I’ve been hankering to try Brendan Collins’ food at his passion pit Waterloo & City ever since sampling the menu at Larry’s by the Sea in Venice, which he created. Larry’s is the single elevated place to get tasty food on the boardwalk and Collins helped in creating offerings there such as flat bread pizzas, quick yet savory arancini balls and sophisticated bites of pork belly amongst a culinary beachside scene that typically fancies greasy pizzas, below average tapas with beer and overcooked burgers. So when the Cute Gardener told me that Collins’ real restaurant resided in Culver City and coined itself a traditional British gastropub, it was added to my must-try list.
A year later and I’ve finally been anointed by Collins’ special brand of bowler hat wearing, sumptuous food cooking that I could easily revisit time and again. Everything about the restaurant is comforting – not in a grandmotherly sense but more of a jovial “meet me and the boys at the end of the work day for some great grub” kind of way.
Named for the London underground railway line Collins traversed in his youth, the restaurant does bustle with the constant ebb and flow of boisterous guests enjoying some delicious food and drink together. The super casual yet simultaneously modern ambiance is accented by English meadow graphic wallpaper in cool gray monotones and the feeling like you could have stumbled in literally off the beaten track from some roving European countryside to order up your Shepherd’s and pot pies.
This focus and determination comes flying through in entirely original creative dishes that pop out of the menu beyond the expected gourmet-tinged pub fare. First off, I am a sucker for high-end charcuterie. Never have I seen such an array in one place from smoked salmon, fried egg, and gribiche sauce terrines to duck rillettes with orange jelly and toasted country bread to duck and walnut pate with orange-apricot marmalade. I almost ordered the rabbit and pistachio terrine until I heard the waiter’s mouth drop the special lamb terrine bomb on me. The exquisite little square, hemmed in by a ribbon of carrot and featuring raw and tender chunks of my favorite meat, completely tickled my fancy.
If that weren’t enough, our entrees were over the top decadent as well, particularly another special of the night boasting a homemade pappardelle with chunks of garlic-swimming escargot, tufts of bone marrow and swaths of prosciutto.
My dinner came with three massive seared king scallops atop a sweet pile of corn succotash and tortellini also stuffed with creamy cheese and corn. Perhaps to some it was a completely indulgent, semi-verging on the ridiculous gluttonous dish of corn, but I hardly could raise an objection when each bite had me smiling and cooing for more.
I realized that I have absolutely no problem diving into the deep end of sinful, pleasurable eating when it comes wrapped in wholesome concoctions made by a chef with such flair.