Well, someone finally beat me to the punch. Ever since I moved to the west side of LA, I’ve thought that downtown Culver City has needed a real bar. Kay ‘n Dave’s and Rush Street are good places, but they are first and foremost restaurants. Finally, the guys behind Rush Street have pumped out City Tavern (in the location that formerly housed the Meltdown grilled cheese joint) and I don’t think I could have done it better myself. I arrived a solid 45 minutes before my friends, which gave me a chance to put our name on the list for a table and to sample the beers they were purveying.
Not only does City Tavern offer a generous variety of beers on tap, they also give you multiple drinking options. The first is called a taste, which is served in a bitty glass. The second is a glass, which is served in whichever glass is appropriate for the beer you ordered. The third, final, and greatest is their “share” size. The bartender called it a growler and although it may pass for a growler in these parts of the world, where I come from it is called a 32 oz. old fashioned milk bottle. But whatever the name is, this was certainly the best deal. In addition to these, they also offer flights of beers to sample, but for some reason my mind was set on the “share.” Being alone, I ordered a “share” of Old Numbskull for myself. This 11% alcohol barleywine began to do a number on my state of mind by the time I drained the first third of it. By the time I was nearly finished, the gang showed up and we could finally be seated.
We sat at one of their normal tables, as opposed to their special tap tables which have 3 beers on tap at the tables than can be controlled via computer. A pretty cool concept, but not necessary on this night. At this point, just about everything on the menu looked delicious, but I was in need of some burger. There were two on the menu. One of which, called the CT Burger ($10), was said to come with thousand island and seemed pretty plain. The Brew Burger ($11), on the other hand, mixed things up a bit by coming with pub cheese, a pretzel bun and onion rings. I asked our waiter if these were the only things inside those buns, and he went on to tell me that apparently the menu left some important things out. In fact, it left out all the veggies. So unvegans beware: the CT Burger has lettuce, tomato and onion, while the Brew Burger has spinach. Good thing I asked! After all that, I went with the Brew Burger, ordered it medium and continued drinking.
Upon arrival, I found two suspicious-looking pickles hiding out next to my burger. Upon close inspection, I found there was no pickle juice and said pickles had only made contact with a small portion of pub cheese. This cheese was now dead to me, but at least the majority of the burger was safe. The “onion rings” turned out to be one simple ring placed atop the bun. I pulled this thing off and rapidly devoured it in a rage. Was it good? I don’t know. But I do know you shouldn’t pluralize something on a menu when you only plan on serving a singular.
At last, I dug my way into the burger. Pub cheese began to drip down my face, but I was unfazed. I found the pretzel bun to be a quite welcoming burger conduit. It was nice and moist, while adding a hint of saltiness. The pub cheese was like a creamy, smoky cheese kick and acted more as a sauce than as a cheese. This was fine by me, and certainly more efficient than having both a sauce and a cheese. Finally, there was the burger itself. This thing had some great flavor and was nice and juicy. Yet, despite these compliments, the burger was overcooked. I know you may chide me for ordering medium, but medium should should always be pink inside. This was not the case at City Tavern, where medium meant brown all the way through. It was good, but this overcooking made it fall just a bit short (but it was still much better than burgers at Rush Street).
This did not, however, get in the way of my enjoyment of the burger. No, in fact I destroyed the thing like a Longfin Eel devouring a deer carcass. And in the end I celebrated with a “share” of Citizen California Common beer, except this time I actually had some friends to share with.
So finally, after more than three years in LA, downtown Culver City has a true bar. Although there are a few spots they could improve upon, I can definitely see myself ending up at City Tavern on a regular basis.