Loving Lukshon

Restaurant: Lukshon

Location: 3239 Helms Ave, Culver City, CA 90034. 310.202.6808

Date: October 20, 2011

Cuisine: New Asian

Rating: Pretty damn tasty


A couple of years ago my office was in Culver City, and the restaurant revolution there was already well under way. But the trend continues apace with Lukshon, a sort of re-imagined southern Asian (vaguely Chinese — sort of) joint opened by the same owners as adjacent Father’s Office. I’ve been itching to try it for better on six months and we finally got the Foodie Club together for an impromptu meeting.

The modern interior space. There is also a generous and attractive patio.

The menu. We ordered about two thirds of it, for eight people, all family style.

“atlantic fluke  pickled watermelon, black sesame, cucumber, kinh gioi.” Light flavored, but tasty. The black sesame lent it a pleasant gritty texture.

Lukshon does not allow corkage. I didn’t know that and Foodie Club co-president EP and I hauled four bottles to the table. I was skeptical at first of the small wine list too, as it’s devoid of big name offerings. But with some help from the Sommelier we put together what turned out to be a very enjoyable trio.

We had the 2010, but the 2009 got 92 from parker, “Ollivier’s 2009 Muscadet de Sevre et Maine Sur Lie Clos des Briords is as perfumed and lusciously-fruited a wine of its genre as you are likely to encounter, though that by no means precludes depth of mineral character. Scents of pear, clover, Persian melon, and fennel inform the nose and migrate to a buoyant yet expansive, mouthwateringly juicy palate tinged with a shimmering crystalline sense of minerality characteristic for this cuvee. This sensational value finishes with an uncanny combination of soothing refreshment and vibrancy. It is apt to be even more ravishing in another year or so and be worth following for at least 3-4.”

“shrimp toast  rock shrimp, cilantro, chiles, tiny croutons.” These are little fried balls with a sweet and spicy sauce. They tasted pretty fried, with an understated flavor.

“baby monterey squid!! chiang mai pork sausage, candlenut, mint, rau ram.” Really tasty. The fried tentacles in the center were pretty straight up calimari. The bodies were stuffed with the yummy sausage.

“duck popiah.  cilantro stems, pickled jicama, hoisin chile sauce.” With the texture of a Saigon Roll, these duck rolls were packed with meaty flavor inside. Plus, being a sauce guy, I love hoison. One of my favorite dishes.

“spicy chicken pops!! shelton farms’ drumettes, garlic, kecap manis, spicy sichuan salt.” Nice little “wings” with a lot of flavor and a bit of heat. A kind of BBQ sweet heat.

This was a very interesting wine. Old fashioned — like 2,000 years old fashioned. Evidently, it’s kept in amphorae, large greek/roman style terra-cotta vessels. While a white, it was so unfiltered as to be almost cloudy. But damn good.

“kurobuta pork ribs.  spicy chicory coffee bbq sauce.” The meat just fell of the bones. A bit of char. Seriously good ribs, what cheap Chinese restaurant ribs aspire to be.

“rib eye steak yam neua. gem lettuce, radish, carrot, tomato, herbs, spicy lime vinaigrette.” This was fine, but just kinda beefy.

“foie gras ganache!! carob, ceylon cinnamon, tamarind gastrique, almond, puffed rice.” These were more a dessert than a savory. The creamy foie texture and richness leant them the character of some kind of ultra rich mousse.

“lamb belly roti. canai  chana dal, cumin, mint, raita, pickled cauliflower.” Another of my favorite dishes. A kind of vaguely middle eastern, vaguely Asian pizza. The little sour marinated crunchy cauliflower was good too.

“garlic pork belly  do ban jian, rice cakes, cabbage, garlic chives.” Probably my favorite dish. This had some good heat and that rich fermented bean paste flavor. The meat was rich, but not too fatty, and under the sauce you could only tell it from the rice cakes by texture. They added a chewiness to complement the some pork.

“short rib rendang!! malay spices, red chile lemongrass rempah, coconut cream.” More meat. I liked the sauce better on this one.

Parker gives this very solid Riesling 90 points. “Pepper-laced pears and apples are found in the nose of the zesty, vivacious 2002 Riesling Eiswein Oberemmeler Hutte. This molasses, brown sugar and white fruit-flavored offering sports eye-popping acidity, loads of depth, and a long, sweet finish. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2025.”

