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Oct 23, 2013 02:09 PM

Littlefork: A Review

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

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

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  1. 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

      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

        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

          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

            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

              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.

      2. 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

          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: Servorg

              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

                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

                  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...

          1. 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

              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

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

              2. re: linus

                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

                  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

                    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. 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

                      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

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

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

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: TailbackU

                        They offer them from 5-7PM, everyday.

                        1. re: TailbackU

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

                          1. re: PeterCC

                            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

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