Thursday, May 08, 2008

Father's Office - Los Angeles, Ca

I'm going to declare the term "gastropub" dead.

Maybe there was a time where the idea of a casual establishment with a haute cuisine take on American/British bar food was innovative and rare.

That time has long passed. Just because you sell $7 pints of beer and are known for having "a great burger" doesn't make you something distinctive. It means you're a pub that has (gasp!) GOOD FOOD!

In fact, the basic premise of delicious well-made food in a casual atmosphere with copious amounts of alcohol is something that only the British or Americans would have to separately classify. Apparently in the Anglophonic world you either eat trash or you put on your smoking jacket and head out to spend 100 pounds sterling on an eight course tasting menu. God forbid you find someplace CASUAL that doesn't compromise on quality.

You know what? Most of the rest of the world calls that "dining." Cf. tapas, izakaya, brasserie, trattoria, meze, et al.

That being said, Father's Office was pretty damn good.

I'll be the first to declare that I like ordering at the counter. I think it's a nice streamlined way of operating. But when you combine that with a crowded scene-y spot like Father's Office the result is, at least for now, some degree of confusion.

The basic course of an evening at Father's Office: stand in line for a while (we didn't, we got there early). Enter, finally. Gaze around in confusion for a while. Finally find a table in the corner. Find out that table is reserved by one petite Armenian girl and her hand bag. Convince three other parties to reconfigure themselves so as to allow you four adjacent seats. Sit. Realize no food is coming. Right! Order at the counter! Find a menu. Decide what you want. Realize as you walk to the bar that there are also a bunch of specials. Damn. Change mind. Approach bar. Be served surprisingly quickly. Order a $7 beer and your food. Return to seat with little Carl's Jr.-esque plastic number. The food comes very quickly, thanks to a very limited menu driven heavily by burgers and the now-ubiquitous sweet potato fries.

While I'm declaring the word "gastropub" dead, I'm also going to declare "$4 pints of beer" dead, at least in Los Angeles. Ah well. It was bound to happen.

The beer selection at Father's Office is excellent. My only complaint is that it's not clear on the menu which of the many beers are draft and which are bottle. Order what you see from the wall of taps or risk spending a lot of money on a bottle of beer that you could track down at BevMo easily enough.

My duck confit salad, one of that day's specials, was great. Good fresh greens and a whole confit duck leg. I was expecting a smattering of pulled duck meat, especially given the incredibly reasonable $12 price tag. But nope, I got a whole crispy, juicy, fall-off-the-bone tender duck leg. Brother Noah and I also shared an order of grilled asparagus with hardboiled egg and serrano ham (rockin') and an order of the sweet potato fries which were also excellent. Perhaps the best I've had so far. Sweet potatoes, because of their higher sugar content, have a tendency to overly-brown on the outside while still remaining soft and undercooked. Through some mix of par-frying/blanching/black magic the Father's Office sweet potato fries are crisp, not burnt, and fully cooked.

The meal was great and the vibe's not too bad. I'd recommend going during off times because trying to mix a place that crowded with trying to actually enjoy food is just not worth it. Hit it up early for dinner and a pre-party before heading out to contract chlamydia.

Father's Office. Check it out.

Father's Office
3229 Helms Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90034

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