Tag Archives: Culver City

Holy Smokes!

The Cowboy Killer_MG_5673

  • Griffs Cowboy Whisky
  • Miracle Mile Chocolate Bitters
  • House made tobacco syrup

Garnish: Hickory Smoke and Orange Peel

Glassware: Small Mason Jar

I recently tried one of the most popular concoctions at The Wallace in Culver City, and it was so intriguing I felt the need to do a little post on it. If you live in close proximity (i.e. Anywhere in Los Angeles!) I highly recommend making the journey to the restaurant itself to have it made by its creator, Director of Beverages: Greg Bryson.

For my regular readers you will notice the format of this article is similar to past ‘Drink of the week’ posts, however I’m not including the amounts of ingredients in this one, mainly because the chances of anyone wanting to make this at home is very unlikely and also because the tobacco syrup took a long time for Greg to perfect (a few seconds too long steeping the tobacco makes it undrinkable apparently). There is also nicotine in the drink (not dangerous levels) but I would rather leave this one to the professionals and have you try the drink at it’s place of origin instead. :)Smoking The Cowboy Killer

There are a number of fantastic drinks on the current menu that Mr. Bryson has created, and although he says he usually tries to steer away from making any kind of drink that could be deemed “gimmicky”, this is certainly one of his show stoppers. Greg did point out that although the visual effect is great, the smoke is actually an important part of the drink itself. It creates an aroma that fills your senses when you take a sip and changes the flavors of the drink. “It isn’t JUST for show, there is a very definite reason for it’s addition.”

Reason or no reason, in my opinion the drink just looks seriously cool!

This Cocktail (and it really is a Cocktail in the fundamental definition of the word- Strong, Sweet & Aromatic) is sort of a smoky twist on an Old Fashioned. So many “twists” of classics keep popping up, but this is certainly a more unusual approach.  Greg smokes each drink in front of the bar guests using hickory wood chips in a Polyscience smoke gun and almost every patron at the bar pops their head up to watch the process when one is ordered.

The little mason jar (used as the glassware) quickly fills with a plume of smoke and is presented to the guest with the lid on. You can see the vapor swirling around in the jar so when they remove the lid a cloud of creamy white fog swirls up and it is at this point he suggests taking your first sip. The drink does contain tobacco, however it isn’t cigarettes you smell as the lid lifts…it’s more like a camp fire.

IMG_6480

The Cowboy Killer has a nice slight sweetness to it and the Griffs Cowboy Whisky compliments all the other elements in the drink perfectly. It isn’t too big for the non-whisky drinker to enjoy, and those who love any kind of smoky style drink (eg. Laphroaig or Mescal drinkers) will love this creation.

All in all, this drink isn’t only interesting to look at, but really great to sip on too. Stop in at The Wallace between Tuesday and Saturday to see Greg in person, but either way no matter when you choose to go in, I highly recommend you make a point of trying this wonderful tipple.

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Drink of the Week: Morning Sex

Not sure what kind of “spam” messages I am likely to get posting this drink name, but it’s too darn delicious NOT to put on the site!

Morning SexMorning Sex

  •  2oz Bourbon
  • 3/4oz Lemon juice
  • 3/4oz Passion Fruit Puree
  • 1/2oz Masala Chai Syrup
  • 3 dash Peychauds Bitters

Shake and serve over a large ice cube.

Garnish: Orange twist or pansy flower

You can find this drink, among other greats, on the drink menu at The Wallace, Los Angeles- A fantastic new spot in the heart of Culver City. The food there is nothing short of exceptional (so much so, that I am coming out of my writing drought to discuss it!) and the drinks, although great already, will be getting a fresh spin in coming weeks from their new beverage director- Greg Bryson.

The drink listed above  is currently my favorite drink in Culver City.  From it’s memorable fun name to it’s accessible flavor profile, this drink has everything I could love in it.

The bourbon is subtle enough that any type of drinker can enjoy its flavor, no matter what their usual base alcohol preference is. It  has a delicious tropical sweetness coming from the fresh passionfruit juice, with no unnatural flavors to it (that tend to come from sweeter/fruity drinks.) It is refreshing, summery and makes me feel like i’m on vacation in Hawaii or the Caribbean when sipped on a hot day!

