              1. re: hrhboo

                Fraiche had released NONE of their primetime dinner spots to Opentable, not just a portion, none.

                  1. re: slacker

                    Maybe they changed their policy. I booked prime time on Father's Day on Open Table.

            2. I went a couple weeks ago. My brother-in-law went to culinary school with the pastry chef and therefore knows Chef Travi too. I have to say that we were all underwhelmed. Maybe we ordered the wrong things, but none of our entrees were "great". I agree that it was above average, but only slightly and I was definitely expecting more. As far as service goes, not good at all. Our meal dragged on for close to three hours! Fraiche seems to get mixed reviews. I don't think I'll make an effort to go back. It's too bad too since I live within walking distance and the restuarant is beautiful.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jessisthebest11

                My girlfriend and I dined at Fraiche last Friday night. We didn't have a reservation and arrived around 9:00, thinking it shouldn't be hard to get a table. We were told there would be a 45 min. wait. We were a bit surprised it would be that long, but didn't really mind since we weren't in a hurry. We ended up putting our names in and then walking around the corner to Bottle Rock for a glass of wine while we waited. I'll be posting a seperate review on BR if anyone's interested in checking that out. Back to Fraiche... wandering back after about 40 min., we found there were still not tables available even though it appeared there were some seats open. We ended up grabbing a table in the bar and I think it turned out to be better in the end since it was in the corner and nice and quiet. Oh, forgot to mention the attitude we got from the hostess when we arrived. Had to do everything, but jump up and down in front of her to get her attention. I can't believe restaurants hire these types. You don't have to be a very good judge of character or stand around the front door for too long to notice it. Reading the other entries, looks like I'm not the only one with this opinion...

                The food... we started out with a 1/2 dozen kumamoto oysters, which were very good. Portions here didn't seem too big so we next opted for the warm mushroom salad, steak tartare and steak frite. We thought the food was quite good and will definitely go back. We had a very good/nice waitress in the bar so luckily for us, the hostess wasn't indicative of the entire wait staff.

                If you're not in a hurry and are anxious to try a new place with some good food, I'd recommend Fraiche. I agree with one chowhounder who said it's easier to change front house staff than change the quality of the food.

              2. I had a very similar experience. My husband and I had been to the restaurant once and loved the vibe. Couldn't wait to return and since we were going out of town, we made another reservation for three weeks later. We arrived on time for our reservation on a cold and gloomy rainy night. The hostess was rude and refused to give us an indoor table even though there were open tables inside. "They are reserved," she said and added that if we were willing to wait 50 minutes for one we could "be her guest" -- or something equally obnoxious. We thought that's what reservations were for--to reserve a table. Obviously not at Fraiche. We are middle-aged -- the outside was very drafty--and we specifically said indoors was important to us. (I can assure you that there were others--younger--who would have preferred the outside.) The service was awful and the food just average. I don't even want to go into how unprofessional the service was--it would have been laughable if we hadn't been so cold!! When I called the next day to discuss the situation with the manager he gave me shrink talk and assured me that they were going to have a meeting to "discuss how they treat older people" and that "all" the inside tables are always reserved for regulars!! Count me out then since I have no intention of becoming a regular.

                1 Reply
                1. re: NancyLL

                  similar thing happened to us. we had a 6pm reservation w/ a handicapped 86yr old and a well behaved 5 yr old. the little one lives in berkeley and has dined in the best of them up in the bay. when i called i told them we needed to be seated inside. however, when we got there we were seated at the table right next to the entrance of the outside area. it was so cold out and they basically told us this was it. the place was about a quarter full. we sat and then when the bus boy who was pouring us the water gave us incredible attitude we all looked each other, got up and left.