Friday, March 27, 2009

Westside Tavern Opens

Once upon a time, on the sprawling streets of West L.A., it was difficult to find a decent cocktail – and the last place one would look was (gasp!) the mall. Well, its time to throw out the history books and start living the fairy tale – Westside Tavern has changed the way we think of drinking on the Westside.

Tucked inside the annex of Westside Pavillion (on street level, just below the movie theaters) is the sleek-yet-accessible, cavernous-yet-cozy, softly-lit-yet-not-too-dark Westside Tavern. Smiling faces greet patrons at the door; patrons sip and nibble happily at the long bar; friends gather around high-top tables in the lounge; and couples canoodle pre- or post- movie watching in the dining area. A more formal dining room, with a second bar, is just around a corner and available for private parties.

One of the most exciting reasons to visit Westside Tavern is the high-quality cocktail program. Respected Mixologist / Bar Consultant Ryan Magarian designed the program which highlight unique choices such as the Pepper Smash (spearmint, red bell pepper, dry gin and honey syrup) and the Blood Orange & Sage Gimlet (pressed sage & blood oranges, dry gin, lime juice and egg white). The menu also boasts classic cocktails such as the Sazerac, Blackberry Julep (served in proper pewter julep cups), Corpse Reviver No. 2, and the Martinez, among others. Most surprisingly each of the fresh-ingredient, mixology-driven cocktails are only $9! These drinks blow away many of the $16 cocktails found around town.

Admittedly, one of my biggest motivations to rush down on the first night to sample a few of these wonderful concoctions is Kylee Van Dillen – our very own “Girl Friday Happy Hour” columnist – who can be found behind the bar. Kylee is an expert at both making drinks, and explaining the fresh mixology concepts to guests, enhancing the experience for the professional cocktailian and the novice, alike. Ask for her, and treat her well.

And, speaking of “professional cocktailians,” I had the pleasure of pulling up a barstool next to fellow LA-blogger Caroline on Crack, who was also eager to be among the first Angelenos experiencing this new landmark on our culinary landscape. Caroline and I are birds of a feather – photographing everything before we take a bite or sip – so she didn’t mind when I asked for a shot of her scrumptious Cantaloupe Sour (dry gin, lemon & cantaloupe juices, Gary Regan’s No. 6 orange bitters and clover honey syrup), a must-try.

Just when things couldn’t get any better, another familiar face emerged – Chef Warren Schwartz – formerly at the helm of Whist in Santa Monica. Chef Schwartz is a master at taking simple comfort food and giving it some high-brow polish, or does he take high-end food and make it comfortable? Either way you look at it, he is renown for his eye toward sustainability and his skill in the kitchen. Warren also believes that quality can come at an affordable price. He explained that when eating at a new hotspot means shelling out $10 for valet, $15 per cocktail, then meal, wine and tip, the average person might go once to be able to say that they’ve eaten at “X” place, but they probably won’t go back. Chef says, “We want people to return to us again and again.”

On that note, I could not resist sampling an order of mussels, topped with chorizo and smothered in garlic ($13). The grilled ciabata bread and drizzle of flavorful creamy sauce made this appetizer a meal in itself. Caroline and her pal ordered the Grilled Portabella, Tomato & Burrata Sandwich ($14) as well as the copious Lamb French Dip ($16). For dessert, we indulged in a luscious Brown Butter Apple Pie ($9) large enough to share with the table next door!

I’m sure Angelenos will also appreciate another benefit of Westside Tavern - the free parking garage! So, friends, put away the fantasy book. Whether looking for the perfect dinner-and-movie date spot, or a fun night out with pals – the Westside Tavern is a dream come true.


Anonymous said...

Wow! You're fast! I'm still writing mine. Heh. But it was so fun hanging out with you last night. Hope we get to do it again soon. That is, in addition to next week's cocktail competition! said...

I have so many blog posts to catch up on - if i don't try to bang them out quickly - I never get them done!! It was wonderful to see you, thanks for the great company - I can't wait to read your post about Westside Tavern, too!


kylee said...

Thank you girls--What a lovely review natalie! Great to see you both, thank you so much for your wonderful support (always!) and coming to visit me!!