Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Akasha - Now Open
Akasha in downtown Culver City opened last night and my friends and I checked it out. The space is huge. Akasha took over the old San Gennaro spot, on the corner of Watseka and Culver Blvd. On the Watseka side, they have a bakery and coffee counter with a large communal bench and old panoramic photos of downtown Culver City. On the Culver Boulevard side is the large dining room and bar. It is a modern, sleek space, while maintaining a comfortable warmth. I particularly liked the glow from the mobiles dangling overhead. We sat at the bar, right in front of the chalkboard wine and cocktail lists.
They have a few house cocktails, made with fresh juices and organic liquors. I tasted the Red Velvet Margarita, made with 4 Copas organic tequila, lime juice, blood orange juice and agave nectar. It was very refreshing and the blood orange juice made for a beautiful appearance. My friend had The Akasha, made with kiwifruit vodka, cucumber juice and Thai basil elixir. It was good - not too sweet, but the foggy mossy color was most unappealing.
For their first night, service was pretty good and the food was well executed. Wait times were appropriate, and employee nerves seemed calm. We enjoyed all the wines we sampled and ordered. Minor quibbles: The bar stools weigh a ton. Forget about dismounting gracefully in front of your date. Service was swift, but the bartender tried to remove our unfinished plate, which I was able to stop her in time, but the other bartender whisked it away when I wasn't looking. If there is still food on the plate, please ask before you take.
We tried some appetizers and sides. My favorite was the wild mushroom and goat cheese tarte with arugula on the side. The crust was thick and flaky. It must have been made with whole wheat flour, which gave it a nice nutty flavor and pleasantly chewy texture.
The onions rings were battered in rice flour, which fries up to a sharp crisp. The highlight was the smoked paprika dipping sauce (which we were trying to deconstruct. Our guess: mayo, mustard, lemon and smoked paprika), which we also requested with our fries. The rings weren't cheap: $7 for six.
Portions were small, which is nice when you want to try many dishes, like we do. They offer a selection of pizzas, and ours was our least favorite item of the night. It had a crisp, thin crust, that was just a bit too hard. It was topped with "Orgonzola" cheese, Quercia prociutto, fig caramelized onions and wild arugula($15). I love all those flavors, but just didn't dig the crust. We still ate it, of course.
The menu boasts their use of local, organic, handcrafted ingredients. It is divided into "small plates" (examples include: mushroom tart, hummus, albacore lettuce wraps) "pizza" (Margherita, slow cooked broccoli, chicken sausage and shiitake with eggplant and squash), "bowls" ( Punjabi mung beans with rice, and red quinoa and edamame), "big plates" (Asian style braised shortribs, South Indian style salmon, organic turkey burger and Heritage pork chop) and "sides" (onion rings, French fries, mac and cheese and roasted curried cauliflower). There were several items on the menu that my pescatarian, dairy-free friend could enjoy and plenty of meat and cheese for the rest of us.
We really enjoyed ourselves last night and I look forward to returning and sampling more of the menu. I am still so excited over downtown Culver City's thriving restaurant scene. We now have such a dense concentration of fine dining establishments all within walking distance of each other. Now, let's get the City to work on the conspicuous lack of taxis...
9543 Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232