Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Little Next Door ~ Food 6 Desserts 10

My mom was in town this past weekend and I took her to Little Next Door, the spawn of its popular parent restaurant, The Little Door. I went when they first opened and was very disappointed with both food and service but the ambiance is great! I am obsessed with the imperial violet blue and royal gold color scheme. I really wanted to like this place so I figured one more trip couldn't hurt.

They now offer table service, whereas last time you ordered at the counter before sitting down. We ordered 2 cafe au lait from a friendly Frenchman. They arrived piping hot, rich, and smooth in large bone colored bowls which felt comfortable and satisfying. I could tell there was a good barista in the house because due to the perfect microfoam on top. We didn’t order wine, but this little cafe is heaven for those who love a good wine by the glass selection. 5 whites and 6 reds are offered all between $5.00 -$10.00 per glass. Tres Bien!!

While we waited for our food to arrive, which did take awhile, the warm, nutty smell of browned butter wafted throughout the space. If that doesn’t make you hungry nothing will.

At the waiter’s suggestion, I ordered the grilled salmon sandwich on brioche bread. It was layered with a variety of spicy mixed greens and thin slices of salmon. One word … DRY. The bread was delicious but the sandwich itself lacked flavor and inspiration.

My mom ordered the Pesto Chicken Sandwich with grilled zucchini and summer squash. This sandwich had more flavor thanks to the pesto and was not as dry due to the grilled veggies, but the chicken could have used some time in a marinade. The baguette it was served on was good, but far too much bread for the petite amount of chicken and vegetables inside.

We also ordered one Harissa Egg to share. It Harissa is a hot red pepper paste used in North African cooking. It tasted like a deviled egg with a zesty bite. Yum!

One of my favorite pastry chefs in LA, Michael Brock, recently moved from Boule to Little Next Door. I’d told him how disenchanted I was with their pastry on my first visit but I trusted things had gotten better with him at the helm and I was right! I asked him to bring us his favorite sugary offerings … we’ll start with my favorite. A vanilla panna cotta layered with grapefruit gelee and topped with grapefruit supremes.

“OH MY GOD! This is the best dessert I’ve ever put in my mouth.” Those were my exact words. The tangy tartness of the cool grapefruit gelee combined with the rich, soft, sweetness of the velvet-like panna cotta. We ate the entire cup. We couldn't stop. There were four other treats to try but this one lured us in, mouthful by heavenly mouthful.

In second place were the caramel sea salt truffles. Delectable dark chocolate filled with savory sweet caramel; Excellent. At this point we could not manage one more bite. Our waiter was very understanding and brought us to-go boxes for the remaining 3 pastries. These were devoured the following morning at home with coffee.

The vanilla beignet was light, fluffy and the creamy custard inside made me melt. I’m not a huge fan of flaky puffed pastry, but my mom liked the raisin roll and said it was buttery but not overly sweet.

Last, the apple tart. This had wonderful flavor. Cinnamon, brown sugar, butter and apples mingled in my mouth. The crust was a little difficult to cut through due to sugar that had caramelize on the bottom of the tart but we warmed it up and overall, thoroughly enjoyed each bite.

Go for the fine European atmosphere, go for the great coffee and delectable desserts.

Little Next Door
8142 W 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA
9am-6pm Daily
Phone: (323) 951-1010