Happy Hour at Muddy Leek (Culver City)

Behind the Bar - Muddy Leek

A few weeks ago, I attended happy hour at Muddy Leek, the “hyper-seasonal” restaurant from catering couple Chef Whitney Flood and Julie Retzlaff of Bon Mélange Catering. Born from years of entertaining experience and a series of underground dinners, Muddy Leek is the couple’s first independent restaurant. Chef Whitney’s commitment to using the best of fresh, in-season ingredients promised a happy hour out of the norm of traditional bar bites, with bar manager Lance Kawani mixing up a myriad of cocktails to quench our thirst.

Lamb Merguez Hot Dog - Muddy Leek Invitational
Merguez Hot Dog
garlic aioli – grilled baguette

I’ve never been a fan of Merguez sausage, and I can’t say I’ve been won over yet. I think it might be the harissa? Either way, I only took a nibble of this to confirm my continual aversion to the meat. With that said, though, my companion was over the moon for this and wolfed down about four of them. Just don’t tell her I told you.

Grilled Speck and Manchego - Mudddy Leek Snack Bites
Grilled Speck and Manchego

My jaw dropped when I was told that the protein was speck, a meat I hadn’t eaten since I was last in Ireland. I’ve never seen speck within the USA, but I love its herby, juniper laden flavors. The addition of Manchego (Spanish cheese) elevated this bite in a way I never thought possible for simple grilled cheese. This was truly a pairing made in culinary heaven.

Italian Mule - Muddy Leek Invitational
Italian Mule
vodka – amaro meletti – lime – ginger soda

The most familiar drink of the night; an Italian twist on the classic Moscow variety by the addition of Amaro Meletti, a liqueur with notes of saffron and anise. A safe and sweet drink to perk up the palate.

Venison Corndog - Mudddy Leek Snack Bites
Venison Corndog
house beer mustard

I was not particularly smitten with this bite, but my guest thought highly of it along with the beer mustard – which I did enjoy.

Chicken Fried Bacon - Muddy Leek Invitational
Chicken Fried Bacon
bibb lettuce, tomato chutney

If Victor Frankenstein were a chef rather than a scientist (really, the only difference is their mediums), he would have concocted this beautiful monstrosity. I cannot even begin to tell you how perfectly decadent these morsels are. I feel like running naked through the reflecting pool at the Washington Monument would be more dignified than sharing the sorry/not sorry lustful feelings I have for this dish. I regret not personally ordering another round to hoard all to my greedy self.

Blind Lemon Jefferson - Mudddy Leek Snack Bites
Blind Lemon Jefferson
rye, lemon, bitters

I was a bit nervous when this drink was given to me, as I normally don’t go for bold, masculine drinks. However, the lemon balanced out the rye without treading into ‘sweet’ territory, effectively making this drink not only palatable but completely pleasant and approachable for future visits.

Leek Pizetta - Mudddy Leek Snack Bites
Leek Pizetta
potato, bacon, cheese

The starch on starch combo was a big hit with everyone save for me, as I’ve never understood the appeal. Potato on pizza dough aside, though, the leeks, bacon and cheese were the real stars of this show. The leeks especially prominently stood out, giving a nice, earthy onion-y flavor.

Donut Holes - Muddy Leek Invitational
Doughnut Holes

I’m not one for doughnuts, really, but these were just the right size for a touch of sweetness after all of our savory bites. My guest, a doughnut fiend, loved the simplicity of these little balls of fried dough coated plainly in sugar. A very happy end to our happy hour food.

Sr. Calarita - Muddy Leek Happy Hour
Sr. Calarita
mezcal, jalapeno, cucumber, lime

Hands down, the best cocktail of the evening. The jalapeno added a whole new level of heady smokiness, a slow burn with a crisp cool down from the cucumber and lime. I could have had four of these.

It was nice to step out of my usual haunts and into a neighborhood I’m only beginning to become more acquainted with. As the event took place on a Thursday, it was the perfect evening to give those of us dealing with company/family the fortitude to brave through the holiday (Easter) weekend. Overall, the food was extremely enjoyable and left me with a pleasant, lingering feeling of wanting more. Precisely what happy hour is meant to accomplish. Happy hour at Muddy Leek runs from 4:00-6:00pm Tuesday through Saturday.

Muddy Leek
8631 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, 90232

Muddy Leek on Urbanspoon


What’s the Dish: Restaurant Openings


WHO: Chef Remi Lauvand (Gérard Pangaud, La Grenouille, Le Cirque, and Montrachet)

WHERE: 800 West 6th Street, Los Angeles CA 90017

HOURS: (Lunch) Mon-Fri 11a–3p | (Dinner) Daily 5p–11p | (Happy Hour) Mon-Fri 3p–7p | (Late Night) Mon-Sat 11p–2a & Sun 11pm-midnight

SAMPLE MENU ITEMS: Roasted Black Cod with Oxtail Ragu,Sweetbread with Wild Mushrooms, Roquette and Parmesan, Braised Rabbit Leg with Leeks Fondue, Roasted Tomatoes and Parsley Jus, Escargots with Potato Gnocchi, Uni with Braised Oxtail, Wild Boar Albondigas, Chinese Style Braised Pork Shoulder Flatbread with Shishito Peppers, Charcuterie: Chicken “Faux” Gras; Beef Tartare; Duck Rilletes; Pigs Trotter; Mini Rabbit Terrine and Apicius, Chef Lauvand’s own “home brewed” hard cider.

DETAILS: At Le Ka, Lauvand focuses on local and artisanal ingredients to create an elegant yet approachable menu of globally inspired fare. Alongside the traditional menu, Lauvaund’s specialty arises in the grand tradition of European charcuterie, offering delicacies that are an exciting addition to the urban Los Angeles restaurant scene. When he’s not in the kitchen, Lauvand enjoys brewing his infamous hard cider, named Apicius after Caesar’s Imperial Roman chef and sought after by friends and imbibers worldwide.

GIVE ME MORE: For more information, please visit http://lekarestaurant.com or call (213) 688-3000

WHAT: Muddy Leek

WHO: Whitney Flood and Julie Retzlaff (Bon Mélange Catering) & bar manager John Coltharp

WHERE: 8631 Washington Blvd. Culver City 90232

HOURS: (Lunch) Mon-Fri 11a-3p (Dinner) Wed-Sat 6p-10p (Happy Hour) Wed-Fri 4p-6p

SAMPLE MENU ITEMS: Porcini & Leek Tart, Spicy Chicken Jjigae Soup, Rabbit-Pistachio Ballontine, Paso Prime Flat Iron Steak, Juniper-Venison, Caramelized Apple-Cinnamon Tart.

DETAILS: Born from years of entertaining experience and a series of underground dinners, Muddy Leek is the pair’s first independent brick-n-mortar restaurant. As Chef and proprietor of Muddy Leek, Whitney Flood channels his love for seasonal and sustainable dining on a daily basis. Leaving behind a successful catering career in New York, Flood returned to the micro-seasonal ingredients of the West Coast, starting Bon Mélange Catering in 2006 with his wife Julie Retzlaff. Based in Los Angeles, the husband-wife duo extraordinaire combined their strengths and skills to create artisanal, market-inspired, farm-to-table fare for events ranging from weddings to underground pop-up dinners in LA’s well-established urban art scene. Muddy Leek follows the natural progression of the couple’s story. Making everything from scratch and in-house, Muddy Leek’s menu focuses on fine artisanal and locally sourced ingredients. Dishes are an eclectic array, balancing notes of international flair and home style comfort.

GIVE ME MORE: For more information, please call 310.838.2281

images and info courtesy of Bread & Butter PR