Jonathan Gold Takes To Muddy Leek; Johnson Narrowly Escapes Boredom at Brea's Bruno

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Scallops at Muddy Leek Photo: Muddy Leek

Charting the rise of starter families in Culver City, Jonathan Gold notices that "Muddy Leek does have that feeling of organic vegetables, date-night domesticity and ease." Whereas "other restaurants in Culver City try to dazzle you with audacious cross-cultural menus, LEED certification and special evenings celebrating parts of the pig that even pigs would rather not think about," Muddy Leek is more like "a comfortable place to drop in for a cocktail and a snack on a Tuesday night, to hang out in the patio with a bottle of Grenache and a cheese plate, or to wheel by for a merguez sandwich after a morning of antiques shopping." [LAT]

Noticing that Brea is "is clearly having a moment," Brad A. Johnson squeezes into Bruno's Trattoria, where "one of the coolest things about this place is the wine list;" heavy on Italians at very reasonable prices and poured by a staff that knows their business. When it comes to the food, he finds, "There's nothing here that we haven't seen a million times elsewhere," but notes, "If everything weren't so well-executed, I'd say this place was ridiculously boring. But familiarity can be a good thing." Still, "a couple of the most basic dishes are surprisingly the least successful," he writes, before noticing, "I haven't even felt the presence of a manager." Johnson concludes, "For better or worse, this is a restaurant that runs, rather effectively, on autopilot. It's like watching a play where all the actors know their lines, where nobody misses a cue, where the music is perfectly calibrated and the lighting does exactly what it's supposed to do. And when the curtain falls, the audience claps respectfully for a few minutes but no one jumps to their feet...And two days later, pretty much everyone who attended the show has already stopped thinking about it. But if you asked them if they enjoyed it, they'll say, 'Yes, it was nice.'" [OCR]