Saturday, May 30, 2009

Akasha, Culver City

9543 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232

Telephone: 310.845.1700

Monday - Friday: 8:00 am - 5:30 pm

Monday - Saturday: 11:30 am - 2:30 pm

Monday - Thursday: 5:30 pm - 10:00 pm
Friday - Saturday: 5:30 pm - 11:00 pm
Sunday: 5:00 pm - 9:30 pm

Sunday: 11:00 am - 2:00 pm

Happy Hour:
Monday - Friday: 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Akasha, despite its Japanese name, is a hip little American bakery/restaurant in (where else?) downtown Culver City. I don't know if 'akasha' is a Japanese word or not, but it sure sounds like it could be!

It was named after its proprietor, Chef Akasha Richmond, an organic chef who believes in sustainable cooking. I think that's a great concept, and if it really works the way it claims to, great. But if part of the consequences of sustainable cooking are prices like Akasha's, then I'm back on the side of unsustainable cooking. (Can cooking be unsustainable??)

That is to say, what I remember most about Akasha are the prices. I expect high prices when I go to swanky places like Musso and Frank's or the Ivy. I expect decent prices when I'm in Culver City and out for lunch. I shudder to think of what the dinner prices would be.

Come to think of it, I don't actually remember the exact monetary value of my lunch. The lingering memory is of the price of dessert. I had three scoops of gelato (vanilla, chocolate, and banana date). "Scoop" is an exaggeration. It was more like "teaspoonfuls." Small food, much like high prices, are what I expect from higher-end places like, say, Chateau Marmont.

Three little teaspoonfuls of gelato were $8. Not that $8 is a lot of money, because it's not. I've paid more for a single drink in many a bar. But at Akasha, it felt like they were just pushing the prices as high as they could, without any regard for the type of customer they would most likely be getting during their lunch hours (people that work in the area).

The interior of Akasha is gorgeous, exposed beams, brick, free-form light fixtures that drift, suspended by cables from the ceiling. The wall behind the bar is not a wall at all- half of the space is dominated by ceiling-to-floor blackboards with their house specialty drinks and the different types of wine they have, the other half of the space is one huge wine rack, complete with library ladder to retrieve the uppermost bottles. Beautiful place, without a doubt.

Their plates are plain white, but interesting because they come in different shapes. Shallow and rectangular for their pizzas (not good, by the way), oval and deep for their salads, with not a single round plate in sight (other than the saucers for their coffee cups).

A group of people from work all went in celebration of two of our co-workers, who are leaving the company. Everyone got fairly standard fare, pizzas, salads, sandwiches, or burgers, and we all split regular and sweet potato fries (surprisingly good sweet potato fries). More than the food, drink, or dessert, the conversation and laughter saved the lunch.

I'm sure I'll go to Akasha again. It's too convenient for me to boycott it (a block away from work). Doesn't mean I have to be happy about it- and I'll definitely only go when I'm mentally prepared to drop a good $40 on lunch, probably $60 or more for dinner.

Another gripe- the acoustics at Akasha are horrible. I think exposed brick and beams make sound bounce around or something. I wouldn't go for drinks just because of the acoustics and how horrible they would be with a crowded group of people.

A high point- the bakery, while overpriced, is yummy. I really enjoy small desserts, because sometimes, I just don't want a cupcake the size of my head. They have tiny cupcakes, tiny cookies, tiny brownies, tiny scoops of ice cream and gelato. Not the biggest fan of their ice cream or gelato, but their baked goods are delicious. Maybe I'll stop by for a cupcake after lunch at Ford's Filling Station a couple doors down.