Hidden behind a tiny storefront next to a Papa John’s on Westwood Blvd., fundamental LA has attracted some of the most intriguing chefs in Los Angeles to helm their kitchen. With a menu that changes frequently, this cozy restaurant manages to turn out interesting fare in an open kitchen, about the size of a typical apartment kitchen.
At lunchtime, fundamental LA is more casual affair, where you order at the counter and then find a place to sit. The lunch menu is primarily composed of sandwiches and salads, along with several sides. The $14 Power Lunch gives you a choice of sandwich or salad, a side and dessert. Considering that some sandwiches cost $12, adding on a side and a sweet for a couple bucks more is a good deal.
The dirty potato salad, with bacon lardons, egg, dill and mustard is always a reliable side. Sure it may be a cholesterol-heavy with the addition of bacon lardons, but it’s damn good. The orzo with artichokes, spinach, feta, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, basil in a lemon- shallot vinaigrette is another good choice. As for the brussels sprouts in a tom yum glaze, I thought I would like them more, but the glaze failed to dazzle me.
The fried chicken sandwich had my name on it, though it didn’t live up to my expectations. Instead of a seasoned single piece of fried chicken, the chicken wound up lacking seasoning, the breast cut into slices. Luckily, the apple cider slaw and honey mustard aioli gave the sandwich flavor. It was one of the rare disappointments that I’ve had here.
More successful was the smoked mahi mahi sandwich. Expecting a single fish fillet, we were surprised to see that the fish had been broken down into chunks – more like a tuna salad – along with romaine, red onion, lemon aioli on grilled multigrain bread. Although it wasn’t what we expected, the sandwich was pretty tasty, especially with the smoky flavored fish.
With the Power Lunch, you’ll get a chocolate chip cookie for dessert. If you time it right, the cookie will still be warm and gooey – the perfect way to end your meal. Should you be too full, the cookie also makes for an excellent afternoon snack.
The mood changes at dinner, when the lights are dim, table service starts and the dishes are considerably more adventuresome, a better showcase of the chef’s talent. Going to fundamental, you may stumble onto the next rising star chef. Just remember to look for the Papa John’s sign.
Location: 1303 Westwood Blvd. , Los Angeles 90024
Website – http://fundamental-la.com
Kid-Friendly – Yes
Kid’s Menu – No
Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly – Yes
Vegan Friendly – Yes
Gluten-Free Options – Yes