Bit by bit Culver City's been collecting new restaurants, making itself more and more relevant in the the Los Angeles foodisphere. But I wasn't thoroughly impressed by Culver City until recently. That was when City Tavern opened its doors on Culver Boulevard right next to Sony - a gastropub with a special focus on craft beer. Culver City, you've arrived.
A mixture of wood and brick invites the California sun into a relaxing and welcoming environment. A few widescreen TVs round out the modern tavern experience without being obtrusive. Comfortable and unpretentious, this is the perfect home away from home to enjoy a glass of suds. And unlike many of Los Angeles' budding craft beer pubs, City Tavern comes with a fairly sophisticated menu in its own right.
On the surface, what makes City Tavern unique are its table taps (below). Three of City Tavern's booths offer the convenience of pouring your own beer- the only downside is that there are only three options per table. Stone IPA, Telegraph White Ale and Lost Coast's Downtown Brown are all nice choices but perhaps the most easy-to-find of City Tavern's extensive craft beer list. Aside from the initial thrill of pulling the handle yourself, there are better taps to be found in the house.
The really good stuff comes from the bar, where you'll find over twenty craft beers on tap (below). Plop yourself on a stool and cozy up to the bar, and the beertenders are ripe with suggestions. I nursed a Cruz Control by Santa Cruz Ale Works and ogled the beer menu while I waited for some out-of-town friends to join me for lunch. City Tavern really impresses with a diverse variety of local craft brews, all of which you might note are brewed in California. Drinks can be ordered by the glass or the pitcher, like the chipotle coffee-infused Black Phoenix by Fullerton's own Boot Leggers Brewery. For only $3 or $4 you can also try a generous 'taste' serving of your choosing.
Soon my lunch companions arrived and we settled at a table outside in the sun. The impressive brew burger (below) was the signature dish on the lunch menu. Served on a tasty pretzel bun with pub cheese, greens and mustard aioli this version was definitely preferable to the menu's other burger option, the CT burger. This burger even comes crowned with an ale-battered onion ring and a can't-complain-value at $11.
$3 dollars extra gets you a side with your sandwich, like these french fries topped with parsley and garlic.
The jidori chicken panini came with manchego, quince and almond pesto was the less memorable option, but the side of brussels sprouts with bacon and preserved lemon was a nice addition.
Can't decide on just one beer to savor with your meal? My friend sprung for a couple of the 'taste' pours (below). Less adventurous (i.e. boring) drinkers can still get bottles of Corona, Blue Moon, Sam Adams... or dare I suggest Miller Lite. Surely the staff would serve it to you with a smile, but given the wonderful house-culture of celebrating craft brews, you may get a look or two from your fellow patrons.
As a gastropub that truly embraces the versatility of beer and the ever-growing list of local brewers, City Tavern can expect my return business. I'm eagerly looking forward to coming back for their dinner. In fact, City Tavern occasionally throws special dinners with beer pairings. If you're interested in the table taps, you may want to call ahead to make a reservation for the obviously popular booths. CT may also reserve the right to hold your party to a time limit during peak hours.