City Tavern is still the new kid on the downtown Culver City block, but it has quickly become one of my favorite hangout spots. If a friend asks me to grab a drink near my place, I no longer suggest we tackle the $5 cocktail menu (until 9 pm!) at Bigfoot West, but ask if we can order a bunch of California craft beer tasters at City Tavern. The music is always good, the service is excellent, and the beer list can’t be beat in Culver City. Plus, there is plenty of food to pair with the rotating beer list. When I heard that City Tavern was doing a beer dinner with fellow newcomer Ladyface Ale, and my friends Mark and Angela from IFlipForFood were going, I knew I couldn’t miss it.
The end of summer picnic themed meal started off with a deviled egg amuse. Topped with roe and asparagus, the deviled egg was simply prepared but I thought it was a great way to start the meal. I felt a little strange getting so excited about a deviled egg (and maybe it partly the anticipation of so much great beer to come), but the evening was off to a great start.
I was impressed with the presentation of the orzo salad with avocado and a grapefruit beet vinaigrette, especially since there was quite the generous helping of crab on top. The dish could have used a bit more seasoning, but a couple shakes of the salt shaker and mixing up the salad really helped, despite me being disappointed to ruin the nice plating.
Once I received the large handout of information about the beers we’d be drinking that evening, it became clear that beer dinners at City Tavern are not some cross-promoting marketing gimmick put on just for the sake of having an event. Before the meal began, Ladyface owner Cyrena Nouzille and brewer Dave Griffiths gave an introduction to all of the beers that the restaurant overrun with beer enthusiasts would be drinking. With a true beer lover like Jessica Christensen as the chef at City Tavern, I wasn’t surprised to see how much attention she paid to trying to pair the right dishes with the right brews.
The standout dish of the night was a potted duck confit. Like any good duck confit, there was a nice balance of fat, sweet, and savory. What helped bring the dish to the next level was the added crunch of the duck skin chicharron.
I’m sure it was tempting to just serve the crowd-pleasing brew burger, but Chef Jessica wanted to make the evening special. The smoked cocoa-rubbed tri-tip was delicious, and I enjoyed the bread on its own, but the bread was a tad overcooked and made it difficult to bite into. The smooth and creamy Picture City Porter was a wonderful match, especially since Ladyface infused the batch with cocoa nibs specifically for this dinner at Jessica’s request.
The final dish was strawberry shortcake and spiked watermelon from Chef Jessica’s own garden. It is one of the only spiked watermelon’s I’ve ever enjoyed, but I was a little disappointed that the biscuits tasted a bit strongly of baking powder.
Now that I’ve shown the pictures and talked about the dishes, let me get to the important part: it was a really fun evening. I got to meet some fellow hopheads like SinoSoul and Gourmandeez, fell in love with a new brewery (planning to head to the tasting room in Agoura Hills this weekend in fact), I was able to ask a ton of beer questions of Ladyface brewer Dave, I didn’t have to think about what to order or how to pair, and it was a good deal at $45.
I suggest sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get the monthly newsletter announcing special events such as beer dinners. I’m already looking forward to the next one.
9739 Culver Blvd, Culver City
Disclosure: The meal ended up being hosted