Monday, August 23, 2010

Westside Tavern- a shopper's sanctuary

West LA really needs more watering holes that offer quality food, and moviegoers need a decent place to grab a bite before or after a show. Enter Westside Tavern, a restaurant located under the Landmark Theatre at The Westside Pavillion where chef Warren Schwartz (Whist at Viceroy, Patina, Saddle Peak Lodge) serves up California cuisine. I usually steer clear from shopping malls (hate the crowds and waits for the dressing room), but when you enter Westside Tavern, you'll soon forget that you're in a mall.

It's a very spacious restaurant that seats about 300 people. The decor is modern with leather booths and polished wood tables.

They have a sizable bar area that includes seating at their 50 foot walnut bar or at the high tables and stools.

Best drink in the world- White peach and basil gimet (Pressed basil, white peach puree, dry gin, lime juice, pasteurized egg white)
The peach puree was reminiscent of a belini as it was sweet and thick in consistency. The drink was very refreshing and the basil added a lovely aroma. I was tempted to order another one but it was too sweet and would have been an overkill.

Chicken liver mousse served in a mason jar with green apple chutney and grilled sourdough
I prefer mousse over terrines due to the ease of spreading the charcuterie on the toast.

The liver mousse was silky and rich. It reminded me of a pot de creme except that it's savory and sooo much better. I also liked the crostinis which were drizzled with olive oil and grilled.

Charred brussel sprouts with crispy prosciutto and sherry vinegar
Sounds good on the menu but the brussel sprouts were too bitter. I understand that it's supposed to be charred but I'm not sure if they meant for it to have a burnt flavor. I also thought the sherry vinegar was a bit too sharp and sweet. Perhaps balsamic vinegar would have fared better.

Rock shrimp and halibut ceviche
I liked the vibrant colors of the avocado, peppers, red onion and cilantro. This was a very fresh dish made with good quality seafood. The ceviche had a sour tang from the lime juice and a spicy kick.

Seared albacore with farro heirloom tomatoes and truffle vinaigrette
The fish unfortunately was a tad overcooked and dry. It was missing the pinkness in the center of the filet. It also needed a bit more seasoning. I did enjoy the farro which was cooked in a flavorful sauce. It almost had the same richness of a risotto. Unfortunately the truffle flavor wasn't very distinct in the dish.

I enjoyed my dinner at Westside Tavern. I liked the bar area. It wasn't overly crowded but yet wasn't dead. You could carry out a conversation but there was still some good music playing in the background. It's a great place to take a break, stretch your legs and recharge in between shopping sprees. It's a perfect after-work spot to grab a drink and a bite, It's also a good date place (I saw an elderly couple dining and sharing a bottle of wine. How cute. Here's hoping that when I'm old, I'll still be dining and drinking wine with my husband at a cool restaurant that isn't Norms). I enjoyed my meal especially the liver mousse. There are also other items in the menu that I'd love to try such as the french dip, the short rib roast and the halibut & chips. Westside Tavern is a nice welcome to the area. And come the holidays, it'll make Christmas shopping a bit more bearable.

Hits: liver, ceviche, cocktails, ambiance, free parking
Misses: burnt brussel sprouts
Rating: ***

Westside Tavern
10850 W. Pico Blvd.,
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 470-1539


Banana Wonder said...

i want that white peach and basil beverage! grrr! maybe i can reenact my own. i've always wanted to visit westside tavern. did you see chef austin?

Daniel S. said...

I actually like the burnt Brussels sprouts! Too bad about the overcooked albacore. Next time give the flat-iron steak a try (tasty fries, too). Also, the sticky toffee cake is a must order =)

Diana said...

I went here for drinks with a friend once and had a great time chatting with the bartender! It definitely made me want to come back for dinner. I'll remember to steer clear of the brussels and albacore though.

gourmetpigs said...

I meant to check out this place but kinda forgot about it. I should, though, and I should check out the new movie theatre too! (haven't been since graduating ucla) especially since @chefaustinszu is working there now