In the Weeds

A whole meal of wild fennel at Craft

Arriving for work at Craft with a bag of the right weed will earn you lots of points with chef John Keenan and pastry chef Shannon Swindle.

In addition to the typical spring harbingers, the pair is enamored with the plumes of wild fennel that shoot up around Los Angeles this time of year. The feral herb thrives amongst the chaparral of Topanga Canyon and the yards of Echo Park alike, eliminating the hunting aspect associated with most food foraging; if you're looking for it, you can find it everywhere.

It's surely the cheapest, most local ingredient in Craft's kitchen.

And fennel is as versatile as it is plentiful. Consider the numerous preparations the plant affords Keenan: In the halibut dish he's currently serving (pictured; $33), the meaty fish is accompanied by fennel purée, a frond garnish, and a soubise made from bulbs and stems.

On the sweet side of the menu, Swindle infuses milk and cream with fennel fronds, stems and bulbs to use as a base for ice cream ($4). A single scoop is an elegant finish to a meal, the fennel flavor exercising the same palate-cleansing, digestivo-like action of an anise-based liqueur.

Craft, 10100 Constellation Blvd., Century City; 310-279-4180 or craftrestaurantsinc.com