“heirloom black rice  lap cheong, onion, roasted garlic, lilly’s farm fried egg.”

Mixed up. This was pleasant, rich, sweet, and ricey.

“gai lan aged ham, shaoxing wine, garlic.” Nice stir fried greens. But I wanted more ham flavor.

“chiang mai curry noodles  chile, tumeric, lemongrass, chicken, prawn, yu choy, rice noodles.” A curry with noodles. Nothing wrong with that, as I love curry.

“dandan noodles!! kurobuta pork, sesame, preserved mustard greens, sichuan peppercorns, peanuts.” I really liked this too. Noodles with a pretty spicy Chinese pork ragu. I had a better version in western China, but this was pretty damn good. Decently hot, but not nearly real Szechuan hot. I guess the sauce isn’t so different than Pocked Marked Old Ladies Tofu (yes, that is a real dish).

Dessert is “free” (as Matt Groning said, “at no additional perceivable cost”). They bring out one per person, but three types. I would’ve liked to try each, but I had the leftmost, which was a delicious form of deconstructed pina colada. Some kind of pana cotta with coconut and pineapple. The middle was chocolate, the rightmost more fruity.

For more LA dining reviews click here.

For other Foodie Club meals (all crazy great) see here.

Manpuku – Not so Secret Beef

Restaurant: Manpuku

Location: 2125 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90025. (310) 473-0580

Date: October 14, 2011

Cuisine: Yakinaku

Rating: Tasty BBQ, good value


Manpuku is a Yakinaku (Japanese style Korean BBQ) joint in the heart of the Sawtelle little-Tokyo area (just a few stores down from awesome Kiriko Sushi). It’s been a lunch favorite of mine for years because it offers really good BBQ at value prices. It isn’t the ultimate Yakinaku, a title reserved for the amazing Totoraku, but it is about 10% of the price!

This mini-mall is packed with delicious Asian lunch spots.

Just in case you wondered what you might find inside.

Every table comes equipped with it’s own BBQ. I apologize for the mediocre pictures. My snapshot camera is in the shop and so I had only the iPhone4 (I wasn’t going to lug the big camera). On the plus side, the photos did magically sync to my Mac via photostream, which is pretty sexy. Canon needs to add at least Wifi to their regular cameras. I’m sick of pulling out that card.

The lunch menu.

Kimchee on the left, the delicious sweet sauce (for use on the meat after cooking) on the right.

I ordered the “prime rib lunch set” ($15, and sometimes on sale!) and it comes with all you can eat Japanese salad.

And miso soup.

And rice.

Plus one of these plates of marinated prime short rib and a few vegetables.

The meal is simple. You BBQ to taste (rare in my case), dip in the sweet sauce, let cool on the rice, then eat!

There is nothing to complain about here. The beef is fresh, tender, and tasty. If you enjoy this, and are want to really max out on the variety this cuisine offers (every cut of cow) then check out Totoraku.

For more LA dining reviews click here.

No Beef with Mastro’s

Restaurant: Mastro’s

Location: 246 North Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, Ca 90210. 310-888-8782

Date: September 17, 2011

Cuisine: Steak House

Rating: My favorite LA Steak joint


America is full of steak houses at every level from Sizzler to Cut. But I haven’t found one that I like as much as Mastro’s. Granted I’m not a plain steak fan (I prefer my beef more like this, or tartar, or even Fogo). But Mastro’s gets the steak house think right.

The Cannon drive entrance, just a block north of Spago. Inside the place is a ZOO. Sure this was Saturday, 8:30pm on Emmy weekend in Beverly Hills. But this huge restaurant was packed to the gills, including both bars. These are a sure scene. It’s hard to tell the merely underdressed and over siliconed ladies from the pros.

Our table was right in front of the rat pack. It was much more crowded than in this photo.

The PDF of the menu can be found here.

We were celebrating the engagement of one of my oldest friends so I brought some big guns from my cellar. This wine was the first truly GREAT wine I ever bought (circa 1996). This is the second to last of two cases I once had. It has constantly and without fail scored 100 points from Robert Parker. You will find no better expression of Syrah.

“The 1991 Hermitage La Pavillon follows the pattern of the 1989 and 1990 – it is another perfect wine. The saturated black/purple color is followed by a compelling bouquet of spices, roasted meats, and black and red fruits. Enormously concentrated yet with brilliant focus and delineation to its awesomely-endowed personality, this extraordinary wine should age effortlessly for three plus decades. In a short period of time (Michel’s first vintage was 1989) Chapoutier‘s Hermitage Le Pavillon has become a wine of mythical proportions. Produced from extremely old vines, some dating from the mid nineteenth century, with yields averaging under 15 hectoliters per hectare, this is the richest, most concentrated and profound wine made in Hermitage. There are rarely more than 500 cases.”

Everything at Mastro’s is well done, and that includes the bread. I’m partial to the pretzel rolls myself.

Five of us ordered the seafood tower. The quality of the seafood here is impeccable and the only thing we had to complain about was that there wasn’t enough! Really for five we would have expected the two or three story version 🙂 Still there were amazing shrimp, lobsters, claws, king crab (didn’t taste frozen), and oysters.

One of the things that really makes the Mastro’s seafood tower are the sauces. We have cocktail, a spicy mustard, and the Atomic Horseradish. They use this particular magic brand (you can buy it here). The stuff is — pardon my French — fucking awesomely potent. I’ve taken to buying it myself for home. No other horseradish is this punishing. It has a nice flavor too. I particularly like it mixed in with the cocktail sauce. It can have you literally pounding the table in pain — ahem pleasure.

Beefsteak tomato and mozzarella. With pesto.

Since both I and my newly engaged friend were born in 1970, I grabbed from the cellar this puppy. Parker gives it a mere 95 points. Sure it isn’t quite the 1991 Le Pavillion, but it gets extra credit for age. “The 1970 Palmer is one of the great wines of the vintage. It exhibits a dark, opaque garnet color, and an emerging, fabulously complex, exotic nose of licorice, over-ripe plums and blackcurrants, soy, cedar, and minerals. Rich and concentrated, with medium to full body, a sweet inner-core of fruit, firm but silky tannin, and a long, rich finish, this remains a youthful, potentially superb Palmer. While approachable, it will keep through the first 10-15 years of the next century.

Here comes the beef!

Like most steak houses Mastro’s serves up the entrees bare (all the better to extract more cash from you). This is the New York Strip.

The bone in filet (12 ounce). This is my favorite cut of steak. It has both the filet tenderness and some extra flavor from the bone.

The straight petite (8 ounce) filet.

And the bone in filet, oscar style. Yes this was mine. Like King Robert, I’m trying to eat and drink my way to an early grave. “Oscar Style” means that it’s topped with asparagus, crab cakes and bearnaise sauce. Bearnaise sauce (French: Sauce béarnaise) is a sauce of clarified butter and egg yolks flavored with tarragon and shallots, with chervil and tarragon simmered in vinegar to make a reduction. Lean and mean baby!

Salmon steak. Looking lonely.

But it need not fear, the sides are here!

This is “Gorgonzola mac & cheese!” Oh so light, oh so yummy.

And even better, the evil “king crab truffle gnocchi.” Yes that’s right. Cream, cheese, truffles, crab, potato. What could be better?

In case you don’t get the idea, you have to see it up close. Oh so good.

Then the light “lobster mashers.” That orange stuff, that’s butter.

And for those not seeking an instant heart attack, the “sauteed spinach” (cooked in butter).

We continue to suffer on the wine front as well with this third gem from my cellar. Parker 96 points. “The 2008 Flor de Pingus offers up an enticing nose of smoke, Asian spices, incense, espresso, black cherry, and blackberry. On the palate it displays outstanding volume, intensity, and balance. Rich, dense, and succulent, it has enough structure to evolve for 4-5 years and will offer prime drinking from 2015 to 2028.”

So now we get to the desserts. This is “Mastro’s signature warm butter cake ala mode.” Basically a pound cake with an extra four sticks of butter or something. It’s really sweet and really good. Goes well with the magic whipped cream (see below).

Because of the incredible whipped cream here, we ordered up some fresh strawberries. Combine with below.

The photo is a little blown out, but Mastro’s has the most incredible whipped cream. You can just chow down on it my itself. Made fresh with really good cream and LOTS of sugar.

I couldn’t resist their key lime pie either. I LOVE key lime pie and they make a real good one. Plus it goes really well with the whipped cream.

