I’ve never cried over food before, that is, until I had dinner at Orris on Sawtelle. Julie and I ended up going there after striking out at Yakitoriya (since I don’t care for gizzard on a stick or the $17 five-stick minimum) and not finding anything good that we could agree on in the nearby strip malls.
We wandered up Sawtelle, so hungry that our stomachs felt like they were digesting themselves. Finally we happened upon Orris with its outdoor seating and “Best of CitySearch” and Zagat Rated stickers. A chalk-scrawled blackboard sign on the sidewalk advertised a French Japanese tapas restaurant with world fusion cuisine. Interesting, weird, intriguing. Would it be too weird to taste good or surprisingly delightful? At this point, I was game for anything.
Picking a spot outside, we enjoyed the quiet conversations of the nearby couples on dates and the unseasonably warm evening. Scanning the dinner menu of unusual choices, Julie and I agreed to split orders of arugula salad ($6.50), braised duck breasts ($7.50) and smoked salmon croquettes ($7.50). Three small plates sounded like enough for the two of us.
For wine, I ordered a glass of cotes du rhone ($6.50). At first it tasted bleh, too bitter. But the spiciness of the yuzu chili pepper paste on the braised duck breast really complemented it.
OK, back to the food. I knew that good things were to come when we dug into the simple arugula salad and we found it divine. It was just arugula topped with flecks of parmesan cheese and some light dressing but there was something extraordinary about it. Every time I took a bite, I couldn’t help but emit an “mmmm!”
Next up, the braised duck breast. I have to say, I was a little put off by the cold dish duck. Even though the menu listed it under “cold dishes” I wasn’t expecting cold meat. But with the juices and that chili paste, it was actually tasty. At one point, I got annoyed with Julie because she kept talking instead of digging into the duck slices. (I didn’t want to have more than she did so I waited to take a piece after she took hers.) I kinda wished the meat was hot though. I imagine that it would be much more savory.
The last plate was the trio of smoked salmon croquettes; my favorite of the dishes we ordered. Each little croquette consisted of mashed potato and smoked salmon topped with sour cream and salmon caviar. The outside was crispy giving way to a melt-in-your-mouth inner goodness.
Julie wanted to order another plate but instead I persuaded her to go in on dessert — chocolate tart souffle with coffee gelato ($7.50). There was a yummy-sounding apple something dessert with caramel something or other but you can never go wrong with chocolate. And when the tart arrived at our table, it looked innocuous enough with its dusting of cocoa powder around the plate and a small scoop of coffee gelato.
But then I took a bite. And suddenly I was overwhelmed with this feeling of great joy, and next thing I know I was crying. Well, laughing and crying. Julie looked at me, bewildered. “Are you crying?” she asked. “It’s just soo good!” I exclaimed, wiping the tears away. “Is it better than sex?” Julie joked. “Ummm…”
Yeah. That’s never happened before. But the chocolate souffle was so moist and chocolatey. And paired with coffee gelato? OMG All my favorite things together on one plate.
Now, I don’t know if I just had this reaction because I had arrived at the table on the brink of starvation and was just so grateful to eat or if it was all genuinely good stuff. Online reviews offer mixed opinions.
From LA Weekly:
Orris itself is not quite a destination restaurant, although the cooking may be worthy of one, and the individual dishes, inexpensive as they may seem at basically $8 to $10 a pop, add up fast. But its location, convenient to the Nuart and the manga-intensive shopping strip anchored by the Giant Robot complex, couldn’t be better, and the small wine list is swell.
All I know is that I had a great experience at Orris and will definitely come back for that dessert. The waiters were attentive and friendly, the service was fairly quick and the food was just too yummy.
2006 Sawtelle Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90025