There are a select few occasions where I will willingly wander westward from my Eastside safe haven of Echo Park and surrounding environs. There’s the House of Blues…wait, no that’s not it. Definitely the Santa Monica Pier and the non-polluted and completely un-crowded beaches. Hmmm, that sounds more like hell, actually. Honestly, there are not many reasons for me to wander west, but when I discovered there was a new Spacecraft Group-designed restaurant opening, I had to make the trek, and I’m sure glad I did.
For the uninitiated, Spacecraft has designed some of the most interesting, fun and sexy restaurants and clubs in Los Angeles, from Mohawk Bend in Echo Park, to The Blue Boar in Hollywood, to The Wellesbourne in West L.A.; chances are you’ve been to a Spacecraft property and loved it.
However, a great design and a “pretty face” doesn’t mean much in the restaurant game unless you back it up with food that will bring people back again and again. Fortunately, the cuisine at Faux Pas is equal to the design.
Faux Pas is an American bistro, but as you can imagine, with a name like Faux Pas there is a definite French influence. On the menu are French classics such as the croque madame and croque monsieur (a fancy-pants ham or turkey and cheese sandwich) and the criminally under-appreciated salad, the frisee aux lardon (French curly lettuce with warm bacon and a poached egg).
For starters, my fiancée and I chose the ahi tuna tartare and the black mussels. The tartare had a beautiful artistic design: multiple colors spread across a long, narrow plate like an artist’s palette. The tuna was fresh and clean, and the herb-roasted crostini accompaniment provided a nice crunchy contrast. The mussels were also a huge hit: a large steaming bowl of black mussels soaked in a broth of Chablis, shallot, garlic, saffron (oh, yes, saffron), and a touch of cream. The mussels were mighty plump and the broth was good enough to drink, which, in fact, I did. (I have no shame when it comes to saffron-infused broth, sue me.)
There were many ways to go with our main course. Looking around the restaurant we saw some great choices: the Scottish salmon looked very appetizing, and a New York steak is never a bad call, and it looked pretty amazing walking by our table. Pizzas were a tantalizing option, as was the “mac avec cheese,” which was a personal favorite of our helpful server, Kristine.
However, this being a French-leaning bistro, why not go for the full monty? The mother of all classic French dishes: coq au vin for two. Now, I’ve never had coq au vin before, not even in France, so I don’t have much basis of comparison, but I have had delicious chicken stew before, and this ranks as one of the best I’ve tasted. The chef was working the room, and he was gracious enough to break down the recipe for us. First, he takes the chicken and marinates it overnight in red wine. Then there is a slow-and-low simmer for hours in a new red wine bath, until the chicken falls off the bone at the slightest forking. Add in potatoes, carrots, button mushrooms and a whole lot of fresh thyme, and that’s the recipe for serious deliciousness.
As you can imagine, a meal like that leaves no room for dessert. Well, I would not be doing my job unless I at least tried the tiramisu, right? Okay, I know, tiramisu is an Italian dessert, but the fruit tart seemed too healthy. The tiramisu was good, not great, but it was served in a cool glass and had whipped cream on the side, which I thought was a fun touch.
As far as the ambiance goes, it’s a great place for a date or to grab a drink with friends. We sat in the cozy and romantic booth section, but there is also a large bar in the middle serving up clever libations and craft beers. In addition, there is a wonderfully light and airy section that has a large open window facing 3rd Street, kitty-corner to the Farmers Market on Fairfax.
Another selling point, for those “green” people out there: valet parking is free with three or more passengers! I think that’s a great idea, and is another example of the attention to detail that makes Faux Pas a destination location for even an Eastsider like myself.
Faux Pas Bistro is located at 7910 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles. For more information or to make reservations, call (323) 424-4767 or visit fauxpasbistro.com.