The problem with brunch is that there are too many tempting options and not enough room in our bellies. Enter Fritzi's new Scandinavian-style brunch, the kind that allows diners to mix and match a handful of dishes. It's like getting a chance to sample a bit off of each of your friends' breakfast plates.
Think of it as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” for food, kind of similar to the Filipino breakfast service RiceBar recently launched, in which you get to fill a bowl with whatever you can fit from a smorgasbord of options. In Fritzi's case, you can select off the menu three items for $13 or five for $18. Many of the portions come out just larger than a fist.
Up until this point, the Arts District gastropub had only been open for lunch and dinner. It recently launched brunch service on Sundays and plans to expand it to Saturdays possibly as early as November.
When you show up for brunch, a server will hand you a pencil and a paper menu with a checklist of 25 items, divided into the categories of “dairy,” “bakery,” “protein,” “eggs” and “fruits and vegetables.” Once you make your selections, the dishes come out in a mishmash of plates and bowls on a wooden tray. Watching the server bring out the tray feels like that moment when the banchan roll out in a Korean restaurant.
The kitschy concept of this brunch matches the hipster vibe of Fritzi. The restaurant has that sleek industrial design that seems to be the look of the Arts District, and as for tunes, you'll hear indie tracks from the likes of Grimes and Phantogram playing in the background.
Chef and co-owner Neal Fraser (Redbird, BLD) says he went with a Danish-style brunch “just to do something a little different. My business partner [John Moshay] — more than me — and I have spent some time in Scandinavia, and we thought it would be fun to do kind of an à la carte brunch where you can get lots of different things. [It's] the idea of sharing, but you get your own little piece of sharing. And we just wanted to do something different that we thought would be delicious and approachable and still within the wheelhouse of what we’re doing at Fritzi.”
The brunch menu consists of dishes you might find on the regular Fritzi menu and new ones created just for the weekend, with the addition of a special, which has been a Dutch baby pancake since the service launched just a few weeks ago. The popover-like pancake, served in a palm-sized cast-iron skillet, is as traditional as it gets: It's simply topped with a dollop of fresh lemon curd and dusted with powdered sugar. Fraser wanted to add a baked pancake on his menu because he was inspired by Danish ebelskivers and used them as a vehicle to add some Scandinavian dishes into the fold.
Fritzi's kale caesar salad, which normally is served during lunch and dinner service, gets a makeover for brunch, in which it's accompanied by half of an avocado that's topped with the greens. There's a quarter of a crispy potato-and-cheddar waffle that's like what you'd get if a latke and a tater tot had a baby. Many of the other dishes lean simply on the classics, such as smoked salmon and baked eggs stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. As for proteins, you'll find sides of bacon and sausage from Nueske's and Electric City Butchers, respectively. And something that you can only get for breakfast is Fraser's creamy yogurt accented with a house-made strawberry/kaffir-lime jam.
Fritzi's brunch also lets diners sample Sugarbloom Bakery's pastries, which are normally found at some coffee shops scattered throughout L.A., such as Intelligentsia or Demitasse. Think pastries like a flaky chocolate croissant or white miso kouign-amann.
To wash that all down with some bubbly, Fritzi has bottomless mimosas for $15. If you're already hungover and can't commit to being wasted all day, a potential cure might be the bloody mary co-created by general manager Grace Whaley and lead bartender Mackenzie Viera. It's made with Aleppo peppers, which don't set your tongue on fire so much as burn it slowly with a lingering heat. You get the choice of adding vodka to it — or bourbon, if you want what's dubbed a “bloody Larry.” There's also the Hair of the Dog, a frothy LAMILL cold-brew coffee melded with vanilla bean and vodka.
If you don't need booze in your morning drink, Fritzi has a special latte that is mixed with mild honey and lavender.
What you find on the brunch menu one day might not be there the next. Fraser's still playing around with the main dishes and specials. “We’re going to figure that out as we see what people like and what takes off,” Fraser says. “That’s a work in progress.”
814 Traction Ave., Arts District; (213) 537-0327, fritzidtla.com. Brunch is served on Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.