Thursday, July 1, 2010

Dining at the Bar, Barbrix

Barbrix Restaurant & Wine Bar
2442 Hyperion Avenue
los angeles, CA 90027
(323) 662-2442

You couldn't ask for a more perfect post-Eclipse early summer supper. Driving through Los Angeles in the setting sun from the Arclight to Silver Lake, Barbrix beckoned with its tree and shrubbery filled patio, open front glass wall looking into the darkening bar and restaurant beyond.  We eschewed our reserved table and settle into the three seats left specifically (not) for us at the corner of the bar so we can look into each others' faces while we chat, plot, plan and share while eating.

D is late, as is often the case. But fortunately this time I am not riding side-car, so T and I get even more time to chat girl-talk, peruse the menu and order garlic fried sweet breads w/harissa aoili, burrata with eggplant tomato sauce from the e.e. cummings-esque menu. Our bartender allows me to taste the albarino and instead chooses for me a luscious viogner. Thank you.

Sweetbreads.  When Barbrix opened (just a year ago, really?), I had never eaten a sweetbread. I loved the sound of a garlic fried anything with harissa aoili, so I bravely jumped in feet first.  The were good. The very next day, strolling through 3rd Street Promenade across town, I stopped into Gaucho Grill for a glass of wine and ordered their grilled sweetbreads for comparative analysis. Now these were sweetbreads in a less adulterated state. A giant sweetbread on a plate grilled and not camouflaged by any breading or chopping whatsoever. Sweetbreads are the thymus or pancreas typically of a calf or lamb. I appreciated seeing the whole sweetbread grilled the way nature intended at Gaucho Grill. However, after both experiences that weekend a year+ ago, and a few more in between, I am sold on Barbrix's garlic fried sweetbreads. Now, I liked the grilled sweetbreads at Gaucho, with the beautiful looking grill marks and joyous tasting carcinogenic char. But the sweetbreads at Barbrix have the same underlying gaminess presented more subtly.  Smallish chunks of organ meat are breaded lightly and deep fried with plenty of salt.  The harissa aoili is tangy fatty goodness, and each piece of the beautiful dish only needs to be dipped a teeny tiny bit for a kick.

There is nothing wrong with the burrata and eggplant dish. In fact, it is delicious. The rich creaminess of the burrata is the perfect foil against the silky eggplant and smooth thick olive oil drizzled around the plate. The tomato sauce has a hint of smoke, I'm not sure if this is from grilling the eggplant or maybe some smoked paprika. We are too busy talking for me to ask, or even pull out my camera to sneak snaps in the fastly darkening bar.

D arrives and doubles the order for the burrata/eggplant and adds deviled eggs with cured sardines (marinated boquerones).  For a man raised on gelfilte fish, he is oddly suspicious of the beautiful salty and vinegared sardines laying across the top of each egg half. Yum. We hungrily share out the deviled eggs, T and I rescue his abandoned sardines from a garbage can fate. 

As we empty our first course plates and I drain my glass of viogner, I ask the bartender about the syrah v. petite syrah. I like something a little jammy, and she suggests I try the Syrah as the Petite Syrah has some earthier elements. This earthiness appeals to me and during a taste test I find it wonderful and full glass worthy. Everyone agreed.

T and I share the perfectly sized Caesar salad with plenty of garlic and hand torn croutons. Immediately afterward out marched the wild boar sausage with garlic peppers and pistachio rappini aioli.  The sausage is lovely, I would guess it was housemade. It seems extremely fresh in flavor and texture, the texture almost slightly crumbly, not as tightly packed as store bought sausage. The pesto is amazing, thick and substantial.  More a puree of rappini and pistachio nuts than a pesto. I think of pesto as having a little more oil. No complaints here, I would happily repeat this in my kitchen sometime soon. Maybe this weekend.

D orders the roasted cauliflower salad with chickpeas and charmoula dressing. This is a super generous small plate, and he cannot finish it. I know historically I love this dish, but I am too busy with my Caesar to help.  He also orders (every time we come he orders) the papardelle with ragu bolognese.  He loves a thick housemade noodle. He loves (like his brother) anything bolognese. This dark tomato based meat sauce just clings to the thick noodles in a small deep bowl, and cleaning the dish he is done and pronounces himself full. As are T and I, while in contrast my glass of Petite Syrah is empty.

We head out into the very dark night to pay our overpriced valet parker. T & D head to Yogurtland (where did they find the room, iono) and I head straight to bed. I barely have time to turn on the DVR before my head hits the pillow and my day is done. Was it the sweetbreads, the boar or the deviled eggs? I dreamt of vintage clothes, vinyl records and flying kites, the preoccupations of my twenties. I woke up happy.

Barbrix in Los Angeles on Fooddigger


stuffycheaks said...

gaucho grill has sweetbreads? awesome, thanks for sharing. hard to find sweetbreads that are simply grilled and not masked by brading

Food, she thought. said...

I'm not even 100% sure that Gaucho Grill is still there, but yes the sweetbreads they serve are very simple. If you want to know what they taste like, look like unbreaded, give it a shot.

Diana said...

Beautiful post, beautiful story.

Welcome back! :) We've missed you!

bed frames said...

I had a great time reading this review. It is so good. This is just one reason why I really love visiting your blog. Your posts are so interesting.