Overall Mastro’s, while a zoo, and very expensive, is a spectacular steak house experience. You can really feel your heart palpitating as you roll out of here!

For more LA dining reviews click here.

The wines lined up in my cellar. I even brought a bottle of 1996 Dom P that I didn’t even open (not enough Champagne fans at the table). Another night.

Eating Colle di Val d’Elsa – Arnolfo

Restaurant: Arnolfo Ristorante

Location: Colle di Val d’Elsa, Italy

Date: June 16 & 23, 2011

Cuisine: Tuscan

Rating: Awesome, but hard to find


Just fifteen minutes from our villa and Siena lies the city of Colle di Val d’Elsa and its two star rated Michelin restaurant, Arnolfo. So we went twice! This is an amazing restaurant in a gorgeous location atop the old city. The rub, however, is getting there. The first time the GPS insisted we drive into a masonry wall (closed road). We gave up with that, parked, and ended up walking over a mile, including taking the elevator up to the old city. The walk back wasn’t no fun either and the staff told us that to actually drive here you have to go 6km out of your way to the next town and then come back by one particular approach — but then there is no parking in the old city.

So the next time, feeling all smart, I tried to park in the “close” (only 500m) lot below the old city. But the first entrance I tried was so narrow that I almost got stuck and had to back up my 9 seater van down 200m of alley and around a 90 degree turn — only took 30 minutes and soaked through my suit in the 88 degree humid weather. Then we had to hike up the half mile.

But it was worth it.

They have a gorgeous patio which far from “being in the middle of a city” looks out on the Tuscan hillside.

Even the non-view direction is lovely.

Grissini, first of several bread courses.

The menu on June 16 (the last of the “spring menu”).

And the new “summer” menu on June 23, as we luckily straddled the change.

Compari and soda.

Stating with a little prosecco to cool off.

In the glass.

Then comes a tray of amuses. From left to right. Green pea mouse, tomato stuffed with mozzarella, apple disc with prawn, veal croquet, and gorgonzola and fig jam sandwich. These were all good, but the last was incredible.

Like most great restaurants Arnolfo caters to every restriction. This is a variant amuse plate for vegetarians.

For example this beet and goat cheese mini.

Bread course number two, tomato bread and with lardo (sliver of pig fat).

And for those not so into the pig, the one on the right is onion.

Nor are the gluten free left out. Various potato and rice triscuits!

I’ve come to like Vernaccia, which is a D.O.C. white from San Gimignano. Very light, but with more flavor than a Pinot Grigio.

“Scampi, Goose Liver Escalope, Strawberries.”

“Sea Bass, Strawberries.” A variant for the shellfish impaired.

My notes failed me a little here, but I think it’s some kind of fish (possibly a pork belly though) in a pea soup.

Heads up, bread course three!

“Red mullets, Peas, Silver skin Onions.”

“Asparagus, Ricotta Cheese, Eggs.” Now this was an interesting dish. The white asparagus were grilled and wrapped in pancetta (bacon). The white and yellow stuff is deconstructed egg (yolk and white as powder). The ricotta is in the upper right and was delicious. The powder wasn’t as successful as the bonus egg, shown below.

This is more or less a coddled egg. I dipped the asparagus for extra umph.

This was a small production local Chianti Classico that the sommeler recommended. Good too, and like 30E. Try to find a decent wine at that price at a French 2 star!

“Guinea-Fowl, Chick-peas, I.G.P. Tuscan Ham.” Good stuff.

“Spinach soup with sea bass, tomato.”

“Perlina Aubergines, Tomato, Watermelon, Buffalo Mozzarella I.G.P.”

“Prawns, Peaches, Yellow Pepper.” Yummy. The pairing of the delicate shellfish was delicious with both the fruit and the peppers.

Arnolfo has very nice presentation, which I couldn’t photo every aspect of.

“Goose Liver, Red Onions, Spices, Cherries.” Oh wow yum. And that is some kind of cheese foam/ice cream on top. This was really good stuff.

And two extra goose liver preps for good measure. A sort of Napoleon and a little pistachio coated truffle, solid fois inside.

“Rabbit, Bloack Olives, Ratatouille.” Not your everyday Ratatouille. Notice the white asparagus too.

