A few weeks ago I donated some blood platelets to UCLA Immunogenetics for research (FREE MONEY!!!) and is actually the 2nd time I’ve done it in the past 9 months, but unlike the first time I did it, Ben Bailly wasn’t at the helm of Fraiche in Culver City. As most of you know, he just recently took over and has since done WONDERFUL things with the menu. I even was invited by him personally to come in to try some of his new menu items. That was a great meal in itself and was definitely in contention for meal of the year.
For one who lives in the San Gabriel Valley and have done so my entire live, more or less, I rarely go out to West LA for anything, except for food or a woman, but I digress. With that said, I decided to make the most of my late morning appointment at UCLA and decide to stop by the restaurant to reward myself for the good deed. Plus, I had to replenish those blood cells 😉 It also happened to be the 2nd week of Winter 2011 DineLA. Not that I would have had any problem paying full price, but I’m just saying.
Ben kinda knew I was coming because I had tweeted him the day before, so I asked the hostess to let him know I was there. As nice of a day it was, even though the tarps were down, I decided to sit and eat outside on the patio. Ben came out and was actually a little surprised to see me, to which I said “didn’t you see my tweets?”
As most of you know, I had just visited the restaurant back in November of 2010, not even a month after he had taken over the restaurant, in which he has revamped and retooled, putting his own personal touches on, including the beloved truffle burger.
I normally do not look at the menus for DineLA, but for this, I just had a peek. A lot of sounded good, but eventually went with the arugula salad as a starter, the grilled salmon as my entrée, and the ever popular caramel budino for dessert.
The salad came out and looked great. Lightly dressed, peppery arugula with finely diced chorizo, shaved manchego cheese, marcona almonds, and dried cranberries. Everything was a nice contrast to the arugula, with some saltiness and smokiness from the chorizo, a different saltiness from the cheese as well as the almonds, and then a touch of sweetness and tartness from the dried cranberries.
My salmon entrée came out and it looked really good. Cooked to medium rare (the way I like my salmon), on top of a bed of a sauté of farro, wild rice, and arugula. The rice was cooked nicely and seasoned well, and the tangerines and tangerine sauce added some nice mild acidity that helps bring out the flavor of the salmon
Lastly for dessert, the caramel budino. You really gotta love the Italians. They do justice to the awesomeness of a custard. Take the butterscotch budino at Pizzeria Mozza. How can you NOT love that? This one though, simply presented in a white ramekin with some sea salt and vanilla mascarpone, the growing trend of combining salty and sweet was just a perfect way to end a casual lunch. I actually wouldn’t have mind ordering another one, but I had to be good.
I don’t have to go on and on about how awesome this restaurant is and how much I love Ben Bailly and his food. I really hope I can continue to go time and time again, and that he will be there for a long time.
9411 Culver Blvd,
Culver City, CA 90232