Los Angeles Times

THE REVIEW: FREDDY SMALLS

June 16, 2012 | S. Irene Virbila, LA Times Restaurant Critic

No reservations. Loud. A gastropub from the Counter owner Jeff Weinstein and a consulting chef known for his vegetarian cooking. In theory, Freddy Smalls didn’t sound all that appealing. Plus, it is small, making it almost a guarantee that you’re going to have to wait, except on an especially slow night. And my dining crew is generally more impatient than I am.

I finally risked it on a weeknight. We had to wait. I didn’t mind, entertained by the hoard of photos pinned to a board in the entryway, all Freds and Freddys. Actors Fred MacMurray and Frederic March. Comedian Freddie Prinze. Fréderic Chopin. TV character Fred Mertz. Fred Astaire, of course.

Once we were seated, though, Freddy Smalls won me and my guests over with its energy and verve. Service is friendly and the small menu offers much more than clichéd gastropub fare. Nothing runs on autopilot. You get the sense that the kitchen and wait staff care about creating a haven on this generally uninspired stretch of Pico Boulevard.

The place has a great sociable vibe and an understated, time-worn look. The designer paid attention to small details: the pattern of the penny tiles on the floor, the classic barstools, the ribbed metal lampshades that hang like silver moons over a row of roomy booths that hold six or more.

Jon Siegal