Seafood restaurants are hot in L.A. these days, particularly New England-inspired ones. Littlefork, which opened earlier this year, is doing this trend justice by executing a signature New England dish that holds its own against the ones I’ve had growing up on the Right Coast.
Before we get to that, the main reason that I had wanted to try Littlefork was for their $1 “Oyster Hour” (daily 5-7pm and Friday & Saturday 10pm). A couple Saturdays ago, I decided to go. Not wanting to dine alone, and taking advantage of a break in her very busy social schedule, I dragged my older daughter along.
We arrived shortly before the early evening Oyster Hour was about to end, an hour after we departed (@#$% L.A. traffic!). We were late for our reservation but still promptly seated. When we inquired about the $1 oysters, the waiter informed us that the deal could only be had at the bar.
Since my daughter is not of drinking age, we were moved to two stools flanking an eating “surface”–let’s say it was just a little bigger than an airplane tray table–in the bar area. It didn’t phase us; we were here for the food (and one drink, the excellent house-made Ginger Beer, $4)!
Grassy Bar Oysters, from Morro Bay, two dozen for $24: I’ve had dollar oysters before. I’ve had oysters at AYCE buffets. They almost always disappoint. Fortunately, the ones at Littlefork were probably the best buck oysters I’ve had. Not one out of twenty-four had any grit or shell; not one out of twenty-four tasted off either. All were fresh and plump. I’ve had other oyster varieties I’ve liked better, but in terms of quality and prep these Grassy Bars were top notch!
(Note: The variety of the oyster offered for a dollar does change. Also, our table was so small, that we had to eat the oysters in two waves. No pun intended.)
Pork Rind Cheet Toes, $4: My daughter pointed these out to me, and we had to try them. A bowl of orange-powdered chicharrón were brought out to us, hot and surprisingly light. They did indeed have the cheesy taste of the popular snack the name puns on. It was a fun dish to follow the fancy, grown-up, raw oysters we just downed.
Steamers, Habanero, Beer, Garlic, Shallots, $18: This special is available only on Friday and Saturday nights. The few times I’ve ordered them around L.A. (before I gave up on them), the steamers were always sandy, shriveled, and had broken shells. With that history and the memory of some amazing steamers I’d enjoyed at the Matunuck Oyster Bar in Rhode Island a few months ago fresh in my mind, I tried to be cautiously optimistic but also prepared myself for disappointment.
What a relief! The steamers were on the smallish side but were also tender, sweet, and perfectly cooked. They must have been well purged; not a single one was sandy. And, no broken shells! No need for a dunk back in the bowl except to pick up more flavor from the broth, which I really enjoyed. Mussels and hard-shell clams, sure, but I can’t recall ever having steamers prepared spicy.
(At this point, I toyed with ordering the crispy oyster sliders, which I had heard great things about, or the smoked meat poutine, but we were getting full and wanted to save room for dessert…)
Apple Cider Donuts, Apple Butter, Salted Caramel, $8: Cider doughnuts are apparently a thing that I somehow missed growing up in New England. Anyway, how can you not like hot doughnuts, fresh from the fryer, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar? I didn’t think the combination of apple butter and salted caramel would work, but they did. This was a great way to wrap up the meal.
Littlefork seems custom-made for me. I may have mentioned once or twice above that I grew up in New England, but I also lived in Montreal for several years. Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to explore the Québécois aspects of the menu, but I will definitely remedy that on a future visit.
(And in case anyone’s wondering how my daughter liked it, she ate everything and enjoyed it all too! Having accompanied me to Tar & Roses last month, she’s quickly supplanting Chris Hei as my partner-in-dine.)
1600 Wilcox Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90028
All photographs © 2013 The Offalo