With my trusty Cole Haan heels in my bag and a copy of Elle magazine in hand (hey, I was heading to the La La Land — aka the land of the superficial), I hopped onto Amtrak and headed down to Los Angeles this last weekend. The boy and I stayed in a hotel in Culver City, so I decided to make our evening plans in the environs and made plans with Christa and her boy to meet up.
Culver City has brilliantly rebranded itself. Once a decaying exurb bordering Santa Monica, it is now a vibrant, trendy hub filled with beautiful people clinking glasses and eating gastropub fare. Ford’s Filling Station, owned by Harrison Ford’s son, lies within the city limits and Fraiche, which has the second most requested reservations on OpenTable.com in LA (according to Christa), is only a few yards away.
We started off at BottleRock, as per Christa’s suggestion, which is a fabulous little wine bar with a huge wine menu and a pretty thick beer book as well. The metal high chairs and bar tables paired nicely with the bar’s sleek interior and the wine racks on the side added a bit o’ humor with funny signs such as “effin’ merlot” and “pinot envy.”
The boys choose beer while Christa and I selected some wines. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m very into wine these days, so I ordered a 2003 Cordon Syrah — dusty, earthy, dark plum jam flavors — and shared fruit-and-nut bread crostini with the boyfriend (who got the PranQster Belgian Style Golden Ale — my new favorite beer — fruity and crisp), which were topped with crispy prosciutto. Christa and her boy shared a truffle grilled cheese sandwich which looked quite tasty as well. Glasses by the wine range from about $6 to $65 for the most expensive wines.
We skedaddled over to Tender Greens — a casual spot that serves a variety of fresh tossed salads — and watched as our meals were prepared in front of our eyes. Compared to most of the restaurant spots in the area, Tender Greens is pretty inexpensive. I opted for the steak salad, which featured several slices of rare, juicy steak topped on mesclun, while the boy picked the vegan salad. His dish had several grain salads and a big scoop of delicious green hummus all topped with fresh mixed greens.
We ended the night with some gelato from Ugo — a conetto and chocolate concoction that was creamy and rich (and pricey! $4.60 for gelato! what is this? Starbucks?) and thus ended our Culver City jaunt.
I most definitely recommend a visit or two (or three!) if you haven’t made it to this little gem. Street parking is available (and for the most part free after 6 p.m.) and the hip, unpretentious ambiance is most welcoming here in La La Land.