I was recently invited to a free private dinner by Libra, a new Brazilian by-the-pound spot in Culver City opened by Marcelo Ahn, owner of Brazilian Churrascaria M-Grill. With a 90% vegetarian salad bar and grilled meat options, Libra's got something for everyone, which is a draw for friends and family whose dietary differences may run the gamut.
At the beginning of the bar, there is a hand-washing station. Unusual, yes, but I like the idea. I fancy the design as well, which could be said of the entire restaurant, which is white and minimalist.
Out of the many salads and sides, these photos turned out the best, but trust me - they've got a lot of stuff (including pasta items and meatballs!).
Snow pea salad was a must for me as I cannot resist the green pods. A good option to balance out the less virtuous (but tasty) items like caramelized plantains and cheese bread. Also pictured: the smoked salmon and pea salad, which I did not try.
Pickled stuff. I had the cornichons, of course, and eggplant.
After you load up on the bar, if you want meat, you give your order to the cooks.
The grill. With the meat.
I chose the picanha (top sirloin cap) and linguica (Brazilian sausage). The beef was fine, but the linguica was very good.
By the grill station, there are sauces available. I got chimichurri and some type of "vinaigrette" (I believe that's what was on the label).
Pricing is a little high: the bar only is $9/lb and the bar with grilled meat items is $11/lb (my plate above weighed 1.01 lbs). I imagine the prices are due to the location and the quality of the ingredients (the restaurant makes all dishes from scratch with no processed items). But, if you're looking to eat a casual meal in this part of Culver City, you're going to spend a bit of dough unless you go to Chipotle. The setup is cafeteria style, so no table service, but the interior seems to be kept very clean with staff members clearing tables and refilling water (at least the night I went).
The food is better than the "bang for your buck" level as the restaurant boasts a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef (who is Ahn's sister). I liked Libra enough that I would eat there again, but probably for a lighter meal. Funny enough, vegetarians may have a rollicking good time here, maybe even more than omnivores.
3833 Main Street
Culver City, CA 90232
*Park in the Cardiff Center garage (at Cardiff and Culver), which is 2 hours free. I always park here when going to this area.