The presentation at The Wallace over a large ice cube also makes it an accessible ‘not too girly’ looking drink option for both men and women., which I think is very smart. In past few visits they have started to garnish it with a pansy (flower), which looks really pretty and a nice alternative to the orange peel.

I admit this recipe will be hard to reproduce at home, in particular the ‘chai syrup’ but it’s definitely worth heading in to The Wallace to try it on its home turf.  Whilst you’re there, try some of the food too…it’s all fantastic. I would write a review on the whole place right now, but I plan to go back for a 4th visit (in 2 weeks) to try even more food before I write about it. It’s just that good.

Delicious, Delicious, Delicious.

 

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The Corner Door

The Corner Door
12477 W. Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90066
310-313-5810
 
 
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I had a really great time at this restaurant, the first time we went.  I had heard some good things about the drink menu from my boyfriend FutureGreg (FG) but had no expectations of the food.

Miner Incident- Bourbon, Apricot, Lemon, Honey, Thai Chilies $12

The first drink I tried was great and called the ‘Miner Incident’. It was beautifully balanced with a definite kick from the chilies. Slightly sweet although the bourbon came through nicely and the use of apricot was a welcomed change from other fruit options usually on offer.

FG had a Mezcallin to start, which he described as a ‘Mexican Penicillin’, which is pretty much what it is!

Mezcallin- Mezcal, Lemon, Ginger, Pineapple Gomme $12

The food menu looked very appealing and so we began with some tasty bites.  We ordered the Bread and Whistles, which FG enjoyed a lot but sadly I didn’t find it to be anything special.  I have had honey and ricotta style appetizers before and loved them, this ricotta brand wasn’t my favorite. The bread was great though.

Bread and Whistles- with Butter, herbed olive oil, ricotta, honey $5

Next we had the brussel sprouts (something I usually hate, but when done right are truly delicious!) they were perfectly sweet with caramelized onion, and a burnt honey’d taste.  The texture was great too, soft center with crunchy outer leaves.  The feta on top was a nice finishing touch. This is an excellent appetizer and I highly recommend it.

Brussels Sprouts- Roasted and fried, Feta $9

By the time our appetizers were done we needed another round of drinks. I went for the Swizzle and FG had ‘The Left Hand.’  The Left Hand was one of the specials on the board for the night, it was basically a Boulevardier with Rye, which he enjoyed although I found a little on the bitter side.  The Queens Park Swizzle was good though, sweet and refreshing. I couldn’t quite taste the strawberry in the bitters, but the overall drink was nice.

Queen’s Park Swizzle- Rum, Lime, Mint, House Strawberry Bitters $12

     

Left Hand- Rye Whisky, Sweet Vermouth, Campari $12

For our Entree we ordered the Salmon and the Asparagus with Burrata.  The Salmon dish was nothing short of excellent.  I mean, really, this was a fantastic piece of fish.  The dill sauce was creamy but not heavy or too rich.  The fish itself was full of flavor with a nice moist center and almost crispy edges. The frisee was fresh and paired nicely with everything else on the plate.

Pan Roasted Wild Salmon (original)- Green olives, orange, Frisee $24

The asparagus was just ok, it was cold asparagus with a warm cooked egg on top and I didn’t like the cold and warm contrast that much. The flavors paired nicely but the temperature differences just didn’t work for me.

Grilled Asparagus & Burrata- Fried egg, Cilantro pistachio pesto $14

For dessert we had a very tasty piece of horchata soaked almond cake. Oh my goodness was this delicious. It was moist, with the taste of almond essence or marzipan.  The salted caramel ice cream occasionally had large salt crystals in it, but the two worked perfectly together. It was a decent sized slice also, great end to the evening.

Horchata soaked almond cake- “dulce de leche”, salted caramel ice cream $9

The bar itself is really attractive, I love Edison style lighting and it worked nicely in this setting. There was a big bar in the center and the place had a casual, warm feel to it.  The staff were friendly, the food was great and drinks list was varied.

This place was going to get full marks for food, sadly I have to be honest (which is why I have taken a while to put this review up, because I don’t like to give negative remarks if I can help it.)  The thing is, FG and I returned a few weeks ago because I was utterly craving the salmon (it was that good).  When we arrived I told the bartender (same one from previous visit) that i’d been daydreaming of it all day, he remarked on how it was one of his favorites also.  We didn’t even look at a menu, just ordered the Salmon dish and the brussels again.  The Brussel Sprouts were just as great as the first visit, however when the Salmon came out it looked completely different.

At first I thought my memory was totally off, but it was in a corn like broth and wasn’t the same grilled piece of fish I had expected. I commented on it and the bartender informed me that they had changed the recipe and now it had a red pepper risotto (I hate red pepper I should add) and they’d changed the cooking method.  It was more than a little upsetting for me, mainly because it really was a totally different dish and I had truly been craving the other version all day.  Now I must say, it wasn’t a bad dish. It was still good actually, but nowhere near what it had been previous.  I totally understand and welcome seasonal menus, I have no issue in changes daily, but the only part that upset me was the fact that the bartender didn’t mention the menu had changed when we ordered it. When I pointed this out to him, he said “Yeah I guess it did change, I kind of preferred it before too” WELL WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SO EARLIER!? haha…Oh well. It is, what it is and the place still gets a good mark overall because of everything else.

I am giving this place 4 out of 5 Platters because the first visit was so successful.  Word to the wise, be sure to check ingredients when you go to places that change their menu constantly. You may end up falling in love with a dish that is no longer available a week later! 😦

I’m giving 3.5 out of 5 Coupes for the drinks. The options were decent and varied, the staff sweet and I really did like my apricot drink a lot.  Nothing totally blew me away, but the drinks were certainly balanced and enjoyable for a night out.

If you are in the Culver City area any time soon, I will say The Corner Door is certainly worth a visit.  I am sure FG and I will be back…we’ll try something different to become the new favorite! Oh, how I will always have fond memories of that first salmon though. 🙂

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Interview with a Bartender: Gregory Westcott

Today my bartender of choice can be found, more often than not, in the South Bay area at the highly acclaimed ‘Manhattan Beach Post.’  

I went to MB Post when it first opened and liked everything about it.  I loved the decor, the innovative exciting dishes and the creative drinks list. The talented and knowledgeable Chef David LeFevre visited us during our meal there and impressed me not only with the glorious food but with his extremely hospitable attitude and friendly interaction with customers.

I will be back to review this restaurant in coming weeks, but for now here is an informal interview with Gregory Westcott, who is one of the great men behind the bar at MB Post and was featured on NBC’s Television Show (Season 1) of ‘Americas Next Great Restaurant.’ (Please note the photo used below was sent directly from Gregory but is copyright to NBC)

Gregory Westcott

Official Job Title: Mixologist/Bartender
Born: San Dimas, California
Currently resides: Manhattan Beach, California
Current Work locations:
Tuesday-Saturday 5-10.30pm
 

*****

Q & A


What is your favorite “Classic” Drink?
 
Old Fashioned closely followed by a Sazerac, and when I say Old Fashioned, I mean the pre-prohibition cocktail…not the 1970’s ‘Whiskey Sangria” recipe.
 
What is your ‘Go-to’ liquor of choice?
Bourbon or Rye. I just love the complexity of the heat with the caramel and toffee notes meeting a nice barrel char. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. And I just feel like a man when I drink it. I don’t think you can feel that way with vodka.
 
Who is your mentor? or Who do you feel trained you in your area of expertise?
I learned this craft from every bartender who has ever made me a cocktail. I’m obsessive  so I do all the research I can on the cocktails that I enjoy and even the ones I don’t.  The team at the Post also heavily influences my cocktail progression; Sal Roses, Beau du Bois, GM Jerry Garbus and Chef David LeFevre. Every drink idea that we toss around has a little bit of each person in it by the time it reaches the menu…not literally though.
 
Are you a fussy eater or picky drinker? If so, what WON’T you try?
I’m fussy when it comes to eating on a daily basis; I try to eat pretty healthy, but when I go out all restrictions are off and there isn’t something I won’t try at least once…except Rocky Mnt. Oysters…I won’t try those!
 
What is the most unusual dish or food item you’ve ever tasted?
There have been a few at the Post but the Lamb’s Tongue Salad stands out (it was amazing). I also tried a raw pig’s ear once (not so amazing). I love the Rattlesnake and Rabbit sausage at Wurstküche, which doesn’t sound unusual at all anymore.
 
