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Fraiche in Culver City

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  • eder Oct 10, 2007 12:07 AM
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Had dinner at Fraiche Sunday night and can't say enough about how good a job Jason does in the kitchen. Started with their beef tartar, baby beets and marinated branzino apps, all excellent. Middle courses their pastas, one with crab and the other with veal, al dente and delicious. Mains were a absolutely crisp skinned, juicy half chicken, a char with a slighltly oversalty crisp skin but a moist center and an only so so flat iron steak tho the accompanying belgian fries with mayo was a nice touch. The cocktail service is a little weak but the wine list is fair and abundant with a good representation among their wines by the glass. The pear tart was representative of fraiche's origins. The service was ever present without being obtrusive or obsequious. A fun evening. Even in CC.

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  1. I thought the very same thing.

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    1. If you find yourself in CC Fraiche can't be beat!
      We have had good experiences everytime we've been there.
      Hopefully the original problems with the Service and Host are a thing of the Past.

      3 Replies
      1. re: russkar

        I have to say that they may still be having some service issues there.

        The S.O. and I went there last night on a whim. Right before we left, opentable had reservations for 8:30. I didn't make one because we weren't sure if we were going to go and I, however crazy this sounds, hate making reservations and then not showing up for them.

        Anyway, we show up without reservations around 8:15 and the hostess (who we had called on the way there and told us a table was a table ready) told us that (the table that was available was taken and) that it would be about a half hour wait.

        OK, fine, so we hang out at the bar and tell her to come for us when there is a table available. Our waitress was weird. Our table was wet. When the S.O. pointed this out, she said that "Oh, it's OK, it's just water, I just wiped it down," not really understanding that we prefer to sit at a dry table even if it's "just water." Later, the S.O. says that we'd be happy to eat at the bar instead of at a table. The waitress makes much ado about nothing about how we can only eat from the bar menu at the bar. I want to emphasize that she was not bitchy but rather was weird and off-putting. OK! OK! we get it. She made us uncomfortable for being so elaborate about her explanation.

        Anyway, the evening progresses without even a courtesy check-in from the hostess. The S.O. and I strongly feel like she isn’t even trying to find us a table. The S.O. checks in with her and he’s left with the impression that she’s more preoccupied with the reservations. We are unhappy and feel like we’re inconveniencing them or something. With the kind of treatment we were getting, I would much rather be turned away than told that we can have a table in half an hour.

        Anyway, we ordered a plate or rigatoni Bolognese to share from the bar menu. The S.O. is always on the search for transcendent Bolognese. Theirs was truly spectacular. And at $11 a plate, feels like a steal for food that is so spectacular. Did I mention is was spectacular?

        I just wish that the hostess and waitress weren’t so stuffy and indifferent and weird. I know that our treatment would have been much different if we had reservations and that annoys me. A customer is a customer.

        1. re: geekbruin

          I'm a little confused. Did you have a table, (that was wet) and then leave for the bar because of the wet table and you then ended up eating the bolognese at the bar? If that was the case I guess my question would be why you didn't have the waitress get a busboy to dry your table.

          1. re: Servorg

            Sorry for being unclear. I was talking about the table we had in the bar area. The Bolongese was on the bar menu and was something we wanted to try, so we shared a plate of it. You know, as an appetizer.

            The whole wet table thing was just too confusing for the waitress and I think she immediately thought we were mad at her. We just let it go...

            The S.O. explains better: The waitress came with the menus and the S.O. says, "oh, this table is wet." She says, "It's ok, it's just water, I wiped it down myself" and places the paper menus down on the wet table.

            That was weird.

      2. Even in CC, indeed. You could do far worse in just about any environ.

        I find the wine list more than fair - I think its among the best in the city for value and options. Many items are only 1.5x retail, and they have some great gems in there. I like the cocktail service and the special drinks (blood orange martini....) - what was your issue?

        1 Reply
        1. re: CulverJack

          "Even in CC" is really a left handed compliment. I'm thrilled about all the new venues going up all around and the excitement that's being generated in the area.

          Vis-a-vis cocktail service, it was a little slow and a little off. And though the prosecco fruit flambe sounded real tasty to my wife who otherwise goes with a champagne cocktail, it was only half that - kaka. We sent it back and traded for a glass of pinot grigio. They didn't charge us for the flambe, another nice touch. Classy. Even in CC......

