Soulful food

Ben Ford wants you to sit down and stay awhile

But wait a minute. Why would a hot culinary entrepreneur ― one who trained under Alice Waters at Chez Panisse, won three-star kudos at his now-shuttered Chadwick in Beverly Hills, and carries Hollywood appeal (he's Harrison Ford's son) ― test a concept in Oklahoma before bringing it to L.A., trend central?

"I've always wanted to have a restaurant someplace that was real and approachable and human," Ford says. He was drawn to Culver City, a resurgent Westside community just south of Beverly Hills, settling on a vintage 1930s building as his site. Only then did he head for Tulsa, which has a similar demographic in terms of breadth of tastes.

Ford aims to serve "soulful meals centered around simple ingredients," like split-pea soup with ham hock, smoked pork chops with braised cabbage, and flatbread made in a wood-burning oven. And he has strived to make the place feel like a gathering spot that's been around a good long time. The walls will be decorated with family photos. And he's leaving 30 seats permanently unreserved. "People can play chess, order a drink, read a newspaper. I've built this restaurant to about 80 percent of what I want it to be. Then I'm going to let the people dictate the rest."

Info: Ford's Filling Station ($$$; call for hours; 9531 Culver Blvd., Culver City; 310/202-1470)

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