The Tripel is on the main drag in Playa del Rey, which means that it is still relatively quiet, although parking on Culver can be difficult. The neighborhood, just North of LAX, is cut off from the rest of the city by the Ballona Creek and wetlands to the North, the airport to the South and Lincoln Blvd and LMU to the East. Hemmed in right off of the Pacific, Playa del Rey is not on the way to anywhere else and feels like a hidden secret.
Last spring, Chef Brook Williamson opened The Tripel with her husband and fellow chef Nick Roberts as a follow-up to the Hudson House in Redondo Beach. Williamson is the primary chef at the Tripel and she has developed a tasty menu of small plates and sandwiches. I was recently invited to see how the menu has evolved.
I began tasting my way through the menu with the Fried Gigante Beans, which appeared more like fried seafood than beans, but were crunchy and delicious. These beans were indeed gigantic and the batter was thin and they had none of the greasiness often associated with fried food.
A must order is the signature Poppy-Parmesan Biscuits. They were served with orange blossom honey and clotted cream (in the bowl). Williamson always has biscuits on the menu but varies them with the season. They taste as good as they look; nice and light and moist. Nothing is worse than an overly dry biscuit but fortunately that is a hazard you will not need to fear encountering at the Tripel.
The sandwiches are the most popular menu items. Having tried the lamb burger (just ok) on a prior visit, I made straight for the Turkey Pastrami Melt: turkey pastrami with cambozola blue brie melted on sourdough bread. With the accompanying stout mustard and pickles this was a solid dish. Another favorite was the Chicken Waterzooi (unpictured) which included carrots, leeks, kale, fenugreek, gremolata, chicken and a potato pancake in a stew. This was hearty and exceeded expectations. Who knew you could get a great Belgian waterzooi in a beach bar in Playa del Rey? The dish is a nod towards the Belgian beer theme of the gastropub.
The Tripel lacks a hard liquor license but serves beer cocktails including the seasonal special of Holiday Spice Cake with sparkling wine, Scaldis Noel (a Belgian Strong Ale), ginger beer and bitters. This beer cocktail evokes winter, even by the beach in Los Angeles.
Another enjoyable beer cocktail was the Shandy with amber ale, ginger beer and a twist of orange peel. This was light and refreshing and perfect for a warm afternoon.
The Tripel is small with the only seating at two communal tables and at the bar. They have a strong Belgian and craft beer list on draft and it is a comfortable ambiance. I recommend making a detour over to Playa del Rey to try some of their new dishes, sip on a few brews and perhaps try a beer cocktail, especially if you have never had one before. They open at noon on Friday - Sunday and later afternoon may be the perfect time at this spot as it is still light out and warm and the evening crowds have yet to wander in.
The Tripel: 333 Culver Blvd, Playa del Rey. Phone: 310.821.0333 Website: thetripel.com