I’d been wanting to go here for the past year, ever since I drove by and noticed it on my way back from a taping of The Bonnie Hunt show (since cancelled) at the Culver City Studios, I attended about a year ago.
Ford’s Filling Station this day, was a default destination, as our original Sunday Brunch pick was compromised by a 3 square mile blackout that morning.
We arrived an hour early (cursed Yelp for the wrong info) and had to kill time at the local Starbucks (beautifully remodeled). All was on Washington Blvd in the midst of Sony Studios and the Culver City Studios production and filming grounds.
It was a gorgeous Los Angeles morning, sunny and clear with a nice cool tinged breeze. As we walked up, the staff were still cleaning and setting up the nice sized outdoor patio. Upon further reflection, the patio currently (May/June) is not somewhere I’d choose to sit as the beautiful Jacaranda trees are blooming and their pretty purple/blue flowers will drop onto the tables, chairs and ultimately your plate during these months.
I think if you’d like to sit outside, the side and completely covered patio would be your best bet even though you’ll be staring at the yellow umbrellas and patrons of the vegan establishment next door. Maybe y’all can share a meat plate with them.
The staff was very friendly upon entering and allowed us to choose our own table. I immediately liked the design and feel of the space. Ford’s logo and general concept really resonated with me and what I truly love and like my inner space to be. It is constructed of warm brown tones, exposed brick walls, a high ceiling of wood beams and down to earth and slightly beat up furniture. It was very comfortable and inviting. I almost felt like I was in the house I grew up in.
Once we got down to business, we ordered a starter of Ford’s Deviled Eggs (with Smoky Marash Peppers).
They were tasty enough but nothing special. I assume the Marash Peppers were the sprinkled red topping that is usually the role of Paprika. Though a unique pepper flavor in its own right, I really couldn’t tell it apart from generic paprika. Marash Pepper should have lent some heat to the dish but there was none. Maybe more of it or actually mixing it into the filling would have featured it better? The egg filling itself was spooned in (rustically) and not piped, was a tad dry and again, generic in flavor. It could have been so much more. I did rather like taking a bite with the accompanying garnish of radish micro greens.
We asked our server, Liam, to pace our selections so as not to have them pile up on the table and go cold on us, which he was happy to do.
Our second selection was the brunch item Blue Maxx (poached eggs, bacon smoked potato, spinach, fontina and hollandaise)
I really liked this hearty dish. The poached eggs were tender with a slightly runny center. I like mine with a much runnier heart, but these hit the spot just fine. The potatoes were tender but not griddled, no crustiness to them, just good tender potatoes. I couldn’t detect any of the bacon ‘smokiness’ described on the menu. The fontina was deliciously melty and the hollandaise was bright, tangy and flavorful. The bacon on the side was just barely crisp around the edges and a bit floppy. I was fine with it but I think many may have thought them undercooked.
We ordered our two entrees and sat back to enjoy Ford’s comfortable ambiance. I soon spied our server (and bartender) Liam, mixing a big tub of something pale yellow and juicy looking. I got up and went over to ask what it was he was mixing. It was fresh squeezed lemonade! I asked if they used it as a mixer for something (anything) alcoholic and he said he could do anything I wanted…right answer! So I asked for a lemonade and Grey Goose cocktail. No problem, Liam said, so I sit back down eagerly awaiting our food AND my drink.
It was perfect. Liam knows how to make a cocktail. It was crisp and refreshing and very smooth. If I hadn’t been driving, I would have ordered two more.
Both entrees arrive at the same time.
First up is the Skillet Fried Chicken (ham hock risotto, wilted red frill mustard greens) that our server Liam stated was his favorite dish on the menu.
The chicken here was not what I was expecting. Fried Chicken has a certain connotation that comes with a distinct image when stated and this was not it. This chicken was more of a pounded thin cutlet in four pieces, breaded (in panko?) and yes, most likely shallow fried in a cast iron skillet. It reminded me very much of Hawaiian Chicken Katsu. Sadly, it was on the dry, tough side with not much flavor to be had. The ham hock risotto wasn’t much better.
The risotto was not as flavorful as one would think, even with the ham bits and green onions interspersed throughout. It was a bit oily instead of creamy. I don’t feel the arborio rice was cooked long enough to allow it to develop the required starch creaminess. The wilted mustard greens were quite tasty. I enjoyed their tangy/tart vinegar dressing. Wilted though they were, they also had a top crispiness that made me think the morning chef possibly put them under the broiler or grill to char the wilt up a bit. I definitely liked them and their contrasting textures.
Our second entrée was the Polenta Cake (pearl onion, mixed mushroom, blistered tomato and truffle mascarpone cheese)
It was a beautiful plate. The polenta cake was quite large. I’m thinking it was at least 2 inches thick, topped with a large dollop of mascarpone cheese with a crazy afro of frizee lettuce. Surrounding it all was a lovely and flavorful mosaic of roasted/blistered yellow and red tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, and white and purple baby onions.
It was all flavorful together. I really enjoyed the vegetable mosaic on their own as well as with the polenta cake. The cake itself, I felt, was a bit too thick. We were both slicing off pieces, then cutting those into smaller bite sized bits to top with the mascarpone (no real truffle flavor was to be detected), onion, tomato and mushroom. It was a nice bite even though the polenta was lacking in much flavor on its own.
Brunch was good but not great. The ambiance alone will draw me back, along with the really friendly staff and nicely attentive & accommodating service.
I’ll go again. There are many other dishes on the menu I would like to try, so they will surely be seeing me again …for dinner perhaps?
Culver City, CA 90232-2618