Culver City Burger Quest
Dan CookeCulver City Burger Quest: City Tavern
Posted on July 9, 2011 at 10:29am
Welcome to the next stop on our Culver City Burger Quest! Previous stops took us to Five Guys and the Grill’Em”All truck at the Westside Food Truck Lot. This installment describes a visit to the new-pub-on-the-block, City Tavern, in pursuit of the best hamburgers Culver City has to offer.
City Tavern is a new beer bar that puts a new spin on the usual LA beer scene: Taps at the table. When you first walk in (I entered from the Culver side entrance) you walk through a smallish outdoor patio which would be a great place to enjoy a happy hour before entering a nice wood grain beer-topia. Done in a industrial style with some modern-retro-twists, the environment is comfortable and inviting. A large chalkboard design menu shares the space-domination with the small but substantial main bar and 22 taps. A quick perusal of the board notes that this place not only had lots of great craft beers but also a list of boutique wines and old-school cocktails. Also when you walk in there are a three 6 person (8 if you’re really comfy) booths with three taps on the wall. The idea is you and a group of friends can sit at one of these special tables and the computerized system will charge you for the amount of beer the group drinks. drink. To be honest, this seems like a bit of a gimmick to me, but it might be fun with the right group of people. Beer is nice, but burgers are the business. (for us, anyways)
My friend was sitting at the bar, so I joined her and chatted with the “beerista” for a bit. I guess “bartender” wasn’t noble enough. We perused the nicely designed menu filled with a mix of very tasty sounding lunch items like the Jidori Chicken Panini with manchego, quince and almond pesto or the Yukon Gold Gratin with tres leches. My brain didn’t quite comprehend that last one, only that I would be compelled to come back and try. We were here for the burgers: a 10 spot for the CT Burger and a dollar more for the pretzel-bunned Brew Burger. We also tried the toasted garlic and parsley fries.
CT Burger : Calling this a glorified Big Mac is truly unfair to this burger. The City Tavern makes their CT Burger with a homemade Thousand Island which is a thousand miles better than what you’d get at that global fast food joint. Maybe a better way to say it is, this is the burger the Big Mac wishes it was.
Brew Burger : My favorite burger in the joint. Made with the same meat in the CT Burger but add a pub-cheese mixture made with one of the dark craft beers on tap. This burger ups the ante with a fantastic subtle mustard aioli and a the best pretzel bun I’ve had on a burger. Then to top it off, they take one of their ales, mix up a perfectly light batter and fry up a thick onion ring.
So how did they rate, in short: YUM. As a reminder, the rating system: The rating system is simple, 1-5, 5 being best in four categories: Meat, Bun, Burger Options and Fries.
Meat: This is a nice big hunk o’ beef. Creekstone Natural Beef, actually. You can order your preferred doneness, ours were cooked to a perfect medium rare. Nicely seasoned, the meat is great in both, but it really shines in the simple CT Burger. A strong 4. Future visits may bump this to a 5. The Brew burger’s mustard aioli really adds another dimension to the flavor of the beef.
Bun: Both buns were fresh and soft, although I feel the sesame bun of the CT Burger did an average job of standing up to the large burger patty. By the end of my half, I felt the bun was one strong squeeze away from becoming saturated with meat juice and going mushy. CT Burger bun: 3. The Brew Burger pretzel bun was a perfect pretzel bun. Often times the pretzel bun has the same consistency of an actual pretzel, these didn’t. The Brew burger bun was lighter, although dense enough, and maintained that wonderful pretzel flavor. A definite 5.
Options: I’m giving this a 5 simply on the AWESOME onion ring they top the Brew Burger with. Just so tasty. One day I’ll go back and try the brussels sprouts with bacon and preserved lemon. Obviously having a restaurant level menu makes this score easy to rate. And the 22 different beers on tap didn’t hurt either.
Fries: To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of garlic fries, so, put that into perspective when I say this: I really enjoyed these. I believe that City Tavern roasts the garlic before chopping it up and tossing with the fries. That extra roasting time makes all the difference. Given the beer and the burger, the five dollars to add the fries to share between two people was worth it. I give the fries a tasty 4.
The bartender helped us with our beer selections, giving us a few samples before we decided. He was nice, friendly and very helpful. Service was unobtrusive and only once did I feel like I had to make noise to get someone’s attention, but that’s because the bartender went into the kitchen to get another order and we were already a quarter way through our meal.
City Tavern brings two great burger options to Culver City along with a great array of beer and charm. Check it out, City Tavern is at 9739 Culver Blvd. right before the Washington merge. Entrances on both sides of the block is unique and parking is ample and close. An easy place to recommend.
Want to nominate a burger for the Culver City Burger Quest, drop a note in the comments!