I am very impressed with the transformation of Culver City and enjoy strolling along Culver or Washington boulevards in the evening amongst the newly opened cafes, restaurants and bars. What a face-lift this small town has had over the last five years. Every time I go there something new has opened and one of the new eating establishments, Meet at 9727 Culver Blvd., was our destination last night.

It sits amongst three other restaurants, all of which have outdoor tables making it very appealing to enjoy the wonderful Southern California weather.

After living in New York City for many years, I get a kick out of dining outside in January with a light wrap on thinking of all my friends on the East Coast freezing their butts off! So here were three of us sitting at a lovely table outside, waited on by one of the owners of this relatively new French café and restaurant.

We had prompt and friendly service for the most part and were impressed with the simple and enticing menu.

We ordered appetizers; a burrata and tomato salad garnished with fava beans and balsamic glaze and a crab, avocado salad that was quite a large portion. Two could have split this. Both were very good and the presentation was stunning for each dish.

Our entrees were roasted chicken with sautéed spinach and a burger with potatoes gratin. Both were beautifully presented and decent portions. I had the roasted chicken that was served with a spicy au jus. I found it a bit dry and quite chewy, nothing special and on the verge of bland. The spinach was very good (but how does one ruin sautéed spinach?) and I chose a mixed green salad as a side that arrived in a chunky soup bowl. The greens needed more dressing and would have been more appealing on a salad plate. My dining companion said the burger was very good although he didn’t love the potatoes as they were “chewy, and I make better potatoes gratin.” Oh well! We ordered an apricot chocolate tart for dessert that was delicious, but we waited for it for at least 15 minutes. I was about to ask if they had gone to the market to get apricots when it arrived. It was served cold which means they must have forgotten about it. So all in all it was enjoyable to be dining outside in the middle of winter with a gracious server who is also part owner. But the food was less than fabulous and I would say it might be better to have lunch here or appetizers and save dinner for another place in this town with countless choices for great food.

My version of roasted chicken can’t be simpler or more delicious and calls for a free-range organic chicken to insure the proper flavor.

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 amandascooking@gmail.com.

Lemon-garlic roast chicken

Serves 2 to 3

Ingredients

1 whole free-range organic chicken, 2 1/2 pounds

8 cloves garlic, peeled, halved

4 Tb. unsalted butter

2 Tb. chopped thyme

Salt, pepper

1 lemon cut in half

1 bunch parsley

Thyme sprigs

1/2 cup chicken broth or more as needed

2 shallots, minced

Procedure

1. Heat the oven to 450. Rinse the chicken and pat dry.

2. Rub the cavity of the chicken with one clove of garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place 2 Tb. of butter inside. Squeeze the juice from one of the lemon halves inside and take a few sprigs of parsley and add to the cavity. Chop remaining parsley and set aside.

3. Lift the skin from the breast meat and distribute the remaining butter under both sides. Add the chopped thyme to both sides and the cloves of garlic.

4. Combine the broth and lemon juice from the remaining half in a small bowl. Tie the legs together and place chicken on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast for 20 minutes, basting twice with the chicken broth and lemon juice.

5. Reduce the heat to 350 and continue roasting, basting often until the temperature reaches 170, about 40 minutes. Allow chicken to rest about 10 minutes before carving.

7. Pour the juices from the pan into a degreasing cup and allow separating. Reserve 2 Tb. of the fat. Return the fat to the roasting pan and set over med-high heat. Add the minced shallots and sauté three minutes. Add the degreased juices and deglaze the pan scraping up any brown bits in the pan. If there isn’t enough liquid you can add white wine, dry sherry, dry vermouth or chicken stock to the pan.

8. Carve the chicken as shown and transfer to a serving platter, pour the gravy over the chicken and garnish with the parsley and serve.

Serve these yummy potatoes with the roasted chicken and you will be a big hit with friends and family

Scalloped potatoes

Serves 6

4 oz. cheddar cheese, grated

1/4 cup grated parmesan

2 pounds russet potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 small onion, chopped

3 Tb. all purpose flour

4 Tb. unsalted butter

2 cups low-fat milk

1. Heat the oven to 400. Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish.

2. Mix the cheeses. Arrange half of the potatoes in overlapping slices on the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with half the salt and pepper, half the onion, the flour and half the cheese. Dot with 2 Tb. of the butter. Arrange another layer of potatoes on top, the remaining onion, salt, pepper and butter.

3. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until scalded. Pour over the potatoes and cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top cover with foil. Bake another 45 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes before cutting.