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!

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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.


Bread.


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.

Margarita Madness – The Mix

I tend to error on the obsessive compulsive side (no duh). So, about six years ago when I first started making Margaritas seriously I went through a lengthy  experimentation phase to find the perfect recipe. Now one could (and I have) make a slightly better drink as a one off, but this recipe is tuned for the maximum quality/efficiency ratio. I’ve really honed this down to a system and it makes a superb margarita with fairly little effort. I’ve had 40 liters of mix consumed at one, so efficiency plays an important role!

The mix is crucial, but it’s also easy. Say no to that store bought neon-green chemical poison crap. That stuff should NEVER EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES BE USED. No fake green. Never! I’m serious. Real high quality homemade mix lasts for months in the fridge, and can be used to make margaritas nearly instantly. You can use it straight on the rocks, or blended, or mix with fruit for any conceivable variation.


The components, more on each below.


The container is important. I love these 4L heavy duty containers with a good seal on the top and a separate flip up for pouring. 4L is a lot of mix, but I can easily go through 2L at a family party, or 7-8 of these containers at 4th of July!


For efficiency I use concentrated limeade. I used to use Rose’s Lime Juice, but this stuff is easier, keeps better, and actually tastier. Plus it has some pulp (which I like in this context). It also has a bit of sugar which kills two birds with one stone, negating the need to make simple syrup (sugar boiled into water). I have experimented with squeezing my own limejuice. It tastes a bit better, but the labor/quality ratio just doesn’t make it sensible. It takes A LOT of limes to make 32 liters of mix! Even one of these jugs will have you squeezing for an hour.


For bulk Margaritas I use an inexpensive Reposado tequila like this one. Never use crap tequila like normal Cuervo. Really good sipping tequila is a waste in a margarita, so this is a decent compromise. I also prefer the heavier more rustic taste of the reposado. Silver is a little too neutral. I’m a more is more kind of guy.


Generic Triple-sec is usually shit, so I always use Cointreau.


And technically my margaritas are Cadillac, as I add Grand Marinier. I experimented with and without, and I much prefer the extra complexity the hint of orange adds. If you are feeling really luxxe you can toss in a spoonful or three of orange concentrate too.


Start by just thunking in the concentrate.


Now a word about the ratios and various efficiencies in making large batches. It’s all about the ratio. I did extensive taste tests to come up with a magic series of numbers:

4 tequilla

2 cointrea

2 lime

1 grand marnier

This is the golden ratio. One simple application is using the concentrate as a measuring cup. Throw in one can, add two of tequila, one of cointreau, and half of grand mariner. That simple. You can do the same things with 750ml bottles. The 4L container perfectly fits 2 bottles tequila, 1 of  cointreau, half a bottle of grand mariner and two cans of concentrate (the concentrate is about 350-375ml, making it work out nicely with the 750ml bottles). This bottle method is super fast as you can just dump the bottles in wholesale on top of the concentrate.


Make sure the concentrate goes in first as plopping it in after is messy.


After all the ingredients are in, stir.


A finished half container. Store in the fridge, it keeps all summer really, although it’s certainly best within a few weeks. At the simplest, you can just pour over ice and enjoy, but I’ll get more into the complexities of actually using the stuff in my next post.

Continued with some coverage of actually making the drinks, here.

For other food reports, check out the food index.