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Early Bird: Waterloo & City in Culver City

There's nothing else quite like this Washington Boulevard British gastropub in L.A.

June 28, 2010|By S. Irene Virbila, Los Angeles Times Restaurant Critic

Ford's Filling Station and Father's Office now have some company in the Culver City area. Brit chef Brendan Collins (Mélisse, Anisette and Palihouse) and manager Carolos Tomazos (Essex House, Per Se and Le Bernardin in New York) have just opened the gastropub Waterloo & City, named after the London tube line, in the old Crest House Family Restaurant on Washington Boulevard. The building is no beauty queen, but it cleans up nicely, and, once inside, it's a whole new world. The crowd — and it's a big one — perches on old church pews and banquettes savoring a fine cast of draft and bottled beers and feasting on housemade charcuterie and such.

OK, a lot of places make their own charcuterie. But the terrines, pates and cured meats here are the real thing — gutsy and irresistible. Check out the pigs' trotters and sweetbreads with salsa verde or the luxurious chicken liver and foie gras mousse, both, like everything here, served up in generous portions. Order the charcuterie individually or in platters from commoner to king. The king's selection at $26 will feed four to six.

On a first visit to Waterloo & City, I couldn't decide what to order, there were so many things on the menu I wanted to try. Like the Manchester quail (described as chopped liver on toast) or the pint of shrimp with brown bread and butter. These are truly British items, and I suspect the regulars at any of the local English pubs will be making a beeline for Waterloo & City very soon. My crowd tried a number of dishes, but not nearly enough, considering the breadth of the menu. Thumbs up for a salad of English peas and fava beans with fresh ricotta, and a lovely corn soup with Parmesan ravioli that celebrates the ears just coming into the market.

Pizza comes in half a dozen varieties, some with toppings well beyond the usual tomato, mozzarella and basil (though they have that too). What about a pie spread with braised short ribs, Stilton cheese, arugula and a dash of malt vinegar? I'm saving that one for later, but I did enjoy a spicy lamb pie.

If we hadn't indulged in so much charcuterie, no doubt we could have made it to the main courses. But this time, sadly, no Piedmontese beef flat iron steak with bearnaise sauce or whole roasted chicken with wild mushroom pot pie for two. We did manage an order of shepherd's pie and were glad we did. What perfect comfort food with a Pinkus Pilsner or Allagash White draft.

And the prices? Let's just say they are incredibly modest for the quality of the fare. The plates are not exactly small either. If the kitchen and staff can keep up the pace, I don't think there's any question but that Collins and Tomazos have a hit in Waterloo & City. I can't think of anything quite like it in all of Los Angeles.

virbila@latimes.com

Waterloo & City

Where: 12517 Washington Blvd., Culver City

When: Open 5 p.m. to midnight (kitchen closes at 11 p.m.) Sunday to Thursday, and 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. (kitchen closes at midnight) Friday and Saturday. Saturday and Sunday brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Price: Dinner starters, $9 to $12; salads, $8 to $11; charcuterie and cheese, $9 to $26; pasta, $9 to $22; pizza, $12 to $14; main courses, $16 to $25; dishes for two, $44 to $64; sides, $4; dessert, $9. Brunch items, $8 to $16.

Contact: (310) 391-4222; http://www.waterlooandcity.com

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