“Turbot with mozzerella.”

“Tortelli with chicken from Val d’Orcia, with asparagus and red pepper soup.” These are serious homemade pastas.

“Tortelli, Red Onions from Certaldo, White Beans from Sorana.”

“Mezzelune pasta, Courgettes flowers, Wedge shells.”

“Tagliolini, Rabbit, Black Olives.” In the front, out of focus, are discs of rabbit meat to go with the chunks of bunny in the pasta.

“Ravioli, Aubergines, Ewe’s Ricotta, Red Pepper.”

Gluten free pasta too!

“The 2006 Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico Riserva is a pretty, juicy red laced with cherries, dried flowers, tobacco and underbrush. The tannins dry out a touch on the finish, which is the only thing that keeps the score from going higher. Still, this forward, fruit-driven Chianti should drink nicely over the next few years. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2016. “

“Cod, with onions.” And some other stuff.

“Fish soup, Crustaceans, Mollucs, Vegetables.”

“John Dory, Asparagus, Datterini Tomatoes, Capers from Pantelleria.”

“Dentex, Gazpacho, Aubergines.”

“Swordfish, Roasted Peppers, Candied Tomatoes.” You can see that each dish is quite complex.

A brunello recommended by the sommelier.

“I.G.P. Chianina Veal Steak and cheek.”

“I.G.P. Chianina Veal Tartar and vegetables.”

I didn’t used to be into tartar, but it’s really been growing on me over the last several years. Quail egg on top.

“I.G.P. Chiania Veal Steak, Potatoes.”

“Cinta Senese Suckling Pig, Porchetta, Leg, Loin, Leaf Cabbage, Beetroots.”

This town evidently produces 14% of the world’s crystal. Italian shopping hours being what they are, despite three visits, we never saw one open.

Ah the suffering involved in dining in one of the world’s great wine regions. 93 points from Parker. “Consulting oenologist Carlo Ferrini has turned out a beautiful wine at this historic estate, a property which he speaks of in effusive terms. Talenti’s sublime 2001 Brunello Pian di Conte exhibits a deep, translucent ruby color. It opens with captivating, vibrant aromatics, with notes of freshly cut roses, raspberries and licorice. Gorgeously expressive yet delicate on the palate, it offers layers of dark fruit, earthiness and sweet oak supported by a refined, classic structure, with exceptional length and fine, silky tannins on the fresh finish. It is a superb effort. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2021.”

We are assaulted by a battery of pre-desserts. Vanilla ice cream with cherry rhubarb “soup.”

“Almond Mascarpone, pistachio ice cream.”

“Ricotta Cheese, Orange, Honey.” Tart and sweet.

“Selection of Tuscan Sheep’s-milk and Goat’s-milk Cheeses.”

And some nice condiments.

I can’t even remember what this one was.

“Zuccotto, Star Anis, Coffee, Fennel Ice Cream.”

“Grand Dessert Assortment.” Because one isn’t enough. Chocolate cake, Passionfruit sauce. Coffee something. Strawberry flan. A bit of the above Zuccotto, and something else.

“Zuccotto, Pinenuts, Alkermes, Chocolate Sorbet, Fleur del Sel.” The central thing was basically a meringue.

“Fruit and custard mille fueile.”

“Apricots, Almonds, Lavender Ice Cream.”

Worth a bit of zoom.

And this too.

We also had a birthday (mine more or less), so there was this bonus cake!

And just a few petite fours. Lemon jelly in the center. A little fruit tart on the right.

More, on the second night. Berry tart. Ricotta vanilla dome. Pistachio burger. Blackberry mouse. Almond marzipan.

Our second meal here was slightly better than the first for some reason, but both were top notch. Service was spectacular all around. Highly recommended as a very updated medium modernist take on Tuscan cuisine. The quality of local ingredients was impeccable, and they know how to modernize playfully without letting the techniques get out of control.

Click here to see more Eating Italy posts.

Eating Monteriggioni – Il Pozzo

Restaurant: Il Pozzo

Location: Monteriggioni, Italy

Date: June 13 & 22, 2011

Cuisine: Tuscan

Rating: Classic Tuscan


This local resteraunt in the cute little walled town of Monteriggioni pretty much typifies Tuscan cooking at its traditional best. We initially went here on the basis of our villa owner’s recommendation. He has good taste, and we came back a second time. This is probably the best of all my reports to get a sense of the classic Tuscan courses.

