When the day hits that 3 p.m. lull, the work before us can begin to look a little like “work” and a lot less appealing. I believe that is life reminding us to take a break; a break that includes a drink in hand and a gentle reminder that there’s something to be said about sitting at a bar with friends or strangers and escaping the “busy.”
With choices at every corner of the Westside, there are a select few that seem to offer a little something extra.
This week, as the weather took us on a strange and stormy journey, I left the confines of home and drove through downtown Culver City. It was three o’clock in the afternoon and patios lining Culver Boulevard were crowded as the hum of conversation lured me in to Akasha.
Having a beckoning street-side patio with a cafe on one side and the restaurant and bar on the other, Akasha is a beautiful and eclectic stop. Boasting a playful interior that seems a bit like a New York loft with orb-like lighting, wood paneling, wooden beams overhead, richly colored reds and browns adding warmth to a modern feel, ceiling height wine bottle storage equipped with a library ladder sliding from one side to the other, draft and import beers that can appeal to most, in-house cocktails created by bar manager Lisa Beaumont and a menu by Chef Akasha Richmond that is representative of Spanish cuisine blended with American and coastal fusion, this is the perfect pit-stop for a few hours of “happy.”
The wall directly in front of the restaurant bar is paneled with three chalkboards. Each chalkboard lists the day’s wine, beer, and cocktail selections. The wines by the glass span the globe: central coast, Napa Valley, Sonoma, Oregon, France, Italy, and Germany. The beer is a diverse but understated mix of Belgium ales to gluten free sorghum.
During happy hour, the prices are cut in half, which makes ordering that $16 glass of Andrew Murrary’s Esperance a more viable option if you’re feeling like trying it. This happy hour is most impressive because of the times. Akasha offers happy hour seven days a week – yes, seven. Unlike many establishments that curb your need for happy hour-like prices to four days a week (five if you’re lucky), Akasha goes one step further and beckons you to sample some of those cocktails, wine, or beer at a rate that makes “tasting” a lot more pleasing to the pocketbook – half off!
Beaumont indulged me and allowed us to taste a few varying selections, but first I started with the in-house crafted cocktail created by her: the citrus and jalapeno margarita made with Ixa organic tequila and muddled with citrus and jalapeno, lime agave, served on the rocks. This drink is refreshing and perfect on a hot summer day. The jalapeno isn’t overwhelming nor does it mask the flavor of lime, agave and fresh citrus. This is a perfect cocktail for someone like me that loves a little kick.
I then tried a sip of “The Rainforest” cocktail, which is made of rain organic vodka, fresh pressed watermelon, mint, lime, and agave. The watermelon is definitely at the forefront of this cocktail so if you love watermelon, this is for you. I lean more towards tart and spicy so the citrus and jalapeno margarita was more my speed.
Now time to describe the wines:
2009 Cabernet Franc Domain Gouron Chinon from the Loire Valley in France
This wine is very warm and creamy and would be paired nicely with a blue cheese like the Humboldt Fog found in the Akasha Stone Fruit Salad with candied pecans, fig, and mizuna. I ordered this with kale and rather than figs, the restaurant used peach. This is a very light salad and perfect for anyone in search of a less filling bite (and vegetarians, I believe you will love this one).
2008 Pelerin Pinot Noir from the Santa Lucia Highlands
This is a wine with a richer appeal with undertones of vanilla and licorice with floral, cherry, and berry aromas. The licorice makes this almost peppery. It was good but I prefer the Chinon.
2010 Turley Cinsault “El Porron” from Lodi
This particular wine was a medium color, cherry red, with a more fruity composition of berry, cherry, and an undertone of cinnamon. It’s a medium finish and a rather crisp wine.
2010 Araldica La Luciana Gavi from Piedmont, Italy
A white wine with a tinge of verbana and very subtle whisper of eucalyptus. This is definitely a summer white though it isn’t one I’d personally order on my own.
2009 Le Nain Violet Domain de la Pertuisane
This was a bottle Beaumont opened that is her latest favorite. It is a very interesting wine. Translated, the name means the “purple dwarf” referring to the grapes. In spite of dwarf grapes, this is a very powerful and robust Grenache.
2009 Casanova de Neri Rosso Sant’Antimo from Toscana
This is a red that is higher in acidity and while nice, with Sangiovese earthiness and a deep red fruit appeal, it was a bit peppery for me though this would likely pair well with the Akasha spiced lamb sausage pizza.
While I certainly have my opinions on wine, keep in mind that everyone’s palate varies and no two people taste the same thing in any vine – that’s the beauty of wine. As for the menu, there is everything from Tandoori chicken wings (looks like fried chicken) to Punjabi Mung beans and rice with a fair amount of vegetarian options. While it seems like primarily coastal cuisine, there is certainly an element of global persuasion that makes Akasha a bit more intriguing.
All in all, Akasha’s happy hour is worth every penny and every sip. The menu isn’t reduced during happy hour but it makes up for it with the variety of drinks available at half price. Not only is the restaurant itself beautiful, the mixologists, management, and servers are very friendly and that makes all the difference in my book.
Akasha: 9543 Culver Blvd., Culver City 310.845.1700
Happy Hour: Monday – Friday 2:30-7p Saturday 4-7p