        2. had a great corn soup and burrata salad for a light lunch the other day. seating is cramped out on the patio and they don't have the tartare on the lunch menu - but other than that, i was pleased and would definitely return.

          1. I had such a wonderful lunch there, I returned for dinner a couple weeks later and it was absolutely horrible.

            1. "Even in CC" The point is what?

              Love their specialty drinks, and agree with CulverJack re that excellent blood orange martini. In fact, I want to drink down their specialty drinks menu.

              1. had an awesome meal there the other night...6 of us! I'm addicted to "The Grape" cocktail. delicious. We ordered the caprese and mushroom salads as well as the rigatoni bolognese for apps...and and the cheese plate as well. I had the monkfish...3 generous portions on top of mashed potatoes and spinach...yummy...the lamb dish my fiance had was amazing...really flavorful , like a stew. Its our new fave restaurant. can't wait to go back!

                1. I unfortunately had a very different experience.

                  We were served warm red wine that they offered to put on ice before even pouring it, indicating they knew of the problem. (It was a month ago and very hot out, but to me that is not an excuse--they need to have proper wine storage). Our service was also not up to par. More on the level of a casual lunch spot than a restaurant said to be of a high caliber.

                  Oysters (a mixed dozen) were good but the servers didn't know which were which, something I found surprising. The farro salad was very nice, but I found the tartare to be underseasoned. I ordered the rabbit pasta and the rabbit was overcooked- the entire dish lacked moisture and we concluded the dish was not properly prepared, just based on the raves the dish receives. I conveyed this to our server and sent it back. She told the chef, and I could see he did not agree with our assessment (danger of an open kitchen and an expressive chef). She came back and told us "that is how rabbit is supposed to taste" and that we should order something else. My husband and I liked the flavors but were astounded the chef claimed it was supposed to be that way (dry). I found his comment (assuming she conveyed it accurately) to be insulting and presumptuous. Rabbit is certainly not so exotic that he should assume we had not had it before! I also would never recommend that a restaurant say what Fraiche did to a customer - there is a much nicer way to get a customer to order something else.

                  So becuase I felt insulted, I told our server I was all set - we shared my husband's dish and left, after explaining our disappointment to the front of the house (Jen). I also canceled my reservation (already made) 2 weeks later. I never let an establishment treat me badly twice. They are very successful and I think it's gone to the chef's head, making him lose sight of the "customer is always right" rule. There are obviously limits to that rule, but I believe they dealt with our complaint in an unacceptable way.

                  Obviously, I'm not saying everyone will have a bad time, but I certainly won't go again. I also hope for other customers' sakes that they improve on the issues that overshadowed our meal.

                  http://meganinlosfeliz.blogspot.com/

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: meganinlosfeliz

                    What's worse than warm red wine? We were served warm white wine on the warm summer night we were there. The sommolier apologized for the warmness of the wine, poured us a couple of glasses, then left with the bottle we ordered. Every time we wanted a refill we had to look all over to flag down our very unprofessional server.

                  2. I was there last night. I thought the food was good. The hostesses where very attractive but rude and unresponsive, for a second I thought they were bouncers at a LA night club. Service was slow as well.

                    It's a shame because the food was really good. I wish they would teach the greeters some manners!

                    Recommend the food if you can deal with the service issues.

                    1. We went, also on a whim, on a Sunday evening; it was early enough in the evening we thought maybe we could get a table, but our expectations were realistic. There seemed to be a lot of tables empty, but we were told they were reserved, and, it's true, over the course of the time we spent there, they filled up. We ended up in the bar. I had the blood orange martini, which was lovely. We ordered the chef's selection charcuterie plate - the items were wonderful, but the plate was a little dull - seems like for a sample plate you'd want a few other items to help contrast or clear the palate between bites. It doesn't cost much to put a few cornichons or a bit of mustard on a meat plate, but aside from a couple of olives, it was ungarnished.

