FIRST IMPRESSIONS : A Welcome Newcomer on North Gower

In a town whose streets are stuffed with restaurants, one neighborhood has been remarkable for its paucity of good dining places. Hollywood has theaters. It has discos. It has studios. What is has not had is many restaurants that the people who fill all those other places are eager to eat in. Until now.

The Columbia Bar and Grill, 1448 N. Gower St., (213) 461-8800, opened Wednesday. The restaurant is owned by Wayne Rogers. It is a large and handsome place, clearly designed for people to see and be seen. The patio in front opens onto a big room whose ceilings stretch up forever to an enormous skylight. There’s a raised bar, and then a room filled with cozy booths you can snuggle into. Behind that is yet another dining room.

The menu is straightforward and appealing. There are salads, a few pastas and grilled meat, fish and free-range chickens. There is chili, there is meat loaf. There are few surprises; the food I tasted was well cooked and the service was very sweet. The wine list is decent, and there’s a good choice by the glass. It doesn’t look as though the Columbia Bar and Grill is going to give us any great culinary revelations, but it certainly seems a fine addition to the neighborhood.