Behind an unassuming red door in Hollywood lies the next great Los Angeles restaurant. Littlefork is minimally designed, very cool but unpretentious. And I never once thought “gastropub” during my meal. The hostess greeted me by name, though she had never met me before (obviously I had a reservation) and led me and my friend, Kristine, to our table with easy conversation that made me feel like I had been a regular there for years. They’ve only been open for two weeks.
First order of business, as usual, is cocktails. A very well done bar menu, courtesy of Dino Balocchi, had me throwing out any sense of New Year’s resolution laden sobriety. Kristine had a James & York which is a rum and port based drink with a rich hint of molasses and pineapple. I wanted to be poolside immediately after I stole a sip. I started with the Saskatchewan Summer; a rye whiskey and cardamom infused Old Fashioned that was beautiful balanced and original. Kristine, who is not a whiskey lover, was so impressed she ordered it after she finished her first drink. Later in the evening I moved to The Maestro which was a dark bourbon number, replete with notes of cinnamon and bitter citrus. I looked very cool drinking it… as is obvious from the above picture.
The kitchen, helmed by Jason Travi (formerly of Fraiche), sent out a jar of pickled brussel sprouts to each table to whet our appetites. I would normally consider this cute and comical except that the sprouts were seriously amazing. Spicy, garlicky and tender. We had to have a powerful conversation with our waiter about the etiquette of drinking the remaining pickle juice at the table.
We ordered the Malt Vinegar Pork rinds to start and I say to you all with complete honesty, it was one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life. Clean and light as air with so much exciting bite that I didn’t know what to do with myself. My tongue became serpentine trying to understand all the flavors. It will take a major overhaul in the pork rind industry to make something better than this.
Onward to the Oyster Sliders which were, by comparison to our pork rinds, a little underwhelming. They were too small on the tiny brioche buns and the bites became more about the bread. I wanted large sweet Atlantic oysters exploding in my mouth, dripping with tartar sauce. Perhaps open face next time?
Redemption was only a moment away with a Warm Mushroom Salad, tossed with radicchio and Parmesan. So many wonderful organic flavors coming together. I sensed a mushroom jus in the vinaigrette but can’t be sure. We used our fingers to snag every little leaf and stem left on the plate.
Brussel Sprouts braised with apple cider and topped with warm crispy chicken skin were dark, tender, and delicious though I wanted a tad more excitement from the chicken skins. But the dish was finished before I even had time to think about it.
I had to be restrained from sticking my entire face into the Monkfish Francaise. This tender, crispy and buttery dish far outshines any monkfish I have eaten before, including my own. It sits atop a snowy bed of cheese curd laced mashed potatoes that had me weeping into its gentle richness. The word here is “perfection”.
The dessert selection is small, consisting of three options. We had all three because I want to see if I can get my cholesterol level to the low 300′s by Valentines Day. Root for me! The Apple Cider Donuts, a Northeast standard, were not totally to my liking but I think that is my fault, not theirs. Just a bit too much fry causing a slightly crustier donut than I had envisioned. I like a softer donut. I probably have no class. The salted caramel was a golden dream though.
A Buttermilk Maple Pie with candied orange zest was fun and playful on the palate and was dying for a coffee sip after each bite…which I gave it.
But it was the Whoopie Pie that was superlative. Everything I remembered the classic treat to be without making it too gourmet, which is the right choice. Just a skillful and simple use of classic chocolate cakey cookies with marshmallow fluff. I was a kid again, bathed in sweet crumbs of nostalgia.