Inside Look: Meat Paradise Cannibal Opens in L.A.

Take a peek at Culver City’s new butchery-focused restaurant
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We were pretty excited when we heard that Christian Pappanicholas and Cory Lane were planning an L.A. outpost of The Cannibal, their New York beer and butchery destination, at Culver City’s new Platform complex. After a long wait (it was originally slated to open in the fall), and a teaser opening of its butcher shop last week, the full restaurant makes its official debut tonight. Even if you’ve been to the original, there are plenty of reasons to think that our version will be even better. Here’s why.

The Cannibal is at The Platform in Culver City
The Cannibal is at the trendy new Platform complex in Culver City.

Photograph by Valentina Silva

This Space Is Way Bigger
The place is gigantic compared to the original digs. Diners enter through the butcher shop, which sells lamb sausages, marrow bones, country ham, pork shoulder, and other fancy meats from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. It also functions as a deli with a menu of sandwiches and salads, plus snacks and pantry goods, from Heinz Ketchup and Pocky Sticks to Sqirl jams and the Cannibal’s own jerky and pork rinds.

The deli is stocked with snacks
The deli is stocked with protein-packed snacks.

Photograph by Valentina Silva

Bike supplies get their own space in the deli
Just in case you need some bike chain lube with your pork rinds, the deli stocks cycling gear, too.

Photograph by Valentina Silva

Along with food, the shop stocks bike supplies, like chain lube and branded water bottles, for the cycle set they hope to attract—the free beer you get if you ride over will probably be a good incentive, too. It’s only right that they should get these perks as the restaurant’s name is a double-entendre tribute to Belgian Grand Tour cyclist Eddy Merckx, nicknamed “The Cannibal.”

More seating indoors and out.
More seating indoors and out.

Photograph by Valentina Silva

The restaurant itself isn’t overly stylized or stuffy—cement walls and wood tables keep it stylish, minus the frills. There are two, four-tops, and a few communal tables along with patio seating that looks out onto Washington Boulevard and the Expo line. (Go ahead and have that third beer—the train conveniently stops at the Cannibal’s front door.) A full bar anchors the dining room and a semi-open kitchen allows for a peek at the action.

The menu, yay!
The menu, yay!

Photograph by Valentina Silva

We Have Even More Meat
As with the spot back east, charcuterie is a centerpiece, with terrines (including an intriguing cochinita pibil  pig head), pates, and cured meats splayed out on wooden boards. But for the L.A. menu, Derby has made a few additions. There’s a burger topped with a harissa-spiced onion soubise and provolone that the chef is excited about and a Flinstones-esque grilled short rib for two (possibly three).

TheCannibal_Charcuterie
Trust us, get the charcuterie.

Photograph by Valentina Silva

TheCannibal_ShortRib
The Grilled Short Rib is huge, but it’s mean for two. It could probably feed three.

Photograph by Valentina Silva

So much specialty meat
So much specialty meat.

Photograph by Valentina Silva

The Kitchen Has More Toys
In New York, the cooks do what they can in a small space, working magic with panini presses and Easy Bake ovens. But thanks to Culver City’s expansive new kitchen,  the food here will actually touch flames.

“We are able to cook with a range of different techniques from grilling, to roasting and frying,” explains Derby. “The grill brings char and smoke to dishes that we would normally roast in a pan. While both techniques are great, this is a new thing for us, and we are finding new ways to bring out new flavors every day.”

The fryer—also an L.A. exclusive—opens the door for chicken parmesan sausage that’s breaded, fried and served with tomato conserva and burrata. “We are just getting used to having all these tools to work with,” says Derby, “So there’s much more we will be doing as we cook in the coming months.”

The Dandelion salad with wax beans and dijon onions
The Dandelion salad sports wax beans and dijon onions.

Photograph by Valentina Silva

California Produce—Enough Said
While the menu is most definitely meat-centric, California’s influence is obvious on the equally impressive veggie selection. You’ll find snap peas with dill aioli and crispy fingerling potatoes and a vibrant dandelion and wax bean salad dressed with dijon-marinated onions. Plums get play in a tomato salad and as a sweet topper on the green-hued and impossibly smooth Chicken Matcha Mousse

The influx of fruit and vegetables has been a little overwhelming, Derby admits, but he says it’s beginning to alter his perspective a bit.  “I had a peach so sweet and juicy yesterday that made my head spin, and it’s May!” he says. “I can see my approach to cooking vegetables starting to change—it’s becoming about less manipulation of the product and letting the product just be what it is. Our approach to vegetables on the menu is to serve it either raw or grilled or fried, accompanied by a sauce that supports it and lets it shine on its own.”

TheCannibal_Chips
Bar snacks, like the Cacio e Pepe chips, are dangerously addictive.

Photograph by Valentina Silva

The Everything Pretzel is actually everything, so is the chunky scallion cream cheese it comes with
The Everything Pretzel is actually everything, so is the chunky scallion cream cheese it comes with.

Photograph by Valentina Silva

500-Plus Beers
The team hopes to bring the neighborhood feel of the New York locations to Culver City. The bar could go a long way in that regard. The goal is to get Angelenos to squeeze in and stand shoulder to shoulder while sipping draft cocktails and brews from a 500-plus beer list. Ten beers will rotate on the tap, which is kept in ship-shape order by a futuristic draft system they call the Flux Capacitor. Bar snacks like pork rinds, addictive (no, seriously) Cacio e Pepe chips, and skewers (think fresh pancetta and marinated brisket) go awfully well with the La Chouffe.

Some cocktails come on tap
A few cocktails, like the beer, spew from taps.

Photograph by Valentina Silva

There are more than 500 beers available.
There are more than 500 beers available.

“My hope is that people will enjoy what we are bringing from New York to L.A., and there won’t be much of a difference,” says Derby. “From the people we have met so far that have dined with us, it seems that most are just excited for something new and different in the neighborhood, which is the best response we could ask for.”

You've got a lot of things going for you Cannibal, but chalkboard humor is not one of them.
You’ve got a lot of things going for you Cannibal, but chalkboard humor is not one of them.

Get a feel for it, and check out our full photo gallery:

 

The Cannibal, 8850 Washington Blvd, Culver City; 310.838.2783

 

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