A restaurant taking things a step further is Flora Kitchen on the corner of La Brea and 6th Street. Not only is the food a fusion of Japanese, American, Mexican and Italian, with fun twists along the way, but the restaurant itself is "fused" with a flower shop (Rita Flora)! Romance is built right in.
Fortunately, owner Rita Azar eschewed the need for melodrama (candlelight, soft music, etc.) and went for light and airy. The vibe is fun, casual and jazzy, but as the freshly cut rose on each table reminds you, there’s plenty of room for romance.
My good friend, the talented Charlene, agrees to break her "body cleanse diet" for this adventure. We start with drinks from Flora Kitchen’s interesting selection of wines and beers. I order a chocolate stout, which has the look of a Guinness, but with a hint of chocolate at the finish. Charlene orders a Los Angeles-rarity – Lindeman’s Framboise. It’s a Belgian beer that tastes like a wine cooler with more body and is the perfect summer (and chick) drink.
We begin with an order of parmesan French fries that shows up looking like a crisscrossed stack of French toast fingers. These Lincoln log-sized fries are crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They are accompanied by homemade mayonnaise and if you’re used to Miracle Whip you’re in for a pleasant surprise. These fries are addictive and plentiful enough to feed three.
Tuna tartare is a personal favorite of mine and I wasn’t disappointed. Chunky tuna and creamy avocado sits on a bed of seaweed salad. The seaweed salad is an interesting touch, with the sesame oil in the salad being a perfect compliment to the tuna.
Keeping with the raw fish theme we get the ceviche tostadas, the highlight of the evening. Ceviche can be tough to pull off – too much lime makes it too tart, too little and it’s bland – but Flora Kitchen gets it just right. Marinated chunks of salmon and scallop are mixed with red onion, tomato and carrots and served on a bed of guacamole. The corn tostada is double-layered, so it doesn’t fall apart under the weight of the ceviche. You get three tostadas per order, so it’s great for sharing. Although, I nearly ate all three myself.
Another tasty item is the bento box, a combination of seared tuna and salmon and grilled chunks of beef over rice, served with wasabi paste and a sticky-sweet balsamic reduction. The only drawback with this choice is that I could have eaten three orders of it. So while tasty, the portion size is surprisingly small. Surprising, considering all our other choices were sizeable and ready for sharing.
The offerings for dessert include a mile-high chocolate cake and assorted cookies and bars. I suggest the molasses cookies and a side dish of vanilla ice cream with sliced strawberries and fresh mint. It’s light, sweet and delicious and goes great with a frothy cappuccino. The perfect way to end a great meal on a beautiful summer evening.
So whether you’re looking for a romantic evening for two or a fun night out with friends, Flora Kitchen has you covered. Something for everyone – so fusion, so Los Angeles.
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 7 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 7 a.m.-3 p.m., happy hour 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Prices range from $7-$14 per order. For more information, visit www.florakitchen.com.