Father’s Office – Culver City, CA

Food Adventures, Los Angeles

On Monday we posted our how-to for making your very own Office Burger. And as I mentioned, it certainly will not be putting Father’s Office out of business any time soon but it will be a great addition to your next barbecue and possibly impress your food-loving friends. But I’ll be honest – we did not quite give Sang Yoon’s gift to the LA gastropub scene the proper introduction. The Best Burger in LA is a prestigious title with gourmet burger joints popping up left and right. The Office Burger takes the lead on many of these lists, and rightly so — it’s delicious!

The Office Burger

The Office Burger

A brief introduction to Father’s Office. It’s hard to say if Sang Yoon could forsee just how big of an impact his decision to install a small kitchen in the back of the (first and original) Santa Monica location on Montana would have, but it transformed F.O. from a dime-a-dozen dive bar to one of LA’s most popular watering holes and arguably revolutionized the bar food scene in the US.

The Bar

The Bar

Sang Yoon went on to open a second F.O. in Culver City’s Helms Bakery District, once home to an actual bakery that would deliver bread to local residents like the milk man and his glass bottles on neighborhood doorsteps. This location is newer, larger, offers ample (for LA) parking, and frankly, it’s closer to where we live so this where you’ll likely find us.

Fruitesse

Fruitesse

Let’s start with the “-pub” in gastropub. F.O. features 36 craft beers on tap, ranging from local microbreweries to imported genuine Belgians and more. I think this is the only place that served my favorite Lindemans sweet Belgian lambics on tap, switching from the peche lambic to the framboise and back. Their selection rotates with the seasons but variety is the constant. (Now their resident fruity brew is the Liefmans Fruitesse.) Martin knows his beers better than I and typically partakes in German hefeweizen or Belgian witbier, among his usuals being the Allagash White from Maine. Not sure what to order? Never even heard of these breweries? Just ask the guys and gals behind the counter – they know their stuff and can help you find something you like. They’re like… beer sommeliers, if you will.

Spanish Mushrooms

Spanish Mushrooms

On to the appetizers (or appeteasers… Big Bang Theory anyone?). Though let me say now that the burger is definitely a must-have, there are some noteworthy Small Plates on their menu that you’ll want to check out, especially if you’re hanging out in a group and can share. First, the tried and true – Spanish tapas style mushrooms, served warm and dressed in garlic thyme, sherry vinegar, and olive oil. Delicious moist little flavor bombs, I found myself picking up my fork over and over to spear yet another unsuspecting mushroom despite trying to save my appetite for the burger.

Sonoma Lamb Skewers

Sonoma Lamb Skewer

The show-stopper – Sonoma lamb skewer. The presentation of the kabob over the stunning green yogurt sauce definitely caught the attention of everyone at our table. The spiced meat was flavorful though sadly a bit dry the last time we had it.

Uni Crostini

Uni Crostini

The unique – Fresh Sea Urchin Crostini. Don’t forget to check out the LED monitors at each cash register; they often have a small list of daily specials. If you spot the uni crostini, GET IT. Grilled slices of baguette topped with sauteed fennel and generous pieces of fresh uni, probably locally sourced from Santa Barbara. Hot and cold, crispy and creamy, this juxtaposition of flavors initially confused me, then intrigued me, and finally, it won me over and delighted me. And now I crave it but sadly, it has gone under the radar… for now.

The Frites

The Frites

Torture, I know, but before we talk about the burger, let’s briefly go over the sides. Our favorite are the regular ol’ frites. You can add them to your burger basket for a $2.50 charge, or for $5 you can spring for a whole basket. We opted for the latter because we just can’t get enough of these crunchy, thin shoestring fries tossed in salt and parsley, paired with an addictive garlic aioli. Some people say the frites are too thin, but Martin and I are the type to dig all the way to the bottom of a French fry carton to find the extra crispy teeny-tiny bits. These are perfect.

