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Chicken Fingers, Music and Bar Make Lucky Seven Swing

TIMES RESTAURANT CRITIC

“Oh no,” I thought, when we pulled up in front of 1610 Vine St., “not another supper club that’s so hip it doesn’t need--or want--a sign out front.” Sure enough, a flock of leather-clad hipsters crowded in front of the door, trying to persuade the monitor with the clipboard that they really did have a reservation, or that they were meeting somebody inside.

Fortunately, I’d had the foresight to call ahead, but could only get a table for the 10:30 p.m. seating. This on a Monday night? Not only that, I had to give my credit card number over the phone to secure that table, a situation I’ve encountered only once before in L.A., at the short-lived Billboard Live on the Sunset Strip. Monday, I soon find out, is when Jeff Goldblum (a.k.a. “The Fly”) and his band play for assorted friends and fans.

Once inside, even in the gloom, I can see how much effort owner Craig Trager put into respectfully restoring the former Vine Street Bar. Demure club lamps reveal burgundy leather booths, the gleam of bare shoulders, the waitress snaking her way across the room. It’s an alluring, cozy venue. It’s also incredibly loud, amplifiers cranked up to the max to better hear the music. For all but the already hearing-impaired, earplugs may be in order.

It turns out that this is a supper club where hardly anyone is actually eating, at least at the 10:30 seating. Lucky Seven’s menu offers the typical nostalgic food of the genre: oysters, tomato and mozzarella, chopped salad, a pork chop, skinless breast of chicken, a truly terrible meatloaf. What’s good are the buttermilk-battered fried chicken “fingers,” which come piping hot, with both a ranch dressing and a spunky barbecue sauce, and the house salad dressed with Maytag blue cheese and candied pecans.

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Seared ahi tuna is virtually flavorless; the burger on a squishy bun isn’t as beefy as you want in a good burger; and linguine al checca is made with tomatoes that have been sitting in the refrigerator too long.

Maybe everybody else here has already tried dinner. Once. That’s why they’re only drinking.

Oh well, have a drink, order some of those chicken fingers, and listen up. You just might have some fun.

BE THERE

Lucky Seven, 1610 Vine St., Hollywood; (213) 463-7777. Open Monday through Saturday for dinner until midnight. Appetizers $6 to $8; main courses $9 to $21. Valet parking.


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