Friday, January 4, 2008

Beers and Bars

Can you believe that it is 2008? Already we began the year with Britney Spears breaking down and is now officially under watch at Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Anyway, I promised that I would do a beer and bar review around the West Los Angeles area, or more specifically, the West Side. One of the most crowded and popular destinations among young professionals would have to be Fathers Office located in Santa Monica on Montana. It's roughly 5.25 miles from my apartment in Westwood, so I bike there when I meet up with my co-worker (or when I do my beer tour). The place is tiny, and offers a large selection of beers on tap (Racer 5 is pretty damn good), as well as wine. The food is a bit over-rated and seeing how I go there specifically for beer, I don't bother ordering anything to satiate my appetite. Well okay, I lied. The fries (regular and sweet potato) are really good. Presentation of the french fries are amusing as it is brought out in a little shopping cart. Father's Office is supposed to be opening a second location in Culver City at the old Helm's Bakery building, supposedly this month but who knows. You know it is the greater Los Angeles area, so being fashionably late is the only way to come out clean. F.O. as it is known is a bit pricey as it's location happens to be in Santa Monica. Again, I go there for the beer and fries and nothing more. F.O. gets absurdly crowded during the weeknights, and there is this older gentleman I have seen there every time I have gone. He is an alcoholic. How do I know this? "I don't go until they kick me out, and I have been here since they opened at noon." This was a Sunday. Anyway, expect a line if you arrive after 6, expect "standing room only" in between tables and don't show up in a group unless you are ready to argue for a table. This isn't my favorite place, but it's hard to look the other way with a good beer selection.

Another place I have visited is Marix down by PCH off of Entrada. It was the second bar/restaurant we stopped by on the beer tour (which I managed to do despite the rain and not having fenders for my bike). That was the first time I had Bud Light courtesy of my co-worker Judi's boyfriend. Hm, did not enjoy what-so-ever. I think that Marix would be a cute place to celebrate an event, but nothing really memorable to me. I did try Dos XX court
esy of Aaron. That isn't a bad beer. So I guess I didn't come out of there completely empty handed.

Just to let you know most of the bars and pubs I've been to have been in Santa Monica. West L.A. doesn't have many that I've ventured into coming out impressed. Scratch that, I haven't been to any that I have been impressed with in West Los Angeles. But I digress. I went to Ye Olde Kings Head down by 3rd Street Promenade after retrieving Fra B
ianchi II from North Hills one night (Tammy made me go with her). I should return on the weekend with the young bartender whom I owned on college football trivia. Yes, unfortunately for your my dear bartender and Ohio State fan, Michigan has the made the most Bowl appearances out of any team in the NCAA. Ah the joys of useless knowledge. Anyway, I returned a week or two later with Patrick and Sonya. It is here that I discovered Bass English Ale. Delicious. It was also here that I discovered how terrible Harp is, but Patrick seems to like it (maybe because it's an Irish beer). They serve a blonde Guinness called Boddingtons. Contrary to their menu at Ye Olde Kings Head, Boddingtons is no longer served via tap but from a can, just to let you know. And why yes, they do have Newcastle on tap.

Another bar in Santa Monica I went to but very quickly walked out of was Rooster Fish. Atmosphere was a -10. The end.

Ah yes, well despite my distaste for Rooster Fish and Harp, there is another bar located in Santa Monica called Sonny McLean's (26th and Wilshire), very close to O'Briens (23rd and Wilshire) and The Shack (25th and Wilshire). Talk about being able to do a pubcrawl... which I would never do. Anyway, Sonny McLean's offers up a decent selection of beer which I haven't really explored yet. Newcastle is available, but no hard liquor and they offer wine as well. This place is a Boston stronghold through and through, so if you follow any sports related to that wonderful New England city, this is the place you most definitely want to be. Sonny McLean's also provides a stage for entertainment (which I have yet to see) and a room full of dart boards and a few pool tables. As for the other two aforementioned bars, The Shack was not so great, in fact boring and tacky, and O'Briens seemed to be a place where single men who seem like douche-bags like to hang. But that's just my perception of things, so I could be terribly, terribly wrong in my assessment. However O'Briens does offer hard liquor and trivia night courtesy of nerdy UCLA grad students. Parking around all three of these bars can be a problem during a weekend night. Oh yes, O'Briens and The Shack do not serve Newcastle on tap. O'Briens does serve Stella Artois on tap, so I guess the place isn't the worst in the world.

The worst bar I went into (more so than Rooster Fish) would have to be Over Under. Fail. -99. And it is in Santa Monica, next to a sex toys and lingerie shop.

Okay, so I've finally reached my favorite bar in all of the West Side. Yes it is in Santa Monica. Yes, it is in a more sketchy area of this liberal beach city (near SMC). The Daily Pint wins, hands down. It serves a pretty decent selection of beer (Chimay to Newcastle to Youngs Double Chocolate stout). Beer and hard liquor, with Whiskey lining the top of the bar older than yes, some of your parents! Okay, maybe not older but the Whiskey is older than my sibling by ten years. SaMo residents refer to this place simply as The Pint and it is simply a great bar, no more no less. There are two pool tables and a shuffleboard table for your amusement. Expect lecherous drunken men to attempt to hit on you if you are female. It's kind of amusing unless the guy is much older. But the Pint is a great place to gather with a few good friends and enjoy a good drink. I have yet to experience any real difficulty finding a place to sit here, but every time I go I end up having a good time. I tend to order pale ales or lagers, as I have found that I am not a fan of dark beers. I do not like Arrogant Bastard (there is also an Arrogant Arrogant Bastard Daily Pint serves), Guinness, and by all means I simply hate Youngs Double Chocolate stout (makes me shudder).

Anyway, the places I have visited leaves me to only one other bar I have left to review, which isn't remotely close to the West Side at all. In fact, try Dodgers Stadium. The place I am referring to is the Red Lion Tavern in Silverlake. The city is filled with hipsters galore, but the Red Lion Tavern serves up some great German beer and delicious food that goes down perfectly with a lager, particularly Spaten Premium Lager. On top of the delicious beer selection from Germany that is on tap, Red Lion has a quaint little beer garden. Trust me, if you want to do Oktoberfest in Los Angeles, Red Lion is the place to be. Do not waste your money on Alpine Village during Oktoberfest as 1) the beer selection is atrocious and, 2) the food there isn't even as good and, 3) all they do is the Chicken dance (is that really a German thing?). Red Lion is definitely a place where all types of people who enjoy good German beer to flock to, and possibly the sausage platter they serve up. Red Lion is the only place where I found a good dark beer called Krostzinger. Anyway that's my beer and bar review. I did not mention any local places (such as Westwood Brewing Company and O'Haras because they are atrocious and filled with meat heads).

There are a few other places I want to explore such as Good, Luck Baldwins, and Library Ale House. One day I shall go, but it is not any time soon. Did I mention my New Year resolution was to cut back on my consumption with beer? So far it's worked :)

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