The new Culver City has arrived. Along with more folks wearing Corbu specs than any other part of town, its five square miles is suddenly packed with places to eat. I never thought I'd be jealous of neighborhood amenities over in that once sleepy suburb, but I am.
There's little to not love here if you're partial to functional furniture that looks like Paul Smith designed it, and if you prefer some Dwell mag style mixed in with an Alice Watersesque kitchen vibe. The cooking is delicious with some hidden surprises that aren't annoyingly wacky.
I've had a lot of versions of grilled octopus, but never with equally charred green beans and smooth almond slivers. The gluttonous slow roasted pork has its requisite sweet and savory components, and the grits are studded with corn kernels to give the meltingly soft stuff on the plate some bite, plus a generous pile of greens. Arctic char reminds me of the firm, sweet ocean trout I had at Bouchon in Santa Barbara. I bet this dish with soft leeks, tear drop tomatoes and cockles will be ordered more as summer nights warm up.
Not everything is pitch perfect. We're stuck with one damn bad waiter. We have to wave our arms wildly to get anyone's attention. He pushes the most expensive wine on the menu -- one of my most hated service tactics. When asked for wines by the glass, they're recited only by their grape. Um, we'd like some more information, thank you...
And when the couple next to us are confused by their still-frozen mousse, he grabs a utensil, crudely carves the offending dessert into more manageable chunks, and walks away satisfied, as if he's done them a favor. I know it's a really difficult and often thankless job, but that's a pretty funky approach to customer service.
Desserts are the least interesting part of dinner. The aforementioned hard strawberry white chocolate mousse feels like a semifreddo because it's served too cold. A lot more effort is put into its whimsical blooming flower presentation than flavor (gelato cones in Parma are spread for a similar effect). The cookie covering the creme brulee ramekin gives a satisfying extra crunch, and dark chocolate blackberry cake is the densest of the three sweets.
Hollywood, busting at the seams with clubs and not enough exciting new restaurants, needs to take a page from Culver City's book.
Wouldn't it be nice.
8631 Washington Blvd.
Culver City 90232