Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Croquer: Brunch Alfresco at Little Dom's

When Little Dom's opened in Los Feliz proper last year on Hillhurst, I was very excited. It was exactly the breath of fresh air that corridor needed - not intrusive, but complimentary. Very much a "neighborhood joint", Little Dom's also offers a level of class most of the other establishments in the area don't strive for. So when I heard they were starting to offer breakfast and brunch, up pricked my ears. Coming from Portland, OR, where brunch is a ART FORM, I have at times fallen out of the habit here in LA. With a few exceptions, the brunch scene has done little to titillate, rather rehash the same ol' offerings in a lukewarm bath of cheap champers. After months of longing, I finally made it to Little Doms' brunch. None of this was the case here.
I was running a tad late. Passing the busy corner of Hillhurst and Avocado still scoping for parking, I saw my date idly waiting among a small crowd outside. Shoot! I hadn't anticipated a wait here. I jogged up to the corner to find we actually already had a table waiting, everyone was all smiles (this was no queue at Fred 62!) and we were led to our lovely little sidewalk table. Our glowing waitress took our drink order and let us know about a lovely sounding special of roasted asparagus, poached egg, grilled bread and fennel pollen hollandaise. The menu didn't make deciding any easier. The Italian twists are subtle, but enough to rub the breakfast diner clichés right out with a firm rustic hand. I had read good things about the sweets (ricotta blueberry pancakes; french toast soufflé), but the idea of fennel pollen hollandaise made me swoon. My date set his sights on the Eggs Funghi (Poached eggs w/ Roasted Mushrooms, Grilled Bread, Fennel Pollen Hollandaise), so I was satisfied to try something different. I ordered the Oven Roasted French Toast Soufflé w/ Crème Fraîche Whipped Cream & Maple Syrup and a side of Grilled Wild Boar Bacon. We got a side of Fried Potatoes for the table.
My cappucino was just as I like it, and the first word out of my date's mouth tasting the orange juice was "w-wow!" - tart and juicy fresh-squeezed, nothing else but the fruit. Though we opted for a virgin morning, the table beside us ordered a bloody and mimosa, which defined perfection coming out: chili-salt-rolled lemon wedge and bright red pepper clinging alongside the 13" celery stalk on the handsome bloody; an elegant crystal flute holding an almost rose-hued mimosa put the dinky cheap glass OJ shots elsewhere to shame. Note for return trip! Realizing we were salivating at the cocktails' reflection in the window beside us, we turned our attention back to our own table as the food arrived.The soufflé sat snugly in an earthenware ramekin, coated in powdered sugar. It was crispy on the surface, but steaming and custardy in the center, like a perfect union of bread pudding and funnel cake. The wild boar bacon was a challenge even for me (a meat and bacon lover), it was possibly the thickest, most fragrant and beasty bacon I've ever tasted. Closer to skirt steak or deer jerky than bacon, the slightly gamey plate of meat tendrils wasn't quite the compliment to the soufflé I anticipated, rather a staggering flavor to be reckoned with. Still, it was deliciously prepared (and yes, my brain was already planning uses for it after I took it home).The Eggs Funghi on the other hand, was big on flavor - but delightfully light and far from overwhelming. The idea of a heavy hollandaise was one main reasons I wavered on the menu, but this is not your commoner's "benedict". No, the fennel pollen hollandaise is light, in flavor and texture, and popping with tart, complex flavors. An instant favorite. The simple sounding fried potatoes (note: I tend to HATE breakfast potatoes) were also completely delectable, caramelized from cast iron and benefiting largely from a generous squeeze of lemon and fresh herbs. We were impressed.
Like every good server should, ours was at our side the second the first bite hit our lips.
Yes, we had everything we needed.

2128 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027 (323)661.0055
Apologies for my subpar mobile photos!

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