Monday, October 6, 2008

O Rly? Actually it's Orris on Sawtelle


Orris, with its whimsical font, has always been in the corner of my eye in the last four years. Everytime I pass through Sawtelle, I always see the purple sign beckoning. But it wasn't until this last weekend that I finally dropped in.

More after the jump...

HC of LA OC Foodventures and I have been planning to come to this restaurant for weeks. Things came up, including a rushed LASIK surgery on my part, and we pushed the dinner back. Eventually, the two of us and my girlfriend found an early Saturday night to try the place. Pronounced "Ore-reese" as explained by the waiter, the restaurant is a Japanese inspired French restaurant serving tapa style small plates. If that isn't a mouthful, the portion-sizes certain aren't either. The menu is split into two simple sections "hot" and "cold." Inside, I found the place tastefully decorated and the waiter knowledgeable and charismatic. In fact, so much so that I wouldn't be surprised if this was his day job and he spent his nights rehearsing his audition monologues like the rest of Los Angeles' waitstaff.

We decided to order two dishes each, a hot and a cold. In the end, six dishes for three people was slightly too little so we topped it off with a dessert. The crab and cucumber salad had a creamy ginger sauce but otherwise tasted plain. I could see it being a more successful dish if the crab itself was better. Being from San Francisco, I tend to be a dungeness crab snob. Also, a crab salad should not have pieces of shell. The braised duck breast with yuzu chili paste did not have much duck flavor and should be avoided.

Crab and cucumber salad

Duck breast

The star of the night was ordered by HC--trio of smoked salmon croquettes with caramelized onions, creme fraiche, and flying fish roe. The amazing combination of both tastes and textures could hold its own as either an appetizer or even a light main course. Sweet onions combined with the tart cream and smokey salmon to top the hashbrown consistency of the potato pancake. Little tobiko bits brought briny flavor grainy texture. I'm beginning to think that smoked salmon makes anything better, just as my previous theory with bacon at Fogo de Chao.

Salmon croquettes

For the heavier side of the meal, our Berkshire pork medallions were tender but not much more. The heavy peppercorn sauce covered everything. The shrimp mousse in the ravioli was hardly a factor in what amounted to more of a wonton than a ravioli drenched in a shiitake mushroom sauce. Served with a side of bread, the shiitake sauce made a great dip. Our foie gras in sweet-soy reduction finished it off with a nutty seared texture. I'll admit, I rarely have foie gras, but it always reminds me of uni. It's something I'll eat, but probably not order exclusively.

Pork medallions

Ravioli

Foie gras

The banana and fig flambe lacked the tableside pyrotechnics I like to see in flambes. Also, the menu said blueberries, which were clearly lacking in our dessert. It was the first time I've seen figs with ice cream, but they did a great job cutting through the sweetness. My greatest discovery was actually my beverage for the evening--Asahi Black. Unlike most Japanese beers which are far too light for my tastes, this one had body and depth, but still tasted pure and refreshing. Overall, I wasn't too impressed with Orris. But if I'm looking for something Japanese with a little more French, I'd return. If I'm looking for Japanese with a little more Italian, it's off to Restaurant 2117.

Flambe

Orris
2006 Sawtelle Blvd,
West Los Angeles, 90025
(310) 268-2212
$10-15 per plate

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5 comments:

kevinEats said...

I tried this place with Ryan a few years ago, when it first opened. I wasn't terribly impressed, but I remember thinking that I'd give it some time before coming back. Looking at this review, I'm not sure much has improved...

H. C. said...

Srsly ;)

Given the hits and misses of this menu, I can't tell if it's one of those restaurants where only a few dishes are good & worth ordering, or if it's just inconsistent all around. I think it's worth a revisit a few months from now, before evaluating.

Great meeting you & your g/f! And oh yea, noticed you were sans glasses. 20/20 now?

Aaron said...

@ HC: Well Fiona stands by it. We'll have to go with her as our guide one of these days. I'm not sure if I'm 20/20. Doesn't feel quite like it, but they said it may take some time to settle.

TonyC said...

ahhhh Orris. what about the joint right next door? Robata-ya? you know you like Jidori chicken fired over binchos!

teenage glutster said...

Awww...Orris.

This was actually one of the first places that helped me discover my passion for food (http://teenageglutster.blogspot.com/2006_05_14_archive.html)

Anyways, yeah man...it should be available on youtube the day after or something