Top Chef junkies remember Stefan Richter as the runner-up on season 5. But his real claim on the food world will be that he has taken over the restaurant LA Farm, hidden in an office complex at the eastern edge of Santa Monica, and turned it into what should be a destination for anyone with a discerning palate.
Richter, who is Finnish by birth, was raised in Germany. He serves a European view of comfort food – sausages, yes, but with caraway and very authentic sauerkraut; a risotto with beef cheek; shepherd’s pie; and, as international as it gets, a marvelous mustard-crusted rack of lamb.
Just as enticing is a page of “Small Plates” – a bite or two at bite-sized prices. It’s hard for me to resist the truffle arancini with lemon aioli, deviled egg with osetra caviar, truffle mousse with breadsticks, and addictive tiny fingerling potatoes to be dipped into a chive sour cream sauce.
Finding the restaurant can be a bit of a challenge: you have to be driving east on Olympic (if you’re going west, there’s no left turn over a wide divider), with your eye peeled for the nicely designed but relatively small sign guiding you into the office complex parking area, about a block before Centinela.
However, for intense flavors and first-rate cooking, getting to Stefan’s at LA Farm is worth the journey.