Tuesday, August 23, 2011

First Impression: Larry's (Venice Beach)

Larry's, the new Venice cafe named for artist Larry Bell, opened this past week just off the Venice Boardwalk, adjacent to the Hotel Erwin.  The restaurant is a collaboration between Mark and Erwin Sokol of the hotel and Brendan Collins and Carolos Tomazos of Waterloo & City.  Chef Collins designed the menu, which brings his charcuterie focused dishes to the beach, with no item over $15.

The restaurant, with its vibrant mural on the exterior, is hard to miss and brings a sophisticated menu and casual vibe to the Venice scene.  The beer list is also of particular note, with 26 beers on tap plus additional bottle options.

I had lunch there this past weekend with some friends including the I Flip For Food duo Mark and Angela.  We began the meal with the Duck & Pistachio Pate, ($12) with was served with seasonal marmalade, mustard, house-made pickles and toast (above).  The pate was quite attractive and the favorite of some at the table, although for me it was overshadowed by the Potted Chicken Liver and Foie Gras Parfait (below).  The parfait ($12) was smooth and delicious and when spread across the wonderful bread, it was like a savory dessert.  Spoons kept on reaching into the little glass jar to get every bit of the parfait.

The pie of the day was a Pesto Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes ($14).  The pizza is thin crust and was crisp without being cracker-like.  As a pesto fan, I was very satisfied with this pie and look forward to trying the Heirloom Tomato Margherita pizza next time.

As the four of us were sharing food, the kitchen took the initiative to cut the Lamb Burger ($14) into four for us unprompted, which was a thoughtful touch we appreciated.  The lamb burger was served on a ciabatta bun and a large cone of fries and an enormous pickle accompanied it.  The burger was fine, but the fries are some of the best in the city.  I'd return just for the fries, if nothing else (although I'd have trouble resisting the parfait) and a glass of beer.

The Organically Fried Chicken Caesar Baguette sandwich ($12) is fried chicken, a fried egg and a caesar salad all on a baguette.   This dish (unpictured) was my least favorite of the meal, despite it being a fried chicken dish, which is one of my favorite menu items.  There was a lot going on in the dish and the fried chicken was definitely not the star.  It came with bacon, which we asked for on the side.  The caesar element also included anchovies, which I give them credit for, but this is not a recommended dish.

We shared two desserts, the Sticky Toffee Pudding (above) and the Peach Crumble (below).  While both were enjoyable, the sticky toffee pudding was the winner.  The toffee sauce and the ice cream, with the powdered sugar combined to make this dessert sweet, but not overwhelmingly so.  Order this dish, but you will be reluctant to share it.  The Crumble was well executed but had a hard time standing out next to the Toffee.  Note: our desserts were compliments of the restaurant.

The full beer list is below:

The bar area is brightly colored and comfortable, with two flat screen TVs and 26 beers on tap at the ready.

The entire seating area is an outdoor patio, perfect for the ocean breezes on a warm summer afternoon.

Larry's: 24 Winward Ave., Venice. Phone: (310) 399-2700. Website: http://larrysvenice.com/

1 comment:

  1. Wish I could have joined you all. Sorry to hear the chicken was a flop. Excited to try those fries and tackle the beer list