Archive | November 2013

Sunset Blvd. Update: Ready for Three Close-ups

With in the past few months Sunset Blvd has experienced a new wave of restaurants, lounges and bars. From a unique dim sum cart service on the West end to a glam bar on the East side, here are three additions to add to your calendar this month.

The Church Key
This eclectic restaurant by a former chef and employees from SBE’s XIV and The Bazaar, Executive Chef Steven Frezt, Manager Joseph Sabato and a mixologist Devon Espinoza from Pour Vous and Ink are all behind one of the most talked about venues since opening a mere few weeks ago. First, there is the rustic reclaimed wooden decor with white brick walls, tin ceilings, leather lounge chairs and expansive open spaces including a square bar taking center stage along with a fireplace wall separating the entrance from the main dining area. The food comes to your table immediately in the form of dim sum style cars and servers wearing kitschy Pan Am uniforms. You might think this sounds corny but it actually works and is a really fun night out, plus the food is actually well conceived. Start with a mini-French onion soup, fluke ceviche, herb popcorn, falafel croquettes with truffle tahini or shaved Knoxville ham – cured for 24 hours, which arrives at your table via a giant Berkel slicer.  The kitchen has also come up with one of the best bar snacks in history: pig ear Cheetos with avocado dip that is exactly what is sounds like and you won’t be able to stop eating it. While you peruse the menu, it’s tempting not to load up on all of these fun snacks and small plates, but a stamp card system will help you keep track. You’ll want to save room for the tapioca crusted Thai snapper and grilled artichokes with brioche croutons, stuffed ‘Peking’ quail or fusilli pasta with charred squid, soppressata, pepperoncini and pecorino. Do say yes to the frozen pops, Jell-O shots or the appletini lemon drop cart when it comes rolling up to your table.

Also on the west end of the strip, IDG (Innovative Dining Group) has added to their already existing Riva Bella and BOA eateries in the neighborhood with a Chinese fine dining restaurant billed as ‘modern Chinese without boundaries.’ The décor is stunning with faux butterfly, tree and floral showcases built into the walls, a ceiling filled with lanterns, sleek black tables and dark bamboo floors. Settle in for a long evening in a cozy booth and order lobster spring rolls, black pepper jumbo scallops and sausage fried rice now executed by Iron Chef Alum Tyson Wong Ophaso. A must is the 8-hour lacquered skin Peking duck which is a show-stopping signature dish, presented at the table first, then brought back carved with homemade plum, Hoisin sauce, paper thin Porbien crepes, cucumbers and scallions.  Another menu must is the Alaskan King Crab, cooked in the Hong Kong Aberdeen method with crispy garlic and chile; twirled with clear mung been noodles. Bar Manager Aaron Alvarez whips up the Spice Route with Madagascar Tru Vanilla vodka, tarragon, lime and cumin which goes well with most dishes; East by Southwest is concocted with Patron Silver tequila, Benedictine, tamarind syrup, cherry heering, and lime with a grapefruit-salted rim; and a Curry Blossom with Grey Goose vodka, apricot liquor, curry leaf, and raspberry orgeat.

The Warwick
Finally, a plush watering hole in the heart of Hollywood for adults resurrected from the old, old Club Lingerie 90’s music venue by the team of Jeffrey Best, Sylvain Bitton and JT Torregiani. This is not to say that close to midnight, a gaggle of pretty young people that all resemble actors or models are not popping in the front door near the DJ booth, but this sexy, sophisticated space is all about the market fresh hand-crafted cocktails created by Damien Windsor and Jason Bran. Try to snag a table by one of the giant fireplaces and get comfortable on the sofas where a table side mixologist makes you a cocktail utilizing a rage of spirits, mixes, fresh fruits and garnishes. Naturally, they make everything in house from simple syrups to tonics. If you can make a decision, an array of mixed concoctions are also available from Champagne cocktails to the foamy and delicious Coco Pina Fresca. If the downstairs area is too sceney for you, head upstairs to a more intimate area with distressed white leather sofas and a small bar where you can peer down below through the industrial style glass windows at the crowd below and get a closer look at some of the nude paintings and photographs that line the brick walls – including the life-size, eye-popping images.