That being said, I DO have something to write about, albeit a week later. Last Thursday my friend Madeleine and I used a Living Social deal I had for Stefan’s at LA Farm (www.stefansatlafarm.com) in Santa Monica. I have heard great things about this place, so it was good to finally check it out, with a discount to boot!
We had an early reservation (6pm), but that I think was a good thing as we got more attention initially and could watch as the crowd slowly came in. I had asked our server when it gets hoppin’, and she told us it would fill up after 7….and she was right!
If you’ve never been to LA Farm, I recommend checking it out at least once, even if just for drinks. It’s in a non-descript office park, and from the outside you’d think “WTF?”, but once you walk inside, they’ve made it very inviting and comfy. One note of caution: carpool! The parking lot is paid parking and not cheap…I wound up spending nearly $20 on top of my dinner expense. Ouch! There isn’t any real on-street parking available either.
So back to the meal. We started out with some small plates. We ordered three to start: the mini fois gras sandwich, Milwaukee’s best shrimp tempura, and the grilled cheese trio. The mini fois gras was literally a tiny bite…..but it did taste good. The shrimp were very crispy, and I actually enjoyed it given that I don’t much care for shrimp. It had a nice dipping sauce too that was tangy but not sweet. And the grilled cheese – they offered a blue cheese bite (very delish), a classic cheddar, and one that seemed more like a hush puppy, but apparently was made with brie and sat in I believe a raspberry sauce. I didn’t much care for the brie one, it just seemed too heavy.
For our main courses, Madeleine ordered the Whitefish. I asked specifically what kind of white fish and our server told us it was a fresh water/Great Lakes fish. She shared and I had a bite and it was moist and delicious. It even had flavor! I find most white fish bland unless they flavor it with something, but they didn’t add any heavy flavors on top of it and were able to actually enhance the natural flavor of the fish.
For myself, I ordered the beef tenderloin with asparagus and a hollandaise sauce. It was a thick and tender cut of beef, very well seasoned and grilled perfectly. It was nice and pink inside, like I prefer, and the hollandaise sauce was a nice compliment (it was on both the steak and the asparagus). It cut almost as easily as butter. I savored every bite…..but I did share a few nibbles with Madeleine (civilized people share!).
To round out our meal, we indulged (okay, indulged further) in a dessert. As the server started relaying our options....I stopped her dead in her tracks and options #2 – Nutella crème brulee. Neither of us needed to hear more. She brought us this creamy, chocolately, hazelnutty crème brulee (and yes, it had the standard crust of burnt sugar). We were both in heaven. It’s one of the better desserts I’ve had in a while.
I definitely would love to go back with a group and order a bottle of wine and share a bunch of small plates and appetizers around one of their fire pits. It’s a great place, inviting atmosphere, and relaxed. The downside is the price – plan on spending upwards of $50 each. Even with my Living Social deal, the bill AFTER the deal was still $70, plus another $28 for tip. While I feel it was worth it, it’s more of a special occasion place --- unless you’re one of the lucky few with an expense account or very flush funds.