It arrives at the end of the night. An intriguing cocktail that doubles as dessert and stands as an example of all that the new Hollywood restaurant and bar Sadie aspires to be. A tall, cold glass of the sweetly herbal Italian aperitif Campari mixed with a Campari-flavored soda called Sanbitter and topped with a scoop of housemade Peychaud bitters ice cream, the drink is subtle, easy on the eyes and delicious.
The concoction demands respect and a slow, steady approach. The same can be said of Sadie, a very grown-up retreat in the space that housed all three incarnations of the famous Les Deux on Las Palmas Avenue. Les Deux was one of the hottest doors in the red-hot center of Hollywood, so Sadie is breaking all sorts of molds with its free-and-easy door policy; down-to-earth bar staff, servers and managers; and affordable menu.
It's also in keeping with a broader trend in Hollywood, one that is leaning away from thumping clubs trafficking in Jagerbombs and stripper heels and toward mixology-level cocktails and a relaxed but sophisticated lounge environment. Hemingway's, the Spare Room, the Writer's Room and Cleo at the Redbury set the precedent, but Sadie, with its two bars and sprawling outdoor dining patio with seating for 105, is by far the largest venue attempting to bring sleek sanity to the area.
The owners of the space, the Simon family, experienced a more rowdy brand of Hollywood clubbing when Les Deux was associated with the Dolce Group. Sadie, named after the family matriarch who opened Simon Candy & Nut Shop in 1935, is their own idea.
"When I was growing up here as a kid, Hollywood wasn't much of a neighborhood. People who lived here had to venture to the Westside to find a place to eat, drink and relax," says Giovanni Martinez, Sadie's director of spirits. "And at 9 p.m. they had to lease out the neighborhood to a bunch of club kids. That's changing as Hollywood becomes more residential. We're trying to fill that void for people looking to not stand in a crowded line full of miniskirts and Ed Hardy to pay $19 for a Jack and Coke."
Martinez (the Buffalo Club, Fig & Olive) is Sadie's secret weapon, crafting a remarkable list of complex and well-balanced cocktails using inventive ingredients including raisin-infused balsamic, lemon-clove syrup, lavender-infused wild honey, and the above-mentioned Peychaud bitters ice cream. A bartender's bartender, the affable Martinez counts many of the city's top mixologists, including Julian Cox, among his admirers and has created a drink list rivaling those found in some of downtown's most respected mixology dens.
Sadie has two sizable bar areas, a lush front parlor that will double as what Martinez calls his "research and development lab" and a cozy back lounge that looks onto the dining patio. When the place is full you'll be able to get some of Martinez's more complicated creations only in the parlor, alongside a limited menu by chef Dave Schmit, formerly of the Hotel Bel-Air, the Brentwood Country Club and the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
The menu features clean and simple New American cuisine with Mediterranean flair. Duck confit salad with frisée and blackberry gastrique; flaky Idaho trout on a bed of olive oil-mashed potatoes; dry-aged prime top sirloin with roasted artichoke and a variety of meze (hummus, baba ghanouj and the like), flatbread and charcuterie round off a menu that makes up in price what it lacks in adventure.
"There's no reason there shouldn't be more good, solid places to eat in Hollywood," says general manager Patrick Doherty, who displays the prowess of a 1940s-era maitre d' with his ability to remember patrons and their preferences after a single interaction. "Plus the courtyard is a luxury space anywhere, let alone in the middle of Hollywood."
That's certainly true, and the patio is part of what makes Sadie feel so grown-up. Comfy couches sit on either side of a raised platform that hosts an open seating plan with simple blond-wood chairs and tables. A slender pool of illuminated water stretches along the back wall, causing a wavering liquid shadow to appear in the dim light.
The lounge, with its many vintage wood accents, is just off the patio, with secretive banquettes along one wall and a busy, square bar in the center of the room. As the heart of Sadie, it's the kind of place where you could have a script meeting, take a date for a romantic evening, or sit and read your favorite book or magazine by yourself, making it just the kind of bar that new Hollywood needs.
"You kind of forget you're in Hollywood," says Martinez. "You forget that you're at Las Palmas and Hollywood Boulevard."