Fundamental LA

If you know me, you probably know I’m not a huge fan of Dine LA.  First of all, I haven’t had very good experiences.  Second of all, I’d rather spend more money to get what I want than to be restricted to a prix fixe menu for less money.  What can I say?  I’m particular about my food and I don’t mind paying for it.  That being said, I made reservations for Fundamental LA not knowing it was Dine LA week, but we decided to partake in the offering anyways because it pretty much included most of the things we would have ordered anyways.  Since there were 3 of us, we were able to order 1 of everything off the Dine LA menu.

Requisite open kitchen shot

Summer Salad mesclun greens, hazelnut, white nectarine, celery, champagne vin

I could have made this at home!  Really not much special going on here, and I would have expected the nectarines to be sweeter.  Fun fact, Oregon produces 99% of the U.S. hazelnut crops!

Brussels Sprouts tom yum glaze

I love getting brussels sprouts at restaurants because they always taste so much better than when I try to make them at home.  I think its because restaurants often deep fry them, while I am loathe to create any situation where I’ll have to scrub and clean even more than I already have to.  These definitely had the flavors of tom yum: lemongrass, kaffir lime, chillies.  The sour punch became a bit overwhelming after a few bites.  I think this is a good concept but needs more refinement.  The veggies felt a bit too soft for my liking too.

Daily Crudo yuzu, togarashi vinaigrette, sorrel

I don’t remember what type of fish this was but it was clean and fresh tasting.  However, there was nothing else too spectacular going on with the rest of the dish here.

Beets & Burrata arugula, di stefano burrata, pistachio, beet vinaigrette

How can you dine New American and not have beets right?  I think the beets were a bit too salty which overpowered their natural inherent sweetness.  Quite a shame.  The burrata (hidden under all that arugula) was a very nice pairing though.

Wild California Halibut yellow eye bean, kale, rosemary, mushroom broth, nori

Oh god, worst fish ever!  It was either NOT fresh, which I find hard to believe, or just completely overcooked.  It had this awful dry mealy texture.  I found the broth to be pleasant but could not make up for the bad bad fish.  The beans definitely made the dish worse adding only more dry textures.

Smoked Brisket Poutine french fries, gravy, emmenthal, pickled red onion

This was a very good idea.  The heaviness of the gravy and meat were balanced out well with the pickled onions.  However, there wasn’t enough gravy and the french fries were cut much too think for my liking.

Wild Sockeye Salmon summer melon, cucumber, dandelion, basil, mint

This wins as the most unique dish of the night.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a cold poached salmon paired with melons and herbs like this.  It was strangely good and perfect for summer.  Triple T and Smooth Obturator were also fans.  The herbs added some great freshness.

Carrot Risotto carrot butter, mint, manchego, shaved baby carrots

Triple T and I really wanted to like this dish but it was too salty!  With each bite I was hoping the sweetness of the carrots would shine through, but alas, it did not.  The texture was just right, not being too mushy, wet, dry, undercooked, etc.  The carrot risotto I had at DOC in Portland was far better.

St. Louis Style BBQ Ribs corn pudding, bbq sauce, scallion

How could they forget our last course when our order was as simple as “One of everything please!”  We waited a whole heck of a long time for this, but it was worth the wait and in the end sort of made us forget about all the misses of the night.  The ribs were so tender with a perfect amount of sweet savory bbq.  I think the best part was the corn pudding, which tasted like a starchier, heartier version of creamed corn.  I’m not sure what went into besides corn and a whole lot of YUM, but we cleaned that bowl so there wasn’t a drop of yellow left by the end of dinner.  Winner!!

Churros with Butterscotch 

We actually doubled up on these since we didn’t want the cheese plate for dessert.  We took home the extra portion for Baby G, but he probably threw them on the floor or at Triple T’s face.  He’s a fickle one that Baby G.  Anyways, these were ok.  I think the churros at the Redondo Beach Pier are better!

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta chocolate, almonds

I found the texture to be a bit too gelatinous for my liking.  It wasn’t too sweet which was nice.

I had high hopes for Fundamental LA, with its farm to table, fresh, seasonal approach, yet it sorta missed the mark.  See, now I’m not sure if it was underwhelming because it was Dine LA or because it’s just not a great restaurant.  Those ribs really assuaged our disappointment, so overall we felt the meal was OK as opposed to bad/don’t come here.  And since I love that corn pudding oh so very much, I am willing to give this place another go.  Unfortunately, it seems like my friends and family defer the dining decisions to me.  So I’d be hard pressed to actually chose this place over trying some place new.  Somebody make me come back here!
Anyways, Triple T, Smooth Obturator, and I were having a discussion that we are rarely impressed by much food these days.  It’s been a while since I’ve added anything to my list of “Best Things I’ve Ever Eaten” widget on the right.  We eat good things, but not many wow things.  Is it because our palates are too refined now?  Have we just eaten too many good things and therefore the average things seem even less than average?  Am I just being a snob with too many first world problems?  First world problems FTW!

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