Sunday, December 6, 2009

Father's Office isn't all about beers and burger

Father's Office evokes many strong opinions. Although there are many die hard fans of the FO burger that is known to be one of the best in the city, there are many others that scoff at the establishment's stringent policies. There are absolutely no substitutions or modifications to the menu. If you're allergic to cheese, that's just too bad, don't bother trying to order the burger. I'm not one of the FO burger fanatics because I've only ever had a tiny bite of the edge of a burger (the burger has Gruyere and maytag blue cheese, the latter of which I absolutely abhor). But I have never held it against FO because chef/owner Sang Yoon has other tasty items on the menu such as jamon serrano, pork belly and chorizo. That's not surprising considering he was executive chef at Michael's in Santa Monica.

I've always been a fan of Father's Office back when the only location was on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica. The original outpost was everything inconvenient; the space is tiny, they had strict capacity regulations after prior run ins with the fire marshall, the lines were typically long and sometimes slow moving, tables were usually taken by the time you made it in, you ended up acting like vultures preying on any tables that looked like they were about to finish with their meal. But despite all these issues, I always still came back because I loved the beer selections (back when very few joints in LA were serving craft beers) and their sweet potato fries. To everyone's joy, Yoon decided to open another location in Culver City with a much bigger space and an outdoor patio.

We headed over to the Culver City location on Saturday night at 8pm and surprisingly no line! It was definitely busy inside but not uncomfortably packed although there was no empty seat in the house. Thankfully our friends had managed to grab a small section at the bar.

They have many beers on tap and in bottle including 750ml sized bottles and fine wine selections. Unfortunately, they had only four choices of white wine by the glass although many on bottle. The Albarino was an obvious choice; I wasn't feeling a Chardonnay and didn't want something too sweet like the Reisling or Viognier. The Albarino was crisp and light. I ended up ordering 3 glasses so I suppose I should have gotten a bottle.

Large bottles of Scaldis Notel Belgian ale and Two turtle doves beer from the Bruery in the OC. I love the signature glasses and beer bucket.

The famous Office Burger
With caramelized onions, apple wood bacon compote, arugula, maytag blue cheese and Gruyere. This doesn't come with fries (yeah annoying, I know. Kind of like steaks that don't come with sides) so you'll have to order it for a nominal fee of $2.50. Everyone in my group that ordered it loved it. The medium rare patty was juicy and made with good quality meat. The bacon was crispy and the caramelized onions added a nice sweet finish. Apparently the cheese flavor wasn't TOO strong but I was not going to chance it and try it. The fries were delicious. Skinny, freshly fried and perfectly seasoned.

Duck confit salad with mustard greens, frisee, figs, hazelnut and tangerine vinaigrette
Delicious! This is why I still love FO even though I don't eat the burger; they have other sophisticated options. The duck was mouthwatering from the crispy skin to the soft, tender, succulent duck meat that fell off the bone. The dressing was light and citrus. I took a perfect bite of a piece of duck, some arugula, a sweet piece of fig and a caramelized crunchy hazelnut.

A side of sweet potato fries
I liked the fries because it wasn't overly greasy, although I preferred the regular fries on this occasion because they were a little less starchy. The sweet potato fries were a pretty filling order so perhaps if I didn't have a whole confit of a duck leg, I might have been less stuffed.

After our meal, we were lucky enough to score some bench seating at the outside patio under the heat lamps. I love how I can sit outside in the evening in a tank top in December. Gotta love SoCal.

Father's Office was really one of the first in Los Angeles that taught patrons that you COULD have good food with your craft beers at a bar, even before the term gastropub was commonly used in the city. It also elevated the bar burger by using great quality ingredients and fixings. But you don't always HAVE to get the burger, however I suppose it's hard to say no to it if you favor it and all its components. Thankfully there are other great food choices for the non-cheese lovers. Although the food was spot on, service was a bit mixed: the bartenders were very knowledgeable about the beers but there were only a few of them covering the large bar area. You would think with the popularity of this place, they'd staff up. The food service was also spotty. Some in our party waited over 20 minutes for a burger while others waited only five. Otherwise, it's a great spot; low key but very "cool", great ambiance, good food and beer selections. Next time you're there, be adventurous and try something besides the burger. You might be surprised.

Hits: duck confit salad, burger, fries, beer selection
Misses: seats are hard to come by, only four white wine selections by glass
Rating: ****

Father's Office
3229 Helms Ave.,
Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 736-2224

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