Sunday, July 05, 2015

Ostrich Farm: Echo Park's Cozy, Stylish Spot Flies Under the Radar

Ostrich Farm's interior is simple but not austere

Some very good restaurants have opened in the area this year, and Echo Park's Ostrich Farm is one of the best of the lot. It was also a good chance to read up on why it's called Ostrich Farm, since I had heard more about the South Pasadena bird attraction than the Griffith Park one. In this month's Los Feliz Ledger, I gave it the top rating of four forks. Read the review:

Ostrich Farm is the swankiest place to open in Echo Park since since Allumette closed up a year ago. But where Allumette's ambitious, borderline-molecular dishes never quite seemed comfortable in the former Allston Yacht Club space, Ostrich Farm and its light touch with new American cuisine feels like the right spot at the right time.
seared shrimp and asparagus

Ostrich Farm proprietors Jaime Turrey (who ran the Monsieur Egg cart) and Brooke Fruchtman (a former LACMA exec) are first-time restaurant owners, but after five months they seem to have everything running smoothly, with a clientele that includes lots of locals of all ages and the occasional movie star.
The former purple-painted pupuseria is now a bright, white space with big windows looking out on Sunset, a long marble bar and sage leatherette banquettes. The only wall decoration is a block-printed tapestry, which combines with modern gold lamps, vases of baby's breath on each table and rough linen napkins for a stylish rustic look right down to the stubby wine glasses.
flatbread with grilled peaches and burrata

The menu seems simple at first glance, with a few flatbreads, the now-inevitable chicken liver toast, mussels and meatballs among the starters. But layers of flavors are revealed when you bite into the flatbread with grilled peaches, fennel and a generous puddle of burrata, which you'll want to snack on forever with a glass of rose or Sauvignon blanc. Grilled shrimp and asparagus, topped with shards of parmesan, looks basic, but the perfectly-grilled shellfish is a light complement to some of the richer dishes.
pork osso buco with polenta

Sea bass, rib eye steak, and roast chicken make up most of the entrees along with a braised beef pot pie and pork "osso buco" style. The pork is a bowl of pure comfort, with pillows of braised meat resting on a bed of pudding-like polenta decorated with broccolini, roasted fennel and roasted tomatoes. It's the kind of dish where each forkful is an experiment in combining salty, bitter, smooth and savory to create just the right flavor in your mouth. A soft-shell crab BLT sandwich special gets a little confused with layers of mayonnaise, roasted tomatoes and thick-cut bacon on sourdough bread but it's hard to complain about something so decadently satisfying.
The dessert list is small but more tempting than most -- salted dark chocolate tart sounds appealing, but we tried a cherry galette topped with whipped cream and a marzipan base, the ideal celebration of the current season's fruit. 
Sadly, Ostrich Farm is unable to use its rear patio for seating due to noise concerns
Ostrich Farm (named for the railway that ran to a 1880s Griffith Park tourist attraction), seems to have figured out how to be stylish without being pretentious and creative without being fussy. You could buy 50 pupusas for the price of a meal for two here, but right now, this is what the area wants.

Ostrich Farm, 1525 W. Sunset Blvd., 213-537-0657