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Week in Reviews: Kudos for Fraiche, More on One Sunset, Ritual, Vanilla Bake Shop and Others Elsewhere

No surprise: Fraiche gets two-and-a-half stars from S. Irene Virbila today. A couple things at work here. Chef and co-owner Jason Travi knows his way around the kitchen, especially with time at Spago and La Terza under his belt. These are places Miss Irene adores, and Travi definitely wows her. She says some of dishes are "utterly beguiling." The space is lovely, open and airy, comfortable. Nice patio, bar menu, wine list. It's just one of those places that hits all the right notes, so much so that even small hiccups are smoothed over with a patient voice:

The kitchen isn't a perfect system yet, but the restaurant is, after all, very new. And like most new places, it struggles for consistency. To pull off a place like this, everyone has had to work hard for months and you can see the tiredness in the faces of the kitchen staff behind the long counter of the open kitchen.

Although Fraîche is not the quietest restaurant I've ever been in, it's not as ear-splitting loud as has become the standard.

We agree that with good food at reasonable prices, it's easy to overlook small inconsistencies. But why we're really not surprised that the critic is a fan: Every restaurant partner/GM Thierry Perez works in gets high marks from the critic. The reviews aren't handy, but we recall praise for Cinch and Naya (both now closed), Providence, and BottleRock to name a few. Perez, a sommelier by trade, worked at all of these places for a few months, and then *poof* gone. Is he that good to be involved with, what she deems, great concepts? Maybe he had short contracts or---and take this with a grain of salt considering the sources---could it be his his attitude? Not for us to decide. The critic doesn't dote on Perez in this or any of the reviews, but she does end up everywhere he goes, and he gets around. Today the "S." stands for "stalker." [LAT]

ELSEWHERE: Linda Burum finds mole at La Morenita Oaxaqueña; White Lotus is no longer, now it's Ritual; eating on lounge tables isn't easy at One Sunset; a cupcake debut at Vanilla Bake Shop; giving Gonpachi another go; perennial favorites Cassell's and Fosselman's are just "OK"; and The Dip is no Philippe's.

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