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Friday, August 7, 2009

Stefan's at L.A. Farm

3000 W. Olympic Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
(310) 449-4000

You ever rub a baby’s bottom? That’s how soft Stefan’s opening was on Friday. The restaurant could fit 150 and there was five tables seated when I arrived around 9PM. Still hanging on from his fame following a second place finsh on season 5 of Top Chef, Stefan Richter has taken over the LA Farm hidden two miles inland in the city of Santa Monica.

$6 Kumamoto Oyster with Absinthe Jello and Fennel Vinaigrette (6)
It was a clean tasting oyster, but the absinthe jello was so small, you really don't taste it as the oyster enveloped my one swallow.

$3 Like a Big Mac (2)

There was some confusion on this dish. I was misled to believe that ‘Like a Big Mac’ meant it would be an upscale double patty version of a slider with Thousand Island dressing. But ‘Like a Big Mac’ alluded it was sitting under a heat lamp for an hour. The slider was dry and unimaginative.

$3 Tater Tots with Hidden Valley Ranch (0)

Reading the tater tots on the menu, I had to have it. I wanted to see what play on words Stefan had created. How he would take something as nostalgic and remedial as tater tots with ranch and transform it into a dish worthy of a gourmand. The dish was meant to be taken literally, it with tots with ranch and probably the worst dish to order. It was so simple and he still managed to fuck it up, heavily salted. It’s pathetic that he served it and that Angelenos are expected to order it.

$3 Truffle Arancini with Lemon Aioli (2)

It was such a small bite, it was difficult to get any taste out of it at all. No truffle, no lemon, just a hint of deep fry.

$3 Sweetbread Schnitzel with Potato Salad (5)
A decent dish that could have used a sauce. The breading was seasoned well, sprinkled with parsley, and had a crisp finish. But, I would prefer to have my potato salad at a picnic table.

$12 Sliced Pigs Head with Champagne Chive Vinaigrette, Radishes, and Frisee (3)
This is the second time I've had head cheese, the first at Riva also in Santa Monica. Riva's preparation produced a much better quality meat, much better. It would be like comparing Jamon Iberico de Bellota with Oscar Mayer.

$27 Seared Diver Scallops with Pea Puree, Crispy Proscuitto and Turmeric Oil (9)
The entrees did a 180, the scallops were well seared as you can see. In the last month, I have had two dishes with pea puree and loved them both. The other was Il Grano's sauteed salmon. This puree with richer with the addition of cream and prosciutto. The inspiration for the dish is similar to a traditional pea soup with bacon, but so much better.

$20 Mini Mushroom Ravioli with Foie Gras and Black Truffles (8)
I ordered the celery root ravioli, but the other ravioli dish was brought to the table. This dish is what you would expect it to be, rich and heavy. I have no criticism, I like truffles, foie gras, and mushrooms and they came together well. The truffles were of a decent strength, pretty good for $20.

$3 Red Wine Ice Cream Lollipop (5)
It reminded me of a couple dishes from The Bazaar, cute on creative, but lacking in taste. Still it's worth the $3 to try his creamy concoction.

(Patio Area)

I spoke with Stefan for a couple minutes on my way out since there were no diners and he mentioned they stopped taking reservations. He had as much comfort in his voice telling me this as he did when he lost Top Chef. I think the isolated Olympic location could prove to be an issue, but time will tell. If it wasn't obvious already, my advice would be to stay away from the Small Plates menu, it ranges between $3 and $4 and you get what you pay for.


  1. Nice post. I was there for lunch last saturday and actually had a few of the same items you did for just slightly less money. We hated it, but I tried to post an objective review. I also posted it on Chowhound, but much drama ensued when Stefan personally responded and was quite rude to me and said some things in the post that were not true, such as that he was there during lunch (2 staff members said otherwise) and that it was a training meal. (then why did they take the res and charge me $75?) CHow first pulled his comments down, then mine, but when I appealed they put mine back up since I made a reservation and they charged me.

  2. That's kind of funny, what were some of the comments? I could feel his frustration if you're working 20 hour days just to get drilled by bloggers once you open, but you have to be honest about your experience.