Theme restaurants can be pretty cheesy. But when they’re done right, they can be quite catchy. The only problem is that many theme restaurants spend more time on the characteristics of the idea than experimenting with the food. But the school-themed restaurant Public School 310 in Los Angeles manages to pull off a well-executed theme without making diners feel like the dumb kid in class while still serving really delicious food in the process.
Located in the heart of Culver City, the new-ish restaurant was bustling with business people when I dropped by for lunch with my cousin Julie and her friend Carol during my recent trip to Los Angeles. The menus are disguised as composition notepads and clipboards while the drink napkins look like lined note paper. The lunch menu features sandwiches and burgers with traditional items like rubens spiced up with salmon and hot dogs on a lobster rolls; trendy salads starring kale, farro and quinoa; and entree plates of fish and chips, roasted poblano and salmon. Don’t worry :: the menu doesn’t have themed names for all its dishes, which would be torturous overkill. It does place a large emphasis on beer and wine (which tickles my Utah-born heart, especially on a lunch menu).
We started off with the Mezze Plate ($8), a platter of assorted dips and pita bread, and a bottle of Pomar Junction Viognier wine ($27) from Santa Barbara–where we’d just visited. The Mezze Plate came with hummus topped with a bit of parmesan cheese (a surprisingly delicious addition), baba ghanoush, tomato tapanade, crunchy fried chick peas (which were absolutely awesome) and marinated feta.
Being in a meaty mood (as I often am), I picked the Colorado Lamb Burger ($14) that arrived dressed with the slightest hint of tomato cranberry jam (perfect), a bunch of arugula and lots of tangy, melty brie (superb). The brie was such a great addition to the spicy lamb not only in taste but texture, especially when it contrasted with the bitter, slightly crunchiness of the arugula. The fries, classically crunchy and salty, came in a cute brown bag.
Julie ordered the Farro and Brussel Salad with Roasted Chicken ($14). The Brussel sprout leaves, stripped into single-leaf form, were mixed alongside farro, butternut squash, cranberries, pecans, tomatoes and chicken in a curry vinaigrette. Julie reported that it was a uniquely delicious rendition of a salad.
Public School 310 plays well with its theme, has great food and a energetic atmosphere, all deserving of an A grade.
Go to Public School 310 for :: the creative dishes and extensive drink list. Notes :: Happy Hour (called “recess”) features $4, $5 and $6 specials on Monday through Friday from 4-7 pm. Reservations are available online on their website.