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Littlefork: A Review

PeterCC Oct 23, 2013 02:09 PM

[Larger photos, captioned and in-line with text, at http://theoffalo.com/2013/10/littlefork/.]

Seafood restaurants are hot in L.A. these days, particularly New England-inspired ones. Littlefork, which opened earlier this year, is doing this trend justice by executing a signature New England dish that holds its own against the ones I've had growing up on the Right Coast.

Before we get to that, the main reason that I had wanted to try Littlefork was for their $1 "Oyster Hour" (daily 5-7pm and Friday & Saturday 10pm). A couple Saturdays ago, I decided to go. Not wanting to dine alone, and taking advantage of a break in her very busy social schedule, I dragged my older daughter along.

We arrived shortly before the early evening Oyster Hour was about to end, an hour after we departed (@#$% L.A. traffic!). We were late for our reservation but still promptly seated. When we inquired about the $1 oysters, the waiter informed us that the deal could only be had at the bar.

Since my daughter is not of drinking age, we were moved to two stools flanking an eating "surface"--let's say it was just a little bigger than an airplane tray table--in the bar area. It didn't phase us; we were here for the food (and one drink, the excellent house-made Ginger Beer, $4)!

Grassy Bar Oysters, from Morro Bay, two dozen for $24: I've had dollar oysters before. I've had oysters at AYCE buffets. They almost always disappoint. Fortunately, the ones at Littlefork were probably the best buck oysters I've had. Not one out of twenty-four had any grit or shell; not one out of twenty-four tasted off either. All were fresh and plump. I've had other oyster varieties I've liked better, but in terms of quality and prep these Grassy Bars were top notch!

(Note: The variety of the oyster offered for a dollar does change. Also, our table was so small, that we had to eat the oysters in two waves. No pun intended.)

Pork Rind Cheet Toes, $4: My daughter pointed these out to me, and we had to try them. A bowl of orange-powdered chicharrón were brought out to us, hot and surprisingly light. They did indeed have the cheesy taste of the popular snack the name puns on and was a fun change of pace from the fancy, grown-up, raw oysters we just downed.

Steamers, Habanero, Beer, Garlic, Shallots, $18: This special is available only on Friday and Saturday nights. The few times I've ordered them around L.A. (before I gave up on them), the steamers were always sandy, shriveled, and had broken shells. With that history and the memory of some amazing steamers I'd enjoyed at the Matunuck Oyster Bar in Rhode Island a few months ago fresh in my mind, I tried to be cautiously optimistic but also prepared myself for disappointment.

What a relief! The steamers were on the smallish side but were also tender, sweet, and perfectly cooked. They must have been well purged; not a single one was sandy. And, no broken shells! No need for a dunk back in the bowl except to pick up more flavor from the broth, which I really enjoyed. Mussels and hard-shell clams, sure, but I can't recall ever having steamers prepared spicy.

(At this point, I toyed with ordering the crispy oyster sliders, which I had heard great things about, or the smoked meat poutine, but we were getting full and wanted to save room for dessert...)

Apple Cider Donuts, Apple Butter, Salted Caramel, $8: Apparently I missed these growing up in New England. Anyway, how can you not like hot doughnuts, fresh from the fryer, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar? I didn't think the combination of apple butter and salted caramel would work, but they did. This was a great way to wrap up the meal.

Littlefork seems custom-made for me. I may have mentioned once or twice above that I grew up in New England, but I also lived in Montreal for several years. Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to explore the Québécois aspects of the menu, but I will definitely remedy that on a future visit.

(And in case anyone's wondering how my daughter liked it, she ate everything and enjoyed it all too! Having accompanied me to Tar & Roses last month (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/918734), she's quickly supplanting chrishei as my partner-in-dine.)

---

Littlefork (http://littleforkla.com/)
1600 Wilcox Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90028
(323) 465-3675

All photographs © 2013 The Offalo

 
 
 
 
 
  1. l
    LAgirl2 Oct 24, 2013 07:51 PM

    Nice review Peter!

    I took a friend to dinner there a couple of weeks ago (it may have been the summer menu still). I thought the steak frites were nice. the steak had a sublte maple taste that was really unexpected and tasty. i would pass on the clams casino---the flavor was fine, but the clams were too small for this sort of treatment. The beet salad was great and this is coming from somebody who doesn't like beets. I was hoping that they would have fried clams.......but they didn't. Overall, I liked the space and the food---I've heard brunch is great, so my next visit might be trying that out.

