Stefan Richter of “Top Chef” fame (runner-up, Season 5) opened Stefan’s at LA Farm nearly two years ago, but it wasn’t until last night that I finally made the short drive from my office (well, actually the bikram yoga studio I’ve been trying) to the quiet stretch of Olympic that houses his well-designed restaurant. My motivation for finally visiting Stefan’s was the promise of an extraordinary deal: a 3-course meal for only $13. The main courses at Stefan’s average around $25, so why was he offering such a steal? He was celebrating the 13-year anniversary of living in the US.
The kitchen was able to handle the completely booked house by serving diners the same three dishes, but there was an option of adding some small plates from the regular menu. To go with my large Schneider Weisse beer, I added the bowl of mini corndogs with mustard ($5). It was a straight forward dish (I was expecting Stefan to do something interesting in the mustard, but alas, it was plain mustard) but it did remind me of my childhood, as promised by my server. The first dish off the preset menu was a spicy tuna tartar with micro cilantro.
Also included on the anniversary menu was a german sausage with sauerkraut, mash, and beer sauce. This was a fitting dish to include since Stefan spent much of his childhood in Germany, after being born in Tampere, Finland. The dish was hearty, creamy, sweet, and smoky. What’s not to love? I was surprised that the sausage was not made in-house, but it was a flavorful piece of meat and the beer sauce was excellent.
After roasting for 90 minutes in a yoga studio, the chilled cucumber soup with smoked salmon was exactly what the doctor ordered. Served in a tall shot glass, this thick soup was quite refreshing.
Speaking of soup, the truffled white asparagus soup included on the pre-fixe menu was the highlight of my night. It’s sad that soups aren’t catching on with most young people, because it’s hard to be unhappy when you’ve got a good soup lining your stomach. I was expecting more asparagus flavor, but there was enough. How can you go wrong with cream and truffle in a soup?
If this recent article in the Santa Monica Daily Press is any indication, Stefan isn’t straining himself to push any culinary boundaries. Instead, he is trying to put out solid crowd-pleasing food in a successful restaurant. Everyone seemed to be really enjoying themselves last night at the two-day celebration, especially Stefan. He was making the rounds, chatting up guests, and sipping from his bottomless white wine glass. I hope to make it back to LA Farm before his 14-year anniversary in the US comes around.