LA is Popping Over Pubs

Biergarten Fall Salad | Photos courtesy of Joshua Lurie

For dineLA.com

Chef Edward Hah grew up in restaurants, working at Sa Rit Gol, his family's place in Koreatown. This spring, he took over as chef of Neil Kwon's German-inspired beer bar and constructed a Korean-influenced menu to appease hordes of sports fans, gamers and hopheads who turn up to eat and partake in a pint. Hah retained K-Town standbys like drunken, charcoal-grilled and Korean fried chicken, plus sausage and “military” soup - a kitchen sink-style meal found after the Korean War that's loaded with ramen, Spam, hot dogs and kimchi. His more contemporary dishes include soft, creamy kimchi pancakes presented with frisee, spicy gochujang aioli and perilla-shallots. Seasonal specials might include a Fall Salad with Manchego, grilled endive, arugula, candied walnuts, crispy sliced discs of persimmon, figs and tarragon vinaigrette. Hah previously worked at 8 oz. Burger Bar, so he’s also got a number of burgers, e.g. the Chosun One with sautéed kimchi, gochujang aioli, pickled daikon, Dijon mustard and a salty slab of grilled spam on a sweet King’s Hawaiian roll.

Black Market Liquor Bar

Black Market Beet & Fig Salad

Happy Ending and Local Peasant owners Mario Guddemi and Sal Aurora revived the onetime Studio City home of the Victory Motorcycle Co., cultivating what may become a Studio City rarity: a non-sushi culinary destination. Chef Antonia Lofaso presides over the semi-open kitchen in the back, beyond the L-shaped wood bar, arched brick ceiling and reclaimed wood accents. She oversees a progressive bar menu that accounts for the seasons and sharing. Recent standouts included colorful roasted baby beets and figs with tarragon, creamy ricotta and crushed hazelnuts. Her crispy collard greens arrived with smoky Benton’s ham, cheese grits and a soft egg that washed yolk over the greens. She also did sliders right, with buttery brioche touting short rib and a sweet-spicy filling of raisins, jalapeno and tomato confit. For dessert, Black Market offered fun options like deep-fried fluffer nutter with fresh bananas. The establishment’s name also contains the word “liquor,” and talented bartenders Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix (of La Descarga and Harvard & Stone fame) entrusted bar manager Tricia Alley with a menu of well-balanced cocktails, old and new. Jace Milstead, a certified cicerone (or “beer sommelier”), developed a varied beer list around crafty options like the aptly-named Black Market Rye IPA.

1321 Downtown Taproom Bistro

1321 Downtown Meatballs

It turns out that downtown Torrance has something in common with Manhattan’s Central Park. Frederick Law Olmsted designed the latter, his son the former. The latest addition to Old Downtown Torrance’s historic core is 1321. Max Schlutz, Dana Chaney and Steven Torres, who collectively operate MOD (Manage/Operate/Develop), helped revamp a three-story, mixed-use building that dates to 1918. The space now features dark wood, illuminated brick walls, cushioned booths - and if you’re lucky - Laurel & Hardy on loop. Executive Chef Greg Paul developed a beer friendly menu, complete with detailed tasting notes, descriptions of each beer style and suggested pairings. Their Pale Ale Mac featured Strand’s locally produced 24th Street Pale Ale, cheddar, sharp cheddar, Swiss and salty cotija. Downtown Meatballs utilized pork and veal and arrived with Creole mustard cream, baby arugula and shaved Asiago. They smoked a Jidori chicken for 12 hours before deep-frying the bird and stacking it high with Poblano corn pudding and braised Swiss chard. For dessert, consider a “taster flight” of sorbet that might include scoops of Champagne, blood orange, guava and sherbet-like yuzu.

Mohawk Bend Keenwah

Mohawk Bend Keenwah Salad

It took two years for Tony Yanow and wife Amy to transform Echo Park’s long dormant Ramona Theater into Mohawk Bend. Plans actually predate Yanows’ other bar, Tony’s Darts Away, which opened in early 2010. Based on the steady crowds, it was evidently worth the wait. Spacecraft designer Kristofer Keith went for a “70s retro vibe,” with vintage beer tins, an open kitchen and bar flanking a communal marble table. A back patio feels like it’s outdoors thanks to brick walls, 18 skylights, a warm fireplace and a pair of ficus trees. While Tony’s has 36 taps, they doubled down at Mohawk, filling 72 handles of craft beer almost entirely from California to keep money in-state and to limit the carbon footprint. Bar manager Keith Taylor keeps pace by sourcing spirits entirely from California. Executive chefs Randal St. Clair and Sera Pelle tweak the mainly organic menu almost daily. Depending on the seasons and availability, expect a menu that’s approximately 80% vegetarian, with plenty of pizzas, burgers and shared plates. They might offer a fire-roasted artichoke with pluckable leaves and a pair of aiolis, tangy Meyer lemon-mint and red wine. A strength is clearly salads, with options like The Flash Gordon (grilled little gem lettuces, citrus segments, fresh-shucked avocado, dill dressing, pine nuts and pickled onions); and JJ Kale, named for JJ Cale (the singer-songwriter behind “After Midnight”), who apparently evoked seared kale with garlic, chile and fibrous julienne jicama. Don’t worry, not everything is wholesome. They do have a cast-iron cookie.

