Tuesday, October 05, 2010


Tavern is the kind of place where you'll have an impeccable dining experience, but nary a decent photograph to show for it. (Unless, of course, you go there in the daytime, when the larder and atrium dining room are flooded with light so as to showcase the Jeffrey Alan Marks design and decor.)

Photo: Tavern / aackstudio
Photo: Tavern / aackstudio

Go there for dinner, and you'll marvel at the familiar yet surprising comfort of the food. (Seared Albacore over beluga lentils? Of course.) The thoughtful and generous service. (Responsive and perfectly-timed? Yes. Hovering and solicitous? No.) The sumptuous New-York-chic-meets-California-cool surroundings. (A testament to chef/owner Suzanne Goin's signature guest-at-a-dinner-party feel, you wonder, when can I move in?)

Of course, you'll expect nothing less -- Tavern is, after all, the brainchild of Goin and Caroline Styne, of Lucques and A.O.C. -- and you'll know that you won't do it justice with your pedestrian words and wretched photographs. (In my defense, the restaurant is much too dark and my camera flash -- a no-no to begin with -- much too "hot.")

So you'll simply say that your birthday dinner at Tavern marks your best restaurant dining experience in L.A. to date. That you wish Tavern had been Tavern and not Hamburger Hamlet when you lived in Brentwood. That on second thought, maybe not, because you'd be broke. That if you were the kind of person who didn't have to worry about going broke, you'd hire Jeffrey Alan Marks to design and decorate your house. And Suzanne Goin to teach you how to cook, because your Sunday Suppers at Lucques cookbook just isn't the same.

You'll order two disparate appetizers and banter with your husband about which is better. (Hint: it's the one in which you're indulging at that very moment.)

Roasted Peaches with Burrata, Prosciutto and Pine Nuts (Best. Burrata. Ever.)

Seared Albacore with Beluga Lentils, Green Olives and Salsa Verde

You'll pass your shockingly ill-photographed entrees back and forth, marveling at the perfection of the pork shoulder in all its brined-for-72-hours glory, and how its richness is tempered by the avocado salsa that is bright and refreshing and not at all heavy.

Pork Confit with Corn Pudding, Mojo Criollo and Avocado Salsa

You'll implore your husband to rein you in as you dig for caramelized leeks and onions in Goin's riff on Chicken Dijon.

The Devil's Chicken with Braised Leeks, Onions and Mustard Breadcrumbs

You'll have saved room for pastry chef Breanne Varela's famed Snickers Bar dessert, which will be dropped at your table with a complimentary plate of her cookies, adorned with a birthday candle. And you'll breathe a sigh of relief that although Tavern isn't the least bit pretentious, it isn't the sort of  place where the staff sings to you.

Breanne's Cookies

Can we talk about the Snickers Bar for a minute?

Snickers Bar with Salted Peanut Caramel and Vanilla Ice Cream
(Photo: starchefs.com)

It was mind-blowing. Best. Dessert. Ever. It's what the Momofuku Chocolate-Malt Cake wishes it could be. And were Tavern that sort of place, we'd have licked the plate clean.

Do go to Tavern, and do bring a jacket. It's dreadfully over-air conditioned -- its only flaw.


  1. yum. will you make me a snickers bar?

  2. Happy belated. Again. Love Tavern. Not the diners there, just the restaurant itself. The lounge chairs are SO ridiculous(ly awesome). You throw yourself and sink into them, then just stare at the bar for an hour. Yah, I can do that.

  3. wow! I'm so flattered by your comments. Thank you!

  4. Breanne, this post doesn't begin to do justice to your pastry skills. I'm obsessed!