If you’ve ever stared blankly into your cabinets, holding a package of tortillas and wondering if that cumin you bought four years ago is still any good, you might marvel at the sort of person who can stroll through a farmer’s market, grab whatever looks fresh, then proceed to effortlessly make a meal before heading off to a weekend in Saugatuck. And if that type of person were a restaurant, it would probably look a lot like Lost Larson in Andersonville. This place serves seasonal dishes that have only a few ingredients, and while they might seem straightforward on the menu, they find ways to be more interesting than you’d expect.
When this place first opened, it was just a daytime spot focused on pastries, coffee, and bread, which they bake from grain they mill themselves. But now, like some kind of culinary Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost Larson lives a double life: at night the small counter-service space transforms into a full-blown restaurant, serving a short dinner menu of well-prepared seasonal food.
Lost Larson pays a lot of attention to detail when it comes to their food, which shouldn’t surprise you considering it’s the kind of place that mills its own flour. So although the menu seems simple, the carefully prepared dishes taste surprisingly complex - like a small plate of roasted sweet potatoes and farro balanced out with a bright and flavorful broth of lemon and ginger tea. Or branzino, typically a mellow fish, served with a spicy asparagus puree that ends up being the perfect complement. And the Swedish meatballs are a must-order, mainly because they’re served on an incredibly rich and slightly sweet cauliflower gravy that seems to have been made with about 6,732 spices (like coriander, nutmeg, and mace), and they come with a fantastic potato bread that has pieces of baked potato inside that you can actually taste.
But even Buffy herself has days when she accidentally stakes a human in the heart, and some things here do occasionally miss the mark. The clunky steak tartare is made of large pieces of meat that are difficult to chew, and the burrata comes with so much rhubarb and fennel that they overpower the cheese. But the thing with a super seasonal menu like Lost Larson’s is that dishes will inevitably change, both the bad and the good. We’re sure there’s a life lesson in there somewhere, but the point is the rhubarb will (thankfully) go away at some point.
If you’ve ever moonlighted as anything - a high school student by day and vampire slayer by night, say - you know it’s hard to be equally skilled at both. Lost Larson manages to be a fantastic bakery while also being a great restaurant, thanks to its overall attention to detail. Like that person who can somehow glide through the zucchini stand at the farmers market and emerge with a full meal, this place takes something simple and surprises you with it.
The bread here is great, and you need to order some. You get an assortment for the table (rye, whole grain, and country white), along with some delicious cultured butter that’s so fresh it will leave you wondering where they’re hiding the cow.
These are a menu staple, and we’re hoping it stays that way. The meatballs are a tender blend of lamb and pork, served with a flavorful vegetarian gravy made from cauliflower. It might make you feel like a child being manipulated into eating more vegetables, but it’s so delicious it doesn’t matter.
This is a perfect example of a dish here that seems unimpressive on the surface, but is way more flavorful than you’d expect. It’s just roasted sweet potatoes and toasted farro, but the addition of a light broth of lemon ginger tea gives it a lot of flavor and rounds things out.
Seasonal menus can be frustrating because when you find something you love, you know it probably won’t last. You might feel this way with the branzino, which comes with a perfectly complementary “Midwest mole verde” that’s essentially a spicy asparagus puree. If this is on the menu, order it.
This burrata is nice and creamy, though we’re not into the preparation that includes fennel and rhubarb since it’s very tart. But the good news is rhubarb is seasonal. So, like a broken carousel horse, it should rotate away soon enough.
If you want to feel like you’re at a fancy backyard BBQ, order this broccoli salad. It’s prettily plated, and a mixture of lemon juice and raisins makes it both sweet and tart.
While the flavors are good, the texture of the steak tartare is off-putting. The pieces of meat are too big, and the whole thing is too chewy.
There is only one plated dessert on the dinner menu, and it’s a honey ice cream on top of a block of almond semifreddo. It’s OK, but ultimately boring, and you’re better off ordering one of the perfectly baked treats (like a tart or cookie) from the pastry case instead.