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Review

Jakob Layman

Ostrich Farm

$$$$
Written by
Jakob Layman

Every year, the NBA gives out a bunch of awards at the end of the season: MVP, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year. There’s also one called Sixth Man of the Year. This award goes to the best bench player, who’s spent all season delivering reinforcement when things have gone wrong.

Just like when your all-star forward sprains his ankle, sometimes your restaurant plans go to sh*t and you need a Sixth Man. When that happens, remember Ostrich Farm - a backup restaurant that plays like a starter.

From the nondescript white storefront on Sunset in Echo Park, this place could be anything - a coffee shop, a tattoo parlor, a groomer that only does French bulldogs. Ostrich Farm has been open for years, and definitely doesn’t have the name recognition of some of the newer destination restaurants on the Eastside. But on most nights of the week, you’ll find this place full of people eating consistently good American food in a space that never feels like a second choice.

It’s a great sign for us when a restaurant salad is just as impressive as the ribeye - and while neither of those things here are going to surprise your grandmother from La Jolla, they’re both excellent. The little gem and radishes have more flavor than we thought lettuce and radishes could have, while the steak is full of flavor and comes with some caramelized onions that we always want to ask for an extra side order of. Add in the potato gnocchi stuffed with salty ricotta and thin-sliced mushrooms, and chocolate s’mores pie, and you will be very pleased with your choices.

Jakob Layman

One thing to keep in mind is that this place can get surprisingly expensive - looking at the menu, you might convince yourself you can be in and out for under $40, but two hours and a couple cocktails later you’ve spent double. That said, you don’t ever feel like you’re getting ripped off, because the portions are big, the cocktails are strong, and the people watching here is fantastic.

One night, you might see a Marvel star eating dinner with his mom at the bar, and the next, a couple famous musicians in the same seats, looking pretty stoned and drinking martinis. Even if you don’t run into any famous people, this is the kind of place that makes you think everyone who walks in might be someone you recognize. It’s dark, loud, and casual enough that you can wear jeans and a t-shirt, but upscale enough to impress your date who doesn’t know that you forgot to make a reservation and thankfully ended up here.

That’s the most useful part about Ostrich Farm - to get a table, you don’t need to set an 8:59am calendar reminder six weeks in advance, or make friends with someone who knows someone who does a really good Channing Tatum impression. You can usually call day-of for a reservation, or even just walk in and grab a couple seats at the bar. Once you’re here, you’ll forget about that other restaurant you were originally trying to get into tonight.

Like in basketball, it doesn’t matter who starts the game: it’s all about who you can count on to finish it. And to cook the steak just right.

Food Rundown

Jakob Layman
Crushed Beets

There are a lot of reasons to eat your vegetables at Ostrich Farm, and this dish involving roast beets and labneh is our favorite. It’s simple and bright, and the mint and lemon add a nice freshness.

Jakob Layman
Creamy Polenta

People that don’t want a warm bowl of cheesy, creamy, polenta with mushrooms probably also run red lights when someone’s trying to turn left through an intersection.

Seared Scallops

It’s easy to overcook scallops, and nothing is worse than a dried-up lump of mollusk. But these taste like little balls of seafood butter.

Jakob Layman
Grilled Angus Ribeye

Does steak need butter on top? No. Just like the world never really needs another Toy Story movie, but we’re still going to go see it in theaters on opening weekend.

Lamb Chops

These are a good choice if you’re splitting entrees, since they’re three pretty good size chops. The farro underneath is a little bland, though, so if you’re going to get just one big meat dish, we’d go for the ribeye.

Jakob Layman
Potato Gnocchi

Like how your dad can’t hear “No Woman, No Cry” without bringing up the time he saw Bob Marley play for 12 people at a Palm Springs bar in ’79, we can’t see gnocchi on a menu without ordering it. This one involves salty mushrooms and smoked ricotta.

Jakob Layman
Chocolate Mousse Pie

If a regular s’more is The Office Steve Carell, this salted chocolate pie with homemade marshmallows on the side is late middle-aged, how-did-he-get-sexy Steve Carell.

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