Waterloo & City is Victorious

Restaurant: Waterloo & City [1, 2]

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

Date: August 14, 2011

Cuisine: Gastropub

Rating: Really tasty!

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My wife and I went to Waterloo & City back in May, and I enjoyed it, so I thought we’d try again with a slightly larger group. By way of introduction this is a new wave comfort-food Gastropub joint. This place exemplifies the gastropub trend of more is more.


The menu.


I decided to test out some of the wines I brought back from my Eating Italy trip. This 2006 Brunello by Il Cocco can not be found in the US. The owner/winemaker makes 7,000 bottles a year only of all his wines combined, perhaps 3,000 of the Brunello. He does 99% of the work himself! It’s awesome, if it were rated, it’d be a 96 point wine.


We went for the “prince” of  Charcuterie. Yum yum, heart stopping fun!


The cured meats, and some fine ones at that. There are at least three types of salami and two prosciutto variants. Stone ground mustard. The white stuff is some kind of beef gelatinous product.


The “Pig Trotters, Sweetbreads, and Salsa Verde terrine, with anchovy.” This was a freebee, but was rather too extreme even for me!


“Duck & Walnut Country Pate, orange-apricot marmalade.” This was very nice. Interesting crunchy texture too.


A special. “Boar terrine with romesco.” Really tasty. All that pork goodness you might want.


“Pork & Truffle Pate, Madeira Jelly, toasted Broche.” Wow. With the jelly (you can see it to the left in the zoomed out first photo) this stuff tasted like carmel sauce. The texture was super silky smooth too. Wonderful mouthfeel.


Spaghetti pomodoro for my son.


“Arugula, Grilled Mission Figs, Smoked Almonds, Pamesan.”


“Tuna Tartare, Fried Piquillo Pepper, Avocado.” The tuna part was good but ordinary. The pepper, however, was pretty interesting, although certain FRIED!


Parker gives this silky Rosso 90. “The 2009 Rosso di Montalcino is totally beautiful and elegant in its expressive bouquet, silky fruit and understated, harmonious personality. This is a wonderful, impeccable Rosso from Le Potazzine. Anticipated maturity: 2011-2017.” I’d rate it perhaps 91-92, with a little boost for understated style.


A vegetarian special. Some kind of vegi monster on top of cous-cous with a brioche. Apparently it was good.


“Indian Butter Chicken Pizza, Murgh Makahni Sauce, Mozzarella.” I really wanted to try this because I make a similar pizza myself. This one didn’t lather on the Tikka Masala sauce like I do so it was more subtle, but it was damn good, a bit closer to a “normal” pizza. I loved the addition of the raita-like sauce in the middle. I might try that myself.


“Beef shin ravioli, wild mushrooms, red wine, burrata cheese.” This was really good. The meat was super flavorful, as was the rich sauce. But the bacon/burrata combo really sold it.


A special. “Veal with fried polenta and eggplant sauce.” The veal itself was tender, but not super flavorful. The sauce was great, and in combo every was very yummy, particularly the fried corn balls (i.e. polenta).


The dessert menu.


“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.


The menu called these “Waterloo Bourbon Glazed Doughnuts with creme anglais and raspberry jam.” But I think that would be the version we got on our first visit here. These were sugared. They were still good, and the carmel sauce in particular rocked, but they weren’t quite as decadent as the glazed.


A special. “Profiteroles.” Pretty classic, with both ice-cream and whipped cream.

Waterloo & City is still going strong. This isn’t a light cuisine — in fact, nearly every dish is loaded with fatty goodness — but it is damn good.

Read my previous review of Waterloo & City here,

Or for more LA Restaurants.

Eating Monteriggioni – Il Pozzo

Restaurant: Il Pozzo

Location: Monteriggioni, Italy

Date: June 13 & 22, 2011

Cuisine: Tuscan

Rating: Classic Tuscan

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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.


Tiramisu.


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 Siena – Trattoria Pepei

Restaurant: Trattoria Pepei

Location: Siena, Italy

Date: June 12 & 19, 2011

Cuisine: Tuscan

Rating: Delicious & Fun!

