The neighborhood we live in is finally becoming trendy and “discovered” which has both positive and negative points. After a few years in Santa Monica we moved to Mar Vista-Culver City border five years ago to find a little less trendiness and more of a down-to-earth quality that was appealing. After these past few years I still enjoy the low key atmosphere and small-town feeling of this often ignored part of the Westside.
Now that is changing ever so slightly with the opening of gourmet sandwich shops, cafes, and recently the renovation of a huge restaurant space that is now inhabited by British gastropub Waterloo and City.
We have been there about a half a dozen times in the last month as it is a rare find; a restaurant we can walk to that serves some tasty food.
Finally there is something other than mediocre Mexican or “family style” places that are loud and stroller heavy. This is actually a nice place with outdoor seating and a bar for adults, not just 20 somethings.
We have had almost everything on the menu and the food is prepared well with creativity and attention to detail.
The first time I visited I had two friends with me and we were all impressed by the professional and attentive service as well as the homemade bread that arrived upon our seating. We ordered a variety of entrees, from lamb shepherd’s pie to braised pork shanks, and we were satisfied with each. The salads were large and the drinks generous so we were feeling quite at home and happy. We shared a gooey toffee pudding for dessert that came with a scoop of ice cream on top and was hard to resist.
The next time I brought my husband we sat outside where there are a few tables next to the parking lot. That may sound unappealing but they did a good job with plants, heat lamps and comfortable seating. The whole room opens to the outside which is a bonus considering we have great weather 90 percent of the year. He and I both shared a tuna tartare that came on a bed of avocado puree and is topped with a fried chili pepper with tuna tartare inside — yummy! We had a special pasta with arugula pesto that was delicious and a perfectly cooked piece of wild salmon that is served with artichokes and butter beans.
The food was excellent and I commend the chef for knowing how to cook salmon. Most places over-cook it so it’s dry and flaky when it is supposed to be moist and juicy inside. During this meal we shared a lovely Riesling that was delicious; dry and crisp and perfect with the salmon and pasta. Our dessert that night was a warm chocolate pudding with caramelized bananas — need I say more? It was to die for.
I am so happy to see my neighborhood becoming a bit more of a destination for eating out but hope it won’t ruin the quiet unassuming quality we moved here for.
In case you don’t know where Mar Vista is, here is a recipe for salmon with arugula pesto from my healthy fish class and a decadent dessert to cancel out the healthy entrée. Enjoy!
Steamed salmon with arugula pesto
4 pieces of salmon fillet, about 4 to 6 ounces each
1 lemon, halved
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch arugula, washed and dried, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth, or more as needed
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the salmon on a baking sheet. Squeeze the lemon over the salmon and season with salt and pepper.
2. Meanwhile combine the arugula, garlic, nuts and parmesan in a food processor. Process until pureed, about 30 seconds. Add the oil and broth slowly through the feed tube. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add a little more broth if needed for a sauce consistency. Transfer to a medium bowl.
3. Place a large skillet filled with very hot water on the bottom rack of the oven and then place the salmon on the middle rack. Steam the salmon until it is cooked medium-rare, about 8 minutes.
4. Place a dollop of the pesto on four dinner plates and arrange a salmon fillet on top. Serve with a spoonful of the pesto on each piece. Pass any remaining pesto.
(The pesto can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. It can also be frozen for up to one month.)
Amanda Cushman is a culinary educator who has cooked professionally for 25 years. She teaches privately for groups of two to 20 students. She has developed hundreds of recipes for cookbooks as well as food magazines and Web sites. She can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
If You Go
Waterloo & City
12517 West Washington Blvd., Culver City