Saturday, February 15, 2014

Freddy Smalls Bar & Kitchen: Bedeviled, and the Addictive New Menu

It's such a great time for food lovers to be in LA. There are new and exciting restaurants opening every week - it makes it easy to overlook reliable neighborhood gems that deserve just as much attention, like Freddy Smalls. When I first fell in love with the place, it involved giant splits of bone marrow with a carnivore's dream platter of fixings called Reuben's Gluttony.  But, like the aggravating Keith in Some Kind of Wonderful, totally got sidetracked by other distractions and forgot about the one who'd always been there, Watts.  Recently, when I was invited in to Freddy Smalls to check out their new Winter menu, it was like rediscovering an old friend and seeing them with eyes anew.

My first bites reminded me why I need to put Freddy Smalls back into my restaurant rotation asap: Buffalo Deviled Eggs ($4) crisp chicken skin, point reyes blue cheese, CP's hot sauce, celery.  These were easily the best deviled eggs I've had in LA that I can remember.  The egg yolks had a whipped, super creamy yet lovely, light consistency, balanced by the crunch of crisp chicken skin, punctuated by flaming dots of chef Charlie Parker's instantly addictive housemade hot sauce (which may just be our salvation from #srirachapocalypse), and lent a light, delicious funk with the point reyes blue cheese.  At $4, these signature (available year round, not just on seasonal menu) perfect bite-sized bar grub are ones I could easily eat dozens of at one sitting.

Fried Brussel Sprouts ($8) smoked goat cheese, apple cider glaze - as you know, dearest reader, like a child still at heart, I no like vegetables.  However, these brussel sprouts (also available year round) struck a great balance between savory, smoky, sweet, and sour.
Daily Special: Short Rib Terrine with romanesco, burrata, pine nuts, radish. Chef Charlie Parker is really into charcuterie, and makes his own in house. Once in a while, you'll find his creations worked into daily special plates.  The short rib terrine somehow reminded me of the texture of corned beef.  But for me somehow the sides upstaged the main attraction: the accompaniments were to me, food art: the alien/microbiology experiment-looking romanesco always make for fascinating points of visual interest, and added a nice crunch here in perfect counterbalance to the creamy burrata underneath all the greenery. I usually hate the shape and texture of pine nuts but they worked really well here.
Along with charcuterie, chef Parker makes his own pickled veggies, and those fresh, delicious juices made it into an unusual cocktail: The Brine ($ ) vodka, house pickle juice, olive. A cure for the case of common cocktail boredom, for West LA folks.
Aside from charcuterie, there are seafood plates to be had as well on the focused but well curated menu: Seared Scallops ($15) sunchokes, cara cara orange, green olive. Loved the sunchoke cream especially here with the cara caras adding sweet juicy acidity to cut through it all.
To finish: Rocky Road Namelaka ($8) toasted meringue, almond praline, murray river salt. In a mason jar.  Loved this dessert, kind of a study in contrasts: rocky road would have suggested rough hewn / bumpiness while namelaka is a Japanese term for creamy texture. Essentially it's a light, chocolate ganache crowned by deliciously toasted meringue, and bit of saltiness to add dimension to the sweet.

The rediscovery of Freddy Smalls reminded me that this level of care and craftsmanship with bar fare is a rarity in this particular stretch of West LA, and I'm making a mental note to make my way back again soon (especially for those deviled eggs!!!).

 *Disclaimer: This meal was hosted.


Freddy Smalls Bar and Kitchen
11520 W Pico Blvd Los Angeles, CA 
Ph:  310.479.3000


Freddy Smalls Bar & Kitchen on Urbanspoon


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