Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I fell in love with the gastro pub movement on a trip to London with my mother several years ago. We dined like kings (queens, really) at more than fair prices in some beautiful, some crowded and some downright plush gastro pubs all about London. The fun thing about traveling with my mom is that she will plan en entire day around where we are going to dine, much less simple activities. And gastro pubs with their laid back attitude and antithetical food are right up my gastronomic alley. So, imagine my state of happiness when the gastro pub trend started to hit California in the last several years. I had intended to hit Ford's long ago, but it is not so close to Echo Park and it can be hard to get a reservation.
D's parents happened to move to Culver City not an overly long time ago, and I used a weeknight dinner as an excuse to finally corral some peeps there for a supper. Ford's is owned and chefed by Harrison Ford's son, Benjamin, who has a varied culinary pedigree. Our server ostentatiously mentioned the famous/infamous influences of several of Ford's creations..."this influenced by Alice Waters, that influenced by X chef from Y wildly famous French restaurant" and so on. Really, I am as into food and famous chefs as the next food blogger, but it was a bit westside-who-are-you-wearing-what-are-you-driving for me. Below is a link to the Ford Filling Station's website and Ford's bio.
We were sat at a table closest to the beautiful brassy wood burning ovens. L noted every single delectable item that was placed on the pass through for waiters to swing by and pick up. Flatbread pizzas, salads, charcuterie, cheese plates, fish, steak, shellfish and so on. It was all I could do to keep my paws to myself while I waited for our errant waiter to come take our order. It was some good seating.
The first solid items to enter our mouths came straight from the bowels of the firey hot oven. These little babies were warm and crunchy on the outside with a soft butteriness in the inside. They were accessorized with little chunks of sticky baked garlic. I could have eaten all four and happily hibernated for the night.
wait for it....
TRUFFLED POTATO CHIPS were brought out. Yes. TRUFFLED POTATO CHIPS. Did you hear me? Potato chips that were cooked whilst somehow infusing them with the flavor of truffles. *dies* Please see below.
For s starter I had six beautiful little oysters called kusshi, served with a tomato mignonette, beautifully. I am a long time oyster eater, but had never heard of kusshi before.
Penn Cove Oysters says the following about kusshi oysters,
"From the Japanese translation for "Ultimate", this small, deeply cupped Pacific oyster is grown to mimic the outstanding characteristics Kumamoto oyster, although they are tray grown in a very unique process in the rich waters of Deep Bay off of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. While they are tray raised, they are tumbled regularly to take the length out of the growth, causing the oyster to grower deeper in profile. This effort creates a consistently deep cupped, very meaty little oyster, appealing to beginner oyster eaters and old pros alike."
I completely agree about them being pleasing to beginners and pros alike. They have a similarly unintimidating size as kumamotos. However, they have a nice little pocket of creamy flesh on the bottom. And what really pleased me is that instead of tasting metallic and minerally like a kumamoto (something I loved when I was a noob) they taste creamy and rich, almost similar to a fat Blue Point. These might be my new most favorite oyster ever. I would definitely go back to Ford's for those babies, if for nothing else. And there was so much else.
Salads. A and L shared the mixed green salad with enoki mushrooms on top and some raddichio. It was lovelier in person, flash photography can really ruin the appearance of food in a photo.
D started on the Bibb lettuce salad with shaved eggs, bacon and
For a main course I ordered the skirt steak on a bed of fennel mashed potatoes. I couldn't be less a fan of licorice flavoring, and I happily tasted none of it in these potatoes. The funny looking grilled veg on the side was actually a giant slab of some wonderful mushroom. I love grilled mushroom. Twas delighted.
L had the Pub Burger, which she said was very good, and it was served with giant fresh onion rings which I know were very good.
A had the pan seared red fish, which flummoxed us. What is red fish? Is it akin to red snapper? Is it one of the new fish that has a less desirable name and so they have reamed it to make it seem more appealing now that we are busy divesting the sea of her harvest?
Fish 4 Fun says the following,
"The widely distributed Drum family contains over 200 tropical and warm-temperature saltwater marine species, including Drum, Croaker, Seatrout, Seabass, and Weakfish. The range of the Red Drum is from Massachusetts USA south to Northern Mexico in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
The Red Drum, also known as the Redfish or Channel Bass, has a reddish overall coloration and one or more dark spots at the base of the tail. It feeds at the bottom on crustaceans and mollusks. It also takes small fish, especially mullet. The usual adult weight is under 40 pounds but can reach into the 90 pound range.
The Redfish is a super-challenging opponent on the grass beds and flats of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. The shallower the water, the more thrilling the fight. The bulk of small marine life and food will be found in shallow water around structures and near grassy cover. This offers the small fish, crustaceans and mollusks protection from predators. Therefore, Redfish will be found near this abundant food supply."
Upon further research and looking at pics of the Red Drum fish, I find no need for a euphemism here. I wonder if it has to do with The Shining? Red rum, red rum!
D had the scallops, well done as you can see. Mais, bien sur!
All in all, this was a delicious sojourn into the western territory of Los Angeles. Every bite was tasty and the only thing that gave me pause was the service. It wasn't glaringly bad, per se. (Visit the entry about Saddle Peak Lodge for a hair curler). It was just slightly below mediocre due to its absenteeism. I plan to ignore that and go back many times. Next time I will sit at the lovely bar with the lovely bar tender and enjoy the company of the locals.