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Our first full day in tuscany and we went into Siena. We selected a restaurant the night before using Michelin, picking a centrally located one that earned a bib gourmet.


Trattoria Papei which is located in the piazza Mercato right behind the Campos.


They have an extensive terrace area under a network of awnings and umbrellas.


The menu.


We ordered this local, inexpensive, and very pleasant chianti classico reserva. Parker gives it 90 points. “The 2007 Chianti Classico Riserva Il Grigio (Sangiovese) comes across as soft and pliant, very much in the style of the vintage. A warm, open bouquet leads to succulent ripe cherries, flowers and spices, all of which flow through nicely to the enveloping finish. Today the juiciness of the fruit makes Il Grigio very attractive, but readers who prefer more tertiary complexity will want to wait for a few years. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2017. “


A typical (you’ll here this word a lot here) Tuscan anti-pasta: mixed bruschetta. Here are tomato and marinated mushrooms, both delicious.


Melon with Prosciutto di Toscana.

More cured meats and bruschetta. The brown mud like stuff is chicken liver. The round salami is Finnochiona, a typical (again) local salami with a bit of fennel and pepper inside.


A truly excellent Zuppe Minestrone. The vegetables maintained their shape, but were cooked wuch that they melt in the mouth.


Tuscan bread and vegetable (mostly tomato) soup.


The kitchen is run my mama, literally.


Spaghetti pomodoro.


Pappardelle al Ragu Di Cinghiale! Wild boar strikes again.


Tagliatelle with ragu Toscana (mixed meat ragu probably).


Tagliatelle with duck ragu. This was deep and meaty. There must have been some duck liver in the sauce too.


Penne pomodoro.

Cheese ravioli with marinated mushroom sauce.


Pici (homemade local pasta) with cheese and pepper. This is a very simple dish, but when done right, as it was here, it’s amazing! The bright black papper flavor stands out. They have this now at Sotto, a new rustic Italian in LA.


Gnocchi pomodoro. The gnocchi here were soft and delicious, although not quite as good as the ones the first night in Modena.


Gnocchi with butter and sage.


Mixed salad (again).

Another salad, arugala or rocket with tomatos.


Pounded veal in lemon sauce. I’m not a big veal fan but this was good.


BBQ Ribs, Tuscan style. These were not unlike spare ribs at a chinese restaurant. They were a bit chewier than I was used too as the flavorful Tuscan pigs are leaner and free range, and the Italians don’t nuke the meat.


Delicious potatoes in a tomato sauce.

Pounded veal in a mushroom sauce — also excellent.


Chicken Cacciatore.


And at the end some free grappa. Ouch! taste-buds still stinging.


Cafe expresso.

This is a fun and delicious place. It’s located in the lovely square above. They may cater to tourists, but they serve amazing traditional Tuscan food prepared with very fresh ingredients. And the service is extremely friendly.

Click here to see more Eating Italy posts.

Eating Modena – Osteria Francescana

Restaurant: Osteria Francescana

Location: Modena, Italy

Date: June 6, 2011

Cuisine: Emilia Romagna

Rating: Amazing Italian Molecular!

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Our first fancy meal of the trip was at Osteria Francescana, a modern Italian in Modena with 2 Michelin stars. Francescana has an unusual and creative take on Italian. Most of the dishes have as their basis traditional ones, and the finest local ingredients (in a land rich with fine ingredients), but then they mess playfully with the forms, flavors, and textures. You’ll see.


The restaurant is located in scenic old Modena.


Here is the formal dusgustation menu. There is also an extensive ala carte. We put together a custom (and lengthy) molecular omakase.


First bread course.


