Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Now On Tap: City Tavern in Culver City

City Tavern in Culver City has gotten a lot of buzz in the few weeks it has been open.  The new restaurant and bar, from the owners of nearby Rush Street, is a craft beer focused establishment in the heart of Culver City's restaurant district.  They have three booths that have beer taps at them for self service, a first in the state.  Not surprisingly, these booths have generated a lot of notoriety and demand - you need to book in advance if you hope to pour yourself some draft beer from the comfort of your six person booth.

The interior is comfortable and if anything smaller than I expected.  The decor is modern gastro-pub with exposed brick walls, reclaimed wooden floors and a copper and walnut bar.  The ceilings are high, giving the tavern a light and airy feel.  There is also outdoor seating (top picture) on the front patio with wooden tables and chairs.

City Tavern has 22 beers on tap with an all-California list, which provides a broad sprectrum of craft beers to try.  Even better, the beers are served in three sizes, labeled taste, glass or share.  The taster glasses, which are the same size as the water glasses, are a great idea as they allow customers to try a variety of beers over the course of their meal.  Breweries represented on the draft list include The Bruery, Craftsman, Sierra Nevada (with the great Oliva I enjoyed at ColLAboration), Cismontane, and Eagle Rock among others.

On a visit last week with Nick of TreasureLA, we had the opportunity to try a large swathe of Chef Jessica Christensen's menu.  We began with the Crudo (above), the Oysters and the Grilled Cheese sandwich.  I did not try the oysters ($15) but Nick was pretty pleased with them.  The grilled cheese sandwich ($8) is made with pimento cheese, a Southern touch.  The grilled cheese was fine but the crudo ($13) , which was made with hiramasa, crushed coriander and fennel, was rather bland.

Things perked up with the next set of dishes.  We got the salt roasted carrots (above), the arctic char (below), the french fries (unpictured), and the olive oil poached New York strip steak (below, bottom).  The carrots ($5) were too sweet; not naturally so, it tasted like the sauce they were in was overly sweetened.  However, the french fries ($5) were excellent.  Served with toasted garlic and parsley, the fries were crisp, hot and full of flavor.

The arctic char ($16) was also a winner.  The fish was served with cippolini onions and potatoes in a sherry jus.  The char had a nice texture to it and the onions, potatoes, artichokes and jus were all well suited partners for it.  It was attractively presented and felt like a Spring dish.

One of our other favorites was the New York strip steak ($17) which was prepared sous vide by poaching it with olive oil and was served with crispy potatoes.  The steak was well seasoned and cooked perfectly medium rare.  The little potatoes served with it were almost like tater tots with thicker skin/crust.  This was an excellent finish to the savory portion of the meal.
At City Tavern, the environment is comfortable, the food by and large well executed and fairly priced, and the beer selection is very good.  This is a spot that is easy to come back to or bring friends to as the menu is accessible but not boring.  Occasionally the crowd would get loud when there was a big play on either of the TVs above the bar tuned to sporting events, but that comes with the tavern/pub-like environment.  City Tavern is a place to relax and hang out with friends over a meal and some beers; fine dining this is not, nor is it meant to be.  It is a definite step up from other burger and beer type of spots in the neighborhood, without any of the pretentiousness or high price points of the gourmet restaurants nearby.

Our meal was hosted.

City Tavern: 9739 Culver Blvd, Culver City. Phone: (310) 838-9739.  Website:


  1. Good steak + great beer made me a happy diner. Thanks again Aaron.

  2. As in the meal was Free...

  3. Yeah...Your review reads like you ate for free....Good bye, legitimacy!!

  4. Yes, this meal was hosted as was clearly stated.

    The review was not 100% favorable as I commented about the bland crudo and the overly sweet carrots.

    I don't recommend places that I wouldn't return to on my own dime, regardless of whether I paid for my initial visit or not. Yes, I would go back to City Tavern. Is it Melisse? No. But that is not its proffer.

    Transparency is key. If you can't get over that, then feel free to ignore the review.