If you've been down Sawtelle Boulevard lately, you might not think it needs yet another new restaurant. Sawtelle is chock 'o block with wall to wall restaurants, many being sushi and noodle houses, earning the area its nickname of Little Osaka. Luckily the latest newcomer on the street doesn't try to compete in that category. Instead, Flores goes with the other highly saturated LA restaurant category of new American, farm to table, gastro-pub route with small plates.
Before we dive into the food, first, a look around. The former Sawtelle Kitchen has been transformed into a very warm and inviting locale. The outdoor patio is fenced in with a roaring fire in the middle, emitting heat from a large wire rimmed bird cage. It's romantic and quiet. Yes, quiet...assuming you're sitting outside, and you want to sit outside. Finally a restaurant where you can talk to your dinner date as opposed to yelling over tracks of Eminem and fellow diners.
The menu reads like one you've seen in many fellow gastro pubs - deviled eggs, kale salad, brussels sprouts, skirt steak, half chicken. I yawned while my dining companion said she loves all of those items so was happy to see them on the menu. Perhaps I'm a jaded foodie.
We both perked up at the sight of the beautiful male waitstaff. They were attentive. We were attentive. It all worked out. Our pretty server started us off with some equally pretty plates.
Pig cheek croquetas were crisp on the outside, but slightly bland to me on the inside, though the seaweed aioli and pickles it was served with perked things up.
The brussels sprouts had a few new characters thrown in like juicy persimmon, crunchy pomegranate seeds and pine nuts, making it slightly more interesting, but no one is beating Freddy Smalls' sprouts at this point.
I don't think the octopus had enough flavor or the right texture. I wished the exterior was a little more crisp and the interior felt a little mealy to me. I couldn't help dream of Hostario del Piccolo's 3 hour boiled, then grilled to perfection octopus.
The pasta was a very generous portion, served with lamb soca, olive, mint, black pepper, and a dollop of ricotta on top. It was fine, but it didn't compare to any of Jason Neroni's tender and delicate homemade pasta at Superba Snack Bar.
None of the food was bad, but none particularly memorable. The problem with having a menu that's similar to many of those around town, is that you (ok, I) can't help but compare to the other restaurants, and in my comparisons, Flores didn't win. What was memorable was the space, the servers and my dining companion who I could sit and have an audible conversation in a nice setting, and perhaps that's enough.
2024 Sawtelle Boulevard
West Los Angeles, CA