of the thousands of restaurants in los angeles, larchmont bungalow is one i've been dying to go to ever since the first time i passed by the quaint little building about a year ago. i had wandered in there to snag a menu, but just never found myself back in that part of town to grab a bite to eat. the area of larchmont village is charming with endless coffee shops and places for a quick lunch, but something about larchmont bungalow truly grabs your attention and draws you in. the inside is warm and welcoming and the decor makes you feel like you've stepped out of good-old-sketchy los angeles and into a one-of-a-kind eatery in a far away suburban town. the menu is eclectic and colorful with more than enough options to choose from. although they don't serve alcohol--which can be a bit of a downer for a dinnertime spot--it's the kind of place that makes you want to order an iced green tea, not a gin and tonic. i went with a group of friends and we played the family-style ordering game so that each person could try a little bit of everything.
for my choice, i decided to go with an item that i know can be challenging to pull off. most of us have had our share of dry turkey burgers, so it's always a great find to locate one with not just juiciness, but flavor and texture as well. this turkey burger also happened to be stuffed with caramelized apples, sauteed onions, and brie cheese. you could stuff those things into a fax machine and it would still make a delicious meal--but i was still curious about how the actual meat would turn out.
to my delight, the burger not only had a great charred flavor and beautiful grill marks--but the meat was moist and certainly not lacking in flavor. the brioche bun was the perfect vehicle for the burger because despite it's fluffy, buttery soft inside--it still held up wonderfully under this monster of a burger.
i also was curious to sample the seafood chowder, as i had heard great things about it. had i not ordered a burger and been sampling a handful of other things, i could have easily finished off a bowl of this soup. it was light, yet still rich--and most importantly, FULL of lobster. the textures and flavors worked together perfectly. i couldn't ask for a better chowder.
my friend ordered the honey cilantro lime grilled chicken sandwich--which is
honey-glazed chicken breast topped with fresh salsa verde, roasted red pepper, jalepeno, jack cheese, and avocado on focaccia. the flavors of the sandwich were excellent and the focaccia bread paired extremely well with the smoky and spicy flavors. my only criticism about the sandwich was that the half i tried had VERY little chicken and mostly consisted of the toppings. my friend said that her half had a nice thick piece of chicken, so i must have just gotten the thinner end of the sandwich. as for the flavors--they all worked together nicely. the sweet potato fries were pretty average as sweet potato fries go. i'm a big fan of places who do a little something extra like brown sugar--but regardless, i had no complaints about these.
even though all of us at the table were meat eaters, we wanted to make sure we got to sample some of their vegan fare. i'm not a big fan of tempeh or tofu--as i just happen to love the taste of chicken--but i will say that this "faux chicken" was better than some i've had in the past. the tostados were portioned nicely and the dish itself was tall and eye-catching. the pico de gallo was definitely homemade and added a great acidic bite. i'm not a huge fan of the texture of tempeh, but the flavors were excellent and if i was a vegan--i probably could have devoured this entire plate.
the star of the night was of course the red and blue velvet pancakes--which is one of larchmont bungalow's signature dishes. these were absolutely to die for. let's put it this way--we all said we would have one forkful just to try it, and instead we were practically fighting over the last bite. this dish was a highlight for me for two reasons. first, the texture was fantastic. these "pancakes" are crispy on the outside, but soft and fluffy like a cake on the inside. second, the cream cheese spread was one of the best i've ever had. sometimes cream cheese frosting or spread can be overpowering or tooth-achingly sweet, but this one had just enough tang and vanilla flavor that it paired perfectly with the fluffy pancakes. you would think this dish wouldn't even require a touch of syrup, but the caramel notes from the warm maple syrup are really what put it over the top.
larchmont bungalow--i will CERTAINLY be back for a bowl of chowder and my very own plate of your pancakes.