Orris Restaurant, West Los Angeles
One place I used to frequent back in SoCal was Shiro in South Pasadena, whose whole deep fried catfish with ponzu sauce and cilantro was such a favorite of mine that I literally had dreams about it. I found out today that the chef has since opened up a casual place in West LA (2006 Sawtelle Boulevard, 310-268-2212) serving French-Japanese small plates. I'm normally not much for fusion, but given my historical affinity for his food (and the fact that I really needed something light after that brutally heavy Mexican meal earlier today), we came down here for dinner.
Fortunately there was no problem getting a walk-in on a Sunday night, especially since they had counter seating available. We picked up a number of items, such as the asparagus salad above, which turned out to be the most straightforward of the bunch. I got more excited about the grilled artichoke, whose smoky taste was delicious enough that I didn't even touch that cajun aioli on the side, lest it cover up the natural flavor. Other dishes that we had fun with included the foie gras and Japanese eggplant, as well as a chicken and endive salad that provided exactly the refreshment that this tummy was looking for.
Unfortunately, I've been spoiled by the likes of Cal Pep in Barcelona, whose small plate counter service is one of my favorite meals of all time, setting the bar so high for me that this place couldn't keep up. But at the end of the day, this place really was still very good. In fact, normally I hate beet root, but they provided enough Basque sheep milk cheese and dill weed in a beet dish tonight that it made the deep red root partially edible to me. I'd probably be a regular here if I lived nearby.