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Karen Salkin Out to Lunch

         Restaurant Reviews and Commentary from Karen Salkin
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FORD’S FILLING STATION

A few months ago, my friend, Carole, who’s a belt designer headquartered in Culver City, offered to take me to belated birthday lunch. So, even though she’s a nice girl who said we could eat anywhere, I’m a good friend, too, and wanted to make it easy on her by choosing her ‘hood.

Culver City has become pretty hip in the last couple of years, and I actually had a few supposedly happening places to choose among. [Mini grammar lesson: “Between” means two; “Among” means more than that.] I chose Ford’s Filling Station because I felt it was the most famous one (for the unaware, it’s owned by Harrison Ford’s son, Ben, late of
Chadwick in Beverly Hills) and because its website was down and I couldn’t check out the menu. If I could have, I doubt that this would have been my choice. (BTW--the site is still down as of this writing.)

When we got there, Carole asked me to choose the meal because she didn’t know how to do it. I couldn’t imagine what she was talking about. Turns out, it’s primarily a charcuterie menu, where you pick out several meats and cheeses, which is far from my cup of tea. I panicked and wanted to leave, but, though it was one-ish PM, a prime lunch hour, the interior was just about empty, so our exit would not have gone unnoticed. Many more people were enjoying the patio, but it was far from the scene I was expecting.[Sidebar: I’ve heard that it is usually jumping at night, but with all the
near-by studio personnel, one would think that if it was really THE place to go in the area, there would be more patrons at lunch than I saw on my visit.]

At this point, my hopes of having a great dining experience had pretty much disappeared. But I was happy to spend time with Carole, and all you need to order is one or two dishes anyway, and we were able to find three, which turned out to be surprisingly good.

We shared the four-cheese flatbread, which was basically a designer pizza. Pretty tasty, though. She chose steak tartare, which she enjoyed sufficiently. And I had a weird breaded shrimp sandwich, which I can’t tell you the title of because of the aforementioned problem-plagued website. (I didn’t actual think this place was special enough to review, either good or bad, so I didn’t try to remember the names of the dishes.) It was fairly decent, and served with an equally flavorful potato salad.

Then we got to my favorite part, dessert. Carole insisted on two, so we chose a flat chocolate cake, which was fine, and a pear something-or-other, which she hated and I was indifferent toward.

To sum up, the experience was just okay, on every level. No horrible stories to regale you with. But no props to hand out, either. The food was okay, the service was okay, and the ambience was okay. For a restaurant that’s been around for over a year now, to very mixed reviews, I might add, I feel that everything about it should be way better. The Filling
Station was actually unfulFilling, on every level. Shame, with all the hype.

Ford’s Filling Station 9531 Culver Blvd. Culver City 310-202-1470
www.fordsfillingstation.net

EMPRESS OPENING

And lastly, to make this week’s theme be not-fabulous restaurant experiences, I attended the opening of Empress where Sushi On Sunset used to be. I couldn’t gage what a meal here will be like from this event. Granted, I arrived around midnight, so only the punky night-lifers were left, and not the crowd who’ll be dining there, I suppose.

And I lasted only a few minutes because the entire place was filled with smoke, which is not only disgusting, but illegal in Los Angeles. Ordinarily, if I ever find that an establishment is allowing smoke, I would report it. But this was an opening, so perhaps there’s a special ruling for private parties.

The thing that annoyed me the most about the scenario is that when I explained why I had to leave so soon to the hostess and to a man who appeared to be in charge, they both made believe they couldn’t tell that anyone was smoking. Both of them seemed like teens who were trying to appear innocent to their parents who know better. They should have
just fessed-up and pleaded the private party defense that may, indeed, be true.

But to make believe they didn’t know just chapped my hide. I was in there for about five minutes, but my hair smelled almost as bad as it did when I used to get home from an evening at Sammy Davis, Jr.’s house, way back in the day. (Which means it smelled like an ashtray, for those of you who can’t remember those dangerous years of people smoking like chimneys.)

Anyway, I’ll try to pay a return visit to see what a real night is like, and let you know if the situation has improved. I have a feeling it will be better than the opening. It almost has to be.

1 PIXEL LIGHT GRAY
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