"It's not much but it's ours"

Sunday, October 19, 2008


An early morning start had me on the I-5 and heading back South to L.A. By the time I arrived, after a non-stop five-hour drive, I was famished and did not take much, if any, persuasion to join the waiting Sybil for a rather splendid hot Dog at Let’s Be Frank in Culver City.

Bizarrely, Sybil “does not eat the cow” so was happy to see that as well as my own choice of a frank smothered in onions, relish and mustard she could indulge in a porky bratwurst, which she covered in sauerkraut, at $5 a pop, the perfect budget lunch.

That night, I had been informed that I was taking Sybil on that most American of institutions, a “date” and that if it was not up to scratch both me and my appendages would suffer untold consequences. Minutes of research had secured reservations in Ford’s Filling Station, the restaurant credited with revitalising the former movie hotspot of Culver City and whose chef, Ben Ford has a famous carpenter, President and Space Adventurer for a father.

We began our evening with a short walk to Gyenari, a local Korean restaurant, for drinks and some half decent dumplings before walking over to Ford’s Filling Station for our reservation. It was at this point that Sybil decided to point out that 9pm was considered the middle of the night in L.A where most people seem happy to eat supper about 6pm. It was a fact confirmed when we were finally seated and presented with menus with so many “SOLD OUT” stamps it resembled the tour date list for a Led Zeppelin reunion concert.

We tried, we really did. As we nibbled on some rather good garlic bread, we tried to find things left on the menu we might actually want to eat. The Suckling Pig, OFF, The Braised Rabbit, OFF, The Scallops, OFF. There was some cheese but this being America, we left that well alone. There were some flatbreads, but those are just pizzas by any other name and therefore, snot on toast, so we ignored them too. In the end we gave up, apologised to our server and walked out of the restaurant with no plan B.

Fortunately, right next door was Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken, the second branch of a famous joint in the city of Compton. We ducked in, found a table and were soon continuing our date with a shared platter of crispy skinned chicken, dipped in hot sauce or honey, and buttery biscuits, which we washed down with fresh lemonade. So good that neither of us was sorry we had been forced to change our original plans.

In the golden age of movies, Culver City was the place to be. MGM studios were just around the corner and The Culver Hotel, once owned by John Wayne, was where real movie stars hung out, including the cast of The Wizard of OZ. The Munchkins apparently ran drunken riot every night in the corridors of the hotel. We stopped by for a quick drink before our final stop at Cold Stone Creamery for some hand mixed ice cream with cookie dough and Reese’s Pieces, which we carried away to eat at home.

Not quite the evening we had planned, but never let it be said that I don’t know how to show a woman a good time.

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Blogger Frequent Traveler said...

I grew up in L.A., and ballsy as I am, wouldn't venture into compton at dusk, let alone later, unless I was dating a cop and on a ride-along !

Was this Honey Kettle IN compton ? if so, and that late at night, you ARE brave ! Not a good neihghborhood - even if you live there - but its reputation for delicious fattenning foods upholds itself. :)

Culver City is now like Hollywood, both unfortunately somewhat run down, faded and for the most part seedy. They may SAY they are revitalizing it, but it's too big for it to be done and one block alone doesn't change a city...

Sunday, October 19, 2008 11:42:00 pm  
Blogger William Leigh said...

I'm so jealous, cold stone rules

Monday, October 20, 2008 8:32:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Annie - I haven't been in over 1.5 years but when I was last there, Culver City had changed. Being the most affordable hood on the west side, it drew artists that could not afford to live out west in Venice anymore, Indian IT and business immigrants, Brazilians, UCLA students, along with the local Angelenos and older working class folks. And it's got some super good eats!

The Honey Kettle fried chicken with dipping sauces, a warm biscuit, and large lemonade... not a bad way to start off LA:)

Thursday, October 23, 2008 10:04:00 pm  

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