Monday, July 09, 2012

Faux Pas Bistro - CLOSED

Los Angeles, CA. It takes some guts to name your restaurant Faux Pas – defined as an embarrassing social blunder, something you mustn’t do. It would be like naming your restaurant “Mistake!” in red blinking lights above the door.

Despite the name, there is no mistaking the charm in this restaurant’s décor, with a wide façade that opens out onto the intersection of Fairfax and West 3rd Street, the perfect perch from which to people-watch. The marble-topped tables, the mirrored walls, the zinc horseshoe bar… someone obviously spent a lot of time in French bistros and attempted to recreate the atmosphere here. They’ve largely succeeded in Faux Pas, but like The Grove across the street, there’s something a bit Disney-fied about this place, something a bit inauthentic, a bit too American to truly imitate a bistro.


The same could be said about the food. It’s good – a solid addition to the neighborhood, a great place for a post-shopping glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a salad – but it’ s not quite French, not quite American, and not yet great.

Warm bread with Marinara sauce
The menu is divided into appetizers, soups & salads, sandwiches, entrees, pastas, pizzettes, and sides. It’s French with a wink: Mac “avec” Cheese, Sweet “Frites”, that sort of thing. After I ordered the waiter delivered a brown paper sack of warm whole grain rolls studded with sunflower seeds. They were delicious but I was expecting baguette (this IS a bistro, after all), and the rolls were served with a questionable little bowl of marinara sauce. The bread was piping hot, crusty on the outside and soft within, but the sauce was extraneous… they’d do better with a nice salted butter.

Tuna Tartar with Parmesan Crisps
Among the appetizers (“Les Starters”) you’ll find the ahi tuna tartar, a heaping tower of tuna with crisp bites of apple, pine nuts, and creamy avocado. This was my favorite dish of the night and was a clear indication of the portion size at Faux Pas – most definitely American! It was more than enough for two to share and could make a lovely meal at the bar on a solo night. The large parmesan crisps that accompanied it were a little clunky – heavy on the grease – but overall this dish was delicious.

Ahi Tuna Salade Nicoise
A salade nicoise was the second course to arrive: seared ahi tuna on a bed of greens, hard boiled egg, potato, plum tomato, green beans and black olives. The greens were overdressed yet somehow under-seasoned; but the individual elements were lovely including the mustardy potato, usually my least favorite part of a nicoise. Typically the salad is made with flaky albacore in olive oil – and why mess with a good thing? – but the ahi was nicely seared and still very rare inside. 

Prosciutto, Parmesan, Arugula and Pesto Pizette
Finally the waiter brought out a prosciutto and arugula pizzette with pesto sauce. There are several pizza places on West 3rd, so to compete on that front a restaurant needs to be vigilant – and this was Faux Pas’ weak spot. They obviously aren’t using a wood-burning oven, and the crust lacked any discernable char or yeastiness. The pizza dough was floury and under-salted, the pesto made dense and dull in the oven, the cheese non-existent, the prosciutto and arugula tossed on top with nothing to bind it to the pizza or each other. One slice was enough. 

Pineapple Bundt Cake
There is no dessert menu, per se; the waiter described what was on offer that night, and I chose pineapple bundt cake over tiramisu and flourless chocolate cake (isn’t the flourless chocolate thing OVER by now?). This pineapple bundt cake singlehandedly redeemed Faux Pas’ pizza problems. It was an individual cake, steaming from the oven, filled with pineapple, crusted over with caramelized brown sugar and topped with a dollop of homemade Chantilly crème. These are the things that inspire drooly dreams. I will return for this cake. I will make this cake. I will order this cake for my entrée.

Spend an evening sitting in the open window with a glass of wine, an appetizer, and a friend to share that pineapple cake. Go for brunch or for an early glass of wine and forget where you are for the moment… just stay away from the pizzette section. The location is perfect, the atmosphere charming, the service attentive…so once this bistro finds a way to fix a few of the faux pas happening in the kitchen, it will be just magnifique!

Faux Pas Bistro
7910 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 424-4767

3 Responses so far.

  1. Anonymous says:

    well, you succeeded in making me drool and be wishful of being nearby this restaurant so what more could you ask of a food blog? nice job

  2. Erin L. says:

    Glad to hear it!! Thanks for reading!
    And seeing that cake again has me drooling, too.

  3. Anonymous says:

    nice posting.. thanks for sharing.

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