Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Getting Fraiche, Culver City

Memo to our waiter at Fraiche in Culver City: When working at one of the most talked about new restaurants in the city, you can't be shy. Now, I don't want you to hunker down next to us, scrawl your name in crayon on the table covering and call me darlin', but I do want you to meet my eye, refill my wine glass, and check in with us about the slow arrival of our food.

Fortunately, the food at Fraiche was knocking us out right and left, and we mainly forgot about Mr. Bashful. The latest opening in restaurant-crazy Culver City, the Fraiche kitchen is headed by husband and wife team Jason and Miho Travi, drawing on their collective experiences at Spago, Sona, Meson G and La Terza.

The LA Times critic calls the menu "rustic Mediterranean", I call it "all my favorite foods in one place." House cured guanicale? Farro salad with English peas? Rabbit-stuffed tortelli with fried artichokes and sage? Branzino cooked in parchment with clams, purple potatos and sweet corn? Rhubarb-hazelnut cake? If I were on death row, this'd be my last meal. Every dish was well-balanced and bursting with spring flavors (other chefs seem to agree--Govind Armstrong arrived for a bite at the bar toward the end of the evening).

And the prices? Extremely reasonable (entrees $22ish-$29ish, pastas $12ish-$16ish)--makes me cringe when I realize we've spent similar amounts at disasters like Dusty's.

In addition to an airy main room, Fraiche includes a large, street-facing patio, as well as a bar tucked away in the corner. At the bar you'll find specialty cocktails made with fresh juices as well as a different bar menu. You'll also find my pet peeve, a television, and as we ate our dessert in the elegant dining room, it was disconcerting to hear patrons cheering while watching the NBA playoffs. So, Fraiche: train your waitstaff, turn off the boob tube, keep that rhubarb cake on the menu, and I'll drive across town on a weeknight to see you again.

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