We asked the sommelier for recommendations in interesting Italian wines. He started us with this Nero D’Avola, which surprisingly, tasted like a good Burgundy! Arianna Occhipinti bottles Frappato and Nero d’Avola. The two grapes are traditionally blended to make Cerasuolo di Vittoria, which in 2005 became the first style of red wine in Sicily to achieve DOCG status. Only 2 percent of Sicilian wine even merits DOC status (a tier down from DOCG) and only 15 percent is even bottled on the island. Native grape Nero d’Avola gives darkness, and Frappato provides uncommon fragrance. By utilizing native yeasts to begin fermentation, ageing in older and larger oak barrels and farming in adherence to the tenets of biodynamics, Occhipinti finds grace in the fields surrounding Ragusa and Vittoria.


This first dish is meant to represent “rock of the sea” and it’s colored and sweetened with squid ink. Mom says: the black sponge needed more flavor! To be fair, there were supposed to be clams inside, but they were removed to accomodate dietary restrictions.


This is “foam of mortadella di bologna.” Mortadella (seen below) is a classic traditional meat. Here it is basically whipped into a mousse-like consistency and served with a wonderful bit of toasted bread. The meat is spread on the bread and eaten, and it retains the exact flavor profile of the original. This is essentially a baloney sandwich.

Traditional Mortadella.


Various homemade breads and grisini.


Mackerel and salmon eggs.

With a pea soup.

Very tasty!

One of my favorites. The Fois Gras lollipop.


Inside is fois gras, coated with toasted almonds, and injected with a dab of aged balsamic (from Modena of course). This was rich, but pretty much incredible!


This wine was so rare the label is scotch taped on. It tasted like a cross between a Tavel (Rose) and a Pinot Noir, with strong tones of rosewater.


A “tart” of shallots and leeks, with Italian white truffles. This was absolutely delicious, and tasted a bit like Eggplant Bharta, the traditional cooked down eggplant and onion dish from India.


We also mixed in this Moscato, which while still sweet had more subtlety than most of the breed.


This is cod, with sicilian pesto and pistachios. The pesto was tomato and eggplant based. Also yummy.


Parmesan, five ways! This wonderful statement of the varieties of local Parmesan involves taking five different ages of the cheese, and processing them into five different forms and textures. Mouses, foams, sauce, crisp, etc. A very cheesy dish!


This dish was meant to represent a “cow in the pasture.”


It had various spring vegetables, and some fresh cream! Not the most exciting, just lots of types of peas!


This is a “compression of pasta and beans.” There is some fois gras in here too. Which perfectly fine, this was my least favorite dish of the evening.


This 1999 Barbera was rich and smokey, aged such that it had considerable sediment. It tasted like an old barbaresco!


This pasta is a fairly close reinterpretation of Pasta con Sarde. There were anchovies, breadcrumbs, and pesto. The pasta was al dente and the very flavor very refined.


Two raviolis contain cotechino (a very interesting cooked salami-like product) and lentils. The pasta itself was nigh on perfect, and the inside a traditional combination generally eaten at new years in Italy for at least 2500 years – festive pork and beans!


Black cod with potato confit.

A molecular reinterpretation of “bollito misto” (mixed boiled meats). Starting with the clear one at the bottom, and moving clockwise, we have: head, tongue, cheek, belly, tail, and cotechino! This last and the tongue were my favorites, the head and tail my least.


The pre dessert. Yogurt almond galette ice cream, goat cheese, drops of strawberry, mint. Very tasty. Sharp.


The first “real” dessert. Vanilla ice cream, chocolate cake, and a sort of gelatin cover. The taste was a bit like cassata.


Vanilla ice cream.

With fresh local cherries! My wife loved it.


An indication of the damage.

The petite fours, cheesecake, profiteroles, chocolate truffles, passionfruit gele, chocolate with cherry and tea, something with lemon and maybe shiso!


Our meal was so long that we emptied out the room!

This was a fantastic dinner. I happen to love the playful nature of modern molecular cuisine, which you can also see at my reviews of Calima, Saam, and La Terraza. You can also check the other two Michelin 2-star takes I sampled in Italy: La Frasca and Arnolfo. Like Osteria Francescana they both reinterpret their local cuisines (Adriatic seafood and Tuscan respectively) through a modern culinary lens.

