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Dec 12, 2008 05:35 AM

The Curious Palate - Mar Vista

My wife was passing by last night and noticed movement. Pulled over and they are semi-open. Not fully stocked yet. She grabbed a to go menu and a small container of mac and cheese to go. About a 6-8 oz paper cup for $3.75.

Weird, I'm looking at the menu now and its listed for $4.95. Don't know why the difference. Anyway, menu description of the dish is Roth Kase Gruyere Surchoix goat cheese from Sierra Nevade & a cheese of the day, topped with homemade breadcrumbs. I got home late last night and didn't get too much of a description from her. I'm sure she didn't appreciate me keeping her up asking about food. The sacrifices one makes for trying to be a good hound.

My wife thought it was rich and creamy but not overly so, she mentioned liking the gruyere but didn't mention any other cheese. I guess it's a good sign she didn't bother saving any for me? Then again she may have just been hungry.

She said she talked to two owners briefly and they are trying to follow the farm to table philosophy. Menu is a mix of soups, salads, a couple of main dishes and sides. Prices for sandwiches run from $8-10. Salads $10-11. A little disclaimer on the bottom that says "details of our menu depend on what our farmers, fishmongers and butchers have today" The blackboard or online menu is supposed to have daily main and side dish specials.

I looked online and there's only the logo up right now. Anyway, something to keep an eye on. Hours are Tue-Sun 10-8. We may try to stop by this Sunday during our farmer's market visit and see if there's any progress.

Any local CH hounds want to join up for a small informal meet this Sunday at the market before going over to the restaurant? It's short notice but I thought I'd give it a shot. I've placed my email in my profile.

Here's the website for future reference

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  1. Jase, the website has no content so do you have a location to share?

    I did find a mention of the approximet location on the Mar Vista farmers market web page saying Venice Blvd. just east of Grandview (N or S side of the street?).

    1 Reply
    1. re: Servorg

      Whoops, sorry. Pre coffee this morning on the post. South Side of Venice. In the old Taqueria Chihuahua location. Easy walking distance from the farmer's market.

    2. We visited last sunday in hopes to get some grub for the game... but they still were getting up... SO we just left with some sodas, some chocolate and a pickle... The pickle was EXCELLENT... and we both are Pickle monsters! :DD

      Sadly this Sunday is looking a little wonky for us, so I don't think we can pin point an exact time on when or if we're going to the farmer's market. But do report back on what you'll find! :)


      1. I tried it for lunch today and had an excellent house-made pickle and a very nice pastrami on rye with a beer whole grain mustard--not going to replace Langer's for pastrami but, particularly as they start filling in the menu, this is going to be a terrific addition to the neighborhood.

        1. My wife and I walked over there yesterday after our usual farmer's market trip. Small crowd of people who were well, curious. Unfortunately many of them had strollers and inside that confined space, its a challenge to maneuver. Something to be aware of if stopping by during the farmers market.

          We decided to split the meatloaf burger, a small mac and cheese and a cup of the curried squash soup. Pay at the counter and get a stand with a number to take to a table where they'll deliver your food.

          Food arrived very promptly. Unfortunately it was uneven. The bread for the sandwich was chewy with a good crust that didn't cut your mouth. One leaf of lettuce and a slice of meatloaf. So far so good. But biting into it I found it was slathered with mayo, to the point where it overwhelmed the sandwich and I didn't taste much else. No mention of mayo in the menu description and my wife and I love mayo. The meatloaf according to the menu is a mix of beef, veal and pork seasoned with real anchovies and glazed with a sweet tomato onion jam. I took the sandwich apart and nibbled on the meat by itself. I found it underseasoned and no trace of the tomato onion jam. Even my wife who thinks I tend to season on the aggressive side thought the meat needed more salt. But it was definitely very juicy and good texture.

          The mac and cheese I thought was good but could have stood just a bit more browning. The crumbs on top didn't seem that crispy and were more tan instead of golden brown. Overall, I also thought this dish could have used a bit more salt.

          The curry squash soup was thickened with coconut milk, which I love, rich and hearty perfect for this cold blustery weather. However, I didn't taste a lot of squash flavor. The curry was the predominant flavor. Maybe it was my expectations, I was thinking squash soup with a note of curry instead of a mainly cream of curry with very faint squash. It was more akin to the sauce from a curry dish. Which was fine by me, it still tasted good.

          Overall, you could tell they try to use top quality ingredients as befitting their philosophy of using farm fresh ingredients straight to the table. The prices seemed reasonable for quality and portions. We definitely want to try them again and am just hoping the seasoning issue is an aberration.

          It's definitely a welcome addition to the neighborhood. They have a small amount of non standard cheeses and cured meats in the case. Also various gourmet foodstuffs and chocolates.

