Baskets of red apples, notebook-style menus, lined napkins and shelves stacked with encyclopedias and globes are just some of the items you’ll be “schooled” in when you walk into Public School 310 on the corner of Main Street and Culver Boulevard in Downtown Culver City.
The much-anticipated gastropub, which has taken over the space formerly occupied by Fraiche, is the brainchild of Bob Spivak, probably best known as one of the founding directors for Grill Concepts, and the 20 Daily Grill restaurants he operates in Southern and Northern California, Washington, D.C., Texas, Portland, Seattle and Tulsa. That’s not including his other well-known restaurant - The Grill on the Alley – with operations in Beverly Hills, San Jose, Chicago, Hollywood, Dallas, Westlake Village, CA and Aventura, FL.
With Public School, Spivak has attempted to recreate the British gastropub, serving up food and beer pairings in a sleek wood and chrome space, with a shiny bar area, artfully separated from the dining section via see-through bookcases stacked with the abovementioned school supplies.
Spivak was on hand to talk to a small group of press Thursday night, who were invited to taste some of the food and drink that will be on offer when PS 310 opens its doors to the public on Mon. Dec. 10. He told the guests that he believes the restaurant represents an authentic, British gastropub.
“My son, Jason, lived in London 15 years ago,” he said. “And whenever my wife and I went to visit him he would always take us to the local pub, which was a gastropub.” Spivak defined a gastropub as one which had been taken over by “real” chefs who “threw out the bangers and mash and started bringing in real, chef-driven food.”
Chef Phil Kastel, who is already vice president of culinary for Grill Concepts and oversees The Grill on the Alley and Daily Grill, is also in charge of the food at Public School. Kastel took great delight in serving up dishes throughout the evening and making sure everyone was taken care of (even the Patch vegetarian).
Diners were introduced to a huge array of menu items including deviled eggs and crispy speck (see video description from Chef Kastel); bacon cheddar tater tots with sriracha ketchup, which all the meat eaters deemed divine, and cauliflower gratin made with Emmental cheese (and more crispy speck) served alongside a dry, prime aged, sliced New York strip steak.
A Colorado lamb burger with arugula and Brie was served with tomato cranberry jam with a choice of sides – red Quinoa or French fries with sriracha ketchup (both excellent) – as was a Tuscan chopped salad. This was followed by a jidori brick chicken and white bean ragout.
The vegetarian main dish was a roasted Poblano pepper stuffed with black beans, squash and mozzarella with an original side of cilantro-lime rice.Very filling and delicious with a great, spicy kick. There was also a hearty Farro and Brussels sprouts salad with cranberries and pecans.
However, diners agreed that the best dish on the menu was the Dragoons Irish stout short rib with the horseradish Yukon mash. "Heavenly" was the word one patron used.
Resident beer expert Tate Kline – who got his start under Hallie Beaune of BeerChicks fame and honed his chops at Wurstkuche in Venice - paired each dish with a unique beer. He also serves up delicious cocktails and a fair assortment of wines. We tried the potent ‘The Shrub’, with tangerine, Templeton rye and sprig of palate-cleansing rosemary.
Kline has created 24 on tap beers including 14 rotating taps, and even served beer pairings with dessert. And in the dessert department, if you’re looking for something rich and decadent, go straight to the chocolate stout brownie drowned in caramel ale sauce with vanilla ice cream. To cleanse your palate, the lemon meringue pie – served in a glass jar - is light, airy and fluffy and with a surprise at the bottom in the form of a pecan graham cracker crust.
Happy Hour at PS 310 is called recess and will run from 4-7 p.m. at the bar, but if the team at PS 310 maintains its high standards of food, drink and service, then this is one place where everyone will be happy if school is in all the time.
Click on the PDF's to the right to see PS 310's lunch, recess and dinner menus.