Click here to see more Eating Italy posts.

Eating Modena – Osteria del Pozzo

Restaurant: Osteria del Pozzo

Location: Modena, Italy

Date: June 5, 2011

Cuisine: Emilia Romagna

Rating: Very good casual

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This post kicks off the food portion of my 2011 Europe trip, Eating Italy. We begin our month of gastronomic excess in the heart of Emilia Romagna, Modena — home of both Ferrari and Balsamico di Modena. It’s oddly rainy for June, and exhausted from over 27 hours of air and ground travel we stumbled across the street to this local place.


The have a number of rooms in these cute little tents.


The menu.

A prosecco, slightly sweet.

Caprese of course. Each portion is a whole ball of real buffalo mozzerella! Huge.


Homemade pasta, ham, arugala, cream, parmesan. This was a VERY good pasta by my taste, the in heavy ham & cream style I love (see here or here).


Spagetti and pomodoro.

Bresola, thin sheets of cured beef and parmesan and arugala. Good stuff.


Insalata mixta.

This 15E sangiovese was very drinkable.


Homemade (all the pasta except the spagetti was) with zucchini and shrimp. A nice light pasta.


Potato gnocchi in gorgonzola sauce. These were the kind of amazing gnocchi that are nearly impossible to find in the states, where they are so fluffy they melt in the mouth.


Tortellini in broth. A very traditional dish, little meat pockets in a savory chicken broth.


Classic taggliatelli ragu.Probably mixed pork and beef.


The case of traditional northern Italian desserts. Various cakes and tortes.


The chocolate with hazelnut nougat cake. Very rich.


Cherry torte. It tasted like strawberry rhubarb pie.


A sampler of fresh fruits. The cantaloupe was particularly flavorful and sweet. The cherries were great too.

This place was a perfect choice for the right off the plane choice. It was casual, reasonable, but had very good food. Perfecto.

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!

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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.

Ford’s Filling Station

Restaurant: Ford’s Filling Station

Location:  9531 Culver Blvd, Culver City. 310-202-1470

Date: April 28, 2011

Cuisine: Gastropub

Rating: Always great for lunch.

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It was a gorgeous day (again) in LA, so I headed out to find another good lunch spot with outside dining. We ended up in Culver City with its rather large selection of good lunch spots and specifically at Ford’s Filling Station, which is run by Benjamin Ford, son of Han Solo. The place has been around awhile but before this he had another place in Beverly Hills which was very good — but I can’t remember the name.


Notice the “pig country” sign. They offer on the menu a 8 person minimum whole pig dinner with a whole roast pig!


Outside, there are two different patios. In general, Culver city has a lot of outside dining which is nice. For some mysterious reason LA restaurants often lack al fresco. This makes no sense given our weather.


The menu.


“Bacon wrapped dates, stuffed with cheese.” Um yum! I love this dish, and I’ve had it at many places (like recently at Upstairs 2). These were as good as any, showing off the sweet and salty.


“Shrimp Curry, jasmine rice, marash pepper and applewood smoked bacon.” Also a really great dish. Very similar to the one I had at Gladstones. The bacon made it even better.


Sliced serrano peppers in has you want to spice it up.

Pulled Pork Panini, melted gouda and spicy pepper relish.” The beans were awesome too, with a nice smoky porcine flavor.


A close up of the sandwich itself. I had expected something like a North Carolina pulled pork sandwich. That’s kinda tangy. This was more the succulent roast pork with cheese. Yum.


The dessert menu.


“Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich, chocolate chip cookie and mint chocolate-chip ice cream.” The ice cream was great, very similar to the mint ice cream I had at Sweet Rose Creamery, tasting as it did of fresh mint leaves. The fudge was good too. The cookie needed more butter, it was a little dry. Not bad, and the overall dessert was still very good, but with a really awesome cookie, it could have been… really awesome.


Inside, the stripped down old-school culver city building provides a nice deconstructed interior. I’ve never been here at night but I bet it’s a good watering hole.

Another good Culver City place is Fraiche, here for review.