    1. ipsedixit Oct 23, 2013 06:55 PM

      All photographs © 2013 The Offalo
      ___________________

      Peter,

      Did you hire a lawyer??

      3 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit
        PeterCC Oct 23, 2013 07:06 PM

        It's a copy and paste from my blog, with a few tweaks like adding trailing spaces to lines that end in a parenthesis or bracket, so the site doesn't freak out.

        1. re: PeterCC
          ipsedixit Oct 23, 2013 07:10 PM

          Just giving you a hard time, Peter.

          (And you *do* know that the "©" is totally unnecessary to invoke copyright protection, right?)

          1. re: ipsedixit
            PeterCC Oct 23, 2013 07:15 PM

            Yes, but it looks nicer.

            Actually, not sure what rights I've signed away by agreeing to be a participant of the CH boards. Maybe I'll go look at the terms of use and search the Site Talk board.

      2. t
        TailbackU Oct 23, 2013 05:30 PM

        so the $1 oysters are offered daily 5-7pm and ONLY at 10pm on weekends? Can you clarify?

        7 Replies
        1. re: TailbackU
          Servorg Oct 23, 2013 05:32 PM

          They offer them from 5-7PM, everyday.

          1. re: TailbackU
            PeterCC Oct 23, 2013 06:14 PM

            The times were quoted from their Facebook page. 5-7p every day, 10-close Fri/Sat is correct, I believe.

            1. re: PeterCC
              Servorg Oct 23, 2013 06:17 PM

              Peter, they are saying 5 to 7 on the phone, but nothing about the later time frame on Friday/Saturday (although I didn't specifically ask about Friday/Saturday later in the evening either). So I don't know if I got an uninformed person on the phone or they have altered their policy or possibly she just forgot to add the later serving hours?

              1. re: Servorg
                n
                ns1 Oct 23, 2013 06:41 PM

                because I like you guys-

                 
                1. re: ns1
                  PeterCC Oct 23, 2013 06:54 PM

                  That solved that. Thanks.

                  1. re: ns1
                    t
                    TailbackU Oct 24, 2013 11:28 AM

                    excellent thanks!

                  2. re: Servorg
                    PeterCC Oct 23, 2013 06:52 PM

                    The FB page that I saw it on wasn't that old. I also just asked on Twitter. Will report back.

              2. n
                ns1 Oct 23, 2013 04:12 PM

                Nice review. I got naked cowboys last time I was there for dollar oysters, and they were perfect.

                Did you get the 2top to the left of the door? That's actually a pretty nice spot IMO ^_^

                2 Replies
                1. re: ns1
                  PeterCC Oct 23, 2013 04:18 PM

                  Yes, I think there's two of them, we were the one further in. Our own little oyster nook.

                  I saw that they had Naked Cowboys for dollar oysters in the past. I haven't had them before and was hoping they'd be the ones offered, but the Grassy Bars were great.

                  1. re: PeterCC
                    j
                    jessejames Oct 23, 2013 04:20 PM

                    good problem to have, a changing array of quality dollar oysters. I like knowing where my oysters come from.

                2. l
                  linus Oct 23, 2013 03:10 PM

                  though you didn't have a cocktail, did you see any going out, or watch the bartenders make any?

                  rumour has it the drinks at littlefork are right up there with some of the best in town.

                  just curious. thanks.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: linus
                    j
                    jessejames Oct 23, 2013 03:15 PM

                    ive had a few, very solid, but id say a bit smaller than id like for the price (approx 12 bucks each -- ie, at least dozen oysters) -- i like la fin du monde beer which is on tap and oh so nice with those bivalves.

                    1. re: jessejames
                      JAB Oct 23, 2013 07:18 PM

                      La fin du monde is a fantastic beer. Those Canucks out Belgiumed the Belgians.

                      1. re: JAB
                        j
                        jessejames Oct 23, 2013 07:21 PM

                        Much smoother tripple

                    2. re: linus
                      PeterCC Oct 23, 2013 03:15 PM

                      The bar was packed, and we were in the corner, so I didn't see many drinks pass by. Coincidentally, though, the author of e*star LA just wrote an article on cocktails at Littlefork for Serious Eats: http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2013/10....

