Saturday, November 7, 2009

Substitute for grilled cheese truck at Beechwood

My friend from b-school moved to NY for a banking gig and was back for the weekend so a bunch of us ex-classmates decided to meet up for drinks. Back when I worked in Culver City, Beechwood was my after-work happy hour spot for the longest time. This is where I first fell in love with a sweet potato fry. It's a classy, loungey bar located in the casual, low key Venice Beach. The place has different personalities; older crowd in the formal dining area, yuppy crowd in the chill bar area and rowdy, cigarette smoking, trendy hipster crowd in the outside patio. And the patio is obviously my favorite spot ;-) It's a large sized patio with benches, couches and communal tables and a faux fireplace. The common thread throughout the restaurant is its modern wood decor and its good looking, well dressed clientele.

I planned on only joining my friends for the drinking portion of the night; not the dining. After yesterday gorge fest at Hite (+ hangover food ala Micky D's this morning), no amount of running made me feel better. It was also First Fridays at Abbot Kinney (less than a mile from Beechwood) and I wanted to try the new Grilled Cheese Truck that would be parked at the Brig. But Beechwood had short rib pot pie and sweet potato fries on the menu. How could I possible resist?!?

When I got there at 10pm, the place was packed but thankfully my friends had already snagged seats on a couch in the patio. Glass of wine was $8, very reasonable for an upscale joint. After a few glasses, I tried to sneak out to find the Grilled Cheese Truck but was guilted to stay. After all, how often does an old friend come into town? Alright, I'd stay.... but I need food STAT! The menu focuses on modern American cuisine made with fresh ingredients. The kitchen closes at midnight and it was a quarter till, so we rushed to get in our orders. Unfortunately the dinner menu closes at 11pm so I wasn't able to get the short rib pot pie.

Grilled cheese sandwich
Since we didn't make it to the grilled cheese truck, this was a good substitute. Brioche with fig paste, truffle pecorino, gruyere, humboldt fog goat cheese, served with arugula. This was definitely a fancier version of the traditional grilled cheese. We got this without goat cheese. Since I don't like cheese, I could only take a really tiny bite of it. But the small bite I took was delicious. You could really taste the fragrant truffle infused cheese. I also liked the addition of the sweet fig preserve.

Pressed pulled pork cubano sandwich
This came with provolone cheese, red onion, pickle chips. Somehow I thought the pickles would be served on the side but unfortunately they were in the sandwich, pressed on top of the pork and so all the sour pickle juices were ingrained in the pork. I personally cannot stand pickles, more so pickle juice that just overwhelms everything else in a dish. The pickle really gave a sour taste to the sandwich. I did like the pulled pork that was so flavorful and tender. And those sweet potato fries.. they never disappoint! They are cut just the right size, cooked perfectly (not crispy hard and not soggy soft) and not too starchy with the right amount of seasoning.

I had totally forgotten about this great spot. The bar food items are a meal in itself and there are many options around $10. Beechwood is a great trendy but still casual atmosphere, which is hard to come by in the area. Their dinner menu looks great: next time I'm back, I'd definitely try the braised short ribs pot pie or the wheat beer based seafood soup. There's a bit of something for everyone at Beechwood. A mellow dinner, a night out with the girls or a larger gathering of friends.

Hits: hopping scene, sweet potato fries
Misses: pickles
Rate: **

Beechwood Restaurant
822 West Washington Blvd.,
Venice, CA 90292
(310) 448-8884

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