I can’t be sure what exactly I was expecting out of The Corner Door in Culver City, but I guess it should be known that one of the few things worth traveling to that quandrant for – in my opinion – was ramen, Rutt’s and Roy Choi (even then, I’d still point out that Roy grew up on the eastside of Los Angeles). There have been new restaurants springing up lately, but in a lot of ways, they were neighborhood stops. It seems The Corner Door has found a great balance between being that neighborhood place, and in a lot of ways is heading towards existing as a destination. When you have great food and inspiring cocktails, that’s just what tends to happen.
So I ventured west of the 405, where you’ll find ten restaurants serving burgers before you’ll find one serving steak (you can make veggie burgers, not veggie steaks). But I found this food menu well-balanced between farm fresh fare and proteins, meaning that starters take up over half the menu. I love that – since I’m more apt to be a grazer. Just a couple pastas and a handful of mains buttress the menu’s quality, while leaving you wanting more on your return visit. Inevitably, the menu will also be somewhat different when you do.
The charcuterie selection, which included American prosciutto but also Calabrian & Sangiovese Salami. But when you have chicken liver-bacon mousse on the board, it’s pretty much a win. Though the starters may initially look like salads, at first, most of them are actually savory – thanks to buttered, grilled bread on the side. I loved the fall menu for its salads like the Roasted Squash & Burrata with cured egg yolk and Warm Persimmon Salad with chicories and walnuts. The medley of mushrooms on the Mushroom Toast, complete with poached egg, mustard dressing, bacon and greens was superb.
The (OK, sorry – off-menu) crab linguini was delicious, though if you love crab, it may be hard to screw that one up. But it’s of no detail that I loved the texture of the pasta. I was also impressed with the Roasted Chicken, accompanied by couscous, vadouvan and yogurt. And I can’t emphasize how many times I’ve been nonplussed by chicken. The skin was flavourful but not overwhelming, the meat, tender and also flavourful but not too moist – all without the benefit of dark meat, at least in my portion. (Disclosure: I am a dark meat lover.)
Without detracting credit due to Chef Luke Reyes, all of this would have been easier to forget if not for the outstanding cocktail program by Beau du Bois. Not only were the cocktails creative, they were varied and refined. My absolute favorites included the Secret Stachio, made with cognac, pistachio liqueur, combier, lemon juice and sugar. The nuttyness in the cocktail was oh-so-subtle and at the finish, with proper body thanks to the cognac. Just what fall ordered. The Teacher’s Lounge as a cocktail was only matched by its presentation in a vintage mug and made with rum, fernet, coconut liqueur, coffee extract and lemon juice. Though at first glance, the combination may have read a little much, but once you tasted it, you could see just how perfectly everything worked with each other.
For an elegant cocktail, go for the King’s Assassin – beautifully made with gin, blanc sweet vermouth, salers, cocchi americano and cointreau. Negroni lovers (myself included) will really enjoy this one as it’s like a white version of the aperitif. You’ll find the perfect amaro introductory cocktail in That Girl is Dangerous, made with reposado tequila, aperol, lemon juice and vanilla orgeat. The sweetest drink I could find on the menu for this bitter palate was the 7 Minutes in Heaven, made with pear brandy, St. Germain, Lillet, lemon juice, sugar and nutmeg. In reality, though, all drinks were not only original but well-balanced in execution. Maybe I’ll have to stop in when Beau isn’t around to test the latter conclusion, but it still remains that I have a few other cocktails that I have my eye on to try.
It looks like The Corner Door, with its solid food and delicious cocktails, could end up being the destination restaurant Culver City has been looking for. The price points are also desirable, with nothing but the hanger steak costing more than $20. The space is also quaint with just the right ambiance – it was still manageable on a Saturday night when I visited. But something tells me this could change real fast…
All food and cocktails were hosted.