November 2010

True Brit

By: Carole Dixon
A former 40-year-old Los Angeles greasy spoon, the Crest Family Restaurant, has now morphed into a sleek, stylish and authentically British gastropub—a welcome addition to the Culver City restaurant boom. Waterloo & City, which opened in May, is named for London's shortest subway line, a 1.5-mile "tube" isolated from the city's other underground trains. The quirky name reflects the restaurant's determination to do things its own way.

Waterloo & City Chef Brendan Collins 

British-born Executive Chef Brendan Collins, who arrived in the States in 2002 after working at Michelin-starred kitchens in the U.K., has developed an impressive resumé about town, with Mélisse, Anisette and Palihouse all under his belt. Equally impressive, his business partner Carolos Tomazos hails from New York's Per Se and Le Bernardin, and is always manning the front of house with a broad smile.

To be consistent with gastropub tradition, the duo wanted to provide guests with superlative food and a convivial experience without all the fanfare of a fancy restaurant. "The space here has a long tradition within the neighborhood, and we wanted to continue that," says Tomazos.

The seasonal menu includes dishes to showcase Collins's training as a butcher and his love for offal. The chef isn't shy about kidneys, heart, sweetbreads and other British delicacies—nor are the restaurant's adventuresome patrons. Collins's pâtés are some of the best you'll find this side of the pond. Highlights include duck and walnut country pâté with poached fig, chicken liver and foie gras mousse and a venison-huckleberrry terrine. Many of the pâtés and terrines are also available on the happy hour and twilight menus.
GM Carolos Tomazos
The pizzas, with inventive toppings, should not be overlooked; try the Murgh Makhani with chicken, Greek yogurt and cucumber, or Moroccan spiced lamb with manchego and ras el hanout (a complex spice mixture). For the perfect comfort dish, order the whole roast chicken with wild mushroom pot pie, the Shepherd's or lamb pies. For dessert, don't skip the sticky toffee pudding with milk ice cream and salted caramel.

According to Tomazos, "Chef Brendan's philosophy behind this concept is to give young and talented chefs the opportunity to showcase their skills, and for guests to experience high-end and sophisticated dining in a casual and more affordable venue."

The busy bar.
Working with Anthony Dias Blue, Tomazos has compiled a global wine list ranging from California to New Zealand, from Europe to South America, with many bottles under $40. Naturally, there is also an excellent selection of international craft beers on tap. On the seasonal cocktail list, you might find The Westside (gin with lemonade, mint and fresh watermelon) or the Dark 'N Stormy (Goslings Black Seal rum and ginger beer).

They don't skip a beat for Sunday lunch, with beer battered fish and chips, British family-style roasts complete with Yorkshire pudding and a full English breakfast with baked beans. Switching gears, Eggs in Purgatory brings lobster, tomato, basil and brioche to the table. A full range of brunch cocktails are also on hand, such as Bucks Fizz and Pimm's Cup.

When asked why he thinks this eatery has struck such a strong cord with locals, Chef Brendan simply refers us to the motto of the Blackburn Rovers football club, Arte et Labore—"by skill and labor."

Waterloo & City , 12517 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA; 310-391-4222;

THE TASTING PANEL, 6345 Balboa Blvd, Ste. 111, Encino, CA 91316
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