Bikes, Beer, And Butchery: NYC's The Cannibal Is Coming To Culver City
A popular NYC-based beer and meat-centric restaurant is opening a location in Culver City, beginning with a bike-friendly butchery and sandwich shop next month.
The Cannibal Beer & Butcher is slated to open as a full restaurant in the new Platform complex on Washington Boulevard in April. But before they do, you'll have the opportunity to enjoy some of their house-made charcuterie and sausages, and hearty sandwiches—like their famed Thai sausage banh ni or pig's head Cuban—as part of the first phase of the location.
And while the new retail butcher and sandwich shop, from co-owners Christian Pappanicholas and Cory Lane, will feature prime cuts and meaty bites, they'll also offer a range of salads, including greens and grains, and other vegetable-heavy selections and other take-out options.
"For me it's like the old butcher shop style, where I would go with my grandfather," explains executive chef Francis Derby, who Pappanicholas and Lane brought with them from NYC. "You can go there to buy some sausages or pork chops and order a sandwich over the counter, so you can eat that while you're cooking at home."
Each day of the week, Monday through Friday, you can also expect a different meat of the day in the shop. "It will be porchetta one day, lamb another day, then meatloaf, everyday it will be that one thing, so you can say, 'I want to come in on Tuesday for that porchetta," Derby tells us. "And everyday of the week we'll have rib eye, just hot rib eye with jus sliced right on to a sandwich." All of the meat options will also be available over a salad instead of bread for the carb-averse.
The 120-seat restaurant—the second phase—is expected to open soon after the butchery and sandwich shop, and will offer a more extensive menu than their New York locations. They'll also have outdoor seating, and over 500 local, national and international beers in bottles, cans and on tap, plus a full bar. They also plan to offer a select choice of beers at the shop before the restaurant opens, though the details and logistics are still being worked out.
"This is the first time we've been able to see the concept in it's full idea," Lane tells us. "In New York, we were always inhibited by real estate or space in general, we've never been able to do the butcher sandwich shop next to the restaurant, and we're excited. This is The Cannibal full size."
Bring your appetite for this 96 oz bone-in ribeye when the restaurant portion opens (Photo by Kevin O’Leary, courtesy of The Cannibal)
And for anyone concerned that the name might imply a menu for Hannibal Lecter, "The Cannibal" is actually the nickname for for legendary cyclist and five-time Tour de France-winner Eddy Merckx. Pappanicholas and Lane are both avid cyclists themselves and wanted to pay tribute to the ferocious contender—the Lance Armstrong of his day—who competed extensively from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. Though, that said, the carnivorous implications are not accidental.
In keeping with the cycling theme, The Cannibal will feature a number of bike-friendly highlights. Anyone who shows up wearing full riding gear—you know, the colorful spandex get-ups known as "kits"—will get their second beer free. They also plan to sell musette bags—grab-and-go feed bags for racers—that will be loaded with healthy snacks and house-made, energy-packed rice bars—for a long tour or just a cruise around town. Valet bike parking will also be available as part of the Platform complex, and you'll be able to catch live cycling races on TV at the butcher shop. You can also probably expect some cycling decor as you'll find at their New York spots.
Once the restaurant portion of The Cannibal opens, the team is excited to make the most of a full kitchen—as opposed to the tight quarters in New York. The menu will be meat-forward—including large and sharable, nose-to-tail dishes—with plenty of vegetable-driven dishes with plenty of California produce. Lane says:
For the first time, we'll have live fire. In New York, we don't have flame in that kitchen, so everything that we do there is out of two Easy-Bake ovens, a hot hold and a panini press. Here we've got a beautiful wood-burning grill and a plancha—all these things we've never had before. And this time by having the two concepts next door to each other with a full butcher shop and a butcher, it creates a lot of opportunity for crossover and a lot of stuff we've never done before. Plus, we'll have retail, so it creates a really nice circle that we're able to offer a ton of daily and nightly offerings that change all the time in the restaurant, but they'll also get to filter through the butcher shop and out the door.
As for the extensive beer offerings, you can expect plenty of Belgian style beers, which the team loves, but also a diverse selection curated by beer director and cicerone Julian Kurland, who has already tapped into the local and Southern California scene. "One of the main reasons for opening The Cannibal was to be able to expand that palate and offer beers from all over the world", Lane says. "We're really excited to make friends with all the local breweries out here because a lot of them we just couldn't get in New York."
While the new restaurant and shop will be larger and more comprehensive than the New York versions, the team also wanted to maintain the feeling of intimacy found in the original cozy spots, the first of which had been a long, narrow apartment previously. The hope is to offer a "nice warm beer hug" when you walk in the door and are greeted by a two-tiered row of beer display cases. The space is being designed by Studio Mai, who is also responsible for stylish, dining destinations around L.A. such as Gjelina, Hinoki and the Bird, and Zinc Cafe. "They've done a really good job at creating some of the benchmark pieces that make New York what it is," Lane says. "They ran with this idea of compression and forced togetherness with the tightness of the space."
The Cannibal Beer & Butcher will be located at 8850 Washington Blvd., Culver City.