Okay, I'll fess up...I thought I was going to hate it. Maybe this is the trick? Go in with low to nonexistent expectations? I actually liked it a lot.
So let me back up the truck a little bit and start with the remodel. I would term the look "Baby Hillstone Group" (Bandera, Houston's and R+D Kitchen) or maybe even closer to the Westside Tavern in the Westside Pavillion. Very clean look with lots of windows and comfortable booths. Even the booths for two, which we sat in, were roomy and comfortable.
Our waitress was pretty efficient (just a slight delay in coming around late in the meal when I was wanting to order dessert - but a minor bobble). The lighting is subdued without being dark and the noise level, despite being near capacity, was well within acceptable limits for my 1960's Janis Joplin and the Seeds high velocity hearing to deal with...
We both got sandwiches, very similar in style. My wife got their pastrami on rye and I tried their "ersatz Reuben (with coleslaw replacing the kraut), also on grilled rye (almost a duplicate of the "Ruebenesque" sandwich at R+D Kitchen on Montana). Very good rye and very good pastrami. They come with a cone of skinny fries. Also very good. I would give the sandwiches and the fries solid B+'s.
I also had the brownie sundae for dessert. A really lovely brownie, heated through and a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and lots of toasted pecan halves and caramel sauce. Excellent. My wife wanted the bread pudding, but she had to settle for their "toffee cake" and wasn't as thrilled by her dessert (although I do note that she finished the entire thing without offering me even one teeny, tiny bit!)
With a coke and an ice tea, plus a coffee the total tab was $47, plus tip. This would be a very good date restaurant, but lots of families were there too. Folks dressed fairly nicely along with folks just strolling in wearing "Marina casual" (read sweats, t-shirts and deck shoes).
I did overhear one of the waitresses telling an adjacent table that they were planning on bringing some of the old Nichols favorites back to their menu, but I didn't hear which ones.
All in all a very nice meal in a lovely room. I think that this new concept will end up being a big hit over time.
4375 Glencoe Ave, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
1323 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403
10850 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA