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When you say “prix fixe” in L.A., it generally means some kind of ultra-expensive tasting menu at one of our fine-dining restaurants. But at Papilles Bistro, the prix fixe qualifies as a bona fide bargain. Chef-owner Tim Carey serves a daily menu for around $36, which is a hell of a good deal given the quality of the food. You might start with a velouté, perhaps butternut squash or cauliflower, a dish that serves as an apt intro to Carey’s training, in particular his time spent at Patina. In the impossibly silky cauliflower version, garnishes of pepita, pomegranate and tiny pickled cauliflower florets all burst in different ways, the cauliflower releasing just enough fruity, puckery vinegar to make your palate tingle. Proteins, such as fish and flatiron steak, are cooked so perfectly that it’s like eating in another era, when technique was king and creativity a distant second. The dining room is a homey space, untouched by time, trends or pretension, and it’s one of the rare restaurants in town that actually deserves the title of “underrated.” All that and it’s affordable, too? How very refreshing.