                      I'd like to go again - some of the bar menu items we saw going past us to other diners looked good, and the dinner menu looked good.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: gsw

                        I had dinner at Fraiche about a month ago.
                        What a staggering disappointment. We had chosen to visit based on an article by Jonathan Gold and thought we would give it a try. My partner's sea bass was undercooked and after sending it back my own entree came back cold -- less than a stellar dining experience (especially as the sauce that came with her fish was equally insulting). Overall I couldn't get over the strip mall suburban decor and the feeling of how hard this place was trying to be "hip". I was equally unimpressed with the wine list. Best of all was the host and wait-staff. Who hires these people Our waitress was dressed like a hooker and the host who sat us seemed to be drafted directly out of some horrible lounge act off the Vegas strip - it was amusing and horrifying all at once - but did add for some dining giggles. But - back to the food - ughghghgh!!! If this is the best LA has to offer on the new restaurant front I'd rather stay home.

                      2. We celebrated a birthday there last night and had a great time. I was a little apprehensive after reading about the service issues but my fears were quickly assuaged. We had to cancel at the last minute on Sunday and they were very accommodating about rescheduling it for Tuesday. We had an 8:15 reservation and I called at 6 to see if we could come in earlier. Jennifer, who was handling the phones, told me to give her a few minutes and she would call me back. Ten minutes later she called and told us to come in at 7:30. We were seated immediately and our waitress was knowledgeable, helpful and very friendly.

                        Oh, and the food was really, really good. To start we had the most delicious and perfect oysters, beef tartar, and the mushroom salad. We also had the pasta with crab and meyer lemons, which played against each other perfectly. It was light and refreshing, and the pasta was perfectly cooked. We also had the steak frites, the lamb spezzatino with ricotta gnocchi, and the skate wing served with a celery root puree. For dessert we had a flourless chocolate cake and bambolino (a donut) with plums. Everything was delicious.

                        1. Is it just me or does anyone else find the menu extremely underwhelming? I can't find a single item thats unique or takes a risk. That being said, I've had poor luck finding consistently fresh, well prepared seafood so if the Hounders recommend their fish entrees, I'll still give it a try.

                          http://www.fraicherestaurantla.com/me...

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: ElJeffe

                            It isn't avant garde or innovative, nor is it trying to be. It's a good solid neighborhood restaurant, and their strengths lie in the quality of the ingredients and flawless execution. Food doesn't need to be risky to be good! Have you tasted any of the food, or are you just underwhelmed by the descriptions on the online menu?

                            1. re: ElJeffe

                              I had the monkfish and it was delicious. My friend had the skate and found very good as well. It's fair to say that it's not adventurous fare but it is delicious and well executed.

                              See my other comments in this thread about the restaurant, too.

                            2. I went a couple of weeks ago. We were a few minutes early for our reservation and was immediately put off by the hostess' response. Just very cold. The bar was nice, the bartender somewhat clueless. Our waiter seemed young and inexperienced; the poster who mentioned that Fraiche had a suburban feel is totally correct. I was totally ready to hate it, but by the time the food came, I have to admit it was very good. I would go back, but sincerely hope that the service is better next time.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Renault78law

                                I went on Friday for my birthday (there was only two of us). I have to agree that service is a bit static but not for us. Our drink orders (strawberry sangria and blood orange martini) took longer then average to arrive and our mains took a ridiculously long time to arrive, although our waiter gave us a update without us having to inquire. The tables against the back wall in the main dining room was really close to us so I eavesdropping. The table next to us asked for balsamic vinegar three times before he got some (first time the server never got back to him, second time he asked a runner and he said they didn't have any, 3rd time he requested that the server ask the kitchen for it). The other table next were seated when we got out deserts. We finished our and paid they were still waiting for someone to take their order.

                                The food was pretty good. Apps we got the persimmon and speck salad (good but i'm used to a firmer persummon) and the beer tartare. Mains we got the pork chop (it was bland) and duck confit (very tasty). Desert we got the cheese plate and pair tart. Both really good.

                                There are other things on the menu I want to try and the place is affordable.

                                1. re: Renault78law

                                  I told myself that I would update this thread after I went back. It's been several weeks, but here we go. . .

                                  We went, with another couple, with reservations (no pun intended, truly). I really don't know what it is with that place. The hostess, again, was really kind of cold and aloof. I'd almost characterize it as condescending. (That crap might fly in other parts of town but this is Culver City.)

                                  The four of us hung out at the bar before our table was ready because we had a late reservation and were early for it. We had *just* put in our drink orders when they told us our table was ready. One person asked us to close our tab then another waved us off to go sit at our table and that they would take care of it.

