Thursday, November 11, 2010

Roy Choi's A-Frame: First Look Part I

The much anticipated A-Frame, Roy Choi's (of Kogi fame) second restaurant, opened last week on Washington Blvd next door to the popular Waterloo & City.   A-Frame is housed in a converted IHOP and the building's distinctive roofline gives the restaurant its name.  Unlike Choi's first restaurant Chego, A-Frame has a liquor license with more than a dozen beers on tap and a full cocktail program.

The draught beer list includes Siamese Twin Spiced Dubbel from Santa Cruz's Uncommon Brewers and Hennepin Farmhouse Saison from Ommegang in Upstate New York as well as Hite Korean Lager in a nod to Choi's Korean heritage and cooking.  The initial wine list is small with only five reds and five whites, all by the glass.  The wine is priced gently, with nothing more than $12 a glass.

Brian Butler has created a list of 12 signature cocktails as well as 6 classic cocktails.  Each are $10, which passes for a bargain these days.  I sampled several of them on my recent visit and the standout was the Mainland (below), which uses Machu Pisco, lilikoi (passionfruit syrup with passionfruit and allspice), lime, egg white and cayenne pepper sprinkled on top.  This take on the Pisco Sour is excellent and the cayenne pepper on top adds some pleasant heat to the cocktail, rounding out some of the natural sweetness.

The Conversion (below) is made with Sombra Mezcal, Cazadores Tequila Blanco, Yellow Chartreuse, Maraschino, lemon juice and peach bitters.  The mezcal adds a smokiness to the tequila base, while the two liqueurs add some sweetness to the mixture.   Not as good as the Mainland, but I'd be happy to sip this again.

The Pek Pek (below) is named for a Filipino slang expression and is a take on the Manhattan.  It includes Bourbon, Dolin Blanc Vermouth, St. Germain and house fig bitters and garnished with a lemon peel.  The flavor combinations didn't work as well for me with this cocktail and it was just a bit too sweet for my palate.

As you work your way through the beer and cocktail list, the Furikake Kettle Corn described as hot and buttered Blazin' Jays, Hawaiian style, is a great starter to munch on.  The portion (as is most of the food at A-Frame) is meant for sharing.

I have yet to try the punch bowl service ($35) which serves 4-6 people.  Each day the bar team makes a punch of the day (ask the bartender/waiter what mystery they will unveil that day) and they are served in classic punch bowls.  Most of the glassware was purchased at thrift stores so there are fun mismatched cocktail glasses with old school designs your grandmother might have had back in the day, if she was hip.

A-Frame is not trying to be a serious cocktail bar.  They are a neighborhood plus restaurant with a solid cocktail program, a good list of beers on tap and some pleasant wines to drink while you and your friends chow down on Chef Choi's fusion cuisine.  This is not a place to geek out; there are plenty of other spots for that.

More of the cocktail list and thoughts on the food in Part II to follow.

A-Frame: 12565 Washington Blvd, near Centinela.  Culver City adjacent.  Phone: (310) 398-7700.  Website:

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