Get Schooled in Craft Beer at Los Angeles’ Public School
“We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that's all.” — Andrew in The Breakfast Club
Whether you recall your high school experience as your glory days or spent all four years an awkward outcast, it's not tough to appreciate Public School's stroll-down-memory-lane theme. From the happy hour called “Recess” to the Mead composition notebook-inspired menu design, everything is reminiscent of your average American high school.
Is Public School a chain restaurant? Considering it's owned by Grill Concepts (Daily Grill and the Grill On The Alley) with physical headquarters in Woodland Hills, California, and they have four different restaurants with over 30 locations, I think it's safe to place Public School in this category.
However, unlike a lot of chain restaurants in the U.S., Public School is chef-driven, serving locally sourced items and pouring craft beers. This is not a Chili's or a T.G.I Friday's; this is a genuine gastropub you could even visit with your self-proclaimed “foodie” friend.
Public School (or PS310, as they call it) sits on the corner of Main Street and Culver Boulevard in Culver City, California. At this moment, Culver Boulevard is overloaded with fast-casual spots (no table service) and many spots that duplicate themes (we needed another pizza spot?). But PS310 has been consistently mixing up their menu by season and providing an atmosphere that is casual but not schleppy.
“Today's Curriculum,” aka the beer, cocktail, and wine menu, features plentiful options. Most of the cocktails are modern versions of classic cocktails. My pal sipped on the Crushed Velvet, which combines Tito's vodka, blackberries, blueberries, lavender simple syrup, and ginger beer for a fun and floral take on a Moscow mule. It even comes in the traditional copper mug. I got the Sage Advice, their take on an aviator with Junipero gin, crème de violette, sage, grapefruit, and lemon peel. It reminded me of a liquid version of the crème de violette candies I ate as a kid.
PS310 is known for its Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower, battered then fried cauliflower florets, served with buffalo sauce and a blue cheese aïoli. Every time I've had them, they've come out perfectly crisp, a little salty, and ready to smother in blue cheese aïoli. As much as I love chicken wings, noshing on these makes me feel slightly less guilty about what I'm eating.
I had always wanted to try the chorizo mac and finally have. My mom added broccoli to my mac and cheese when I was growing up, so it's fun to have a more adult version of that childhood dinner. This version is served with Emmental (a Swiss cheese), kale, and mildly spiced chorizo and is topped with crunchy salt-and-vinegar chips. This grown-up version of an ooey-gooey treat will bring out the kid in you.
Courtesy of Public School
For our entrees, we decided (after a long conversation about working out) to try one grown-up “responsible dish” and one kid-friendly “let's go crazy” dish. Our more decadent choice was the fried Jidori chicken and green chili cornbread waffles. As you can see from the images, it's smothered in aged cheddar, bacon red-eye gravy, Louisiana hot sauce and maple syrup. This dish is so Southern, you'll be singing “Sweet Home Alabama” after one bite. It's fun to share with a group, since it's so rich.
The pan-seared salmon with harissa vinaigrette — served with zucchini, asparagus, orange supremes, and an herb salad — was not only our “responsible” choice, it was also my favorite dish all around. Salmon isn't a fish I order much when dining out. Nearly every time I order it, the restaurant fails to get the temperature right, hence my hesitation. But, PS310 nails its pan-seared salmon preparation! It's crispy and savory on the outside, tender and moist on the inside. The harissa vinaigrette adds a lovely tangy flavor to the dish and the fresh veggies maintained a crunch. I was all around blown away with the flavors of this dish, and I'm already craving it again.
Public School will always be one of my favorite spots in Culver City. One fun thing I found through my research is that Grill Concepts has an Inside Loyalty Club Membership and new members receive an instant $25 off reward for joining (and a $25 off birthday reward)! So if you're close to one of their many locations, I recommend looking into it.
Public School welcomes all students. Whether you're “an athlete... a basket case... a princess... [or] a criminal” (I can't resist a Breakfast Club reference!) you can get your extracurricular studies done here.