Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bar Toscana: Finally, a real bar in Brentwood!!

I knew full well what I was getting into when I moved to Brentwood. Sure there would be a slew of amazing Italian restaurants on San Vicente and both Tavern and Katsuya have a bar section, but mainly for diners to grab a drink while waiting for their tables. There really wasn't a bar scene in the area. Thankfully a couple months ago, the owners of Toscana Restaurant decided to fix that problem. Perhaps they wanted to expand their clientele base to include a younger demographic (and by younger, I mean 30s, not 20s), or perhaps they wanted to create a place to catch the overflow from their popular and heavily booked restaurant. Whatever the impetus was, Bar Toscana opened up across the hall from its Italian sister, much to the delight of many residents.

Apart from the Italian theme and upscale feel, Bar Toscana is rather different from its restaurant sibling. The clientele at Bar Toscana is younger, the soundtrack is more on the lines of Indie music, and the bar is loungey and spacious (for Brentwood) with large couches, long bar seating and tables.

The bar features a nice cocktail list, crafted by bar manager William Perbellini. They also have daily cocktail and food specials.

Their food menu revolves around stuzzichini (small plates) and includes sharable dishes such as cheese plates, prosciutto, panini and carpaccio. The prices are definitely on the higher end for a bar and unfortunately they do not have happy hour specials, but the quality of food and service is in line with that of an upscale restaurant. And besides, this is Brentwood after all.

We were presented with foccacio that was grilled lightly with an adequate sprinkle of salt.

Cinque Terre ~ a flavorful combination of hendrick’s gin, strawberries, mint and basil bonded together with fresh lime and agave nectar
This was a well constructed cocktail. It had just the right amount of sweetness and citrus.

We also ordered a carafe of Pinot Grigio which the bartender kindly kept in an ice bucket to chill.

Zuppa di Carciofi ~ creamless baby artichoke soup with parmigiano crisps
This was a half order for $7, the full order was $14. The soup was thick like a puree and had an intense artichoke flavor that wasn't diluted with cream. The Parmesan crisp had a nice sharpness to it that was a nice accompaniment to the soup. This was a nice tasting dish but I'm not sure if it warranted a $7 price tag.

Santa Barbara Prawns ~ ricotta, yellow pepper, basil souffle
The prawns were one of the daily specials. They were large and butterflied, simply grilled and tasted extremely fresh with a touch of sweetness. My favorite was the orange roe that was still attached to the meat. The prawns were served with a basil soufflé which was soft and moist, and had the same consistency and flavoring of a frittata. I almost ignored the salad but luckily decided to give it a chance. It was refreshing and nicely dressed with citrus.

Argosta Carasau ~ lobster with tomato, ginger and basil, served with onion purée and sardinian music paper
Large chunks of fresh poached lobster were tender and seasoned well. The onion puree was a winner. It was sweet and intense in flavor, and something that I continued to spoon into my mouth even after the flat bread was gone.

Carpaccio Di Piemontese ~ piedmontese beef fillet carpaccio with marinated artichokes, pecorino and black truffle
The thinly shaved carpaccio was delicate and melt in your mouth. It worked well with the sharp and salty pecorino. The shaved truffles were aromatic and brought an elegance to the dish.

Lasagnetta Ai Funghi ~ lasagnetta slider with wild mushrooms, white meat ragout and fontina cheese.
We decided to order the half portion (the full portion included two lasagnettas). The pasta sheets were fresh and supple. The lasagnetta looked like a purse and was crispy and browned on the top. It was filled with a flavorful rich meat ragout, and topped with mild gooey cheese and meaty sauteed mushrooms. I really enjoyed this dish. It was filling and rich, and was a good representation of upscale comfort food.

Tiramisu Bar Toscana ~ "carry me up" two layers of homemade cake, soaked in a decaf espresso syrup, mascarpone mousse and chocolate shavings.
We ended our meal with the tiramisu. This was probably my least favorite dish because the flavors were mild and it lacked a sweetness that one craves in a dessert. The rum also had a tart flavor that I didn't care for.

Bar Toscana is definitely a much welcome in Brentwood. I'm looking forward to making this spot my local hangout. I was missing a grownup bar that was within walking distance from home, where I could grab a couple drinks and a good bite that didn't include something greasy. The cocktails and food are delicious, the ambiance is great but the prices are steep for a bar. But it definitely fits right in with the area - upscale, sophisticated and pricey.

Hits: only dedicated bar in the area, lasagnetta, carpaccio
Misses: pricey, tiramisu
Rating: ***

Bar Toscana
11633 San Vicente Blvd.,
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 826-0028

1 comment:

Diana said...

That's great that I have another post-work watering hole option in Brentwood! I usually head straight to Tavern's bar, but will definitely think about checking Bar Toscana out next time!