900 West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90015
Near LA Live there are plenty of places to get a drink before or after a show or movie. Chef Ben Ford, son of the actor Harrison Ford, has created a restaurant and bar that focuses on farm based cooking. Everything on the menu has an earthy feel to it; a deliberate contradiction to the packaged, processed foods that are sold in so many restaurants today and labeled “homemade.” But what makes this place unique from other restaurants that have been built on a similar concept is that the restaurant’s concepts have been successfully transitioned to the cocktail and bar menu. Every drink brings the farm to the city with options like the Red Leader: a vodka cocktail shaken with pickled beet and beet shrub. This is a sweet, easy-to-drink cocktail that is surprisingly refreshing and not at all sour as you may expect. Another unique item to try is the Farmer’s Fizz – a drink that blends liquor and beer and then served in a champagne flute. The liquor is a blend of gin and Suze which is a bitter liqueur flavored with the roots of gentian. If that plant isn’t familiar to you, you aren’t alone. The plant has piercing blue flowers like a morning glory and produces a sweet, fragrant liquor that is rarely found outside of France (and even there it’s not terribly common).
Once you have decided which drink to try, turn towards the small bites menu which though limited is sure to have something that piques your interest. The bacon wrapped dates are the best version of this dish to be served anywhere. The chickpea tartine is made with green chickpeas; a taste most people probably have never encountered. With the proliferation of hummus, falafel, and other chickpea products commonly sold today, most are made with canned or dried white chickpeas. The green chickpeas in this dish are similar in color to a pea and are served both mashed and whole on toasted bread with sprouts and pickled onion. One bite and you will realize that not every chickpea need be pulverized and made into a dip.
Aside from the bar there is a full restaurant serving breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. But if a well crafted cocktail is what you are craving, in the sea of bars that litter the LA Live area, Ford’s Filling Station definitely stands out.
Article originally appeared in Locale Magazine in April 2015.