Controversial Art but a Classic Steak

Above the entrance to Venice's North Beach Bar & Grill, artist Jonathan Borofsky's 30-foot-tall unshaven ballerina clown balances en pointe , its right leg slowly swaying back and forth. It is controversial art, and now, with the opening of the restaurant it announces, it may be Los Angeles' oddest maitre d'.

Inside the North Beach, a waterfall made of rusted steel anchors the dining room. Displayed like art objects throughout the restaurant are several classic Bauer bowls, arranged by size like a family portrait from Baby Bauer to Papa Bauer. Between the clown outside and decor within, you might get the feeling that you're in for a trendy, multi-ethnic meal.

Then you get the menu: Beefsteak tomato and red onion salad, Caesar salad, New York steak, rib eye steak, shrimp cocktail too. The North Beach Bar & Grill turns out to be a classic steakhouse at heart.

There are non-steaky things--oysters on the half-shell, chicken roasted with rosemary and garlic, pork chops with applesauce (made at the restaurant and thick with pieces of apple), linguine with clams--but nothing jarring or controversial.

There's even good service--the kind you'd expect from an old-fashioned steakhouse. No clowning around.

North Beach Bar and Grill, 111 Rose Ave., Venice. (213) 399-3900.

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