Archive for the 'Gastropub' Category

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Rush Street – Los Angeles (Culver City)

Brunch is a meal that I often claim to love, but when it comes to actually getting out to experience it, staying up late the night before and lazing the day away always seems to win out. Not to mention that the brunching options in my neighborhood are mediocre at best. Now, if I lived down the street from Ad Hoc or AMMO, that’d be a different story. An invitation to scope out the “Ultimate Hangover” brunch with brats, beers, and boisterous bloggers at Culver City’s Rush Street was just the incentive I needed to get me back to brunching. Oh, and promises of bottomless mimosas too!

Inspired by the famous Chicago strip, Rush Street combines California style with Midwestern sensibilities. The spacious restaurant boasts two floors, two bars, two patios, and one very inviting stripper pole. The vibe here is fun, unpretentious, and welcoming.

Rush Street is also the unofficial meet-up location for fans of Chicago’s professional and collegiate sports teams. On the Saturday morning that we visited, Northwestern alums dressed up in all sorts of purple regalia were cheering on their team in the second floor lounge. Seeing nerdy Northwestern kids getting hyped up about football kind of made me wish that Swarthmore hadn’t canceled it after my freshman year. Wah wah.

Every Saturday and Sunday Rush Street offers a crowd-pleasing brunch menu from 9 AM to 3 PM. Endless mimosas can be had for $20 ($7 for one), while bottomless build-your-own Bloody Marys go for $20 ($10 for one). The DIY Bloody Mary station included a selection of gourmet olives and pickled vegetables, ten kinds of hot sauces, three kinds of tomato juices, and traditional seasonings and garnishes. Both The Astronomer and I went with flutes of fizzy mimosa.

As we sipped our beverages on the front patio, we dug into some of the finest spuds in town—from left to right—sweet potato fries ($7), truffle asiago fries ($7), and barbecue dusted tater tots ($7). The truffle-infused shoestrings were moreish to the extreme.

For the next part of the Rush Street brunch experience, our group moved into the main dining room. The Astronomer and I teamed up with Anjali of Delicious Coma to share our entrees in order to experience as much of the menu as possible.

Anjali’s cinnamon pecan Belgian waffles ($12) arrived doused in maple syrup and whipped cream. By the time I got around to sampling it, the copious amounts of cream and syrup had taken their toll; the once crisped-edged and chewy waffle had transformed into a sponge. Syrup on the side, please.

The Astronomer’s caramelized onion, pancetta, fig, and goat cheese pizza ($12) sounded promising, but it ended up tasting too sweet. I loved the combination of flavors on the pie, but the ratios of each ingredient needed to be slightly tweaked with stronger savory notes.

Anjali and I agreed that the fried egg sandwich ($11) was the best item of the morning. Smothered between two slices of toasted Parmesan crusted sourdough, the fried eggs mingled harmoniously with three kinds of melted cheese, pancetta, and tomatoes. A simple dish done very well.

Psst! This post has a secret song.

Rush Street
9546 Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232
Phone: 310-837-9546

Rush Street on Urbanspoon

Rush Street in Los Angeles

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Magnolia Pub and Brewery – San Francisco

“I’m coming to San Francisco and want you to tell me where to eat,” I wrote to my friend Jon, The Gourmet Pig. “What’s your top three for not too fancy but solid eats?”

Jon went above and beyond my request and prepared a list of over ten top-notch places for me to try. Although I wanted to hit them all, time constraints kept me from rocking the Bay Area party to the fullest. One of the items that stuck out from the lengthy list was Magnolia Pub and Brewery. “Go for their beers and fried chicken on Thursdays,” recommended Jon.

For some inexplicable reason, I find foods that are consumed on a designated day of the week infinitely more appealing than those that are always available. Granted, fried chicken tastes great just about every day, but the fact that it’s served only on Thursdays at Magnolia somehow makes it all the more special. I heart gimmicks.

The Astronomer and I, along with our good friends and former teammates Matt and Paul, headed to Magnolia for an early dinner. When we arrived at the bar, I was surprised by the large number of babies on the premise—I guess new parents need their fried chicken fix too. I was also taken aback by the general lack of dinginess. Gastropubs in San Francisco are so clean and family-friendly!

