Benjamin Ford’s gastropub—good food, mod setting—is up and running. The space is relatively small and so far SRO, so don’t count on those reservations being honored. The menu’s casual with a foodie nod: all sorts of salume, beautiful steak tartare with a poached egg at its center, flatiron steak with spinach soufflé, Lake Superior whitefish with fennel mashed potatoes, flourless chocolate cake, and a mean margatini that’s blue but not girly.
Best Fish-and-Chips, October 2007
L.A. may be home to the world’s largest number of British expats, but the accolade for the best fish-and-chips goes to a Yank. Ben Ford at Ford’s Filling Station coats seasonal fillets like Pacific sole and Atlantic cod (occasionally throwing in a shrimp for fun) with a rice-flour batter that becomes a light and crisp coating. The chips? Fried Idaho or russet wedges sprinkled with kosher salt that pop in your mouth and come with the house Oo-ee Sauce, a garlicky tartar. The only thing that would make this dish more authentic would be a Daily Mail newspaper cradle.
Best Polenta, October 2006
Perhaps only fine cooking can render something crunchy and pliant at the same time. The golden crust of the polenta cake at Ford’s Filling Station , which barely contains the creamy insides, defines just such a generous and paradoxical state. In many preparations, polenta is but a conveyance for more intense flavors, a culinary doormat. In chef Ben Ford’s rendition the elements are stacked to maximum effect. Blistered tomatoes sit above sautéed chanterelles; a dollop of mascarpone envelops spoon-soft pearl onions. This is a vegetarian dish with the soul of an ice cream sundae.