What is the name of your favorite (current) Mixology bar in LA? and Why?
Oldfields in Culver City. They do everything right there. The bartenders are humble and the product they give you is always inventive yet approachable. It feels good to be able to put the responsibility of your good time in a bartender’s hand and have them achieve that with consistency.
 
What is the best thing about what you do? 
There’s a moment when you are engaging someone at your bar and it transcends from the act of putting liquid in a glass to an understanding of my passion for making cocktails. People deserve to have the best drinks I can make and I strive for the connection we share when they appreciate that.
 
What is the Worst thing about what you do?
When someone asks if I’m a bartender or a mixologist and I have to justify a title. If I say Mixologist then I’m pretentious but if I say Bartender then I might not be qualified to design a cocktail menu and might lose some credibility in their eyes.  I’m trying to coin the term “Mixie” but you have to say it with a 1920’s accent.
 
If you were stuck on a desert island and could have a barrel of just one spirit, what would you want it to be?
Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23 yr old bourbon and hopefully Lindsay Nader would be stuck there too…only to make us cocktails of course.
 
If you couldn’t do what you do now, what would you do instead?
I moved to LA to be a writer and the only writing I’ve been paid for are cocktail recipes but I really can’t complain about that.
 

*****

If you would like to be considered for this new segment send an email to pickydrinker@gmail.com with a little info on who you are and where you work.  If you don’t sound like a crazy person, I will happily send you a questionnaire to fill out.  If you work in Los Angeles I will almost certainly come in to see how good you are!

Please note: I am looking for enthusiastic bartenders with a real passion for ‘Tending Bar”, Mixology or Classic drink making.  Those of you who think ‘Sweet and Sour Mix’ is a great product, bartend only for the joy of extra cash and have no interest in the cocktail community, need not apply!

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Father’s Office, Culver City

Father’s Office (Culver City location)

3229 Helms Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90034

310 736 2224

*     *      *     *

Came here for Monday date night with my boyfriend FG (read about me section for more info) having heard so much about the ‘Office burger’.  It has been written about by many bloggers as the best burger in LA and was described in Esquire magazine as ‘one of the best burgers in the World’. The main attraction to the burger is the applewood smoked bacon compote and the dry-aged beef. Chef Sang Yoon was in charge of this creation at the original Fathers Office location in Santa Monica.  This location we went to in the Helms bakery building opened up in 2008, but follows the same standards and rules as the original location.

I had heard good things about the food and beer prior to coming here, but didn’t really know what to expect other than it is described as a ‘gastro pub’.  I had feared it would have a sports bar feel to it due to the TV screens and so many beers on tap, but they have definitely made this more upscale than that. A nice long wood bar, low ceilings with edison era light bulbs hanging all the way along made the place warm and inviting. It was anything but a sports bar and had a great slightly romantic ambience. Please note they do not allow modifications or substitutions of any kind here, and they mean it. I don’t usually like this idea in restaurants because 1. I’m fussy! and 2. I do have allergies to some items. Seeing as I wasn’t allergic to anything on the list I wanted to eat this time, there was no need to bother them on this point.

I should talk a little about the beer menu. I don’t drink much beer myself, but do enjoy themaltier beers and on occasion a porter or stout.  Their list is extensive here and documented nicely in the menu with a good description below each one. This is great for someone like me who really doesn’t know names of beers or what direction to go for usually, the descriptions made me WANT to try the beer! For example, Bear republic Heritage Ale was described as ‘Deep roasted chocolate and smoke with biscuit undertones’. YUM!

They had the beers in categories I could understand too… MALTY, HOPPY, YEASTY/SPICY and FRUITY/HERBACIOUS. They also had a whole section dedicated to SEASONAL beers and rare bottles. If you are in to your beer and want a better ambience than somewhere like ‘The Yard House’, then definitely check this location out. (Or the Fathers Office in Santa Monica.)

Despite being a beer place, I decided not to go with a beer but try a speciality cocktail instead because I had heard they put effort in to this aspect of the menu also. I ordered a ‘Oaxacan Fizz‘ purely because I was intrigued by the ‘tobacco syrup’ they make here.

