Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Fresh Look at Fraiche and the Ultimate Buns

Both Angeleno Magazino Magazine and the LA Times Magazine named it "Best New Restaurant." Irene Virbilia of the LA Times and Jonathan "Mr. Pulitzer" Gold of the LA Weekly undoubtedly salivated all over their keyboards when they wrote their reviews. And New York Times columnist Frank Bruni put it on his list of top ten restaurants in the United States.

Even though the raves for Culver City's
Fraiche Restaurant had been pouring in faster than opinions after a Sarah Palin interview, I still hadn't bellied up to the bistro. It took Jen at Oishii Eats to get me to cross to the "other" side of town to sample one of the best restaurants in LA.

After I commented on Jen's blog about my love affair with the gougères at
Tartines in SF, she clued me in that I could get a burger on a golden roll at Fraiche. I've always considered the bun the weak link of the hamburger, but a gougères, a savory cream puff, could become the ultimate bun. I hadn't been this excited about a new food pairing since I dumped my sour Gummis into my popcorn at the movie theatre.

So when a friend asked me where I'd like to go for my birthday lunch, I didn't hesitate. "Let's get Fraiche," I answered.

With all the accolades, I was prepared for a bit of airs from our waiter, but he couldn't have been more unpretentious. I asked him, "Now how do you pronounce that wonderful French bread that comes with the hamburger?" (Strangely enough, the menu doesn't mention the type of bread.) He hadn't a clue, but looked at the menu and saw the word "gruyère" and attempted to pronounce that. I explained, "No, gruyère is the cheese that's in the gougères and on top of the hamburger." Even though he didn't know a gougères from a gruyère and I still couldn't pronounce gougères, I liked our waiter.

The burger was everything that I dreamed it would be. Prime beef cooked to perfection, melted gruyère on the ultimate bun - crusty on the outside, light and airy on the inside and infused with herbs and the same yummy "king of the Swiss cheese" that tops the meat.

I ate mine with just a touch of homemade mayo, but my friend loaded up her medium rare burger with the tomatoes and lettuce.

These photos are fuzzy, but check out Eat Drink & Be Merry's review for some tantalizing shots and a more comprehensive rundown of lunch items at Fraiche.

Check out the golden gougères surrounding the cash register.

Look for the "Royale with Cheese" on the menu. It's served with a side of herb fries for $13 and is only available at lunch. No matter how you order it ("The hamburger on the French bread I can't pronounce"), you're in for a treat.

9411 Culver Blvd
Culver City

Consider combining a visit to Fraiche with one or more of these other Culver City activities:

- Do the write thing at an IWOSC (Independent Writers of Southern California) meeting on the fourth Monday of the month.
- Get lost at Surfas, the Mecca for cooks and food lovers.
- Yield to affordable massages and facials at the Massage Garage.
- Sip a Manhattan at the bar and check out the historic Culver Hotel, where parts of The Wizard of Oz were filmed in 1939. Find out if those rumors about the Munchkins are true.
- Catch a play at the Actors' Gang at the Ivy Substation.


Anonymous said...

I'll bite (be your first commenter). Yesterday I found a recipe for gougeres on my Trader Joes pancake mix box. I'm learning from you people!
Heres another Culver City recommendation

Museum of Jurrasic Technology

SAMO Calling said...

Wowie, looks and sounds good Susan. I'll add this to my list of CC places to try.

Anonymous said...

What a great post Susan. I didn't think anything could drag me out to Culver City, but this & the bookstore will. (I think it's "goo-zheres. If not, someone is sure to correct me.)

Margaret said...

Boy does that look good. And, as someone who is terrified of pronouncing anything that looks French, I appreciate the humble confusion over that bun word.

Susan C said...

PA You had me going for a second about the TJ's pancake mix box. Or not?

Thanks for the link to the museum. I'd never heard of it.

SAMO: The NY Times columnist recommends the monk fish liver. I think I'll try that when I return for dinner.

AH: Thanks for the French lesson. I have finally learned how to say Nicoise properly.

MF: We should sign up for a French pronunciation class together.

Sharon said...

Oh wow, those look amazing. I'd definitely add the tomatoes like your friend did. Glad the service is still friendly despite their accolades.

Hope you're enjoying the debates and the tuna salad!

Anonymous said...

And for dessert...Susan, check out these brownies: Brownies go with tea, right?

Anonymous said...

I'm doing the cauliflower recipe sort of, right now while I blog. I got the head at the 99 cent store. I have fresh garlic and olive oil. I don't have sea salt and I've done a mix of powdered sage and Rosemary from a bush outside. God help us.

sj said...

HI! You have been given an award on my blog... please come "claim" it when you have a moment!

Thanks :)

Anonymous said...

I never returned to give you the results. It was good. So good that my partner finished it off.

Susan C said...

PA Next time, you'll have to order TWO burgers. Glad you liked it. I can't wait to go back again. I am very disillusioned with Pasadena dining.