Restaurant Review #208: La Frite, Sherman Oaks

Onion soup gratinee

On Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks, La Frite occupies a blessedly quiet and relatively large space, but the dining room is poorly decorated and has too much incandescent yellow lighting. On a Monday night, finding free street parking was a snap and we didn't need a reservation, as there were plenty of empty tables - perhaps too many, in retrospect. Most of the other patrons were from the Sherman Oaks retiree set and/or primarily there for a drink at the bar. We had no problems with the service, but restaurant review sites like Citysearch and Menupages websites report some troubling rudeness.

The menu is long and varied, but tries too hard to please. What self-respecting French restaurant serves Chinese chicken salad with mandarin oranges, rice noodles, and fried wontons, or "Pizza South Western" with chicken, red onion, avocado, and cilantro? With items like those being offered alongside basic French cuisine, I was awfully wary of trying the restaurant's more traditional dishes, like escargot or duck pate.

The prices are scary, too, for food of a Marie Callender's caliber. Chicken Cordon Bleu comes in at a whopping $17.75, while the aforementioned gourmet snails are only $16 for a dozen. Snails, like sushi, are no place to cut costs.

Quiche Lorraine

The quiche Lorraine with ham, bacon, and swiss cheese was unmemorable, but the dressing with lettuce (err, side salad) was a rare sight to Angeleno eyes. I thought I'd simultaneously been transported to another decade and another part of the country - another part of the U.S., unfortunately, not France.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Named after the famous French culinary school, chicken Cordon Bleu is a classic dish of chicken rolled around ham and swiss cheese. The chicken was moist and flavorful, but not spectacular. The green beans tasted fine, but looked a little sickly, like someone forgot to blanch them.

Ham, cheese, and mushroom crepe

The best dish was probably the ham, cheese, and mushroom crepe, which was warm, tasty and filling. The menu offers several varieties of crepes, such as spinach, tomato, sausage, and cheese or ratatouille. I'm not sure how I feel about putting ratatouille in a crepe, but it makes for a decent vegetarian option. The menu is somewhat meaty, but there are an above-average number of vegetarian choices, including several varieties of pasta, a vegetarian quiche, several salads, a homemade veggie burger, and a mushroom burger.

Grand Marnier souffle

Dessert options include most of the usual suspects: cheesecake, ice cream, bread pudding, and creme brulee; a few particularly dull additions: ice cream sundae, banana split, carrot cake; and several more unique options: taratuffo cake, chocolate pecan honey tart, crepes, and the liquor souffle of your choice. Trying to opt for something more interesting while also going with an old standby, we ordered two souffles--chocolate and liquor. The liquor souffle of your choice can be made with Grand Marnier, Kahlua, amaretto, Bailey's, or whatever you want.

Chocolate souffle

The souffles arrived steaming hot and had a very airy texture, making this dessert a good choice if you're already quite full from dinner. However, both were surprisingly lacking in flavor except for tasting too strongly of egg. Even the accompanying sauces couldn't redeem them.

Dining room

La Frite is an acceptable but fairly outdated and uninteresting restaurant. Even in parts of the country with less inspired dining options, La Frite would be a disappointment to most. A regular clientele may sustain this restaurant for a while longer, but all signs indicate that it's on its way out (and doesn't seem to care).

La Frite
15013 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 9143
La Frite Menu

La Frite on Urbanspoon


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Erinn said...

I live in the Valley and have driven by La Frite hundreds of times. I've always contemplated going in but am glad you did the dirty work for me! ;)
Very thoughtful and even handed review, so thanks!

Anonymous said...

Cool! Quiche Lorraine - we made this the other day! La Frite looks like a good place, we might try it one day. NICE blog by the way, keep updating!

Esteban said...

good lord that crepe looks out of this world. great photos

Lourdes Gourmet said...

Just drove by 2 x this week and it caught my eye. The photos you have up capture things really well. Even if everything else was not that great, I think I would stop in to try the chocolate souffle.

Well done.