A noteworthy tavern in Culver City

These days, a trip up to LA is usually a lot more work than imaginable. I make plans and schedule things just so I make the most of the time I am up there. I had made plans to be up in LA to hang with friends for my birthday and at the same time, cram every minute of the day with things I needed to accomplish. One of those on my list was to get in a few of the restaurants I’d been meaning to try off my check-list.

One of the restaurants that’s been on my list-to-try is City Tavern, so we decided to kick start my self-proclaimed long weekend by lunching here. Situated in the ‘restaurant row’ of Culver City, the gastropub’s atmosphere is inviting and welcoming, reflecting a more European feel rather than an American one.

After perusing the menu, we decided upon a flight of beers (ranges from $3 to $4.50) to sample. A clear effervescent Hard Cider made with apples from Julian, the hoppy Brother Levonian, followed by a sour Mermaid’s Red — not my favorite — moving on to the highly palatable Racer X, then the delectable Weiznebock, and finishing off with my absolute favorite — Indra Kunindra. The latter possessed traits of curry and kaffir lime leaf reminding me of a Thai curry.

With the beer flight came a plate of Charcuterie ($16) comprising chorizo, prosciutto, sopressata, Humbolt Fog blue, Tres Leches, apricot jam, pretzel crisps, caper berries, cornichons and mustard. My lunching partner was so taken away by the prosciutto I think I only got one small piece, but, I was enamored by the spicy chorizo and the blue cheese to really pay much attention to the dwindling prosciutto on the slate tray!

Lately, I’ve been noticing a lot of restaurants with shrimp and grits on the menu. Grilled shrimp and fried grits ($13) incorporated thin rectangles of fried grits instead of leaving it creamy. The grilled shrimp were nicely seasoned, but what totally clinched it for me were the braised collard greens which were tangy and oh so delicious! One more bowl please!

If you’re not looking for the usual comfort food options, Asian pear and blue cheese salad ($9) is the perfect choice. Mixed greens and raddicchio are tossed in a fig vinaigrette with blue cheese crumble and slices of Asian pear, but what kicked it up a notch was the handful of addicting port soaked cherries. I don’t even like cherries and I was fishing through the salad leaves looking for more.

A perfect example of gourmet gastropub fare was the Chanterelle and caramelized onion tart ($11), The decadent tart had gooey parmesan and seasoned with thyme and meaty chunks of chanterelle filled the top. It was rather filling and would be ideal if shared amongst a few people and with beer.

Buttermilk fried chicken ($10) sandwich was a little on the dry side but I liked the bacon and ranch house ranch dressing. I did not, however, taste much of the fried green tomato.

Not being a fan of pulled pork, I was reluctant to order the Carolina pulled pork ($9) sandwich but my friend wanted it so there ya have it. The hickory smoked heirloom pork was tender but as usual, I found the barbecue sauce a tad on the sweet side. I did like the bbq slaw which not only added a great textural contrast, but also, a tartness which helped cut the sweetness a bit.

My friend’s eyes popped when the Yukon Gold gratin ($8) arrived. The rich white cheddar enveloped the thin slices of potato and was baked to a golden brown. It was one of those things you could eat the entire pan and still want more, and I would’ve taken an extra bite had Chef Jessica Christensen not sent out one of her favorite items on her menu.

Fried bologna and cheese ($9) sandwich surprised me. It didn’t pop out enough on the menu for me to order it but it is one of those things which you’ll have to take a bite of to really understand what I’m talking about.

Zoe’s mortadella, white cheddar with a pepperoncini vinaigrette was simple yet sublime. Crispy mortadella was salty and made me salivate bite after bite. Even though I was so full and barely had any room for it, I ate my half and then proceeded to eat my friend’s half while he continued to work on the gratin.

Dessert wasn’t on the horizon for me, not today, not usually, but my dining companion has a major sweet-tooth so foregoing dessert wasn’t really an option. Pecan Pie ($9) was really quite good and if you like pecan pie, you really should order it. It’s just that I never am very excited about dessert. My friend, however, meticulously took a spoonful of the pie, a dollop of the cream and formed a perfect mouthful and relished every bite until there was no more.

For me, the excellent beer selection, with a menu worthy to pair them with is what I will come back for. This is unfussy food, comfort food, no-nonsense food, food that tastes great and highly satisfies. You will leave feeling satiated and wanting to come back again. Alas for me, the drive is too long to return next week, because I’m SERIOUSLY wanting me some fried bologna sammie!

City Tavern
9739 Culver Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
Tel: 310-838-9739

City Tavern on Urbanspoon

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