Oaxcan Fizz– San Juan del Rio Mezcal, Tobacco Syrup, Cynar, Lemon, Pure Seltzer

Now, my boyfriend and I don’t smoke. I don’t often enjoy mescal type drinks for that very reason, I used to think it tasted like water in an ashtray to be honest but recently my palette has been adapting to the smokiness of these drinks and i’m actually beginning to like them! It was pretty smoky as the ingredients would suggest, but it had something to it that i really enjoyed. It was refreshing and light despite its smokiness, no doubt due to it being on ice with seltzer. Actually FG did point out it is technically a collins not a fizz because it has ice. A lot of people don’t realize that a ‘Fizz’ is a type of drink, its like people who mix up a ‘Fix’ and a ‘Sour’, the only difference is whether or not it’s on the rocks but it does become a different drink genre for those who didn’t know! Anyway, it was tasty and the tobacco syrup turned out to be pretty potent.

FG got a real buzz off it actually, and seeing as he’s never even tried a cigarette in his life, he couldn’t figure out why he felt so light headed after one drink. Our bartender Mike (who was great by the way) commented on the fact they make the syrup in house by steeping a really high end tobacco in sugar water so he’s most likely getting a high off of that. If you like smoky, you’ll enjoy this drink….and the buzz you’ll get too!

FOOD

We decided to order the burger med/rare with frites and the duck salad.

Office Burger.

Dry-aged beef patty, Caramelized Onion. Bacon. Gruyere, Maytag Blue, Arugula $12

As I mentioned before, this burger has won several awards and been noted as one of the best burgers in the World, so needless to say it had a lot to live up to. I don’t usually like onions on my burger at all, but no modifications meant i had to bite the bullet and taste it regardless….i’m glad I did. The caramelized onion bacon mix was superb and worked beautifully with the two cheeses. It was rich in flavor without being greasy or overpowering.

The meat was cooked to melt in your mouth perfection at medium rare, it was soft almost like butter and had all its flavor still intact. Sadly the soft bun was nothing special, and I felt could have been crispier against the softness of the meat etc. Not sure if it would get my ‘best burger’ title, but is certainly memorable. The only aspect I didn’t like about this dish was the frites, ours were a little over cooked so tasted more like crispy sticks than fries, I never really like the spindly chips (as I call them), I prefer a thicker cut and we regretted not ordering the sweet potato fries which the man next to us got and they looked delicious.

The garlic aioli that accompanied them made up for it though, wow was that good. Creamy with just the right amount of seasoning. Chef Sang Yoon doesn’t allow any ketchup in the building, so don’t bother trying to get it. I am glad of this fact, because the aioli was just perfect.

Liberty Duck Confit Salad

Mustard Greens, Frisée, Figs, Hazelnuts, Tangelo Vinaigrette $13

The salad was also very tasty. It had citrus and asian inspired flavors throughout. Each bite would move through stages, you’d get a burst of sweetness, that would become sour and end with a slight bitterness. The orange of the Tangelo Vinaigrette cut through the richness of the duck meat and complimented it nicely. I wish there had been more green on the plate as apposed to so much frisée, but I was by no means disappointed with the dish as a whole. I really enjoyed the addition of figs and hazelnuts too. The duck was cooked well and I realized from the two dishes, they really know how to cook their meats to perfection here. Other menu items that intrigued me (I didn’t get to taste this time round) were the ‘Hawaiin Butterfish’ and ‘Steak Au Poivre’, I would no doubt try this on the next visit.

It gets 4 out of 5 Clover Clubs

My drink rating here is a tricky one because it’s based only on one cocktail. I am giving this place a 4 out of 5 clover clubs which is VERY generous, but only because the beer list is so extensive there is bound to be something for everyone and the drink I did have was enjoyable and different. It looses a point for the mistake of a ‘Fizz’ and not being able to taste the syrup to distinguish the mescal from the tobacco.

It gets 3.5 out of 5 Platters

The food we ate was all good but not exceptional in my opinion.  It looses points for the disappointing over cooked fries and the lack of green on the salad. Also I kind of wish they’d cut the duck over the salad as apposed to a big chunk of duck meat on the side, but that’s just a personal preference. The menu choices were interesting though and I would be happy to return to try more food in future.

All in all it was a good experience, food and drink was reasonably priced, service was quick and the staff were friendly. A place worth checking out, especially if you like a good pint!

If anyone has any comments on this location in comparison to the Santa Monica one please let me know, I will no doubt check out the other spot in the near future also.

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