Everyone knows the basic algebra of a diner is starch plus protein
divided by coffee³--pancakes plus bacon or eggs plus potatoes in a
myriad of ways for breakfast, bread plus meat (e.g., the Wood's
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tumescent 8-ounce Niman Ranch Woody Burger) for lunch.
Stick to the formula and you're good at The Wood Cafe, the mildly eclectic American food shack-slash-organic coffeehouse at the corner of Inglewood and Washington Boulevards, whose muralized eaves broadcast good vibrations and free wi-fi across the restaurant-poor interstitial zone between Culver City and Marina del Rey. Beneath them you'll find a cluttered open kitchen slinging pressed sandwiches, omelets and hash, and outdoor seating where you can enjoy treats like Italian sodas and Mexican Coke.
Stray into the realm of salads and specials, however, and the math decays. Fusion food, already a perilous exercise, has no place in a diner to begin with, and simply placing two items from disparate cuisines adjacent to one another only heightens the confusion. The grilled beef noodle salad is a perplexing, hapless sort of dish--slivers of flatiron steak perched atop an Asian slaw you could purchase at the Ralph's deli counter and muddled with peanut sauce and soba. The equation is sound (this is still starch plus protein, after all) but the kitchen has neglected to show its work, and the two halves of the conceit linger distractedly on the plate like remnants of other meals that accidentally hooked up in the walk-in. The Wood Cafe is an undeniably pleasant spot to procrastinate your morning over espresso and a buttermilk short stack, but we urge you to eat by the numbers.
The Wood Cafe: 12000 Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90066; 310-915-WOOD. Open daily from 7am-10pm. The Wood Cafe.