The restaurant is located in the main square of this qaint medeval village.

The name seems to mean well, shaft, or pit. There is an old well in the square right outside the restaurant, so that’s probably it.

The menu.

The interior is cute and traditional.

And they also have this lovely side patio.

The usual bread.

We started with a white from San Gimignano, Vernaccia, an old school but very pleasant DOC white.

Beetle juice anyone? Compari and soda.

Incredibly common, Tuscan ham with local melon.

Classic, caprese.

Smoked salmon served with a bit of salad and butter.

Local “pici” pasta with basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan and olive oil.

Spaghetti pomodoro.

Pappardelle al Cinghiale, boar ragu. This was a scrumptious rendition of this wonderful dish, with perhaps a little cinnamon or nutmeg in the ragu.

Pasta with butter and cheese for the under 10 set.

Polenta with porcini mushrooms and cheese fondue — a rare out of focus photo.

A fantastic meat risotto. Basically a Bolognese sauce with rice. Really good.

The basic salad, but very well done.

Zucchini and walnut salad.

Fried fresh zucchini blossoms. Unlike in the states, these had no ricotta inside (which does frankly improve them), but they were still really good.

A good local Chianti Classico Riserva. It’s hard to really go wrong with some of these riservas at the local prices.

Grilled fillet of Tuscan cow. Rare (always)!

Guinea fowl braised and served in a sauce with slices of fresh truffle. No hating this.

Pork Senese, in a sweetish Vin Santo and fennel sauce. I liked this sauce which complemented the pork perfectly.

A total Tuscan classic, Salsicce con Fagioli — franks and beans. Tuscan sausage with stewed fava beans (a favorite of Hannibal Lector, but he uses the other other white meat).

Grilled lamb chops. Tuscans do love their Griglia (grilled meats).

Plenty of aperitifs available to wash down those slices of animal flesh.

The dessert menu.

Vanilla Gelato with hardened chocolate shell.

Creme Caramel. One of my personal favorites.


Cheese cake, Tuscan style.

You can really see the rhythm of a Tuscan meal here. The only things missing are the bruschetta and the minestrone, but those are shown in lots of other reports like Trattoria Pepei. First with have the antipasta, in this case cured meats, fish, etc. Then the pastas, then salads and vegetables accompanying grilled meats, followed by the cake-like desserts.

Click here to see more Eating Italy posts.

Eating Staggia – Pozzo dei Desideri

Restaurant: Pozzo dei Desideri

Location: Bologna, Italy

Date: June 11, 2011

Cuisine: Tuscan

Rating: Good food, good value


Today we drove through the mountains between Forli in Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany, then down past Florence to Staggia a small town near Siena. As this was a transitional day and we were settling into our new (temporary) home we just popped down into town for a quick local dinner.

This joint is in the center of this one horse town.

It has a big menu of typical Tuscan fare and very reasonable prices.

This being the heart of Chianti we chose a local Chianti Classico. This was probably about an 89 point wine, but it had some decent age on it making it fairly nice.

It was old enough that they decanted it.

In this modern age, the old adage, “don’t order seafood in the country,” no longer applies. This was billed as Zuppe di Mare. There wasn’t a lot of “soup” but it was tasty with a hearty garlic tomato sauce and various and mysterious shellfish.

Torte of Zucchini in a Pecorino sauce.

One of the MOST typical of pasta dishes, Pappardelle Cinghiale (wild boar ragu) with olives. The Cinghiale is the local hairy wild boar of tuscany. Click here for some pictures of this delightful creature.

This is a big wide fresh pasta with pomodoro and pecorino.

Gnocci with pecorino, tomato, and arugula.

The omnipresent insalata misto.

And another Tuscan classic, the block of beef. This is a fillet in balsamic sauce.

Notice how it’s served rare. Really rare. Tuscans don’t believe in cooking their beef. It was tasty though. Leaner and a bit tougher than an American filet, but full of flavor.

Overall the place was very good for just being a casual inexpensive local spot. We did however run an odd service quirk when they brought out a second steak a full hour after everyone else got their food (they had forgotten the order). Unlike in America they didn’t want to pull it from the bill (although it was only about 10 euro) and instead insisted on boxing it up for us.

