Fraîche, since it's opened, has been one of those potential adventures. so it was with great anticipation that i made plans with Ms. Jen to finally try this restaurant that has been getting swooned over by critics and regular eaters alike...and then found myself making plans to go again a week later with 2 girlfriends who both wanted to go there. i figured this was a good thing: more menu sampling would be possible.
so, the nutshell reviews: Trip Number One. Ms. Jen & i had reservations, and were seated immediately. tables are close enough so that you can easily eavesdrop on the ones beside you if your own dinner date isn't that interesting. had a decent red wine and an order of the lamb spezzatino. Ms. Jen enjoyed the steak & frites. the food was...good. it wasn't anything super spectacular, and i failed to taste anything other than yummy lamb stew. that's fine, but for all the hype & the prices, i was hoping for a surprise tingle of the tongue; something to distinguish this dish from one i might make myself at home, or an unexpected or especially memorable flavour to emerge. Ms. Jen's steak had the same quality: completely good and delicious but nothing memorable.
now, i am not a foodie. i am not a gastroperson. i am a small girl of modest means who loves to eat and does so with great energy and pleasure. i associate good food with good company and love it when i get a food buzz -- when a meal just blossoms with flavour intensity or quality so that the next day you remember it and have a Pavlovian response. while Fraîche was a lovely restaurant, it did not provide that buzz. and due to the modest means of which i mentioned, when those sorts of prices are charged and that sort of difficulty in getting a reservation is involved -- my expectations will indeed rise.
Ms. Jen wisely pointed out that i would have another chance in a week to see if our *eh* reaction was a fluke, or would be repeated. i admit i really, really, really hoped it was a fluke. after all, i can walk to Fraîche.
so Trip Number Two. two nights ago, as you may recall, was a downpour. we had no reservations and were hoping that between the very Not Angeleno Friendly Rain and the weeknight, we'd be able to get a table. upon arrival we were told that yes, we could get a table in about 15-20 minutes. let's just say that about 70 minutes later, we were seated, and that after an ordeal ordering a glass of wine from very snotty bar staff. ah well, the price of eating at an "it" restaurant in L.A., we think. this time around i had the monkfish, which came in a delicious sauce with spinach. i also tried the roasted corn soup that one of my friends ordered. and while i did enjoy the meal, i again had the total *eh* reaction: there wasn't a whole lot of interest or subtlety to the foods i ate. maybe it was the rain, maybe it was being tired, but honestly -- i felt rather depressed going home. it was as if i'd finally gotten to meet a good friend's new wonderful/smart/funny boyfriend that she's so excited about, and all he did was drink cheap beer, tell poopookakafart jokes, and not know who Vladimir Putin is. does this make him a bad person? no. but not very sparkly or special.
so does the *eh* factor make Fraîche a bad restaurant? not by a long shot. but not very sparkly or special.