Saturday, November 5, 2011

Where to Eat: Lunch and Dinner @ A-Frame, Culver City

A-Frame to me, represents a fusion of not just Asian and American foods, but of new trends and traditions, of old and new, of excitement and low-key vibes.

One step into the restaurant, and you’ll understand precisely what I’m talking about. Housed in a former IHOP, A-Frame didn’t simply tear everything down to start afresh. Instead, it kept the space and even the signature slanted IHOP roof and transformed them into something completely different: an organic, earthy space with modern fixtures, lots of large windows to let in natural sunlight and lots of walls paneled with striking blond wood.

And that’s just the inside.

The outdoor patio is rather ruggedly chic, with tables hidden amongst shrubs and a long table that sits underneath these colorful, indescribable, larger-than-life light shades.

Wherever you end up, inside or out, be prepared to feast not just with the folks you walked in with, but also with everyone else who decided to dine at A-Frame that day. Communal tables are the norm here, and as much as dining at the same table with strangers might seem slightly intimate, after the tenth time you’ve unconsciously bumped shoulders with the guy who keeps inadvertently kicking your leg, you start to feel a connection with everyone, as if you actually know them.

But let’s move on to the good stuff: A-Frame’s food.

As much as I honestly don’t understand many parts of the menu (I have nooo idea what a “century” egg is compared to a regular egg in my favorite entree, the Cracklin Beer Can Chicken), I thoroughly enjoy reading the titles and descriptions, like the “Chu-Don’t-Know-Mang” churros, chocolate milk and ice cream combo dessert (pictured below) and the “Thick Ass Ice Cream Sandwiches.” I mean, I haven’t been to many restaurants where I can freely curse at my server when ordering without getting back a few sideways stares, if not some jabs.

But as fun as it is to muse over the menu, there’s even more fun once the food appears. Presentation reigns king at A-Frame, so even before digging in, there’s much to admire. Vibrantly colorful entrees and appetizers are set on distinct, one-of-a-kind plates and bowls. Menu options cater to many tastes and appetite sizes as well. For example, if you’re watching the calories, there are entrees such as the Baja Fish Tacos pictured below. 

Or, if you’re like me and say to hell with all of the calorie-counting madness, then there are many fabulous goodies: the widely popular Cracklin Beer Can Chicken pictured below, the Knuckle Sandwich with oxtails, the monstrous Double Cheeseburger with a fried egg, and the list goes on and on.

A-Frame’s dishes are similar to its ambiance; they’re meant to be shared, so order a few different entrees and don’t be bashful when it comes to reaching for one of your friend’s Kitchen Fries (pictured below). The food is also meant to be eaten with fingers, not forks...albeit, should you not want to mess up that fresh new manicure, bright yellow buckets of utensils are strategically placed on all of the tables.

As much as the food intrigues me, I can't fail to mention A-Frame’s cocktail program. In my personal opinion, bartenders manage to find that delicate balance between just the right amount of alcohol and the right amount of flavorful ingredients. Each little libation has its own personality, arriving in its own special cup, with its own special style. I’m fond of the Mai Tai (pictured below), which is strong, and of the Ramos Fizz, which is light, sweet and…well…fizzy.

It’s hard to believe that yesterday officially marked this restaurant’s one-year anniversary, because there’s something about A-Frame that makes it feel so settled into the neighborhood, as though it’s possessively claimed that lot of land right there on Washington Blvd. for ages. But I guess that’s just another one of those inexplicable quirks that makes A-Frame so unique and refreshingly fascinating.

So the next time you’re looking for a fun “off the beaten path” dining experience and really, really good food, I say you head over to A-Frame. See you there soon!

Miss Wilson’s Tips (So you know “What’s Up” When You Go):

- Weekend lunches and dinners, weekday dinners.

- Sorry, no reservations here.

- I’ve never tried it, but I would imagine that it could be a bit of a challenge to hold a large dinner here due to the communal table set-up. Instead, I’d recommend A-Frame for a date spot (I’ve seen many couples here) or for a group of four to six people.

- Fun fact: A-Frame is the brainchild of celeb chef Roy Choi. If you don’t know his name, you probably know his truck: he started the Kogi Truck, which in turn, started the whole fanatical LA food truck movement.

- I must give shoutouts when shoutouts are due: fellow blogger The Minty first introduced me to A-Frame when she suggested we go here for dinner this past spring. I’ve been hooked (clearly) ever since!

For more information:
12565 Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066

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