          They look like they're trying to come across as a casual neighborhood place that just happens to serve high quality food at a reasonable price. For that I have to root them on. Unfortunately if the party next to us is any indication, it could be an uphill battle. It was a family who earlier had raved about being glad that there was finally a place serving nice food in the neighborhood. They proceeded to order the grilled cheese and mac and cheese for the two kids. After the food was delivered, they complained to the waitress that the kids didn't like the food. Asked if both dishes were always made with “weird” cheese. Did they ever make something with regular cheese? The waitress was very nice and tried to explain that they normally only had the various gourmet cheeses but next time if they asked before they ordered, they would be happy to see what kind of cheeses they had on hand and make the grilled cheese sandwich with whatever was available. Waitress left and came back to inform them that there was regular mozzarella available that day and would they like that instead.

          At this point we had finished and decided to leave before my head exploded. The menu clearly spelled out what type of cheeses was used for the two dishes. It would be horrible if this place had to start dumbing down the menu and raising prices to cover replacing dishes for clueless customers like this.

          Anyway, we're going to hit this place again and try some other dishes.

          5 Replies
            1. re: Jase

              I've been there a number of times because I work in Culver City. While they have made a couple of mistakes on my order (for some reason they keep leaving the bacon off the egg salad), the people working there are very friendly and very knowledgeable about food. I really like the egg salad, the meatloaf is very good too. I wish they had a couple of more options with sides, but the pickles are great. I wouldn't say things were "under seasoned" , but I think they are trying to let the natural flavors come out. For example, the egg salad has a nice natural "egg" flavor.

              I like the fact that is is also a nice food shop too. I don't eat a lot of cheese, but the cold cuts and cheese in the case look great.

              For dessert I had a small chocolate bar with orange and cardamon and it was fantastic. Only 40 cents and a perfect bit of quality chocolate.

              1. re: bsquared2

                I just finished the last of the same chocolate bar on friday - I think that's the one made in - Scotland? Great chocolate has no boundaries...

                1. re: bsquared2

                  Tried the egg salad sandwich with guanciale bits and was really impressed! Much lighter than egg salad with bacon might sound.

                  1. re: a_and_w

                    Come to think of it, I don't know if anyone has mentioned this on the long-running "Best Sandwich" post, but it belongs there as well...

              2. We finally had a chance to have a proper lunch there two weekends ago and oveall were very pleased... we ordered...

                The Meatloaf Sandwich - The first thing that needs to be said about their sandwiches is that their bread is OUTSTANDING. Crusty and yet soft. Very flavorful. I like it better than Bay Cities Bread...

                That being said, the bread outshines the inside of the sandwich. The meatloaf was good... well cooked, flavorful, but delicate, so it did not stand a chance against the bread. It had a type of tomato mayo... but even that got overshadowed. They need to add a little more assertive taste into the sandwich.

                As a side we had the Tortilla soup... now I see where Jase got his undersalted impression. I am VERY sensitive to salt, I tend to like things without much of it... but this soup needed. It was tasty... but flat. I had a much better version (as in more balanced and very multi-dimensional) at Panera of all places recently. So it was little bit of dispointment....

                Luckily it got better...

                We also ordered the house special Italian Sandwich. Now, this is not like any other italian sandwich in the area.... it was full of their speciality salumi and had this dressing on it which was out of this world. I still love my Godmother, but this a completely different beast, so I loved this too... This sandwich also highlighted their wonderful bread. The flavors of the Salami really shouted past it which helped you appreciate even more the taste and texture of the sandwich as a whole.

                For this dish, we got a side of their Mac and Cheese (I would not resist!!) and it was very good... and it came with a crumb topping! YUM!!

                We look forward to more take out options and specials as they continue to grow! :D


                6 Replies
                1. re: Dommy

                  Glad you finally got to try a full meal there. I love italian sandwiches and will have to give it a shot.

                  Not to beat a dead horse or pour more salt onto an already scorched topic (heh), but have you tried the potato latke's they had at the Farmer's Market stand a couple of week's ago? Curious about your take on their seasoning.

                  We got a couple of orders, completely out of the blue my wife said, this needs salt. She also doesn't care for a lot of salt. I was cracking up when she said that and immediately thought of this thread.

                  1. re: Jase

                    Argh!! We missed the farmer's market for the last couple of weeks an would have LOVED to try the Latkes... Ah well...


                    1. re: Dommy

                      wait just a second which farmer's market doles out Latkes? Oh, man, that sounds awesome.

                      also, is the meatloaf sandwich turkey, beef, or pork or what?

                      Lastly, is the mac n cheese a pungent gourmet type or the standard stuff.???


                      1. re: kevin

                        This would have been the Mar Vista market, I was not there this supposed day, but we go there almost every week...

                        The meatloaf is beef... it's very tender

                        The mac and cheese is nothing too gourmand (no truffle, blue or anything too off base! :P) but it has a nice flavor and even better crust.


                        1. re: Dommy

                          as long as it's not pungent, i'll also try that mac n cheese, will ask when i visit.

                          the menu sounds a little bit clementine-y.

                          1. re: kevin

                            It is (Which is great because I love Clementine) but without the selection and a LITTLE more focus on cooking actual dishes. As mentioned, they have cuban pork and other whole meal dishes available.