Raising the Bar at Barbrix

David started compiling a list of things-attractions, museums, restaurants, etc-that we have yet to check out in LA and beyond. I've been (I'd like to think) extremely helpful in piling on the restaurants as I read about them on DailyCandy, Thrillist, Diglounge or any of the other email box fillers to which I subscribe. D may disagree on that point...

So, last Sunday was our 2.5 year anniversary. It may seem silly to some, but we always like to acknowledge little milestones like that. Just wait for Emily & David season! (That's from Halloween through mid-December, in case you were wondering. Gifts and/or parties not required but always welcome.) We thought it would be fun to go somewhere a little more special than the norm for dinner, and went to our ever-growing list for an idea. One of the newest additions is actually one of LA's newest restaurants--Barbrix opened on May 11th. It's so rare for me to actually go to one of these places so soon after their opening, I'm tempted to pat myself on the back...however, I should disclose that I know one of the owners, Adria Tennor. A ringing endorsement from our mutual friend Elizabeth was the extra push I needed to get over there asap.

Barbrix adds to the growing number of restaurants in LA specializing in small plates--basically Americanized tapas. This allows the diner a chance to try out many different things on the menu for the same (or less) cost as just getting one full-portioned entree. As a person who likes to experience many different flavors in one meal, I LOVE places like this.

The menu is a good size, with a lot of option for those of the carniverous persuasion (more MEAT-meat than poultry), as well as flexitarians like us. Here is a little synopsis of the menu items we opted for:

Burrata with artichokes alla romana- Ice cream cheese, as D calls it, is most always delicious. Soft and subtle, with a tiny bit of stretch texturally, I personally think it could the secret to world peace. Marinated artichokes are a close second, so the pairing was pretty much a match made in heaven. It was drizzled with a scant olive tapenade that could have been more of a presence on the dish.

Three cheese plate: rocchetta (Piemonte, Italy-sheep, cow & goat’s milk); Bermuda triangle (Cyprus Grove Chevre, CA-bloomy rind goat’s milk); quickes farmhouse cheddar (Sommerset, England-calico-wrapped cow’s milk)
Perhaps restaurants such as this already expect us to know the difference between a goat’s milk and a sheep’s milk cheese, and that if we order the bleu, we know it’s SUPPOSED to be a little moldy and stinky. However, as we just pretend to know what we’re doing a lot of the time, I would love if they gave suggested cheese combinations, so you can be sure you’re getting a good variety of flavors and textures. I think we did a pretty decent job flying blind, though. The Rocchetta was one of those stinky cheeses and my least favorite. The cheddar was softer than expected but had a round, assertive and mildly sharp taste. The Bermuda Triangle was my fave. It was neat-looking, like triangle-shaped brie with a varied interior color palette, and was creamy and delicious. To me it tasted like a combination of brie and goat cheese. I was tempted to snag the whole log of it that was sitting on the bar. With the cheeses was served some quince and roasted almonds, along with slices of baguette. The sides were great complements with all the cheeses.

Turkish Chopped Salad-To me, this tasted a lot like my tabouli, minus the bulgar wheat and feta. It was really fresh and tasty-the lemon/garlic vinaigrette was perfect. Plus, Mister and Miss Picky ate their respective dreaded cucumbers and tomatoes with nary a whimper. So proud of us.

­Crispy Grilled Polenta- I think it’s pretty much impossible to screw up polenta with creamy mushroom sauce. It’s just a lot of goodness on a plate, you know? I did feel that this one could use a little bit of a kick in the sauce, though, a bit more spice or salt. Cream is delicious but can get bland…

­Farmer’s Plate- I had no idea what a ramp was, and for some reason was envisioning it to be some sort of small fish, like an anchovy. Turns out it’s more like a green onion in looks and texture, and tastes mighty nice pickled. But then, anything pickled is all right in my book. Beets were unadorned but good. There was a third veggie on there, grilled, whose name escapes me-the texture was reminiscent of fennel, the taste that of a bitter brussel sprout. I liked-the boy did not.

We were enjoying our meal (ahem *wine*) so much that we apparently completely missed the earthquake. To our credit, no one else seemed to notice, either. I guess the place was rockin' enough already!  Less than a week old, and it was completely jam packed. I'm glad I made a reservation!

Speaking of wine, we each had a couple glasses of red. For the first round, David opted for the Ca’de Calle ’07 (Argentina) and I had the Babich, Lasin & Pavina, “Riserva,” Alan Bibich ’06 (Croatia). I felt the Babich was a bit too tame--almost watered down--so on the second round I joined D for a Ca'de Calle. It was a richer red, with some faint buttery notes. Mmm. Both wines were $6 a glass, an extremely reasonable price. The prices of glasses ranged from $6-$9 for the most part.

As soon as I saw Adria’s favorite ginger shortcakes, with berry compote and whipped cream on the menu I knew we would have to have dessert. Another good thing about these small plate places--it takes more to stuff yourself, so you(ok, I) usually have room for dessert. This one stayed on par with the rest of our meal-the shortbread wasn't too sweet, with a nice touch of ginger, and the berries retained much of their tartness. It was pretty perfect in its simplicity. I'm now determined to recreate something similar at home, but I'm thinking peaches instead of berries. Don't doubt me, I have all the ingredients! 

All in all, our experience at Barbrix was a very positive one. Aside from a couple of snags that are destined to come with growing pains (they forgot to bring us two of our dishes for quite some time) we had a really great meal and got an early look at what promises to be one of LA's most popular new hip spots. Do go check it out-the menu varies from week to week, so you may not see all the things we had, but I am betting you'll find something you love.

2 Dozen Roses for 2.5 awesome years


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