If you frequent Sawtelle in Los Angeles, then you’ve probably either been to or at least seen Orris; a small restaurant that serves French-Japanese fusion dishes tapas style. For me Orris was my inauguration into the food offerings on Sawtelle, but I was already familiar with the purple embossed sign that dons the cement and glass storefront. With a little research beforehand, I armed myself with a list of Jonathan Gold recommended dishes and departed.
When we arrived the place was bustling, but we were given the option of immediate seating inside at the sushi bar or outside on the front patio; we went outside. The waiter walked over and kindly explained to us what the restaurant was all about, and recommended we start with 5 dishes and order more if we wanted.
Opening the menu I was glad I had the list. There were so many things I wanted to try, separated into columns as hot or cold, but I didn’t want to break the bank either. It had already been a very long day of spending. It took some debate, but finally we decided on four dishes and ordered away.
The first to arrive was the “curry-infused shrimp tempura with curry dipping sauce and okinawan sea salt” ($9.50). Not overly greasy and with a nice golden color, the tempura tasted light and perfectly crisp. Interestingly as I was eating it I realized it only got better when you used a little bit of the dipping sauce and the side sea salt. It was the combination of flavors that really made this dish a winner.
Seconds later, the “lamb loin carpaccio infused with garlic and rosemary, topped with Spanish Manchego cheese shavings” ($9.50) was placed before us. Out of all the dishes yet to come, this one was the largest. Again the complexity of the flavors totally worked for this dish. Each piece of lamb was perfectly tender, and you could really taste the spices. Without the cheese I don’t think it would have been the same. It seemed to enhance every forkful, adding a very nice texture and taste.
Next on the list was the “ravioli filled with shrimp mouse and shitake mushroom sauce” ($8.50). This was ordered on recommendation by our waiter, who said it was a house specialty. All I can say is thank god for that waiter. It’s hard to describe the tastes that this dish seemed to emote. It was creamy and buttery, soft and complex. This made my evening. Next time I come here I’m getting two bowls.
At some point between the three aforementioned dishes, the fourth did arrive. But I neglected to snap a picture or even write down the name. It was a type of seafood salad with shrimp, octopus, and cucumbers. Honestly after going through each of the other dishes, this one failed to compare. It was good and was worth the cost, but it seemed to lack that little extra something that made the others so worth while.
If there was one commonality that I noticed amongst all the dishes, it was the care put into presentation. Each new item looked like it had been made just for us. I always forget that while taste is of course part of the equation in a good dining experience, food appearance is equally important. This is the difference between “eating” and “dining.”
In the future I would definitely go back to Orris, but with a few more people, a bigger appetite, and more money. I want to look more into the cold dishes, and if the other hot dishes were any indication I’m sure there are many other great ones to be found amongst them.
2006 Sawtelle Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90025