Six Restaurants to Know Right Now
By William Smolen
Tavern | Los AngelesImagine a scene from a Nancy Myers film, a room packed to the brim with glittering (and tipsy) well-to-do people, emitting the aura of competition that can only accompany faux-bohemian suburban wealth. Initially you might recoil, but the garish façade lifts to reveal something worth writing about.
Located in Brentwood, Tavern offers just enough jaw-dropping people-watching to rationalize driving that far West, all while satisfying the full range of LA?s diverse spectrum of diners. There?s the requisite Santa Monica wives and the husbands who would have rather been watching the football game in the bar room; discerning gays (always a plus and the surest sign you?re in a great place); and the glazed-over groups of blissful customers who looked relaxed, well-fed, and perfectly content. Yes, there are celebrities, too, but they?re here not to be bothered and the food will more than hold your rapt attention.
Refined and continental in its style with an emphasis on sourcing locally, the food is jazzed up without overwhelming the senses. Take the doughnuts: deep-fried sweet potato bombs dripped with a bacon caramel sauce. Simply delectable. This past fall/winter, something as standard as butternut squash soup felt unexpected, while a breaded chicken main balanced comfort food with elegance, even when served in a crock pot. Tavern is owned by the same people behind A.O.C. and Lucques, LA standouts that have continually proven themselves over the years. Its less formal front room is sort-of LA?s answer to New York?s Dean and Deluca with great food/pastry to take away. Airy, understatedly elegant and relaxed, Tavern has become the first place I visit when in town. Once I managed to have brunch and dinner there the same day with different people -- weird, I know.