Since the fabulous Tuning Fork opened in Studio City a few years back, many eateries have put up the “gastropub” shingle.
However, when it comes to a place that fills the “gastro” (i.e. fantastic, carefully crafted food) and the “pub” (a welcoming place where you can grab a beer and bite and be yourself) requirements, Tuning Fork is the real deal.What you see is what you get at Tuning Fork, in front of and behind the house. A simple layout with picnic-like tables and an uncluttered bar with a carefully curated selection of California craft beer and sustainable and sustainably produced wines set the stage—whether one comes for lunch, dinner or a show. Besides a talented lineup of musicians, the menu of Chef J’s seasonal comfort food is the star.
Even with food prepped with a farm-to-table pedigree, it’s the kind of welcoming place wherein nearby residents, business people, actors and crews, musicians and other creative types mix freely. It’s exactly what founders Joseph Kuras, Martin Heynen and John Baldwin had in mind when they opened Tuning Fork in 2013 with the ultimate goal of combining their personal passion for craft beer with creatively executed, but approachable food and live music.
Though Tuning Fork opened with a different chef, the venue hit its stride with London native Chef Jay Bedassie, who came of age on the Caribbean island of Montserrat before settling in the U.S. and training at the prestigious New York Culinary Institute alongside notable star chefs Wayne Nish, Raphael Palomino and Marvin Woods. After hearing the siren call of the West Coast’s “locavore” food culture, he added work with Vegan Chef Anne Gentry at Real Food Daily to his resume before joining the Tuning Fork. From that point forward, he has made his mark with his European, Caribbean and American influences.
Chef J also carries the trio’s mission into his various dishes, including the burgers. The kitchen abounds with all kinds of farm-to-table and locally sourced ingredients and produce to create masterpieces like the Light My Fire Burger (smoldering with house salsa, Muenster cheese, red leaf lettuce, ghost pepper jam, crispy onions and chipotle aioli), the Truffled Mushroom burger (luxury defined with a mix of mushrooms, goat cheese, tomato, pickles, truffle oil and goddess aioli), the aptly named All or Nothing (double meat, fried egg, applewood bacon, cheddar, avocado, red leaf and chipotle garlic ranch on brioche) and their TF version of the classic (marmalade onions, vine tomatoes, red leaf and horseradish aioli on a multigrain roll).
Although Tuning Fork offers salads, why should vegetarians be left out of burger bliss? Another must-try—regardless of your omnivore status--is the boldly exotic vegetarian Arigato Portobello Burger with tamari, sesame-marinated Portobello, alfalfa sprouts, tempura-fried avocado and spicy mustard on a multigrain bun. Another notable veggie burger is the Shaggy Martin, a lentil quinoa patty topped with hummus, tomato, cucumber, and house chipotle sauce on whole wheat pita.
Can’t decide? Regardless of what you pick, when you add the decadent Truffle Parmesan fries, you have the perfect combo.
Just like many of the musicians playing their gig at Tuning Fork, the kitchen crew offers some encores and bonus tracks that will please meat lovers. The regular menu includes Smokestack BBQ Pork Tacos and Citrus Jalapeño Wings. Daily specials include Taco Time Mondays, offering Braised Short Rib Tacos for a special price and Rhythm ‘n Brews BBQ Wednesdays, with live acoustic blues featuring Barry “Big B” Brenner, $5 beers and Chef Jay’s amazing BBQ specials.
While the restaurant’s founders came to L.A. in the early 2000’s to establish themselves in the local music scene, their creative energies started flowing before they even made the move. The pair discovered the emerging world of craft beer, attending tastings, and seeking out new beers in brewpubs and bottles with like-minded souls as they did in their time following the Grateful Dead. Soon, they dabbled in home-brewing their own recipes.
After several months, the musicians had an epiphany in one of those brewing sessions up in the hills above Studio City, which included childhood friend, John Baldwin: “We should have a place where the food is as well crafted as the beer.” It also occurred to them that if they had a restaurant, they would always have a place for their friends and themselves to play music.
Tuning Fork is the achievement of a well-rounded dream consisting of cold craft beer, hot music and distinctively delicious, variations of comfort food made with fresh, sustainable, locally sourced ingredients.
12051 Ventura Place, Studio City (818) 623-0734