Then we walked across the street for gelato. The place was humming at 11pm, packed with kids.

The didn’t have a lot of flavors, but they are all artisanal and very good.

Some various gelato cakes too.

Click here to see more Eating Italy posts.

Waterloo & City

Restaurant: Waterloo & City [1, 2]

Location: 12517 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90066  310.391.4222

Date: May 21, 2011

Cuisine: Gastropub

Rating: Really tasty!


There has been real growth in the gastropub catagory here in LA during the last few years. Part of this is probably the recession which has encouraged somewhat lower key dining, but there’s probably more to it. When I first moved to LA (early 90s) things were dominated by flashy higher end “event” restaurants each with its own blend of novel fusion cuisine. Good examples of this would by Chaya, Matsuhisa, Chinois, Spago, Abiquiu. The next wave after that were the farmer’s market driven joints like Josie or Gjelina. In any case, on to Waterloo & City.

A view of the bar. This is a pretty big place.

The menu.

The drink menu. I didn’t feel like wine, so we tried out some of these.

“Oh Rickey! Russian Standard Vodka, Fresh Raspberries, Lime, Soda.” This tasted like fresh raspberries. It was sweet, but not too sweet. Good.

“Tamarindo Fever. Tequila Blaco, Tamarind, Grand Marnier, Habanero, Lemon, Lime Salt.” I’ve been trying a lot of these “hot drinks” lately. I like them. This was good, sour and hot at the same time. But it was really hot. Not enough to bother me, but enough that I worried about heartburn if I drink say, 2 or 3 of them.

This special cocktail had vanilla Stoli, fresh lemon juice and some other stuff. It tasted like a lemon candy.


Waterloo has a lot of charcuterie. This was a small plate on the left, on the right are “Shrimp & Zucchini Blossom Fritters, piri piri hot sauce.” A tempura fried variant on the Italian favorite (in that case usually stuffed with ricotta).

“Yellowtail crudo, shallot & ginger dressing, spring salad.” This was very tasty. Besides the fish there was a bit of burrata and tomato in here too. But the fish was very succulent, and the ginger based dressing delicious. With all this stuff, including the radish, there was a very complex but harmonious flavor/texture thing going on, not unlike a dish at Red Medicine.

“Steamed mussels, red thai curry, lime ginger, ciabatta.” A very nice adaption of the french classic.

“Hand-cut pasta, English Peas, Italian Sausage, Parmesan.” Even though it was two nights in a row I couldn’t resist this dish, as it is close to one of my favorite pasta types. Yesterday’s version was a little better, but this was very nice. The sausage was flavorful and after chopping it up a bit so some could get in each bit made an excellent foil to the buttery sauce.

“Wild mushroom pizza, smoked mozzerella, truffle oil.” If I didn’t know better I’d have said that this was a bacon and mushroom pizza! It was really good. First of all, the crust was thin and chewy, but not over burned. The cheese was gooey, and the smoked mushrooms really really meaty. Good stuff, I should have tried their Chicken Tikka Masala Pizza, as they stole my idea!

“Beef Wellington.” Sweet and sour onions on top of a puff pastry, sitting on bacon wrapped asparagus.

Inside is the medium steak (could have been a bit rarer), fois gras, and maybe some more bacon/pancetta. Certainly rich…

“Crispy confit pork shank, spring potato, bacon salad, peas & favas.”

Look at this sucker! Confit (twice cooked in it’s own fat)! Then deep fried! It was just a ball of piggy goodness.

The dessert menu.

Special. Glazed beneits with creme anglais and raspberry jam. These were REALLY sweet, coated in a bit of carmel I think too (you can see it pooling beneath). Very much to my taste, but not for those that don’t have a MASSIVE sweet-tooth.

“Sticky Toffe Pudding, Salted Caramel, Vanilla Ice Cream.” Also excellent, with a not so dissimilar flavor profile. Both were intensely sweet. The ice cream helped cut it.

Overall I was very impressed with Waterloo & City. Things were extremely tasty, and there was a lot of stuff on the menu that I wanted to try but couldn’t. I’ll have to head back. It’s, however, not a light cuisine. Which is perhaps why it suited my taste.

For a second review of W & C, click here.

For another recent gastropub visit, check out Ford’s Filling Station.