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet Potato Fries

Ahh… the ever-popular sweet potato fries. Thick, hearty strips of crisp-on-the-outside, sweet & soft on the inside goodness. These only come by the basket, but have no fear – you will run out and contemplate ordering another…

The Main Event!

The Main Event!

Okay, okay, now for the burger. The infamous Office Burger. The patty – dry-aged ground chuck, juicy and charbroiled to the perfect temperature (the one thing that can vary on their notorious no-substitutions menu). This isn’t your ordinary backyard barbecue, slather it with ketchup and relish sort of burger (although I adore ketchup and relish). No, this gourmet burger is topped with Maytag bleu and gruyere cheeses, caramelized onion & applewood bacon jam, and a mound of arugula, all sandwiched on a toasted French roll. A-MAY-ZING. Each satisfying bite tantalizes the taste buds with the sweet, sweet onions, the rich meat, the sharp cheese, and slight spice of the arugula… This burger is full of flavor and decadence.

Always room for dessert!

Always room for dessert!

I was so excited when Father’s Office added desserts to their menu. Back in 2011, long before Foiehibition, Father’s Office debuted one of their first ever desserts – the foie gras ice cream sandwich. It was house-made hazelnut and foie gras ice cream smooshed between two oatmeal raisin cookies. So good. The foie gras flavor was really delicate but detectable. Unfortunately the sweetness and strong cinnamon flavor of the cookies overwhelmed it a bit. Still, the cookies were moist but substantial enough to make this handheld dessert delicious down to the very last bite.

So if you’re looking to unleash your inner carnivore or perhaps celebrate a long day’s work with a cold craft beer or two, head on over to F.O. and order The Office Burger with a side of frites and a tall glass of whatever tickles your fancy (there’s even a cute fire hydrant tap for pouring water). Have your IDs out and ready (sorry kids, it’s 21+ even if you’re not drinking) and be sure to delegate: group A scopes out seating while group B gets in line and picks up the first round of the night. It helps to have a game plan.

Cheers, my friends!

———————

Check out Father’s Office – Helm’s Bakery: fathersoffice.com

3229 Helms Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034

See their Yelp reviews here!

Advertisements

Eat Real Fest LA

Food Adventures, Los Angeles

(Many apologies for the delay in this post, but this event was great and we wanted to share our experience, belated as it may be. Please enjoy!)

This summer, an annual gathering to support sustainable and local products and produce, Eat Real Fest, hailing from Oakland, took over the parking lot at Helms Bakery and transformed it into a fun food festival to rival Carmageddon. The furniture stores became venues for discussion panels and forums, and the lines of the parking lot became rows of food trucks, displays, even a little resting area for fluffy goslings. We woke up on that Saturday and took the 33 over to Helms, a convenient (and free!) way to get to the food fest. I was excited to try the many food trucks that were slated to be setting up shop, and the variety of DIY panels and cooking demos sounded fantastic! We were planning to make a whole day of it so we could also catch the Lit Fest discussion, very appropriate for getting our launch ideas!

Helms Bakery

For lunch, we browsed the maze of food trucks and settled on sliders at Me So Hungry. We shared the Cali sliders at the recommendation of the guy who took our order. It was reminiscent of a mini Father’s Office burger, with applewood bacon, caramelized onions, arugula, and gorgonzola. It was good, but I was still pretty hungry afterward.

Me So Hungry Cali slider

Off we went to the Whole Foods truck (my first thought being “What?? Whole Foods has a truck?!”) to buy a refreshing glass of watermelon juice. It was literally a liquified watermelon with a beautiful brilliant red color and delicious crisp flavor.

Watermelon Agua Fresca

It was a pretty warm day, so we wandered into the indoors expo area, browsing the wares of many local jam makers, bakeries, and even Jamaican marinade brands. We saw these adorable grow-your-own-mushroom kits from Back to the Roots and I had to buy a pair (one for us and one for my mom. Ours have not been sprouting, but my mom picture-texts me with her progress. Too cute!).

BTTR Mushroom Kits – also available at Whole Foods!

