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For those coming to town to attend the Los Angeles International Textile Show, there is no shortage of places to quench one’s hunger and thirst. Here, a few of the hot spots.
THE SAYERS CLUB
This story first appeared in the March 20, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Kick back at The Sayers Club, a speakeasy tucked in the back room of the bright yellow Papaya King hot dog stand in Hollywood. Like the clandestine clubs of the Roaring Twenties, people need to use their connections to score an invitation. Those on the guest list can breeze into the glow of dimly lit chandeliers. Large Chesterfield couches create cozy seating nooks for guests like actress Malin Akerman to relax when they’re not dancing to DJ Rare Matthew’s preshow set. Drink carts mean the bar is always close, with bartenders kneeling by the carts to mix any cocktail, including the Pineapple Smash, a signature libation that swirls vodka with peppermint, lime and pineapple juice.
Jason Scoppa, who designed the SBE-owned club, handpicks the entertainment and emcees the impromptu live music shows, where even the scheduled performers don’t know when they’ll be up. In addition to musical guests such as Prince, Tony Bennett and Estelle, Scoppa coaxes talented audience members into performing. Even unsuspecting celebrities Jeremy Piven and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have stepped up to the stage. On Thursdays, the house band performs covers of everything from Beyoncé to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, often featuring up-and-coming vocalists such as LP, who just signed a record deal with Warner Bros. Records.
“It’s great because you can watch an up-and-coming artist really get their chops,” Scoppa said. “Never knowing what they’re going to see keeps [people] on their toes and keeps them coming back.” — Sarah Jones
The Sayers Club
1645 Wilcox Avenue
Hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Vintage chandeliers hovering above deep red wall panels ooze a sinister vibe inside Villains Tavern. The 1,600-square-foot restaurant and music venue opened in Los Angeles’ Arts District two years ago as part of interior designer Dana Hollister’s growing empire of baroque boîtes. The attention to design is a stark contrast to the bar’s gritty downtown location demarcated by railroad tracks and industrial buildings. Patrons can chat while sitting outside on Argentinean wrought-iron patio furniture dating from the 1900s or play a game of shuffleboard. Inside, a glass window displays 600 jewel-tone antique bottles and a Gothic church window is repurposed into a massive mirror.
Hollister, who owns the business with Dave Whitton, placed as much attention on the nibbles and libations as she did on the decor. For example, there’s the $12 Demon Burger topped with cheddar and a bacon-cherry marmalade sauce. To help wash the food down, Villains Tavern offers as many as 28 beers on tap, ranging from $4 Pabst Blue Ribbon to a Belgian triple ale called Maredsous 10 that costs up to $24 a serving, all poured into homey mason jars. Cocktails are also served in chilled jars with shaved ice, like the $9 Sno Cone Fix that’s mixed from a choice of fruit and spirits.
The cocktail menu was designed to continually entice guests. As Whitton explained, the inspiration was “to create two cocktails for every kind of palate, so anyone that walks in there will find at least two cocktails that they absolutely love.” — Subrina Hudson
1356 Palmetto Street
Hours: Monday to Wednesday, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Thursday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Friday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday, 3 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday, 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.
WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING
Mismatched plates and chairs lend themselves to an eclectic interior, but inside the white-walled Venice restaurant called Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing is a welcoming atmosphere accompanied by rustic food. “It’s not about super-high-end design,” said co-owner John Mascarenhas, who opened the 1,100-square-foot spot with partners and chefs Brian Dunsmoor and Kris Tominaga in November. “We spent all the money on buying ingredients.”
The location is originally home to an eatery called Capri. Mascarenhas had the idea to open Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing as a three-month pop-up restaurant inside Capri after continually seeing it empty while nearby hot spots such as The Tasting Kitchen remained packed. Now, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing has become so successful that the team is looking for a permanent location in Venice. Mascarenhas said it was important to serve the community because the entire staff — including Dunsmoor, who worked at Axe down the street, and Tominaga, who was a chef at Joe’s — hails from Venice. This might explain why everything on the menu is priced under $21 to appeal to locals who can keep coming back without breaking their wallets. “We really wanted to make the place a neighborhood restaurant,” said Mascarenhas. “The main thing is we have a lot of fun.” — S.H.
Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
1616 Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
“Top Chef” winner Michael Voltaggio displays his savory science skills at his first solo restaurant, Ink. Named one of the best new restaurants in the U.S. by GQ magazine since opening in September, Ink filters flavors from the various cultures that thrive in Los Angeles through techniques used in molecular gastronomy. For instance, Voltaggio’s version of a Caesar salad features fluke and puts a Japanese spin on the traditional Mediterranean ingredients by tempura-frying the dressing and sprinkling togarashi, a Japanese blend of chili pepper, on top. He also puts his spin on comfort foods such as Canada’s poutine, or cheese fries, which he makes with chickpea fries, yogurt curds and lamb-neck gravy.
Ink’s minimalist decor doesn’t distract from the food. Evoking industrial Americana, the rustic wooden tables with black leather chairs have seated famous foodies such as Neil Patrick Harris, Aziz Ansari, Chelsea Handler, Alyson Hannigan and Tom Colicchio, the celebrity chef who judged Voltaggio on “Top Chef.” Fitting into a fashionable section of Melrose Avenue, with neighbors such as boutiques for Alexander McQueen and Marc Jacobs, Ink’s servers don selvage aprons stitched by Venice, Calif.-based The Stronghold.
For those who prefer a quick and easy meal, Voltaggio runs a sandwich shop next door called Ink Sack. The four-inch subs, priced from $4 to $6, aren’t your typical deli options, however. The BLT is transformed into a CLT, with chicken liver mousse and curried chicken skin replacing the bacon. — S.J.
8360 Melrose Avenue
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 6 p.m. to midnight. Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for Ink Sack.