We loved the counter seating that is conducive to quick bites with drinks whether solo or with a group (there is also a communal table in the bar area).
I had been pre-alerted to the amazing English Milk Punch, but apparently this takes so much preparation, it is only served in limited amounts per day and they were already sold out the night of our visit. But Mixologist Mike Lay was a great host, who guided us through the rest of his drink menu.
Both used fresh juices that made them taste like they are good for you. Yes, craft cocktails are a favorite way to get at least some amount of fruit in our system.
Regular readers know my obsession with sea urchin, so yes, I may be a bit biased as they 'had me at uni'. But, this truly was surf and turf at its best: raw glorious deliciousness. The steak is perfectly fatty, tender, lusciously smooth, with its natural flavors enhanced by the umami of miso and texture made cohesive with cream. The plump tongues of uni lent rich, creamy, briny ocean funk, while tiny squares of seaweed and flakes of bonito provided contrasting levity. All this is served up with round crisps perfumed with fragrant black sesame.
One of the best preparations of steak tartare I've had in LA and one that I definitely wake up craving and need to go back for, soon.
The previous dishes showed creativity, but this one was sheer genius.
With the roster of talent in the kitchen, and their Michelin-starred cred, it shouldn't be a surprise that a plate of this level would be produced - but it was on the whole revelatory: the bright citrus (I'd never seen used with pasta!) sent bursts of sweet and tart through the pillowy pasta packets, packed with flavorful tender oxtail, punctuated nicely by the crisp crunch of chicharrones strewn throughout. And that the chicharrones were made of beef tendon vs the typical pork skin, giving it a denser, less airy consistency I thought helped it retain its crispiness against the sauce and juicy citrus pieces. Then there was the bone marrow butter: pleasing, decadent globs of fatty meaty goodness, little treasures to be discovered among the other ingredients on the plate. Brilliant, and instantly addictive. The second time I went back to F&F, this was the first thing I had to get.
Do NOT leave Faith and Flower without eating at least one plate of this.
First, Asha lined up a bottle of La Fee, a Listerine-blue/green colored absinthe, with containers of straws and matches.
She proceeds to pour some of the absinthe into a snifter, lights a match and ignites the liquid. Out shoots blue flame, which reminded me for some reason of a Patronus (yes, big Harry Potter geek over here, and this analogy before I even had a taste of the famed, allegedly hallucinogenic in some forms, spirit). A seahorse. Patronus. As in, force for good.
A cloth napkin is swiftly placed over the opening of the original glass, which is turned over, trapping the smoke.
Asha then instructed us to stick our straws into the overturned glass, inhale a puff of absinthe vapor, hold it in for a beat, then take a swig from the tumbler. Tip: don't make the same mistake I did of thinking you had to inhale the smoke down to the bottom of your lungs. Just take a shallow breath. Holding in the smoke is said to help open up your air passages, the better to allow the liquid absinthe root beer mix to travel quickly and release its flavors to maximum effect.
The taste is actually better than any other absinthe that I can remember - still lots of anise fragrance and flavor, but much less intense and much more drinkable.
For those who have never tried absinthe and worry about its storied history - this is safe, legal, restaurant bar grade absinthe. You're not going to hallucinate, or end up in the ER. All in great fun, and I say something that makes F&F even more of a destination. This would definitely make your meal an unforgettable one.
If I ever win the lottery, this is where I'd host the celebration.
I had the Oxtail Agnolotti again of course, but also got to try two desserts that I fell in love with immediately (the pastry chef IS afterall French Laundry alum, and this is probably as close as I will get to that foodie mecca for a very long time...)
The first: Stumptown Coffee Creme ($8) with almond sponge, star anise meringue and coconut sorbet: loved the interplay of rich/light flavors and creamy, spongy (hand torn, fluffy cake) and crunchy (meringue) textures here. The Hazelnut Chocolate ($8) 'Les Gianduja' chocolate mousse, hazelnut sabayon was also outstanding, like a giant chocolate truffle with a crunchy pie-crust-like-bottom.
And no birthday celebration, or visit to F&F, for that matter - would be complete without absinthe for the grand finale (see cool shot of this second round at the bar via @conbon's Instagram here).
Can't wait for the next time I get to go back to F&F: I already know what I need to order.
*Disclaimer: The first meal mentioned was hosted.
Faith and Flower
Look for reservations (and OpenTable points!) here.
Parking: Valet $6 for 3 hours (?) $8 thereafter