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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Larchmont Grill: Hold the Burger, Go for Calamari

I walked into Larchmont Grill with semi-high expectations from word of mouth and yelpers. I went on its Burger Night (Wednesday) that offers all kinds of different burgers, including a $19 Kobe beef burger that seemed to get mixed reviews, a basic one and a BBQ bacon cheddar burger.

The short end of it is that the burger was definitely above average. The patty was flavorful and I loved the sweet potato fries you could substitute regular fries with. However, it had some issues for this burger-crazed snob.

For one thing, the sesame seed bun was far too dense and dry, meaning it was either not the best quality bread or it was at least more than a day old.

While the patty was flavorful and had a red, semi-bloody interior, it was a little more cooked than I would have liked, although not overcooked enough to take back. When biting into the middle part, it seemed ok, but the edges were most certainly overcooked and the patty was hardened and dry as a result.

The cheddar cheese, butter lettuce, red onion (could go easier on those) and what tasted like an heirloom tomato were the works, alongside a side of avocado added as an extra. The barbecue sauce on the side was good enough, although not as good as the sauce from Los Olivos Cafe up north, which I've said I could drink by the bowl.

The fries were crispy and hot.

I also liked its take on fried calamari steaks, which it dusts with rice flour and serves with a tarragon caper aioli and a sweet chili dipping sauce. The calamari looked like chunky home fries, except they were really soft and crunchy squid chunks instead. The rice flour gave it an airiness that made fried food feel less heavy. The dipping sauces went well with the squid, although I personally liked the aioli better. The chili sauce could have used more heat.

The starter salad of butter lettuce, cherry tomatoes, radishes, avocado and pecorino romano shavings with a chipotle ranch dressing was refreshing. It was a bit overdressed for my taste and I wished they kicked it up a bit with the chipotle dressing as I could barely detect any heat. I realized later that the composition of the salad was very similar to the works in my burger, but it didn't matter. I could never have enough of avocado, tomatoes and pecorino cheese anyway.

The dessert was ok but I wished they hadn't dumped so much whipped cream on the ricotta fig tart. The tart itself was good and I loved the fresh berries it came garnished with. But I could barely taste the fig in the compote or jam that was drizzled over the tart and I could have used some condensed milk or better yet, really good, home-made vanilla ice cream or hazelnut gelato, to go with it instead of the dollop of cream that I shaved off.

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