It's hard to pinpoint exactly what kind of restaurant Waterloo & City is considering all of its components. And when each of those components is as good as they are here, that's not a bad thing. A British gastropub makes for the easiest description, though the menu isn't all blood pudding and shepard's pie - also present on Chef Brendan Collins' menu are artisan pizzas and pasta dishes that exemplify regions of Europe well beyond Great Britain.
The Culver City restaurant is a recently opened collaboration of Chef Collins and GM Caralos Tomazos. Between the two, their resumes include stints at Per Se, Le Bernardin and Mellisse. But the spirit of this venture aims less for Michelin stars and more for a casual, comforting experience. The decor certainly isn't the focus. The space looks like it may have been a Denny's in a past life, though it's since been reasonably dressed up. But don't assume for a second that the low-key atmosphere prevents them from producing some pretty compelling cuisine.
When our platoon arrived for an early Sunday night feast, Waterloo & City was able to accommodate our party of 9 on the patio. Gathered around the table was a mini reunion of sorts from our fantastic Wolvesden dinner. That intense dining experience seems to have forged our platoon into a band of brothers, bravely storming the beaches of offal and sweetbreads.
Experiences with the cocktail menu were hit or miss, but the impressive beer list more than made up for it. A few baskets of bread made the table more than happy. A few tasty varieties, all baked in house, were spotted with seeds of poppy or fennel - a fitting precursor to the charcuterie that was about to hit the table in a big way.
About that charcuterie? Waterloo & City's wild charcuterie menu had us salivating. We couldn't decide on just one or two, so we went with the ambitious 'Prince' selection which had us partying like it was 1999 2099. Let's take a look at the board, class picture style (Below, Left to Right): Cured meats and cornichons, chicken liver & foie gras mousse, jarred beef drippings, head cheese with cherry tomato salad, pig trotters and sweetbreads topped with salsa verde, and finally a rabbit and pistachio terrine crowned with soused peaches. The head cheese was a runaway favorite. I hope the stunningly rich and flavorful chicken liver and foie gras mousse understands. We could have ended the meal happy right here, but our platoon pressed on.
The biggest surprise may have been the pizza. The braised short rib is topped with arugula and a generous dollop of chimichuri. This pizza is really about the few intense bites slathered with thick chimichuri sauce and its powerful bite of raw garlic that for lack of better wording: punches you square in the face. The short rib takes a back seat on this one. The garlic is so powerful, I actually forgot there was meat on this pizza at all until confirming with @jreedmiller who had ordered it. Polarizing, at its worst, I found the pizza's boldness rather refreshing - I'm a garlic guy - but perhaps this is a pie best suited for sharing.
Angela took the opportunity to go with a British classic- the Beef Wellington (left). When in a British Gastropub, right? Veiled in its flaky phyllo dough crust, the thick slab of beef inside (right) was cooked to a perfect medium rare. While she's not really a Wellington fan generally, this hearty dish had her ready to fall into a food coma.
Sir Wellington came with a side of perfectly competent, nicely seasoned (if a little staid) roasted vegetables. We also threw in some a la carte broccolini flavored with a touch of garlic and ginger chili.
For my entree I travelled down the pasta road. The ricotta ravioli (below) came with sweetbreads and walnuts. The rich and savory ravioli dish was some of the best I've tasted in recent memory.
After dinner we were treated to some sweet and sticky beignets on the house. We left Waterloo & City full and satisfied. Not only do these guys know what they're doing with their eccentric terrines, pates and charcuterie but they impressed us with pastas and pizzas, too. No matter where you are in LA, Waterloo & City is worth the drive to Culver City for the food. Or just head in for their happy hour. The gastropub has many faces, and each of them suits it well.