Thursday, May 21, 2009

Moving on at Barbrix

2442 Hyperion Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Nestled at the base of Franklin Hills is new kid on the block Barbrix. Barbrix is good. Maybe very good.

Housed in a lovely little ex-home, freshly stucco'd and nearly stretching at the seams with people waiting, begging and pleading for a table or seat at the bar, I am impressed with their capacity despite what felt like close quarters. Once the furor dies down it will be easier to feel the openness of the space, first represented by the beautiful four sided bar to the left when you walk in the front door. With north facing walls that open up onto a lovely freshly landscaped patio, you can look in at fellow patrons or out over the young shrubs at the hills of Silver Lake. In the rear there is a larger dining room with an L shaped open kitchen, everyone dressed in white and hard at work.

Five small OG picnic tables (two 4 tops ever so slightly rusted like they have been waiting for this opportunity in someone's garage), a string of lights and giant red umbrellas make a festive and friendly spot in which to dine. I cannot wait to eat out here late one summer evening when the mercury refuses to dip below 85. Summer is coming, readers, I can smell it.

The menu is yet another small plates offering. This food modality would feel relentless were there not so many delicious examples all over Los Angeles; Bazaar, AOC, Tasca, Bacaro, and so on and so forth. I am happy to try again.

Love their wine list. None, well maybe one, of the usual suspects, and this always thrills me in a wine menu. I tell the server my favorite whites are Spanish, albarinos and Crios torrontes and she bring me a very serviceable Grasevina from Croatia for $6. Some similarities here with a torrontes, slightly herbaceous and floral without too much mineral. Well done.

D went for a more well known Chateauneuf du Pape for $12 a glass. We have had such good luck with so many Chateauneuf du Pape since drinking multiple bottles of the Chateau Fortia at Church & State last fall. This one does not disappoint. I switched to it as well, after my appetizer. I might have even had two. Three glasses of wine? That is so unlike me. No, no it is not.

I didn't delve too deeply into the beer menu, but it too offers interesting choices. A Celtic wheat ale, Belgian triple ale and an organic English ale. Someone had fun buying booze for this place.

One of the owners, Adria Botta, came by our table. She has worked in service at both Campanile and AOC, while her husband Claudio's pedigree includes a stint at my beloved Four Seasons Aviara as well as both manager and wine director at Campanile. He helped Angelini open La Terza and worked as VP for La Brea Bakery. These are some people who know food and what Los Angeles wants.

We started with a simple ciabatta, one of my favorite breads. I loved the wooden bowl instead of the basket. And for two people? Two slices really is enough.

D requested the devilled eggs. Simplistic devilled eggs, and while I really prefer the devilled eggs at Jar, it's hard not to like any devilled eggs. These are topped with a salty little anchovy and lots of chives. $5 for two eggs. Totally reasonable.

Feeling a little madcap after all the drama yesterday I decided last night was the night to try sweetbreads for the first time. Garlic fried sweetbreads with a harissa aoili. Name something that couldn't be made delicious by lightly coating it in breadcrumbs and garlic and deep frying. Go ahead, make my day. The coating and frying were very light handed, and the gameyness and organ flavors shone through but not in a way that would be off putting to a more timid eater. Delicious. $7.

Next course, vegetables. Farro salad with English peas, onion, mint, pine nuts and feta. The sharp, soft and nutty flavors together are perfectly balanced. Delightful. Could have eaten two orders. $6.

My favorite dish of the night. Roasted cauliflower with green beans, chick peas and charmoula dressing. What I really tasted here was the smoky roasted taste of the cauliflower against the slightly tart charmoula. Good. Very. $5.

Soft candle light is so romantic as the sun goes down. I found myself wishing for a heat lamp, and instead bundled up tight in my little jacket and enjoyed the company of my husband. Anyone following this blog closely knows what challenges we have faced this year, and last night felt carefree somehow despite it all. All that and the flashlight app on my iPhone! Please see pics below!

Halibut. I love halibut. I know some people find it to be a generic tasting fish. But I adore the meatiness of it. And find it works well with many strongly flavored accompaniments. Last night they offered it with sun chokes, chard, alba mushrooms and gremolata. As a kid, my mom made gremolata to season a beef dish. It is still one of my favorite flavors. Garlic, parsley and lemon zest. Barbrix's gremolata is more rustic than Mom's. The pieces of lemon zest are pleasingly large, adding a surprise tartness to the more mellow flavors of the mushrooms and sunchoke. $10.

The prime skirt steak tagliata was my favorite dish of the night (HA!). Placed on a bed of slightly wilted arugula over a pool of olive oil and the smokiest, most sultry-sweet balsamic I have ever had.

Served medium rare (we were not asked how we would like it cooked, just bring it on, please), make sure to get a swoosh of the oil and balsamico and a few leaves or arugula in every single bite. Eat it. $12.

A lovely mid-week repast and locale to share stories, people watch and sit silently, waiting for summer.

Barbrix in Los Angeles


Kristine G said...

I have never had sweetbreads, either. For some reason it makes me think of Hannibal Lector, but I am down to try it. lol :)

Food GPS said...

Glad to hear you enjoyed your barbrix experience. It's definitely one of my favorite places to eat in Silver Lake. Adria and Claudio are both so welcoming, the space has quickly become a community hub and the high-quality food is generously portioned. It also helps to have such a unique and reasonably priced wine list.

It's With A K said...

I've never had sweetbreads either. Organ meat is not my most favorite flavor, but I've been pleasantly surprised before.

I want that halibut. Now please :-)

sarah said...

Yum! Can't wait to try this one.

SinoSoul said...

hmm.. almost made it on opening day but.. sooo behind! thanks for the write up!

Food, she thought. said...

K: The sweetbreads were lovely. Shall I saute some fava beans?

GPS: Both they and their staff have it nailed, IME, immediately. Luckily for me, Barbrix is within about a 25 minute walk from my house. Perfect for the summer nights to come.

With a K: Do you enjoy liver? They don't taste of liver exactly, but not NOT exactly either. Does that make sense?

Sarah: You'll enjoy it.

Sinosoul: Get with the program!

Vi_Vi said...

More food porn! That place sounds great. I'm not a big fan of sweetbreads, but done right they are pretty good in small quantities.

Ravenous Couple said...

Sweetbreads, esp if they are veal at that price is a bargain!! From the looks of it, seems like a really reasonably priced place so might have to check it out sometime.

Food, she thought. said...

vivi my love: it was a perfectly sized small size. WITH aoili. Nom.

RC: Please come give business to my neighborhood!

the woolly monkey said...

I want the steak.
Give it.

And the fish and mushrooms.
Best picture ever.
I am SO starving now.