Even though I arrived with fried chicken on the brain, I couldn’t resist the roasted beet salad starter ($9). The red and golden beats were paired with arugula, goat cheese, cara cara oranges, fennel, ground pepper, and a creamy dressing. All the ingredients were extremely fresh and at their most delicious (and nutritious) peak. Well-composed salads are kind of like art.

My three dining companions and I shared two orders of the fried chicken special ($18 per order). Each portion consisted of half a chicken and two sides. Our plates of hormone-free fried chicken arrived meticulously deboned atop toothsome grits smothered in savory gravy. The platter was finished off with a neat pile of buttery sauteed spinach.

Without bones to gnaw on, our fried chicken dinner was strictly a knife and fork affair. The well-seasoned and thickly battered chicken was fried to a delicious crisp, leaving the meat tender and juicy. The grits, gravy, and spinach, which were all great on their own, complemented the chicken very well. The Astronomer was so enamored with the gravy that he drenched his chicken in it before every bite.

My friends and I weren’t expecting such a gourmet fried chicken experience at a bar, but were pleased as heck with our dinner. There’s no question that Magnolia fries up a killer bird.

Thanks, Jon.

Magnolia Pub and Brewery
1398 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
Phone: 415-864-7468

Standard Tap – Philadelphia

Photo by variable resistance

After reading a lot of press about the Gastropub trend in Philadelphia, I finally made my way to Standard Tap to see if the hype was warranted. The Astronomer and I, along with our friends Ross and Melina, walked a ways to Northern Liberties—a part of the city neither one of us had ever been to. Many of Philly’s hot new restaurants seem to be sprouting up in this part of town.

We sat at a small table for four in the main room where the bar and juke box were located. The noise level was pretty high, but expected seeing as though we were in a bar. The boys got the evening started with some local brews—Ross had the Sly Fox Stout ($4) and The Astronomer had the Sly Fox Red ($4). Both of them seemed satisfied with their choices and since I know nothing about beers, I’ll leave it at that.

For our appetizers, Ross, The Astronomer and I shared the octopus ($9). Melina had a green salad ($6). I’ve eaten a great deal of squid in my life, but this was my first taste of octopus. The octopus was fantastic—the meat was not the least bit rubbery and marinated to perfection. Our waiter informed us that the octopus was boiled first, then marinated, and then grilled. The Astronomer enjoyed the octopus as well, but was a little wigged out eating the creature’s head and tentacles. Ross found the octopus tender and surprisingly steak-like in texture. Melina liked her green salad as much as someone could like a green salad.

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For our entrees, The Astronomer and I shared the Double Standard Burger ($9.75) and the pork sandwich ($9). Melina had a regular standard burger ($8.50), while Ross had the Tuna Tartare ($12).

The size of the patty on the Double Standard burger was approximately 1.5 inches thick so I had difficulty biting the entire sandwich at once. The burger was adorned with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, and provolone cheese. The burger was excellent, but could have used some “special sauce” to tie all the flavors together. The French fries were crisp and delicious. The pulled pork sandwich was good, but not as tasty as traditional barbecued pulled pork. The sandwich came with homemade Ruffles.

Melina liked her burger as well, but preferred the burger fixings at Monk’s. Ross found the tuna very fresh and of high quality. The flavors of the seaweed and tuna were clean and palatable and the sauce, a chipotle mayonnaise, was a nice contrast. His only complaint was that the radish and cucumber did not provide enough crunch for the dish.

Overall, I thought Standard Tap had above-average food, but lacked the little things I love about restaurants—ambiance, menus, formality, etc. As someone who hardly drinks and doesn’t frequent bars, I don’t think I can properly appreciate Standard Tap to the fullest. In the future, I’ll stick to restaurants for good eats and pubs for watching sports.

Standard Tap
901 N 2nd St, Philadelphia 19123
At Poplar St
Phone: 215-238-0630

Standard Tap on Urbanspoon

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