Friday Night Dinner
Brian surprised me tonight with dinner reservations at The Little Door. Gentlemen, if you want to make your wife or girlfriend feel special, this is the place! We had been here once before and had a lovely time. Tonight was even better.
If you've never been before, take note of the address, because The Little Door doesn't have a sign. It's to the right of the bar El Carmen, and has two big wooden doors surrounded by plants and vines.
You walk through the doors into a magical paradise... a twinkling indoor-outdoor candlelit garden that is oh-so-romantic. Our dinner reservation was for 9:30 and we arrived about 10 minutes early. I don't know if Brian had requested a particular table or not, but we were promptly seated at a lovely table right in the middle of the front patio area. This is the table we sat at, but that's not us, it's a photo I found online.
The place was completely packed and buzzing... every time I've been there it has a pulsing, palpable electricity. Only a few restaurants in LA manage to maintain that for more than a few years: Spago is one, The Little Door (which has been open almost 10 years now) is another. So while the ambiance by itself is romantic, the energy of the place makes it downright seductive.
On to dinner...
First, the photos here were shot by candlelight with no flash, so they're a little dark (I was thinking about using the flash, but the Little Door is not exactly a place that smiles on flash photography throughout a meal!) But if you ever go, this is pretty much how the food looks in person anyways.
The dinner menu stays fairly consistent, with a few specials that change daily. The cuisine is Mediterranean, with a heavy Moroccan influence (many people were ordering the tagines, which I've heard are excellent). It's beer and wine only, and they have a nice wine list, with a huge selection of reasonably priced bottles and many wines by the glass.
We started with a bottle of Tattinger champange. Champagne is my favorite wine, and even though we weren't celebrating anything in particular, champagne definitely puts you in a celebratory mood. The sommelier was very gracious and chatted with us for a bit. Both he and our waitress were French, and were very pleasant, knowledgable and efficient.
First there was a bread basket with sourdough bread and some type of olive/anise seed bread. Nothing spectacular, but we were starving, so it hit the spot!
Then we had two appetizers: crab cakes and oysters.
The oysters were perfectly fresh and sweet - one of my favorite foods.
The crab cakes were delicious. They were spiced with cumin, which I wasn't expecting, but really enjoyed. Very tasty, crisp on the outside and moist and flavorful inside. They came with a lobster sauce that complemented the crab cakes nicely.
For dinner, Brian had Filet Mignon and I had the Rack of Lamb.
I ordered the lamb medium rare and it came out perfectly pink and juicy. It was a very rich and fatty cut... so decadent! It came with Yukon mashed potatoes and green lentils, which were harmless and filling. But the lamb was so good I thought about chewing on the bones afterwards (I didn't).
Brian and I like our steak at different temperatures, so I didn't have much of his (it wasn't nearly pink or bloody enough for my taste!). But I did have one bite and it was very tender.
After dinner, we were full and relaxed.
They allow smoking on the front patio, since it has an open roof.
When in Rome...
We ordered a pack and they came in this cute little labeled box, already unwrapped and laid out as you see above. There is something so European about a cigarette after dinner, and while I don't normally smoke, this felt rather charming and appropriate.
[By the way, if you don't like smoking, don't be alarmed: the place is very well ventilated. A couple was smoking right next to us and we couldn't even smell it. You can also sit in one of three other rooms which are no smoking.]
Now for dessert! They bring the dessert menu by on a big chalkboard, since the desserts change frequently. The first item on the list was Tarte Tatin... which means I had already made my decision! I did notice they had some others: flourless chocolate cake (yawn), a selection of sorbets, creme brulee, and a few other things. But I LOVE tarte tatin so we ordered that to share.
It was delicious! The apples were sweet and almost crispy on the outside, soft but still firm inside. It came with whipped creme and a sweet vanilla sauce. Very yummy.
We also ordered two glasses of dessert wine: a Muscat and a Sauternes. The Muscat was overly sweet, but the Sauternes was perfect. I don't remember where it was from or what year, but it was very good.
All in all, a lovely and very romantic meal!
A few tips: definitely make reservations, especially if you go on a weekend. You can specify where you want to sit, but it's not guaranteed. They have four areas that are described in depth on their site:
1) The Garden Patio (where we sat): this is where most of the action is, it's right across from the wine bar. Open roof, smoking is allowed only in this area.
2) The Winter Garden: right off the main garden area, with a closed roof.
3) The Piano Room: a smaller room with a piano.
4) The Blue Room: lit by a fireplace, this is the quietest area of the restaurant.
Also, dress nice. L.A. is a pretty casual place, and there were plenty of people here in jeans, but I noticed that people who were more dressed up were seated faster and at better tables. Think hip, going-out-partying type clothes.
The Little Door
8164 W 3rd Street (near Crescent Heights)
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Serving dinner 6PM until 12:00AM Thur-Sat, 6PM-11PM Sun-Wed
Reservations strongly recommended
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Friday Night Dinner