During lunch hours, Fundamental LA — a Westwood restaurant that’s been around since 2011 and has got all those buzzwords foodies seem to love like “farmers market fresh,” “artisanal,” and “small plates — is a sandwich shop. But at night it turns into a hopping small plates eatery with food by executive chef Philip Pretty (Sona, Joe’s) and a European wine list curated by sommelier Alicia Kemper.
The main draw to me here is its wine pairing deal. Normally I am not a fan of tasting menus or small plates dining for that matter. The former is usually too confining and the latter overpriced. But the tasting menu here (three dishes plus dessert for $39) with a wine pairing (three 2-oz pours for additional $18) is a pretty damn good deal considering most restaurants charge about double that.
During a hosted dinner with four people, we ordered eight dishes between us and shared a flight of four wine tastings. (Normally everyone at the table has to order the tasting menu.) The food was more than enough but sharing those eeny-weeny pours with three other girls (we chose to do that instead of each have our own flight since we all drove) was too much of a compromise for me to make so I still ended up ordering my own extra glass of vino.
Here’s how the restaurant paired the wine and food for us:
- Seyssel Petit Royal Molette and crudo
- Richter Mulheimer Sonnenlay Kabinette 2008 Riesling and prawn gumbo
- Bergerie Clos Le Grand Beaupreau 2011 Chenin Blanc and veal
- Jamain 2013 Pinot Gris and heirloom tomatoes
- Niepoort 2011 Blaufrankisch and duck breast
Each pairing worked well, however we found the Chenin Blanc, not the Pinot Gris, paired wayyy better with the heirloom tomatoes dish which smoothed out the wine’s minerality. (BTW, I still can’t say that word aloud.) In any case, it was a lovely and more than satisfying dinner.
I especially liked that there are plenty of appealing vegetarian options. Not just salads! I could easily fill up on that carrot risotto, corn soup and heirloom tomatoes dish, if I wanted to. And OMG that cheese plate featuring three chef-chosen cheeses, housemade preserves and bread. OMG x 2, that spiced apple butter and sourdough bread.
Although the restaurant din is a bit too loud for my tastes and the wood seats uncomfortable, I’d still like to come back and explore that wine list more as well as the flight of Madeira (three 1-ounce pours for $18) to finish. By the way, do not pass up the chance to taste that “real vanilla cream soda” at the end. Deelish!
1303 Westwood Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90024 (map)