Whenever I plan a trip, I like to reach out to my friends and family to get their thoughts on restaurants, hotels, and activities in the area. I don’t really have the patience for weeding through guide books or the internet to find the best spots, and I find it so much more efficient (and fun!) to rely on my network of well-traveled friends and loved ones. This is why, when Jack and I recently spent the holidays with his family in Los Angeles, I immediately turned to Facebook for advice on where to eat. We received a plethora of recommendations, all of which looked incredibly delicious. We ultimately decided to go with Odys + Penelope, but I will file away the other restaurants for future visits, as they all sounded fantastic.
Odys + Penelope was recommended by our friend Lauren, who has lived in the LA area for several years now with her husband and two boys. She definitely knows and appreciates food, and she owns the sinfully decadent gluten-free baked goods company BossyCakes. So, when she described Odys + Penelope as her “number one” restaurant in LA, we were intrigued. We did a little research and discovered that O+P sounded right up our alley, as the space is rustic and urban, with an approachable menu using local/seasonal ingredients and good quality meats, poultry, and seafood.
Odys + Penelope describes itself as a “casual churrasco and grill” located in the middle of the “hip neighborhood district La Brea” (in the Fairfax district). The word churrasco is a Portugese term referring to the grilled/barbecued meat that is popular in Brazil, Argentina, and other Latin American countries.
I am always swayed by the “review highlights” on Yelp, which aggregate the most popular phrases (often menu items) within reviews. However, we skipped the popular Warm Cheese Puffs appetizer in favor of the Grilled Bread Crostini with creamy Dungeness crab, avocado, and Fresno chili, and we were very pleased with our decision. Our server confirmed that the delicious grilled bread was baked in house, and the crab was well seasoned with a little kick from the chilis, made bright with fresh mint and fennel.
We shared the House-made Pappardelle with pork belly bolognese and fried sage. I’m a sucker for anything with fried sage, and this dish only reaffirmed my bias. The pasta was fresh and cooked perfectly, and the bolognese sauce had a nice depth of flavor with some sort of earthy spice (maybe cinnamon? Cocoa?)
We also shared the Oak-Grilled Branzino with braised white bean, tangerine, spring onion, and escarole. I didn’t capture it well in this photo, but the dish had a delicious olive pesto on it that was a nice salty compliment to the fish. I love me a good sauce or condiment, be it a fresh pesto, rich tomato sauce, or spicy cheese sauce. For this reason, I was happy to see that O+P offers several sauces on the side for $0.25, as a compliment to any dish, including Western Sweet, Green hummus, Persian garlic sauce, O+P béarnaise (similar to a Hollandaise), Horseradish cream, Harissa (North African hot chili pepper paste), and Chimichurri (Argentinian green sauce made of parsley, garlic, olive oil, oregano, and white vinegar). We tried a side of chimichurri (one of my favorites), and while the dishes were adequately seasoned without the extra sauce, it was a fun addition.
We also ordered a side of Roasted spaghetti squash with salsa cruda (pico de gallo) and Parmesan cheese. It may have been the best preparation of spaghetti squash that I have every eaten. It was creamy and seasoned perfectly, definitely one of the healthier “comfort foods” I’ve eaten.
For dessert we were tempted to try the Chocolate Meringue Pie (a favorite on Yelp), but ended up going with the Olive Oil Upside-Down Cake with banana, toffee, candied hazelnuts, and vanilla malt ice cream, as I usually prefer a sticky toffee pudding, cake, or fruit pie to most chocolate desserts at restaurants. It was incredibly moist and delicious, with a balanced flavor of burnt sugar, butter, and banana.
We were very impressed with our meal at Odys + Penelope and enjoyed each and every dish we ordered. The food was incredible, the service was satisfactory, and the space was cozy and modern. I am eager to return to LA soon to taste some of the other dishes at O+P.
Odys + Penelope: www.odysandpenelope.com 127 S. La Brea Ave. Los Angeles. (323) 939-1033. firstname.lastname@example.org Open for dinner 7 nights a week. Hours: Mon-Thurs 6-10pm; Fri 6-11pm; Sat 5:30-11pm; Sun 5:30-9:30pm. Walk-ins welcome. Corkage $30 with 2 bottle maximum. Valet parking $7. Metered parking available (note: there is a gridlock zone in front of the restaurant on weekdays until 7pm, meaning that there is no parking there during this time to allow for the flow of traffic).
As a logistics lover, I’d just like to acknowledge how organized this website is! So much useful information and logistics!