Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fundamental LA Hits Westwood: 4-Visit Recap

When I was a UCLA student, my food options seemed to have ranged from Sak's Teriyaki to Gushi to In-N-Out. Oh, how lucky the current students are. Fundamental LA opened just South of Wilshire not too long ago, serving quality sandwiches and good beer at inexpensive prices.

Let's start with my current favorite:
chicken torta, heirloom tomato, lettuce, cotija, crema, pickled jalapenos, guacamole, bolillo bread ($9)

While I don't normally order chicken, they convinced me when they said there's only chicken thigh meat in this sandwich (dark meat FTW). I liked everything about this sandwich, from the moist and flavorful chicken, the fact that it's not overly heavy and filled with guacamole or sour cream, to the crunchy bread, and the sweet tomatoes and pickled jalapeno that refresh your palate.

The menu changes constantly, even if the main meat stays the same. On my first visit we had and loved the short rib sandwich with curried eggplant on sourdough. On my last visit this was served with kimchi.
Short Rib Sando
Regardless, the short rib is always excellent.

Because everything is better with an egg in it, the egg-topped BLT is always a good choice, although it would be better with more "B".

Breakfast Sando:
Breakfast Sando
I was undecided about this one. The pork sausage and runny yolk were good, but I felt that the biscuit wasn't the right choice. The flavor didn't mesh with the rest and it was rather dry and fell apart easily.

Porchetta, sauerkraut, whole grain mustard, brioche ($9)
Not for the faint-hearted or one with a heart or circulation problem. This sandwich tastes good but the pork belly is very fatty.

The Grilled cheese and soup ($9) only changes regularly. I've tried one with Caramelized endive, roasted tomato, white cheddar, sourdough, with Black bean soup with fried jalapeno and corn
Grilled Cheese, EndiveBlack Bean Soup
The sandwich was more endive than cheese - still a good (vegetarian) sandwich. The black bean soup was on the weird side for me. It felt like eating a bowl of beans.

Every time they had figs on the menu, I would order it. With a total of three orders, I've received three different versions of the fig dish, each one more elaborate than the last.

The first: a simple dish of figs with brown sugar:

Next: a sort of salad with lettuce, goat cheese, pickled onion, and figs
Fig Salad

The last one was my favorite: Bruleed white figs, taleggio, balsamic, fennel arugula salad ($6)
Bruleed Figs

In contrast to the small sandwiches, the salad portion is kind of huge. Served in a mixing bowl below is the Summer Salad with corn, melon, heirloom tomatoes, pecorino, arugula, frisee, almond vin ($8)
Summer Salad

I loved the sweet melons in particular.
Strawberry basil lemonadeFor drinks, there's (sweetened) lemon verbena iced tea, or Strawberry Basil Lemonade ($3)

There are generally brownies and cookies for breakfast. The cookies are usually $2 for 2 pieces. Good $1 cookies at restaurants these days are unheard of! Below is the peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie. Gooey and very rich.
Fundamental LA is not only convenient for UCLA students (or other Westwood residents), it's one of the best food options in the area. Lucky them. Back in the day I was just excited to have $1 hot dogs.

Fundamental LA
1303 Westwood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 444-7581
Fundamental on Urbanspoon


H. C.

I guess better food options is a silver lining for UCLA students in the midst of crazy tuition hikes, larger class sizes & less availability :\

But yeah, totally glad to see some quality, affordable options in the Westwood area -- looking forward to giving it a try soon.

Joshua Lurie

In light of H.C.'s point, it makes me think that UCLA students might have a tough time affording Fundamental's food. Regardless, my first dinner there was promising, and I look forward to trying the fried chicken sandwich and fig dish.

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