Peach and Country Ham Salad at Public Bar & Kitchen

Public Bar & Kitchen Peach and Country Ham Salad

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel seemingly has cocktails, food and slinky dresses at every turn. The latest addition to the culinary landscape is a gastropub from executive chef Tim Goodell, who replaced his longtime Dakota steakhouse concept with Public Kitchen & Bar. A marble lobby bar transitions to the sharp dining room, which features Art Moderne chandeliers, plush brown cushioned booths and banquettes and ceiling panels painted with crowns and mythical creatures. A door along the western wall provides a peek at a row of pig statuettes and the fire engine red Berkel slicer, which feeds on meats that appear on a column-mounted blackboard menu. The printed menu includes tantalizing options like sweet grilled peaches with savory country ham, sherry vinegar, frisee and crunchy shaved almonds. Goodell features an assortment of seasonal sides, which might include stem-on globe carrots seasoned with cumin, tangy lebni and spicy harissa; or a skillet of corn pudding with diced Hatch green chiles and a crust of yellow farmhouse Cheddar. Goodell is the man who delivered 25 Degrees to the Roosevelt, so of course he’s got a burger at Public Kitchen, topped with four-year cheddar and served with mix-and-match containers of bacon, roasted tomato jam, Hatch green chiles and roasted mushrooms. When it comes to poultry, you can go either light (herb-rubbed roasted chicken with preserved lemons) or heavy (spiced duck steak with duck and foie “pie” and roasted apricots). Return your gaze to the columns for “Dessert Specials” like passion fruit-lime trifle with Chambord macerated berries.

SmithHouse Asian Chicken Salad

SmithHouse Asian Chicken Salad

Craft, Clementine and the mall’s “dining deck” are no longer the only Century City game in town. Over the summer, restaurateur Curtis Nysmith debuted the sprawling SmithHouse, featuring a contemporary design from Spacecraft’s Kristofer Keith involving brick arches, high-top and horseshoe shaped booths, an ocean of flat screen TVs and vintage painted ads for companies like Mail Pouch Tobacco and Mobil gas, complete with Pegasus. New York based chef Angelo Sosa, best known for his Top Chef appearances, installed a menu of slightly twisted comfort food, including a sesame chicken salad with orange slices, enoki mushrooms and sesame vinaigrette; Korean-inspired fried chicken wings sporting crispy, sauce-lacquered skins and cooling “Asian” ranch dressing; and a signature SmithHouse burger constructed from chuck and brisket, with a devastating marrow and Parmesan crust. Adam Schenck installed a draft beer program with 120 handles. Renowned bartenders Damian Windsor and Jason Bran from The Roger Room worked with London based mixologist Simon Ford on the cocktail menu, which includes drinks like the refreshing Pimm's A Peel with Pimm's No. 1, citrus tea and lemongrass on the rocks. Save room for the Corn Brulee, a cornbread disc covering cool, creamy crème brulee and sweet blueberry compote.

The Tripel White Bean Bruschetta

The Triple White Bean Bruchetta

For years, Playa del Rey has grasped for a restaurant ambitious enough to appease savvy beach dwellers, and Hudson House chef-ownersBrooke Williamson brought salvation in the form of The Tripel, a Belgian-influenced gastropub on the neighborhood’s main drag. Their tightly packed space features exposed wood rafters, a bar facing a blackboard menu (and “Lubrication” sign) and a wood wall inlaid with the recipe for a Sumerian beer, taken from Hymn to Ninkasi. The Tripel’s kitchen is double the size of the couple’s counterpart at Hudson House, which allows for a more ambitious menu. They’ve got a turkey pastrami melt with pungent Cambozola blue brie cheese and stout mustard, a range of burgers, plus unique dishes like spicy biscuits baked with Thai curry and coconut milk, and white bean bruschetta with sweet wheat beer braised fennel, tangy capers and marinated white anchovies. They also draw on Belgian traditions to produce dishes like waterzooi, a chicken thigh and vegetable stew bolstered with cream, fenugreek, gremolata and a crispy golden potato latka. Finish with a warm, brownie-like chocolate cherry cookie topped with black tea ice cream, or turn to the blackboard for a craft beer or beer cocktail like the Sour Grapes with Madeira, tart St. Louis Lambic and a Luxardo cherry skewer.

INFO

1321 Downtown Taproom Bistro
1321 Sartori Ave., Torrance, 310.618.1321
www.1321downtown.com

Biergarten
206 N. Western Ave., Koreatown, 323.466.4860
www.biergarten-la.com

Black Market Liquor Bar
11915 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, 818.446.2533
www.blackmarketliquorbar.com

Mohawk Bend
2141 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, 213.483.2337
www.mohawk.la

Public Kitchen & Bar
7000 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 323.466.7000
thompsonhotels.com/hotels/la/hollywood-roosevelt/eat/public-kitchen-and-bar

SmithHouse
10351 Santa Monica Blvd., Century City, 310.432.4360
www.smithhousela.com

The Tripel
333 Culver Blvd., Playa Del Rey, 310.821.0333
www.thetripel.com