Little Bear Roars

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My first boyfriend was Belgian, but I never got to experience his cuisine aside from a chocolate bar he gave me once.  Now, twelve years later, living in Los Angeles, myself and other food lovers can have the Belgian experience at Little Bear.  Andre Guerrero and Ryan Sweeney bring their new downtown gastropub out of hibernation this evening.  I had the chance to sample some of the menu earlier this week with fellow restaurant friends, thanks to chef Vidal Martinez.

Roar!  The menu is impressively detailed.  There is a wide selection of appetizers in particular, then salads, sandwiches and main courses.  Ultimately there is something for everyone.

For starters,  we tried the Krokets of roasted butternut squash, parmesan cheese, balsamic emulsion and the Gougeres (Sliders) with fried oysters, crispy bacon, tartar sauce and arugula.  Both were free of my complaints. The flavors and textures were well balanced.

Next, we experienced the Farro Burger with mushrooms, onions, roasted red peppers, red beans, roasted carrots served with bibb lettuce, roasted pepper tofu aioli and avocado; the Smoked Wild Boar Sausage with roasted sweet potatoes, black kale, pearl onions and mustard sauce; the Roast Chicken, a boneless half chicken with braised brussels, fingerling potatoes and salsa verde and lastly, the Potato Ravioli with braised endive, mushroom, leeks, brown butter and mint.  Missing from our order, however, was the Waterzooi.  This is a chicken stew with light cream and mushroom quenelles a traditional classic in Belgium that the entire table was eager to try.  Unfortunately, it never arrived.

The Roast Chicken and Wild Boar Sausage were my favorites.  The chicken was perfectly succulent and the salsa verde was a surprising, but well matched addition.  The smokey taste of the sausage was pleasing because it existed.  It wasn’t just a descriptive word on the menu, it was real and weaved effortlessly through the rich flavor of the meat. The roasted sweet potatoes that carpeted the plate, were the perfect contrast as their light and creamy flavor dissolved the smoke with each alternating bite.  You alternate your meat and potatoes right?

Though we never saw a dessert menu, three different treats and a cheese board bowed to us just when we thought the show was over.  We gladly greeted rice pudding, chocolate mousse, chocolate waffles with cream and the long wooden board decorated with cheese, nuts, fruit, and chocolate pieces.  You’re not doing a Belgian place right if there’s no chocolate!

The dining space is expansive with high warehouse ceilings; quite a large cave for a “Little Bear.”  The setting is pleasant.  Exaggerated gold beer labels add life to the white walls.  The food is very good and takes risks.  There are interesting flavor combinations, yet the plates stay within the Belgian theme.  I commend the executers of this.  As a diner, you understand where you are meant to be transported to, even if you are just in downtown LA.  Cheers and growls Little Bear, I wish you much success and I promise I will be back to try the Waterzooi.

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Author:The Food Pervert

Tara Redfield, The Food Pervert, is an actress, writer, host and obviously food lover. She started her blog and website, "The Food Pervert," in 2010 after an incredible visit to New York City. Her soul acknowledged a genuine passion for food and a desire to share her experiences with friends and family. She’s been sharing ever since. One of her most exciting experiences living in Los Angeles has been working on the TLC reality cooking show, “The Take Home Chef” with the charming and talented Curtis Stone. Redfield has a true love for cooking, dining, travel and story telling. She continues to spread the food love by visiting restaurants, markets, and food festivals as often as possible and sharing her finds through photos and stories. TV Host Representation: Paul Barrutia Commercial Talent 9255 Sunset Blvd. Ste. 505 West Hollywood, CA 90069 310.247.1431

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