Saturday, 14 September 2013

Little Next Door

Besides The Griddle Cafe and Cafe Gratitude, I had a few other bucket list restaurants in Los Angeles I just had to eat at. Little Next Door is one of them.

Little Next Door
Little Next Door is a French restaurant, with some of the best food (and macarons!) in Los Angeles. What drew my attention to this restaurant was 1) all the positive reviews, 2) the menu items, 3) the location and setting, and finally 4) the prices. Sounding like an all-around awesome deal? It was!

This little restaurant facing West 3rd Street (a very busy street) is smack in the middle of the hip and trendy city of Mid Wilshire. I just kind of think of it as between Beverly Hills and Hollywood; sounds expensive, no? After a morning of shopping at the Outlets at Orange, we took an hour drive to get to this area. With loudly growling stomachs, we headed to Little Next Door for a very late brunch on a Saturday afternoon. Since it was like 2pm, we were seated immediately. I was very content with our table as it was next to the fence, facing the sidewalk, no direct sunlight, and would give beautiful lighting for photos. So far, Coconut Crumpet was very happy.

Our waitress spoke bits and pieces of French to us, greeting us with a warming 'bonjour!', calling us 'madame et monsieur', and thanking us in French too. It created this unique environment in which my family has never been in before. She was very attentive and came back frequently to refill our water, bring us more bread, or just ask how we were doing.

Complimentary bread and balsamic olive oil
We quickly ordered and another waiter brought us some complimentary bread. My family of four devoured two bowls of bread, happily dipping it in the luxurious spiced balsamic olive oil. The oil had fennel seeds and a multitude of other spices and herbs, very fragrant and a pleasure to eat, especially when you're almost dying of starvation. (We had breakfast at 7am..and brunch at 2pm..) The baguette had a crunchy shell and an extremely pillow-y interior, also served warm. Love.

Quiche Lorraine ($9)

Although listed under the 'starters', the quiche lorraine can be a light meal on it's own, and that was exactly what I was looking for. Must save room for dessert, especially here! The pastry was very flaky and the filling was just right. Fluffy egg with chunks of bacon (yes, I know I usually never eat bacon) and the flavours mended together. The side salad was actually quite a large portion, at least for a side. It was tossed in a light, slightly acidic, dressing and was an appreciated accompaniment to a butter quiche. The serving size was perfect; didn't use up 120% of my stomach area but I still felt full and satisfied at the end.

Top Sirloin French Dip Sandwich ($15)
My mom ordered the French dip sandwich. This was the dish that lacked the most presentation. It looked very plain and monochromatic. Aside from the appearance, the taste was okay. The beef was tender, but slightly dry. The bun was very crispy like the baguette served at the beginning. The highlight of this dish is the dipping sauce. It was a creamy horseradish mustard dip with flavours that was very enjoyable. I'm glad they provided a large portion of the dip as my family slathered it all over our portion of the sandwich (we split all our dishes into four to taste them all~). However, for the price tag, I wouldn't recommend this dish. It's just not special enough to be worth $15.

Moroccan Merguez Wrap ($16)

When my brother is very hungry, he always says he wants the 'heaviest' item on the menu. I'm not sure if the merguez wrap fulfills his requirements, but that's what he decided on. The wrap may look small, but even eating a quarter of this dish was very filling. Three spicy lamb sausages with hummus inside a grilled flatbread, with a side of fresh herb salad. The salad was different from the one with the quiche or croque madame, but I enjoyed this herb salad too! The thin slices of raw radish gave an interesting dimension to the salad. This dish had so many strong flavours going on from the spicy sausages, hummus, and harissa (tasted like a spiced tomato paste); the flavours at Cafe Medina immediately reminded us of this wrap. It's a good choice for someone who likes strong flavours and sausages.

