Modest little spot in Brentwood? Hardly
Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne have a phenomenal batting average with their restaurants Lucques and A.O.C. (Goin also owns Hungry Cat with her husband, David Lentz). For their new restaurant, Tavern, they head west, way past the comfort zone of La Cienega Boulevard, all the way to Brentwood and the old Hamburger Hamlet space on San Vicente Boulevard.
I didn’t know what to expect. A modest little tavern?
Certainly not this glamorous and sophisticated space with boxed topiary and striped awning out front.
I knew a bakery and a takeout were part of the plan, and that’s the first thing you see as you enter, a little bit Joan’s on Third, a little bit mini-Harrods. But instead of cafe chairs, there is the delicious luxe of buttery caramel-colored leather sofas. I just want to sink into one with a coffee and a scone.
Then comes the bar, with more tables and diminutive wing chairs, the better to show off a fetching pair of legs and silver sandals over an order of gougere or classic steak tartare. I could be happy here, I think, noshing on a mini shrimp Louie and a pork burger with Manchego and romesco.
Off the far end of the bar is another room, even grander, an indoor version of Lucques’ patio with a soaring glass ceiling, green carpeting and two silvery olive trees. More gorgeous sofas, zinc-topped tables and a glossy Westside crowd that gets noticeably younger as the evening wears on.
The menu follows the Lucques model in being short and succinct: a handful of starters, a handful of mains. Green Goddess salad with avocado and fresh Dungeness crab is a must. The season’s asparagus is roasted and set down on a bed of polenta with a fried egg and some shaved pecorino on top. Another good bet: the duck sausage with puckery kumquat marmalade.
But we’re only four. We can’t order everything, so I leave Mr. P to sort out the main courses. He zeros in on the grilled lamb with white beans and feta salsa verde, which far outshines the mussels and clams with vermouth and artichokes or the beef daube served on a carrot puree. The flaccid, already cut up Niman Ranch hangar steak won’t win any beauty prizes, but the creamed spinach and fingerling potatoes that come with it are terrific.
What fun, we’re thinking, as we revel in having dinner in this subtly beautiful room. I want to move in. Especially if room service includes the blood orange and vanilla ice cream “coupe.” Plus soon, very soon, Tavern will be serving breakfast and brunch as well as lunch and dinner, and I expect that “Tavern-adjacent” will be the latest apartment rental come-on.
Where: 11648 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles
When: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily for lunch; 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday for dinner. Full bar. Valet parking.
Price: Bar menu, $4 to $16; burgers, $16 to $17; dinner starters, $12 to $16; main courses, $22 to $32; desserts, $10; kid’s menu, $5 to $10
Contact: (310) 806-6466; www.tavernla.com
Just the ticket
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