Claremont Insider: Village News

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Village News

Have we figured out what to call the Claremont "Village Expansion"? When it was still a concept, the city was calling it Village West since it's west of Indian Hill Blvd. and sort of balances out the old Claremont Village on the east side of Indian Hill.

At some point, the name suddenly changed to the Village Expansion. We kinda liked the old name. It sounded a little less bureaucratic, a little less developer-speaky.

The Courier has an online poll to see what readers think is the best name. The leader with 128 votes in is Village West by a landslide. Look for the poll towards the bottom of the Courier's website and vote for yourself. Also, check out the comments.


Meg at M-M-M-My Pomona has a post about a visit to a gastro-pub in Culver City called Father's Office. FO is known for its beer selection and its signature burger, the creation of chef/owner Sang Yoon, whose original FO is on Montana Ave. in Santa Monica.

Meg noticed some strong similarities between the Culver City FO and Claremont's Back Abbey in the Village Whatever:

The CC outpost features three of the four: The beer selection is amazing; the burger was slammin'; the place was so crowded they had a rope and a line at the front door; but the employees were perfectly civil.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about.

No, I'm here to say this: Back Abbey is a complete Father's Office rip-off. Even the LIGHT BULBS are the same, ferchrissakes! From the menu to the beer-tap presentation to the server's shirts, everything is strikingly similar. As for the burger, they are almost identical; it's just that FO's is fresher and cleaner-tasting than BB's. Oh yeah -- it's cheaper, too.
I'd agree with Meg on the pricing over at The Back Abbey. It's one thing to serve great Belgian brews, but it's another to use Belgian Euro pricing. We found at another blogger who noticed a some parallels between FO and The Back Abbey. Steve at Summer of Beer wrote:
The food is what also makes this a destination for those that aren't even beer lovers. They have a simple menu- moules, frites, soups, brats, cheese plates, and probably the most popular item- the Back Abbey Burger (and a couple variations too). Many have said this rivals the famous Father's Office Burger, and I can say it does. They use the same sort of greens and caramelized onions as FO does. It tastes very similar, and is very good (for $13), though I think the cheeses (gruyere and maytag blue cheese) used in the FO burger make it a bit more interesting. The frites are very good, and my sister who went to lunch with me loved the corn chowder.

Steve is right about the corn chowder, which is creamy with all sorts of diced veggies and chunks of thick sliced bacon floating around to give it a rich, smoky flavor. A Leffe and a Back Abbey Burger isn't a bad meal either, even if it is a little pricey.

The Back Abbey may have borrowed or expropriated from FO, it may be more expensive, and and the food may not be that's not quite as good as FO, but to me it has one major advantage. It's here, not in Culver City or Santa Monica. And, it does have the sort of neighborly pub feel you might find in a Belgian town, and Claremont definitely needs more of these types of places.

If you're interested in seeing what FO's all about, I found a video of the original in Santa Monica. It's a foodie show called After Hours with Daniel and features chef Daniel Boulud chumming it up in the kitchen of with FO owner Sang Yoon. The video runs long but is kinda fun if you're into Food Network-type celebrity chef shows. Here it is (sorry about the commercial tag at the beginning):