Croque Madame ($14)
My dad went with the croque madame, because obviously anything with an egg is better. It resembled an open faced sandwich with a very, very thick layer or melted cheese that kind of just came off by itself. It was simply okay, but the croque madame at Little Next Door was not as impressive as the one I had at Twisted Fork Bistro in Vancouver.
Coconut Cheesecake ($6)
Time for desserts. The best part of any meal. Or it could be a meal, I'd do that. I'm not sure why I asked for a dessert menu, because I already knew which two items to order. Anyways, this. cheesecake. The highlight of the entire meal. I mean coconut cheesecake. I have never seen or heard of anything like this in Vancouver. Whyyyyy?! It should be pretty darn obvious why I was so excited for this. The first time I saw this on the menu, I must've squealed. It was creamy, luscious, and delivered a punch of coconut flavour and cream cheese. A+! The decorations are also adorable, also the first time I've encountered golden raspberries. The decorations for this cheesecake vary because it depends on seasonal ingredients. The cheesecake base, however, remains the same. The portion is large enough for four people to have a huge bite and the quality is top-notch. Any time, any day, I will pay $6 for this coconut cheesecake. It is me, in a dessert.

Souffle au Chocolat ($9)
The other dessert I had to get is this chocolate souffle. Or you can be fancy and call it souffle au chocolat, with a French accent. That'd be impressive ;) There is a waiting time for the chocolate souffle to be baked, since it is baked to order. But that waiting time is nothing, this is sooooo worth every second of waiting. This is my first souffle (don't judge...) and I was ecstatic to eat this. It was a perfect souffle; didn't collapse a millimetre even after undergoing five minutes of intense photography. This dessert is served with generous amounts of whipped cream and creme anglaise (English cream/pouring custard sauce) on the side. Our waitress taught us to poke a hole in the centre of the souffle and pour the sauce inside. This chocolate dessert had a hint of sweetness and was extremely airy and light. A beauty of a dessert. No more words to describe it. Crispy top, super fluffy inside, warm cake soaked with custard, heaven in my mouth. Although a scoop of ice cream on top of the souffle would probably have made me even happier. It may not be traditional, but I am a lover of hot + cold desserts. 

Anybody aware of a great souffle in Vancouver? Please let me know, I will be forever grateful~

Lavender & Pistachio Macarons ($1.75 each)
Don't leave Little Next Door with out grabbing a few macarons! I was extremely full from brunch but it is a must get in Los Angeles. I was surprised to see how large and heavy the macarons were. Very dense! The flavours of each were prominent and were clearly present after one bite. Both were absolutely amazing and I enjoyed every crumb. The best macarons I've had so far. Cheaper than Vancouver and tastier than Soirette Macarons & Tea, these macarons are the sweet-toothed girl's dream come true.
Considering the location and quality of their food, Little Next Door has great value. There is even a three-course prix fix dinner option for only $28. A soup or salad, choice of any entree on the menu, and choice of any dessert on the menu. Super awesome deal! Check out the full menu here. If we didn't happen to be around on a weekend, I would've brought my family here for dinner. Their baked goods and pastries are very reasonably priced and look authentic and appealing. I wish I could've taken a bunch home with me.

A topic that is very important (besides food..duh) is parking. Little Next Door has valet parking, as does many other restaurants in this area. We managed to find metered street parking about two blocks away. If I remember correctly, it was $1 an hour with a maximum of paying $2 at a time. The free parking along the residential streets is packed full. Even when the signs say no parking... If you're coming for brunch during the busy hours, I recommend coming a bit earlier to drive around the area to find some parking. The headaches of street parking and traffic jams are unavoidable in Los Angeles...oieeeeee

Even though there were some minor, nit-picky complaints about their mains, the overall experience was fantastic. I would come back in a heart beat. It's the perfect spot for brunch with some girlfriends or just to enjoy a cup of coffee and a pastry on a sunny day. The atmosphere is bright and cheery; I feel like I'm sitting in a cafe in Paris, so classy eh? Little Next Door is a must-visit for both tourists and locals.

A few peeks at the bakery display; my ultimate eye candy. Can you spot the unbaked souffle batter?
The bakery at Little Next Door
Reviews on Yelp

Little Next Door on Urbanspoon

Love from Coconut Crumpet's Corner ♡

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