Name of restaurant: Tipple & Brine, in Sherman Oaks.
Chef: Executive Chef Mike Williams previously worked with Casey Lane at the Tasting Kitchen in Venice and the Parish downtown (which closed last year).
What dish represents the restaurant, and why? Oysters, of course. A few choices on a recent menu included Malaspina (British Columbia), Hood Canal (Washington) and Misty Point (Virginia). Bowmore Scotch is paired with an oyster for the “Tipple & Brine Oyster Luge.” Sip the oyster liquor (the brine inside the oyster), sip the Scotch, eat the oyster and add some Scotch to the remaining brine and shoot it back. Confused? Don’t be, just look for the huge, explanatory sign near the bar entrance.
Runners-up: A spontaneous addition to a recent menu was the smelt fritto misto. The fresh fish (general manager Adam Weisblatt noted they smelled like cucumbers when they arrived in the kitchen) were lightly fried and topped with crisp lemon slices, pickled Fresno chiles and oregano and served with a classic sauce gribiche. Julie Harmon of Ocean Jewels supplies fresh fish and oysters daily. Large enough to share as a starter, the sea urchin toast with avocado mousse and radish was creamy, buttery and crunchy.
Concept: A casual restaurant and bar set in a comfortably rustic space on Ventura Boulevard. Walls are made from reclaimed wood and festive Edison lights dangle throughout. Not into oysters or uni? There are plenty of menu options for other seafood (scallops, whole-fried orata) and meats (chicken, lamb and steak). Vegetarians will do well too: Gorgeous baby carrots arrive with feta, olive relish and a rich pistachio butter.
Who’s at the next table? A group of beautiful young women took over the communal table in back.
Appropriate for ... : Valley girls and guys tired of driving over the hill (or even downtown) for a hip watering hole and good grub.
Uh-oh ... : The smelt fritto misto isn’t on the regular menu. It all depends on what the fish supplier has to offer that day.
Service: Friendly and knowledgeable.
What are you drinking? Bowmore Scotch with the oyster luge, and a refreshing drink called the “Ford Cocktail” made with gin, dry vermouth, Benedictine and bitters. It’s a dangerously smooth concoction created by Honeycut’s Daniel Zacharczuk. There’s wine and beer too.
Info: Tipple & Brine, 14633 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818) 528-2550, www.tippleandbrine.com.