Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Following Chef Ben Bailly to Fraiche Restaurant

When I heard that our beloved Chef Ben Bailly was leaving Petrossian, I was crushed! I've not only had an amazing dinner there, but also great brunches. My disappointment was short-lived when I realized he was moving to Fraiche in Culver City. I've only been Fraiche once when they first opened, but hadn't been back since. I guess I never had a reason to until now. I was exited for Ben since he had more control over the menu and had free reign to do whatever he pleased. Awesome. Less caviar and more rustic french cuisine.

Let the feasting begin!

olives and almonds, rosemary, olive oil

vodka infante


While waiting for my dining partner to arrive, I was sipping on a lovely, sweet and sour cocktail and nibbling on some olives. Chef Ben didn't want me to wait too long without food, so he sent over a couple of oysters to hold me over. And like clockwork, my dining companion showed up as soon as I was about to slurp these babies down.

smoked trout rillette, lemon, chives, creme fraiche

poison ivy, vodka, lemon, basil, cayenne pepper

As soon as my friend got situated, our first course and another cocktail was brought over for us to enjoy. The basil and lemon flavors in the Poison Ivy were really nice and played a primary role, while it finished off with a lingering heat from the cayenne pepper. The smoked trout rillette was also quite delicious. It was smoky, salty and while it wasn't meant to be paired with the cocktail I really enjoyed it together. The mild heat of the drink with the smokiness of the rillette reallly worked.

brussel sprouts, chorizo, manchego, dates, almond, piquillo

burrata, broccolini, bosc pear, hazelnut

Our next courses were the brussel sprouts salad and the burrata with broccolini salad. I really enjoyed the texture in the burssel sporuts salad. And the flavor combination from the bitter greens, sweet dates and salty manchego cheese was fantastic. The little bits of chorizo were also a very nice surprise. I'd highly recommend this dish to any brussel sprouts lover. The burrata salad was also quite nice. The tartness of the pear was a nice complement to the creaminess of the burrata and bitterness of the greens. Both were very strong salads. I would only pick one over the other depending on my mood that day.

eastside, vodka, cucumber, lime

pencillin, scotch, ginger, honey, lemon, islay scotch spritz

It was time for our next round of drinks: Eastside for me and Pencillin for my friend. The Eastside was a perfect drink for me because it embodied all the things I love in a cocktail: vodka, cucumber and lime. Yes, I'm a simple girl who loves acid. Not that kind of acid... While mine was a simple cocktail, my friends was more complex in taste. It had a medicinal flavor (obviously, read the name) but had a sweet finish. It was quite nice.

vitello tonnato,veal steak tartar, arugula, parmesan

Next up was the veal tartar, subtle in beef flavor and almost creamy in texture. The saltiness from the parmesan was nicely balanced out by the veal and arugula. I also loved how crispy the bread was. I hate it when you try to be a lady and finish the bread in two bites but forced into once because it was impossible to bite the bread off. No one likes tough and chewey bread.

house made agnolotti, wild mushroom, mascarpone, truffle butter, truffle

The agnolotti was one of our favorite dishes of the night. The moment the plate was set down my nose twinkled and I couldn't stop salivating. The shaved tuffles with the wildmushrooms gave an abundance of earthy flavors. Like my dining companion said, "Umami, umami, umami..." This is one dish I'll keep ordering again and again.

grapefruit twist, gin, rosemary, grapefruit

turkey dinner, clove infused wild turkey, cranberry juice, cynar, candied orange peel

It was time for our third round of drinks. I had the Grapefruit Twist, which was my favorite drink of the night, while my friend had the Turkey Dinner. The grapefruit twist was delicious with the perfect amountof citrus and an underlying hint of rosemary. The Turkey Dinner, on the other hand, was too strong for me, but my friend enjoyed it.

basil risotto, escargo, lemon, tomatoes
By the time our next course came out, I was stuffed. I had to let Ben know that I was slowly coming to an end. Regardless of how full I was, I still managed to finish our next dish, the basil risotto with escargo. The saltiness of the escargo offset the sweetness of the tomatoes very nicely. This combined with the slight peppery and minty flavor from the basil produced an elegant but homey dish. Not to mention the texture of the risotto was great, not too mushy and not too hard. Lovely.

skatewing, sherry gelee, brown butter foam, mashed potatoes

Our fish course was next which was accompanied with brown butter foam and mashed potatoes. The fish was delicate and beautifully cooked, while the mashed potatoes was hearty and delicious. The brown butter foam on top was exquisite, but my favorite part of the dish was the sherry gelee. These small bits of sherry was enough to balance out the richness in the potatoes and the butter foam. Excellent.

osso buco lasagna, shredded veal

I finally made it to our last savory course, the osso buco lasagna with shredded veal. I only had a few bites of this since I was literally about to pop. The veal was super tender and the saltiness of the cheese was delicious. My dining companion took this leftover since we couldn't finish it. He must've had a good lunch.

palate cleanser: lemon sherbet, gin

the grape, vodka, elderflower syrup, crushed grapes, lime

After our refreshing palate cleanser of lemon sherbert with gin, I was given my last cocktail of the night, The Grape. I felt like I should be sipping this cocktail at some resort spa. The grapes made it "girly," but it wasn't too sweet in taste. I would definitely order this again.

chocolate tart, tres leches gelato, almond crumble

panettone bread pudding, gianduja, hazelnut, mascarpone gelato

caramel pot de crème

I always have room for dessert, so I wasn't too scared when I saw three desserts appear before my eyes. The chocolate tart was rich and decadent, perfect with the tres leche gelato. The almond crumble was a nice texture contrast to the smooth tart. The bread pudding was also quite delicious and maybe my favorite out of the three. It wasn't too dense, but definitely had a bite to it. I am also a huge sucker for caramel, so the carame pot de creme was another favorite. I guess it's safe to say all the desserts were my favorite? Who doesn't love the salted caramel with cream on top? Seriously.. who doesn't?

After our massive feast was over, they couldn't let us leave without having a shot of whiskey, as if all the amounts of food and cocktails weren't enough already! Still, we gladly accepted and took a farewell shot with the manager and our beloved Chef Ben. My meal at Fraiche was wonderful to say the least. My friend who eats out very often was blown away by the food and the thoughtfulness that went behind our experience. We felt taken care of from the very moment we stepped into the restaurant until the very moment we stepped out.

Fraiche Culver City on Urbanspoon

Fraiche in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

Fraiche Restaurant
9411 Culver Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 839-6800


kevinEats said...

Was this the dinner where where we randomly ran into each other?

Danny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kung Food Panda said...

There is a problem here. I haven't had some of the dishes you tried at Fraiche! Time for me to get my ass back!

bagnatic said...

ben's food is consistently yummy. sounds like you ate like a queen.

nelehelen said...

kevin - this was before the huge blogger dinner. i knew you guys would be there for that via Danny haha.. (i'm crazy backlogged at the moment... pbp, totnla and work is killing me!)

danny - yes, you need to get back there! make sure you tell me when you do!

amy - i did eat like a queen.. but felt like the town fat slob afterwards haha

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