We watched dozens of people scrambling for a spot to make their own sauerkraut (not our cup of tea) and eventually found a pasta-making demo from Chef May Parich of The New School of Cooking. This definitely caught my eye as we’ve been experimenting with homemade pastas ever since Martin bought me a Marcato for Valentine’s Day and made me dinner with it. :) She had a Kitchenaide with the pasta making attachment, but she still mixed the dough by hand using the “well” method. We learned a few neat tricks from her, the most important being the use of semolina. It truly makes a difference using a combination of semolina and all purpose flour, rather than AP alone. The chewy texture, the beautiful yellow color, all thanks to semolina! The other helpful hint was to roll out sheets of the pasta and let them sit in a baking sheet, with layers of saran wrap in between to keep them from sticking, so that you can cut the sheets all at once. We applied some of her techniques to our basic pasta, but we’re looking forward to trying Chef May’s ideas for spinach pasta, agnolotti, and much more!

Chef May’s Demo

After the cooking demo, we moseyed on over to Room & Board, who lent their furniture displays for the Lit Fest panel, hosted by Gustavo Arellano of OC Weekly and featuring four different “kinds” of food writers:
Russ Parsons, food editor of the Los Angeles Times
Amy Scattergood, editor of Squid Ink, LA Weekly‘s food blog (if I remember correctly, another representative of Squid Ink was actually present.)
Eddie Lin, author of the infamous Deep End Dining
Hazel Quimpo, community manager of Yelp Orange County

(from the Eat Real Fest website)

The Lovely Panel

It was very interesting to learn about the perception, from both a reader’s and a writer’s standpoint, of these different types of food writing. Which is taken more “seriously” and which is more “easy to relate to”. What makes good food writing. How important is it to have good photos. What was most helpful was being able to speak one-on-one with Eddie Lin after the panel to get ideas for our blog launch. He was very gracious but honest with his advice, and we definitely appreciated that.

Our stomachs were grumbling for dinner by then, so off we went to the “alley” of food trucks. I had been wanting to try Big Mista since we first saw the man pulling out a drawer full of chicken wings and lovingly turn and baste them.

So many chicken wings!!

And so we stood in line. It was almost 40 minutes before we reached the front of the chicken wing line, during which Martin had slid over to the other line to get us some pulled pork sliders. These were delicious; the meat was barbecue-y and flavorful and served on a sweet Hawaiian roll with crispy, cider vinegary slaw.

Pulled pork slider on sweet Hawaiian rolls

It reinvigorated me for the long wait, but what really hit the spot was snagging one of the last orders of pig candy. The look in Martin’s eyes told me he loved me just a little bit more for having introduced him to this sinfully thick slice of bacon glazed with brown sugar to a caramelized crunch. What a deliciously un-Kosher delight! (Big Bang Theory reference, anyone?)

Sinfully good pig candy

Soon enough, the fresh-from-the-grill chicken wings were ready. And man, were they worth the wait! Where does one even find such HUGE chicken wings? They were the size of most chickens’ thighs! The barbecue glaze was sweet and sticky with a little kick to it, and the skin had crisped up nicely. The meat was so juicy, and the wings overall were just fingerlickin’ good.

Long awaited chicken wings

We devoured them in much less time than it had taken to get them, but no matter — immediately in front of us was the Flying Knives butchery contest. Two teams, each with a 1/4 steer to break down into quality cuts of beef. It was definitely a sight to see! We had a mad craving for steak after watching the frenzied sawing and slicing.

Team Lindy & Grundy

Team Whole Foods

We were tempted to get a shave ice before we left, but the sun was setting and it was getting chilly fairly quickly. Off we wandered toward the bus stop, looking behind us at the fun and informative festival that had popped up seemingly out of nowhere, as if it were all a dream.

——-

Check out Eat Real Fest: http://eatrealfest.com/

Eat Real Fest LA was July 16-17, 2011 at the Helms Bakery District.

Eat Real Fest Oakland was September 23-25. Check back for Eat Real 2012!

Follow them on Twitter @eatrealfest