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Restaurants & Bars 2

Tar and Roses off to Promising Start and Tar Free

Layne Murphy | Feb 6, 201211:50 AM

We seldom venture into brand new places but it piqued my interest, although husband noted that the word "tar" in the name of a restaurant is not particularly appetizing. I'm going to have to rely on my memory which was a bit clouded by a scrumptious Downtown Brown Ale on tap because the menu isn't up on the website-although they expect to post it this week. Didn't bother with the wine list but there's a nice selection of on tap and bottled beer.  Beer expert/cheapskate Husband had Craftmen Peated Scotch ale which was outstanding, and according to him, fairly priced.
There's a separate menu of starters mix and match style--3 for $12.  There are three different brushettas, a selection of cheeses and a number of charcuterie choices.  We had a lovely California goat cheese along with brandade and white anchovy brushettas. There is also a duck rillette brushetta that we didn't try.  Starters are served on a board with a jar of homemade pickles including multicolored carrots, Jerusalem artichokes in addition to cukes.  There was a few slices of a fruit nut toast and dollops of membrillo and honey and a sliced apple.  A very hospitable start indeed. 
The main menu has a section of snacks which seems kind of redundant because the starter menu falls into the same category.  Nevertheless, there were some interesting items like chicken "oysters.'  Side dishes are divided into starch and a number of great sounding vegetable preparations. As my dining companion is not fond of vegetables I chose only a chanterelle "stuffing"which pretty much tasted like turkey stuffing with lots of sage, delicious but not too mushroomy. Also had a wood fired broccoli garnished with what was called 'Parmesan pudding," kind of a grandiose description of a tiny blob of a creamy parmesan concoction-very tasty but kind of spartan at $8.  We shared a wood roasted branzino that was stuffed with herbs and lemons. Simple perfection and served with a Myer lemon risotto which was maybe a nonce heavy on butter.  Dessert was a mind blowing Strawberry Crostada on a marcona almond crust and served with phenomenal honey ice cream.
There service was super friendly and obliging.  At first I thought a bit bordering on unctuous but the restaurant has only been open two weeks and it seems the staff is just terrifically ebullient at how swimmingly it's going. The only sign that we weren't at a long established and perfectly oiled machine is that they were out of decaf coffee. Shocking but given how good everything else was, forgivable.  The room is brick and modern light fixtures and a bit drafty in the booths that provide a view of the kitchen. It was fun hearing the server to cook patter although when it was announced there was VIP on table 24 I felt sort of hoi polloi. Perhaps the presence of big shots should be noted a bit more discreetly.  The serving vessels-cunning little casseroles, planks and jars-are adorable. The music is a bit loud and the mix started with Neil Diamond and Suzanne Vega but fortunately got a bit more innocuous so I didn't have to blow my brains out. We had a 5:45 reservation and the joint was full by six.  Think it's going to become a tough reservation but one I definitely hope to finagle again. 

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