Finally. The Hollywood scene got a proper supper club.
At the Latin Lounge, veteran clubbers, actors and schmoozers--a terrific combination at cocktail hour--have a casa to call their own. Neatly sandwiched between the legendary Dan Tana’s and the world-famous Troubadour on Santa Monica Boulevard, the 2-month-old restaurant has put the va-voom back in late-night dining.
Owners and brothers Art and Allan Davis--the clubland overachievers responsible for the Gate and the Play Room--made a lot of smart moves.
But before we get all detail-oriented, a word about Art’s wife, Cheryl. In the world of Hollywood night life, she is the hostess with the most-ess. She has presided over legendary dinner parties in her own nightclubs and is the first one on the dance floor when the music gets jumping. She knows her clientele because she is her clientele.
The Hollywood elite, she knows, want food that’s healthy and light, so the menu offers multiple options for vegetarians and seafood lovers. They want an intimate, sexy environment with interesting faces filling out the room. It doesn’t hurt that tables are dotted with celebrities--Benicio Del Toro, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ricky Martin. The sexy Latin singer was a big fan of the nightspot’s previous incarnation, the homey La Masia, and he seems to have settled right in at the Latin Lounge.
That’s the point. The two-level venue is a home away from home, except Dennis Quaid’s blues band just played a three-hour set in your living room. While Quaid’s working out his issues the old-fashioned way (he usually performs on Tuesdays), women and men are going off on the dance floor. That’s the first thing that greets you when you walk in the door--a tiny dance floor beckoning with live music and loads of it. Around the rest of the room, everyone simply marvels at the Latin Lounge’s apple martini, which tastes like it was picked off a Tinseltown tree.
On weekends, when L.A.'s finest Latin bands crank up the heat to red-hot, the Latin Lounge smolders with sensual energy; furry phallic lighting fixtures hover over booths. It’s nasty the way Ricky Martin’s “La Vida Loca” video was nasty.
But the guests like it, and they keep coming back to mingle. On a recent evening, there was film producer Maxine Taupin, the ex of songwriter Bernie Taupin. This is the woman who inspired “Tiny Dancer,” which inspired everyone’s favorite scene in “Almost Famous.” Hugh Hefner’s personal physician was there talking about Pips, a club he used to own that was at the A-list apex in its day. He insisted the Latin Lounge is the new Pips. He got no argument. Across the table was some character who said he “wrangles for Hef,” meaning he scouts the clubs to decide where the hottest spots are to take Hugh and his posse at night.
The Hollywood scene has needed a supper club where people walk from table to table, converse with each other and really get to know who’s on first, what’s on second, and who’s zooming who on third.
Perhaps the most interesting company of all is the Davis family itself. All three members are great conversationalists. They know everything about everybody who’s anybody in L.A. And quite frankly, they know how to throw a mean party.
With the debut of the Latin Lounge, we find them back in their element. As with the Gate, they attract a crowd that enjoys spending money for a good time. With the debut of their rock-and-dance club the Play Room last year, the Davises helped bring this town back to life. When the Play Room reopens later this year (it’s being repaired after a fire in November), we can only imagine what they’ve got in store for us.
All I know is, it’d be good to be a fly on the wall of the Latin Lounge, if only to overhear what the trio’s brewing up next. And who’s gonna be there.
* Latin Lounge, 9077 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 888-8811. 21 and older. Under 21 OK with dinner reservations. Cover varies. Open nightly.