09 July 2007

Fraîche is Good

If I wanted to tell you only one thing about Fraîche in Culver City, it would be to go there now—immediately, as soon as possible. It gave me one of the nicest meal I've had in Los Angeles in a while and I want to spread the joy.

My pleasure was immediate; the first course—fresh figs with speck and burrata—was a plate of luxury. Fig season came early according to our server, and I was oh-so glad it was premature the minute I took my first bite. The sweet figs yielded its plump flesh with the lightest pressure, while the burrata intensified the lushness with its silky texture, eating was like lying back on a soft velvet cushion—luxurious. But the pièce de résistance that tied it all together and took everything to the next level were the ribbons of speck that wrapped the fruit and cheese. Their effect was expansive, adding sweet saltiness and tender chewiness to the soft fruit and cheese.

And as sensual and sultry as our first course was, our second course was sweet and sensitive—ravioli with English peas, ricotta, and mint. Everything about this dish was gentle; it's taste and texture serene. Our server said another diner described its as a "whisper", and I would agree. It was a hushed dish that didn't scream how lovely it was; instead, it let the summertime ingredients do the talking—sweet peas and fresh mint bound with creamy ricotta.

Feeling in a seafood mood, I got the branzino en papillote or branzino cooked in parchment with purple potatoes, corn, leeks and clams. It was a pretty dish with the deep purples and bright yellows popping out against the paleness of the fish; and it was food that was light on the tongue and tummy. The only downside was that in the pleasant effort to clean my plate, I picked up bits of wet paper that stuck to the fish in my last few bits, adding a touch of unexpected fiber to my meal.

D. got the roasted half chicken, which was pressed in its cooking process so that meat came out tender and juicy and the skin brown and crisp. But the pea purée on which the chicken rested was the real delight of the dish; it was soft and sweet with a hint of mint that accented the creaminess with encouraging freshness. S. ordered the lamb spezzatino with ricotta gnocchi. It was a warm, comforting dish, wonderfully rich and hearty. The super tender lamb melted in your mouth, along with the gnocchi that looked and felt like plump pillows.

We dined well that night and got two desserts for the table to close out the meal. The blackberry and peach cobbler had a pleasant tartness that was smoothed out with fresh cream or accentuated with blackberry sorbet depending on how you paired your spoonful. The pine nut tart had a warm custard center that was a delightful surprise; and the caramel sauce and caramel ice cream were pure indulgences, they were rich and buttery without being cloy or syrupy.

Fraîche is a welcome addition to Culver City's restaurant row, if not one of its brightest stars.

9511 Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
Ph: 310-839-6800



Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow! what a meal!

7/15/2007 2:29 PM  

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