Friday, April 04, 2008
Father's Office in Santa Monica, CA
I finally found something to like about Los Angeles...in Santa Monica. The Father's Office name had been around for 55 years and current chef/owner Sang Yoon took over the location in 2000. He is currently in the last stages of debuting a second location over in Culver City, due to open any day now.
I had previously heard of Father's Office only casually on the web. Then, several months ago, I'd seen Moon featured on the MOJO network's extraordinarily entertaining After Hours with Daniel Boulud. Seeing the 30+ taps criss-crossing the wall and Moon convincing Boulud of the food pairing-worthiness of many of the beers gave me all that I needed to know to put them on my list to check out.
To get there, though, from my Beverly Hills hotel required a round trip cab fare that exceeded the food and beer bill for my traveling colleague and myself. That either tells you that we didn't drink nearly enough, or that the traffic was at an infamous LA rush hour standstill.
Seven miles from the hotel to Father's Office took approximately 45 minutes of agony, but fortunately the experience at the pub made up for it. To say that one needs to have a game plan (and game face) for scoring a table would be an understatement. There's only a guy at the door to welcome customers, not to seat them.
Tables are first come, first serve to those that can grab them as they become available. After opening at 5 p.m., the open tables quickly disappear and waiting diners fill in the gaps to cast death stares at anyone even appearing close to finished with their dinner and drinks. Fortunately, we arrived around 5:30pm and placed our order at the bar (no table service).
When we walked in, only 3 of the roughly dozen tables had people at them. By the time we placed our order, only 3 or so remained. We quickly grabbed a table and waited for our food to be delivered. Working with clients the following morning, I limited myself to two pints of local IPA.
F.O. (as they're affectionately referred to) specializes in worldly beers but also pays plenty of attention to California, particularly southern California. Since I've had AleSmith, Stone, and the numerous northern California beers that were offered, I quickly honed in on two that I've heard of but previously missed...Telegraph (Santa Barbara) and Craftsman (Pasadena). These are both almost exclusively found in southern California and embrace the "drink local" concept.
We started with some easy Spanish mushrooms and spicy olives. I was in a west coast mood so my first beer selection was California Ale, the pleasantly-hopped and saison yeast-finished flagship beer from Telegraph. It was a snappy beer that held up well against the spices in these tapas-style plates.
Then, came the burger. Made from dry-aged beef and covered with Maytag blue cheese, bacon compote, caramelized onion, Gruyere, and arugula, this award-winning burger of theirs sits on soft, oblong bread sized just right to fit the burger. The well done IPA (as opposed to the medium-rare burger?!) from Craftsman went very nicely with the big, rich flavors coming from the burger. The accompanying sweet potato fries with a garlic aioli dipping sauce on the side, were served interestingly enough in a miniature shopping cart (a la carte?!) . They were as addictive as everything else that we'd tasted.
We drug out the last sips of our beer just long enough to annoy the young, uh, "ladies" who just couldn't wait to take our table away from us. Then again, we weren't just intentionally holding out on them, we were also procrastinating the long seven mile taxi ride back to the hotel. On the weekends they open for lunch. I'll bet the traffic's a bit easier at that time.