Top Chef brouhaha aside (don’t you love that Carla won the car), the first time I knowingly had Stefan F. Richter’s cooking was at the opening of Enocteca Drago where a rather surprising but deliciously satisfying braised pork cheek with spaetzle appeared on Celestino’s Sicilian inspired menu. It was the kind of dish that chefs become known for. The first time I reportedly had Stefan F. Richter’s cooking was at a rather glam affair at the Bellagio in Las Vegas celebrating Wolfgang Puck’s 50th birthday hosted by Steve Wynn. Chef Richter was the Assistant Executive Banquet Chef and we remember that the food was excellent for such occasions and that the performance of “O” that followed was jaw dropping spectacular.
Which brings me to last Thursday’s lunch at the newly revamped Stefan's at L.A. Farm where post Top Chef runner up, Stefan F. Richter has set up shop literally dolling out sandwiches to the building tenants via a mini deli off the restaurant’s kitchen and presenting a somewhat traditional California-Fusion-European inspired menu to, on that day, a fairly large lunch crowd for only their fourth day of operation. We began with a nicely sized beet and goat cheese salad with a Balsamic vinaigrette for $10 and an excellent beef carpaccio for $12. We followed with the best dish of the day, John Dory with lentils for $26 perfectly cooked with a buttery flavor. I enjoyed my hamburger for $16 made with the requisite Neiman pedigreed beef, smoked Gruyere served on a pretzel flavored bun though in this age of fries cooked and seasoned in any of a dozen ways, these were surprisingly straightforward. All the breads are, in fact, excellent and apparently are supplied by Celestino Drago's former dessert chef/bread maker.
We finished with a delicious bowl of three homemade ice creams for $7 that included vanilla, maple pecan and red wine. It being my friend’s birthday I ordered the two desserts for $3 each, the Nutella crème brulee and the red wine lollipop. The first arrived with a candle and the second provided some fun conversation. Service was nothing short of first rate particularly for a restaurant in it’s first days and Chef Richter could be seen cooking in the familiar exhibition kitchen, instructing a server to let a customer have the right away, greeting guests at the door, and taking a moment to wish a rather stunning young lady a very happy 30th birthday. Indeed it was.
Stefan's at L.A. Farm
3000 Olympic Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
2 hour convenient parking provided with validation but watch out for what follows: $9 for an additional 45 minutes! Ouch!