Life has a way of bringing people and places back into your life, and Flores is bringing people back to the former Sawtelle Kitchen space. It has also brought back the owner to the building that used to show his father’s art. Everything in this place has evolved, from the clean design to the fresh flavors on the menu. It’s still a casual neighborhood place, but that is about the only thing that has remained from its former incarnation.
I came for lunch and was impressed with the airy patio spaces, the larger outdoor space has a warming fire pit for cooler evenings. They’ve only been open for about a month, but there were already “regulars”, an excellent sign for a new place.
I had the beef brisket sandwich which came with a side salad for $14. The beef was tender and moist with nice earthy flavor, but the meat was not heated through and the cold fat (which you can see in the picture) detracted from this otherwise great sandwich. I ended up taking out the slices of meat and cutting away all the fat before putting the sandwich back together to eat. I told my waitress that the temperature was a bit off and she relayed the information to the chef, Rob, who came out later with a complimentary dessert and an apology. He explained that it was the first day they were serving this sandwich so the staff had not gotten it perfect yet. This kind of honesty and service only made me want to go back (which I did later in the week).
The side salad added a nice light counterpoint to the rich meat and I was glad there was a knife since the leaves were left intact.
On a dinner time visit with a friend, the menu had so many wonderful dishes we wanted to try them all. Arriving at about 7:30 pm, they were already out of the softshell crab sandwich, the deviled eggs with crispy pig’s ear, and the branzino special! That helped us narrow down our choices, but we learned later that the chef actually sent out for more eggs later that night to make more of the deviled eggs :)
We shared everything, so we started with the kanpachi ceviche young thai cocunut, lime and grapefruit for $14. The neighboring table said that she could have eaten three orders of this, and we agreed that this could have been a meal with a bigger portion. The flesh of the fish was so firm and fresh that the citrus flavors that ringed the bowl were all that was needed to bring out the best of the fish.
I ordered the kale salad with anchovy, radish, and fennel for $12 because I love kale and white anchovies, but I found this dish a bit too heavily coated with Parmesan.
The grilled prawns with cajun spice and lemon aioli for $16 were some of the best prawns I’ve eaten in the past year. The lemon aioli was so thick and rich, it was almost like lemon curd. I found the prawns delightful with just a squeeze of lemon. The cajun spice was not overpowering or too subtle, and the prawns were just barely done so they were still succulent. Like the ceviche, I could have made a meal of two orders of this dish.
The beet and stone fruit salad with pistachios, citrus, and sumac for $10 was a perfect summer salad with local ingredients that could convert a non salad eater.
The chicken liver bruschette with beetroot, cherries and bacon for $12 was a hearty luxurious serving. The cherries added a new slightly tart and slightly sweet highlight to the rich chicken liver, so if you like chicken liver, this version will make you smile.
The chef came by and offered a complimentary dessert (even though we had already ordered two desserts). This is the lemon Posset, with almond and cognac for $10. The Meyer lemon rind and the alcohol (not cooked off, so this dessert is only for those over 21) added zest to the granita and made this dessert a fairly light way to end a meal.
The macaron ice cream sandwich with strawberries was made with vanilla ice cream (you can see the flecks of vanilla in the photo) and if you love macarons or ice cream, this dessert combines both with some strawberries for color and texture. It’s a pretty big sandwich, so you might want to consider sharing.
My favorite dessert was the fresh fruit with yogurt espuma and vinegar caramel for $12. I ordered this to try vinegar caramel and now I am hopelessly addicted. I think I would eat the vinegar caramel by the spoonful if they sold it by the jar! For those of you scratching your heads wondering what vinegar caramel tastes like, imagine a slightly tart caramel, like a thick passion fruit flavored sauce.
It’s great having places close enough to walk to in the neighborhood, but it’s even better when it’s a fantastic food destination like Flores.