Friday, November 11, 2011

Larry's in Venice

Larry's in Venice was one of the most anticipated openings recently, with Chef Brendan Collins from Waterloo and City overseeing the menu and kitchen. He still spends most of his time at Waterloo, but he left his right hand man in charge at Larry's. Chef Joe Cook at Larry's has worked w Brendan Collins since his time at Melisse (6-7 years ago).

I've been twice - one right after they opened with LA OC Foodie, and a second recent visit that shows even more promise. The seating is all outdoors and I've only been on warm nights. Hopefully they have ways to keep them warm during the fall and winter.

Since it was our first visit, we kind of went crazy with the foie gras.
Potted chicken liver and foie gras parfait ($12), sweet potato jam on top of parfait, housemade pickles, toasted brioche

Foie Parfait
A winner that I will probably order over and over. So rich and smooth, and I love the sweet potato jam on top, as well as the crispy, toasted brioche. We didn't really try it with the pickles, though, it seemed strange to us.

BBQ eel and foie gras terrine ($14) sounded quite interesting and we had to try it.
Foie Gras Eel
The eel and foie were good separately, but the combination didn't wow me as I had expected. Since one can only eat so much foie gras in one night, I'd stick to the parfait.

Larry's only has a beer and wine license, and they do serve a handful of wine/sake/shochu based cocktails. I tried their mango chai "cocktail" made with moscato. It leaned towards the sweet side and I didn't get a strong mango or chai flavor. With 26 beers on tap, beer is obviously the drink of choice here.

Plus, beer goes well with their fried appetizers, like the Zucchini blossom and shrimp maracas, piri piri sauce, seasoned black vinegar ($12)
Squash Blossoms

My favorite from the first visit was the Shrimp and Maine Lobster ragout, capellini pasta, lobster tomato sauce, basil, truffle ($15)
Lobster Pasta
I'm always in favor of thin noodles, and I certainly liked the texture of this one covered in thick tomato sauce and chunks of shrimp and lobster.
Larry's has about 5-6 pizzas on the menu. We tried the Brussels Sprout, Bacon, Parmesan, Chili Vinegar ($14)
Brussel Sprout Pizza
More bacon and aioli than brussels sprout, this wasn't the healthy-ish dish we expected. Still, if that doesn't bother you, you'll enjoy the pizza. As I will find out on my next visits, their other pizzas much more to my liking.

Peach crumble for dessert: pretty good, although the crust was not what I was expecting from a crumble.
Peach Crumble
My first dinner was pretty good and they no doubt are still working the kinks out in these first days of opening. Not too long after, I was also invited to a media dinner at Larry's. This time, I got to try a lot more dishes.
As the chef was famous for his charcuterie, the party started with a plate of House made and imported cured meat and cheese with house made pickles, jams, marmalades, almonds, toast ($15)
We had a few of the same stuff I had on my first visit, including the foie gras parfait and the shrimp and lobster pasta. I don't mind eating these over and over again!

Green Chorizo, egg chipotle, tomato sauce ($14) and Shrimp Diablo, roasted poblanos, cilantro ($14)
Green ChorizoShrimp Diablo

If you like a little kick to your pizza, you should get these. I especially liked the green chorizo pizza (yes, probably because of the egg!).

Seared King Scallops, pistou, basil, snow pea salad ($13)
Who can say no to a nicely seared, chewy scallop?

Another well prepared seafood was the Bacon Wrapped Organic Salmon, roast beets, gnocchi, horseradish ($13)

Possibly my favorite after the pasta: Bacon and Egg special!
Steak Eggs
This isn't on the regular menu but it often makes a special appearance. When it does, order it. The pork belly isn't overly fatty (which I liked better), yet very juicy. Oh, and the egg! After all, everything is better with an egg.

Braised Colorado Lamb Shank, acini de pepe ($15)
Lamb Shank
The lamb shank was so tender that a light touch of the fork could easily peel if off the bone, and the meat had a rich gamey flavor. At first, I didn't realize there were pasta among the diced vegetables underneath the lamb, since acini de pepe are shaped like tiny beads.

Dessert: Sundae w maraschino whipped cream
On my own, I probably wouldn't have ordered sundae for dessert, and I typically set aside the whipped cream, but the maraschino whipped cream here really made the dish! As it isn't smothered in chocolate or caramel like most sundaes, you can really taste the maraschino in the cream. Order this just to try it.

Larry's is certainly a great addition to Venice and the beach cities, both for the food and the beer. It will no doubt be packed in the summer days and if the quality of my second visit keeps up, you'll find me there from time to time too.

Larry's Venice
24 Windward Ave
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 399-2700
Larry's Venice on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: my second visit was hosted.


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