                      1. re: linus
                        b
                        bg90027 Oct 23, 2013 04:00 PM

                        I've liked the cocktails there even enough to go just for drinks before an early show at Hotel Cafe. Although if I'd known about the buck oysters that wouldn't have been the case.

                        One item not yet mentioned are the maple eggs w/ crispy bacon which are delicious. Try those next time.

                        1. re: linus
                          n
                          ns1 Oct 23, 2013 04:12 PM

                          i like the cocktails there. they had a gin & tonic cocktail that was AMAZING. No longer on the menu, I wonder if they'll still make it (I hope so)

                        2. i
                          ilysla Oct 23, 2013 02:32 PM

                          http://www.littleforkla.com/

                          Great review. My partner has spent some recent summers back east and loved the seafood, so this might right up his alley.

                          What's the ambiance like? Part of what my partner liked was the seaside-shack aspect....

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: ilysla
                            PeterCC Oct 23, 2013 02:41 PM

                            The bar area was a bit cramped. Those "tables" are really only good for solo diners, to be honest. You can see how much space a single average-size plate takes up on the table in my first pic.

                            The dining area is more modern; see the second photo in kevinEats' review: http://www.kevineats.com/2013/03/litt....

                            1. re: ilysla
                              Servorg Oct 23, 2013 02:42 PM

                              No seaside-shack aspect to Littlefork.

                              https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&a...

                              1. re: Servorg
                                j
                                jessejames Oct 23, 2013 02:48 PM

                                but there's a modest display of Hab's photos and isn't there some nominal taxidermy in there too? To me, it evoked a modern version of my friends' done up basements back east.

                                1. re: jessejames
                                  PeterCC Oct 23, 2013 02:54 PM

                                  I think it's trying for the sun-bleached wood planks look behind the cement half-walls. Unfortunately, I didn't look much as the decor for the 5 minutes we were in the dining room before we moved to the bar area to get at those buck oysters...

                                  1. re: PeterCC
                                    Servorg Oct 23, 2013 02:57 PM

                                    I think it's less about the sun-bleached wood plank look and more about the lack of the wooden picnic table ethos that the lobster and clam shacks usually epitomize...

                            2. j
                              jessejames Oct 23, 2013 02:28 PM

                              Peter - nice review. I'm a former new englander too and would love some steamers. I have yet to have good ones on this coast. Also agree about the oysters -- for a buck, these are awesome and it's nice not to get grit and shell and have them served chilled and right, with the liquor still in tact as they do. You'll have to try the poutine and oyster sliders on your next trip. I def also have to add those pork rinds to my list with the steamers...lastly, bravo on a fun outing with your daughter. i look forward to saddling up to an oyster bar with my girl too. Love that.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: jessejames
                                PeterCC Oct 23, 2013 02:38 PM

                                jessejames, I hear the steamers at Connie & Ted's are really good, so next time I have a craving, I'll get it a try there.

                                I will definitely get both the poutine and sliders. Like with the steamers, I have been burned before by promises of authentic, or even just delicious, poutine, and I am routinely disappointed. However, after the steamers, I can't help but be cautiously optimistic about the poutine at Littlefork too... :-)

                                1. re: PeterCC
                                  j
                                  jessejames Oct 23, 2013 02:49 PM

                                  C&T's Shunji's -- those are in the on deck circle and in the hole. I look forward to both.

                                  I think you'll be pleased with the poutine there...nice balance ... little bits of the smoked meat, the curds and the gravy on the bottom so not too soggy.

                                  1. re: PeterCC
                                    j
                                    js76wisco Oct 23, 2013 03:44 PM

                                    The steamers at C&T were good. I wish they didn't add the spice and heat while cooking. I'd like them better unadorned in all their beautiful natural juices.

                                    The steamers themselves are the best and most authentic representation I've had west of Newark. My favorites are at Pearl Oyster Bar and some random shack I had out in Long Beach.

                                    1. re: js76wisco
                                      PeterCC Oct 23, 2013 04:00 PM

                                      So are the ones at C&T also spicy, or did you just mean that they season them (and what with)? Unadorned is the traditional way, but I don't mind them being played with a bit, and served in a sippable broth like mussels.

                                      1. re: PeterCC
                                        j
                                        js76wisco Oct 23, 2013 05:43 PM

                                        They are spicy. They were cooked with red chili flakes and something else I don't quite remember. They tasted fine but would have been much better left alone.

                                        We're going back in 3 weeks and going to ask for them to be cooked au natural.

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