                                  Later, during appetizers, they give us a check for the drinks. Since we're just going to split the bill and the check was kind of sitting there onerously under my friend's elbow (the tables are small), we ask them to include it in the dinner tab. They go away, come back and say they can't because the waitress at the bar should be appropriately tipped. I mean, I get that and respect it, but I think that was poor judgment on their part. They had different people telling us different things and when we did try to pay at the bar we were (politely) shooed away and told go sit at our table. I mean, really. And the bar waitress didn't even really help us with anything other than take our order; our table was ready right after we placed them. I think she should have taken one for team there and bet you it wasn't even her decision to be weird about the bar bill.

                                  And yet our server* for dinner was fantastic! She was super-friendly and knowledgeable and attentive and all around wonderful. It's amazing how different the service was.

                                  The management really needs to understand that the hostess and the bar are often a diner's first impression. For me, it's been so memorable because they have been consistently weird, cold, and unaccommodating. We had a good time and enjoyed our dinner but the whole deal with the bar and hostess. . . It was definitely annoying and reflected, I think, very poorly on the restaurant's management. I think they should watch out -- as Culver City continues to develop and more good food options become available the less they'll be able to get away with poor service. People will find a new haunt, no doubt.

                                  * Sorry for using "waitress" consistently earlier; I'm too tired to be thinking gender neutral right now. They were ladies in this night's case, anyway.

                                2. Ditto! What a great food experience! There are only a handful of places I can honestly say are excellent. I had the pumpkin soup with marshmellows - WOW!!! Yummy! Only negative is the owner (manager?) is kind of rude.

                                  1. wow, i only went there once and thought "this place is the real deal" - you don't get many of these - surprised to see there are such negative comments - but then LA magazine proclaimed it best new restaurant in a very competitive year and the magazine is rife with compliments on the place from LA's best chefs - so, i'd say it's doing okay despite the negative remarks on this board - it's all about the food by the way...

                                    1. The monkfish Francaise was memorable. Seemed original to me, a twist on the Veal Francaise I was addicted to as a kid at neighborhood NY suburb Italian restaurants. Or is it derivative of other dishes around town these days? (In any case, I liked it quite a bit.)

                                      1. "It's all about the food by the way"... um, a dining experience is just that an experience and the front of the house plays a huge role in the food: the way it is presented, the way it is described, how they handle it. I can not believe that one would think that after all the hype about this restaurant that someone could dismiss the B.S. in the front so cavalierly.

                                        I had my first dining experience there tonight and was very disappointed. it all started with the service and went downhill from there. the waiter was detached and unhelpful. the food was good, but not to die for. we were brought the wrong wine, and were brushed off when the second bottle we ordered was also incorrect. needless to say it took over 45 minutes to get a bottle of wine on our table that was what was ordered. I have to say that had the Sommelier or the Manager come over to the table after the first wine issue that would have helped, but the comedy of errors that piled up made our dining experience less than stellar.

                                        I would think that if they want a no nonsense restaurant, they would manage it in a professional and no-nonsense way. How about owning up to the fact that the wine list is incorrect, or that the kitchen didnt inform the waitstaff that two of the dishes we ordered were no longer available...that is simply poor communication! And did i mention the waiter who didnt want to apologize or even acknowledge the issue with the wine after the first mistake, nor did he check back with us about our meals once they came?

                                        This restaurant is not long for this world if the front of the house doesnt get it's act together. Definitely not feeling the love here.

                                        1. I went with a party of 8 last week. The food was very good, nothing great though.

                                          The Grape drink is amazing, i had 5 of those. I would go back just for the drink.

                                          My wife and i both thought the food at ritual was much much better though.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: mindblowin

                                            Haven't seen much on Chowhound about Ritual. Online menu looks decent, whats the story?

                                            1. re: ElJeffe

                                              It's a supper club. It's meant to feed you before you go dancing at their in house night club. I would rank in the category of not offensive. Typically the reason to go to Ritual is because you have a bunch of friends who just want to drink and dance to boom-tiss-boom-tiss the night away, and in that context, the food will be enough where you can relax and order something fun and simply enjoy your good company.

                                              I wouldn't go to Ritual solo.