As I’ve attested to before on this blog, I’m a Ludo fan. But there’s another French chef who’s carving his name on my culinary heart. I first encountered Chef Ben Bailly’s food while he was heading the kitchen at Petrossian. His wild mushroom cappuccino became one of my favorite dishes of 2010. Towards the end of the year, he decided to move over to Fraiche in Culver City where is he currently giving their menu a makeover.
After the Eat My Blog bake sale, Kung Food Panda, Hong of Ravenous Couple, @LIMER35, Husband and I headed over to Fraiche for a marathon brunch; Chef Bailly stuffed us silly on a tasting of the brunch menu and then some.
First off was a trio of rilletes. One was a chicken liver parfait with green apple jelly, one was a smoked trout and I’m not sure what the pepper garnished one was other than yummy. Served on the side was some toasted rustic bread. I enjoyed all of these but the smoked trout especially; I love smokey flavors.
The next two dishes made me want to run out and get mini cast iron skillet pans for my kitchen. The “Baked Eggs” was a rainbow of runny-yolk eggs, olives, cherry tomatoes and goat cheese. The “Soft Polenta” was creamy polenta topped with wild mushrooms and a slow poached egg. Both were delicious and hearty but the polenta edged out the baked eggs for me since, well, mushrooms…
The Eggs Florentine was a rich dish. Chef Bailly really knows how to do a good egg and these two soft-boiled egg unleashed a gush of yolk when broken into. The creamy sauce with the spinach was balanced by the crunchy toasted bread underneath.
At this point, we were all starting to feel the fullness but the food kept coming. Delivered next to our table was the Fraiche Benedict. Roasted tomato Hollandaise, warm arugula and two eggs on a toasted slice of bread, this was a creative variation of a classic.
Some of you regular readers may remember, Husband doesn’t really eat anything that grows from the ground and all these dishes had vegetables. What was he eating all this time? Well, he nibbled on some of the toast and waited most patiently for the next dish, Toulouse Sausage. Scrambled eggs with bacon and a plump juicy sausage. I think my only complaint about this dish was I wish the sausage casing had a little bit more snap to it. For the meat lover or someone wanting a “classic” breakfast dish, the Toulouse Sausage is a great choice.
The pork belly hash followed. This was a “meat n’ potatoes” dish – Pork belly, potatoes and a slightly fried egg garnished with a dijon mustard sauce. Definitely rich and heavy with a nice “kick” from the mustard. If you order this, make sure you are hungry! I could only take two bites at this point.
The next two dishes Chef Bailly sent to our table were from the lunch and dinner menus. First up was his truffle burger cooked to a medium. Juicy, flavorful and oh so delicious, this definitely was one of the best burgers I’ve had.
The bucatini with parmesan, pancetta and a slow poached egg was heavenly. I don’t usually order pasta when I go out to eat since most of the time, I feel like I could make something similar at home and I find pasta to be too filling. But the bucatini here at Fraiche is now one of my absolutely favorite pasta dishes ever and I would order this in a heartbeat. All the pasta is made in-house, by the way… @LIMER35 told me the pasta had that little hole in the middle because they pulled out that section for angel hair pasta. Sad to say, I believed him for a minute…
Last (we reached the end!!) was a return to the brunch menu with something on the sweeter side – Pannetone french toast with vanilla mascarpone and maple syrup. Oh nommilicious. Not overly sweet with that that perfect crunchy outside and soft inside, the french toast is great choice for both children and adults alike.
We were also sent several specialty cocktails. Let’s see…starting with the champagne glass, clockwise… Bellini (which I asked for), I don’t remember, the Poison Ivy which I really liked, and I want to say that the last one with the cinnamon stick was Ben’s Breakfast. Hey, I’m a food blogger, not a cocktail aficionado. There was also a chipotle Bloody Mary which was quite spicy. Don’t breath when taking a sip…
Chef Bailly really knows how to put dishes together that are delicious, filling and visually appealing. Not a surprise for this young talent considering he used to work at Joël Robuchon in Paris and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas. If you’re ever in a need of a brunch spot, Fraiche in Culver City is a great choice.
Catty Critic gives this meal 4 1/2 NOMs.
Fraiche (Culver City)
9411 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232