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May 21, 2009 09:52 PM

Barbrix: review with pix

Nestled at the base of Franklin Hills is new kid on the block Barbrix. Barbrix is good. Maybe very good. Housed in a lovely little ex-home, freshly stucco'd and nearly stretching at the seams with people waiting, begging and pleading for a table or seat at the bar, I am impressed with their capacity despite what felt like close quarters. Once the furor dies down it will be easier to feel the openness of the space, first represented by the beautiful four sided bar to the left when you walk in the front door. With north facing walls that open up onto a lovely freshly landscaped patio, you can look in at fellow patrons or out over the young shrubs at the hills of Silver Lake. In the rear there is a larger dining room with an L shaped open kitchen, everyone dressed in white and hard at work.

Five small OG picnic tables (two 4 tops ever so slightly rusted like they have been waiting for this opportunity in someone's garage), a string of lights and giant red umbrellas make a festive and friendly spot in which to dine. I cannot wait to eat out here late one summer evening when the mercury refuses to dip below 85. Summer is coming , I can smell it.

The menu is yet another small plates offering. This food modality would feel relentless were there not so many delicious examples all over Los Angeles; Bazaar, AOC, Tasca, Bacaro, and so on and so forth. Love their wine list. None, well maybe one, of the usual suspects, and this always thrills me in a wine menu. I tell the server my favorite whites are an Italian albarino or my favorite Crios torrontes and she bring me a very serviceable Grasevina from Croatia for $6. Some similarities here with a torrontes, slightly herbaceous and floral without too much mineral. Well done.

D went for a more well known Chateauneuf du Pape for $12 a glass. We have had such good luck with so many Chateauneuf du Pape since drinking multiple bottles of the Chateau Fortia at Church & State last fall. This one does not disappoint. I didn't delve too deeply into the beer menu, but it too offers interesting choices. A Celtic wheat ale, Belgian triple ale and an organic English ale. Someone had fun buying booze for this place.

One of the owners, Adria Botta, came by our table. She has worked in service at both Campanile and AOC, while her husband Claudio's pedigree includes a stint at my beloved Four Seasons Aviara as well as both manager and wine director at Campanile. He helped Angelini open La Terza and worked as VP for La Brea Bakery. These are some people who know food and what Los Angeles wants.

We started with a simple ciabatta, one of my favorite breads. I loved the wooden bowl instead of the basket. And for two people? Two slices really is enough. D requested the devilled eggs. Simplistic devilled eggs, and while I really prefer the devilled eggs at Jar, it's hard not to like any devilled eggs. These are topped with a salty little anchovy and lots of chives. $5 for two eggs. Totally reasonable.

I decided last night was the night to try sweetbreads for the first time. Garlic fried sweetbreads with a harissa aoili. Name something that couldn't be made delicious by lightly coating it in breadcrumbs and garlic and deep frying. Go ahead, make my day. The coating and frying were very light handed, and the gameyness and organ flavors shone through but not in a way that would be off putting to a more timid eater. Delicious. $7.

Next course, vegetables. Farro salad with English peas, onion, mint, pine nuts and feta. The sharp, soft and nutty flavors together are perfectly balanced. Delightful. Could have eaten two orders. $6. My favorite dish of the night. Roasted cauliflower with green beans, chick peas and charmoula dressing. What I really tasted here was the smoky roasted taste of the cauliflower against the slightly tart charmoula. Good. Very. $5.

Halibut. I love halibut. I know some people find it to be a generic tasting fish. But I adore the meatiness of it. And find it works well with many strongly flavored accompaniments. Last night they offered it with sun chokes, chard, alba mushrooms and gremolata. As a kid, my mom made gremolata to season a beef dish. It is still one of my favorite flavors. Garlic, parsley and lemon zest. Barbrix's gremolata is more rustic than Mom's. The pieces of lemon zest are pleasingly large, adding a surprise tartness to the more mellow flavors of the mushrooms and sunchoke. $10. The prime skirt steak tagliata was my favorite dish of the night (HA!). Placed on a bed of slightly wilted arugula over a pool of olive oil and the smokiest, most sultry-sweet balsamic I have ever had. Served medium rare (we were not asked how we would like it cooked, just bring it on, please), make sure to get a swoosh of the oil and balsamico and a few leaves or arugula in every single bite. Eat it. $12.

review with pics:

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  1. When I saw your name I knew I would have to open this thread.

    As always, a marvelous review. I believe it is the first I have seen of Barbrix that includes photos. It all looks wonderful.

    You opted not to order dessert?

    1 Reply
    1. re: SilverlakeGirl

      Thanks SilverlakeGirl!! You know you have to get in there's in your hood!!!

      I rarely eat dessert, I tend to drink it instead!

    2. Looks fab! Came very lose to a Friday dinner there pre-Dodger game but, alas...too bad for me! Maybe next pre- dodger game dinner....Pictures were great. Thanx for a beautiful review.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Kitchen Queen

        Be sure to make it in...and report back!

        1. re: lotta_cox

          went for the first time last night - i like the original assessment here: good, maybe very good...we'll def, go back for further inspection but enjoyed everything we had

          our favorite was the farro salad that many have raved about - it really is quite awesome...was excited to try the sweetbreads but wished i had been prepared for the fried calamari preparation - still tasty but i could've been eating anything fried really...

          also had the scallops, shrimp/chickpea tortilla, good wine/beer selection - all good to very good...maybe in the end this isn't quite worth driving across town just yet, but it's good above average tapas if you're in the neighborhood, and we'll be back at some point I know

      2. I have gone 2 times in the past month or so and this is one of the BEST restaurants I have been to in LA in years. I met one of the owners (randomly) as I was sitting at the bar there last Saturday and she recommended the Arctic char which was great. But everything I have eaten here is great; the devilled eggs, the mini sausages, a salad I had. The other key element, environment: the setting is perfect. They have created real warmth and style with the design of the space, both indoor and out. The food is great and the beer and wine list has real character. I could go on and on...bottom line..fantastic. I have lived in LA for most of my life and have been to most of the classic LA restaurants and this is one of the best !