Ben Ford is a really nice guy. We saw him on Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. Loved the bit on the whole suckling pig “comfit” (entire pig was on the stove in a pot of duck fat). Homemade head cheese also looked great.
Up until now, we had not yet made it to Ford’s Filling Station. I work in Culver City so it is certainly convenient, but reviews have been so-so. Well, after seeing that episode we had to check it out.
I was glad I did. We ran into Ben as we walked in, and effusively complimented him (e.g. sucked up) on his appearance on the show. He came by after we were seated (great outdoor seating on the patio, btw) and passionately described his hand-crafted Artisanal Charcuterie options. We had to order the head cheese of course, and he agreed to make us up a nice platter of his favorites of the night, including at least one ham that was not even on the menu.
The large plate included about 5 varieties of meat/ham, and was accompanied with some nice crusty bread brushed with olive oil, and some home-made olives that were a nice accent.
Each was better than the next. Our favorite was of course the head cheese, which actually was much more milder in flavor than expected. (For those who do not know, head cheese is a kind of salumi made from the tender meat from the pig’s head (in aspic). It does not actually contain cheese; that is more of, well, a reference to texture and appearance.) It did come in thin slices, but the texture was soft, more like a pate than a salami. But it was not excessively rich/fatty like a pate. And it tasted much less “porky” than even mild hams like Prosciutto. It also did not taste smoky or cured.
Other highlights of the meal included an entrée of Kobe beef cheeks that were incredibly succulent and accented by the perfect red wine reduction that was delightfully NOT sweet, unlike what we typically get with that type of dish at other restaurants. We are not vegetarians (duh) but also opted for the polenta cake topped with Mascarpone. Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, great richness and bite of the cheese. Wow. We also shared an order homemade potato chips…warm, crispy, a bit soft in the middle…happy food.
Dessert was most impressive. A “banana split” for grownups, it included several flavors of home made ice cream (one being Toblerone) and the banana itself was sugared and bruleed. Elegance and comfort food, all in one.
Ben came by a few times throughout the meal to see how we were enjoying everything, and we shared some great conversation with him. We were enamored by his passion, his knowledge of the ingredients, his genuine love for what he is doing. We really enjoyed his company. One amusing anecdote worth mentioning is the table across from us contained a horribly screechy child. The screeches were punctuating a number of Ben’s comments and he finally turned and looked for the source and mumbled to us “Is that noise really coming from my restaurant?” (A reasonable question as the offending creature was stuffed in the middle of five adults and was not clearly visible. The patio is dark and adjoins patios from other neighboring restaurants.) We were quite amused and bonded on the spot.
We also had a great waiter who was extremely knowledgeable on both the food and the wine, and was able to assist us with wine pairings in a very insightful and thoughtful manner.
I know this restaurant received neutral to not so good reviews when they first opened. I think it has really grown since then, and I do recommend it.
MMMM. – Charcuterie. See the head cheese on the bottom left…
Ford’s Filling Station
9531 Culver Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232