Ben Ford wants you to sit down and stay awhile

Norman Kolpas

Please excuse Ben Ford if he's still shaking off some jet lag.Since last June, the 39-year-old has been refining the concept forhis much-anticipated Ford's Filling Station in downtown Culver City― by flying back and forth to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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

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

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

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

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