Ostrich Farm ups Echo Park’s dining scene with pork ‘ossobuco,’ if not ostrich
Name of restaurant: Ostrich Farm, after a bygone railway that traveled the nearby hills and ravines to Griffith Park. (No ostrich on the menu.)
Chef/owner: Jaime Turrey — formerly a server and cook at several San Francisco restaurants and the monsieur behind the Monsieur Egg one-man oeufs-and-pastries cart — is the chef and co-owner, along with his wife, Brooke Fruchtman, who decked out the stylish restaurant and runs the front of the house.
Concept: A spot-on neighborhood restaurant in a former pupuseria, across the street from Woodcat Coffee Bar. Its modern white facade stands out on a chock-a-block stretch of Sunset Boulevard, where other dining options include the Park, Guisados and the Holloway.
Turrey has a menu of the kind of pretenseless dishes that are the hallmarks of many of L.A.’s best neighborhood restaurants. They’ll probably look familiar – chicken liver on toast, Brussels sprouts with pancetta, pot pie, mussels and fries. “I spent a couple of summers riding my bike through the south of France and eating ungodly amounts of moules frites,” Turrey says.
The core of the small kitchen (where there’s only enough storage to ensure that everything’s coming in fresh daily) might be Turrey’s live-fire grill. And the menu’s dotted with the tell-tales that reveal his passion for it — the grilled romaine in the Caesar salad, for example.
The 48-seat dining room is cozy and simple yet well appointed, with a marble-topped bar that takes up most of one side of the dining room and a seafoam-green banquette that runs the length of the other side. A tall fig tree stands near an open window into the kitchen, and brass fixtures accent the white walls. It’s pretty chic.
What dish represents the restaurant, and why: Pork “ossobuco” with polenta and grilled broccolini. This isn’t for ossobuco purists who are expecting a bone-in veal shank. It’s tender, tender pork, served on a soft mound of creamy polenta (rather than the traditional Milanese risotto) and fire-grilled broccolini. Simple, but the dish reflects the time and care that went into preparing it.
Runner-up: The grilled Caesar salad. Turrey says it’s his favorite thing to eat here. The romaine is slightly smoky from the grill, and the dressing is sharp and bright with anchovy, garlic and lemon: more than the sum of its parts.
Who’s at the next table: A couple sitting across from one another; she’s dressed in a distressed denim shirt and he’s in a trilby. A family of four (including two small kids with backpacks) has decided to sit at the bar. And everybody seems to be eating the roasted vegetables with horseradish cream.
Appropriate for: A casual drop-in (solo even) for a glass of wine and grilled flatbread at the bar; a special date; a meet-up with a small group of friends to share several dishes. Pretty much all-purpose.
Problematic: It’s really hard to find something to complain about here.
Service: Friendly and prompt.
What are you drinking?: A Wind Gap Trousseau Gris 2013 and a Farmers Jane Chenin Blanc 2011, both crisp and summery.
Ostrich Farm, 1525 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 537-0657, www.ostrichfarmla.com.
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