One of the things that I love about LA is the diverse mix of people. There's a little bit of everything here and I love when I see that come together inside a restaurant. I don't mean in the kitchen or behind the stove, but rather, dining and enjoying a meal or drink together. I experienced this phenomena recently when I went to try the newly opened Gravlax in Culver City.
From the outside, Gravlax looks like a dive bar, but inside it's an eclectic collection of hand painted murals, turned over boxes for chairs, colorfully strewn pillows in different nooks and large steel stools around an L shaped bar. When I arrived, an 80 year old woman in a walker was making her way past a man dressed in denim overalls, enjoying a drink, or many drinks, at the bar. Ok, so maybe it is part dive bar, but you know I'm here for the food.
I learned of the owner and his restaurant while at an artisanal food event last year. I had sampled his homemade gravlax with pickled vegetables and knew I'd make it to his restaurant upon opening. The menu is short and is a Scandinavian/Turkish mix with herring options, a meze plate and house cured vegetables.
The star attraction of gravlax has well cured salmon with a great mix of mustard, dill and cucumbers. You're going to want one of these all to yourself. No sharing.
Smoked trout was another winner with a trio of pickled vegetables, served with the Swedish knackbrod cracker that I'm still not sold on. Cardboard or cracker? You decide.
The herring plate was a dream and took me right back to my time in Sweden...where I ate my weight in herring. There was a spicier pink herring, along with mustard herring, served with potato salad and a nice firm, salty cheese. My only complaint, besides more knackbrod, was that the dish wasn't bigger. Again, no sharing if you like herring.
The meze plate had an addicting, fiery feta and red pepper dip to spread on sliced pita (not pictured). The cucumber garlic yogurt was a bit bland, even despite the garlic, but the dolma was soft and well seasoned. Slices of pastirma, a Turkish air dried meat, were presented alongside salty mixed olives, making for a very appetizing plate. Skip the kale salad which isn't anything special and something you can do just easily at home.
We drank a French Rose, shocker, called PinkPoul. It was heavier than most, but a good balance for our food.
The plates aren't large and you're going to need a few of them to fill up, or you may just want to go for a light bite to meet or even make friends. By the end of our bottle, the older folks had moved out, and younger kids lined the bar while two guys danced on their own to Michael Jackson with extreme enthusiasm. MJ will do that to people, but shortly after, everyone at the bar joined forces and headed to the next spot in this newly emerging, diverse area of Culver City.
12400 W. Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA