Culver City just got a little cooler: Chef Benjamin Bailly, formerly of Petrossian in West Hollywood, has taken over the helm at Fraiche. And he has revamped the menu to blend French (he’s from France, natch) and Italian influences. Perhaps the best part, at least for me, is the reasonable prices for the high quality food: nothing is priced more than $28 on the dinner menu, with most items coming in under $20.
I recently had the pleasure of experiencing the dinner menu myself — along with Caroline of Caroline on Crack — at the invitation of Chef Bailly. Herewith, some of my favorites.
We started with a couple of the potted items under the Share section of the menu. I really liked the smoked trout rillette with lemon, chives and creme fraiche. It was creamy and packed full of flavor. The eggplant caviar (really just the seeds of the eggplant) topped with golden raisins and marcona almonds was also a winner — and pretty.
The brussels sprouts salad had lots of sweet and savory flavors with its mixture of chorizo, dates, almonds, manchego cheese and piquillo pepper vinaigrette. I loved the juxtaposition of the spicy chorizo against the sweet dates, and I’m a huge fan of brussels sprouts in general, so this salad was perfect for me.
And speaking of perfection, the mushroom agnolotti topped with more wild mushrooms, mascapone cheese and truffle butter was amazing. AMAZING. I could have lapped up that sauce all on its own. This is a must-order dish. I hear Chef Bailly also makes a truffle burger, which I will definitely go back for.
From the entree menu, we had this crispy loup de mer served on a bed of sunchoke soubise (a béchamel-based sauce normally containing strained or puréed onions), wild mushrooms, crosnes (small crispy tubers in the mint family), salsifi (the root of a flowering plant) and bordelaise sauce. As you can probably tell, this dish was full of uncommon ingredients that required a bit of Googling. But while I was eating it, I didn’t feel like it was so exotic; rather, all the items came together nicely, from the perfectly cooked fish to the strange-but-tasty crosnes (the little white things underneath the fish that either look like seashells or larvae, depending on your point of view).
For dessert, I enjoyed the pistachio crème brûlée served with apricot sorbet and rosemary cookie crumbles (and a cool sugar design). I’m a sucker for anything pistachio, and I had never seen it served as a crème brûlée, so this was a treat.
We were also served a slew of cocktails by mixologist Kiowa Bryan, and my favorite was The Big Lebowski, a deconstructed white Russian. Most of the other drinks she graciously presented to us had just too much going on for my taste.
All in all, I would recommend the new menu at Fraiche for your next trip to Culver City. Thanks again to Chef Bailly for making this happen!
Note: This meal was hosted.