Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bar | Kitchen (Los Angeles - Downtown)

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After I read that Bar | Kitchen's cocktail program was revamped by 2 former bartenders from NY's famed Death & Co, I was convinced that I had to try this place out.  We came during Happy Hour and found the bar desolate.  

Normally, empty bars/restaurants are a red flag for something not being exactly right - at least, that's what it normally signifies.  Having experienced a similar occurrence up the road at Checkers several months ago, I am not so quick to high-tail my way out at the first sight and sound of tumble weeds and crickets.  One of my favorite, if not my absolute favorite, Happy Hour turned out to be Checkers.  Despite the fact that nobody else was there (til around the time we left), I fell in love with the food.  The drinks weren't shabby by any stretch of the imagination either.  But I digress...

We ordered some items from Bar | Kitchen's Happy Hour Menu and some off their dinner menu.  I tried a pair of cocktails and although both were equally good.  I preferred the Bourbon-based "El Matador" over the White Rum and Pisco "Mai Bumbye."  What can I say? I prefer Bourbon.  Simple as that.  I felt both drinks could have been boozed up a touch more though.  - 4 stars          

As far as the food goes, we went with 6 dishes.  From the Happy Hour menu, we got the Truffled Shoe-String Fries.  I could have eaten 3 orders of these and called it a day.  As far as cheesy fries go, for me, these were right up there - just below the Blue Cheese Fries at Pete's Cafe.  - 5 stars

Again, off of the HH menu, we went with more starchy goodness.  The Potato and Cheese Croquettes were good but $4 for an order of 4 marble sized croquettes didn't seem like such a bargain. - 3 stars

We finished ordering off of the HH menu with the Crispy Shrimp in Romesco Sauce.  We found the sauce rather bland and the shrimp, while crispy, overcooked. - 2.5 stars  

Next came a Prosciutto Flatbread.  I liked the flavorful, well-seasoned sauce, toppings and crispy thin crust.  I just wish the dough had been baked that way through-and-through.  It was limp towards the middle.  As far as I know, limp is never good in the middle - ever!  - 4 stars

One thing that wasn't flaccid, was their Almond-Stuffed, Bacon-Wrapped Date.  Prepared properly, these suckers are a winner every time - and yes, properly prepared they were.  What's not to like about the sweet and smokey interplay between the date and bacon, you know?  It's almost cheating for restaurants to have these on their menu.  I mean, automatically I want to return.  - 5 stars.
          
We finished our small plates meal with a Swiss Chard & Artichoke Gratin.  I liked it a lot and It kinda made me feel a little less guilty knowing I was having some greens (albeit smothered in creamy cheese).  I could have liked this slightly more if it had been a [marinated] artichoke and swiss chard gratin, rather than the other way around.  But that's just my artichoke-loving-ass talking.  Wait, that doesn't sound right...  - 4 stars 
  
I enjoyed the cocktails and food more than enough to make me want to return very soon.  I saw several more dishes I'd want to try.  It's nice to know that I can come here for quality food and drinks.  While the drinks are what lured me, the food is what might just end up bringing me back.

Sidenote: Ample $3 parking is available [after 4pm] on either side of 8th St. between Grand & Olive.  The walk is only 2 short blocks away to Bar | Kitchen and you'll save yourself 4-8 dollars than if you park adjacent to the restaurant/hotel.




Note to self: Sliders n Beer next time.



El Matador - Bourbon & Sherry based cocktail with Fresh Citrus.



Potato & Cheese Croquettes with Aioli.



Almond-Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Bacon.



Swiss Chard & Artichoke Gratin with Crostini.



Crispy Shrimp with Romesco Sauce.



Mai Bumbye - White Rum, Pisco, Fresh Lime Juice, Orange Curacao & Orange Marmalade.



Prosciutto Flatbread - Artichoke Spread, Oven Dried Tomatoes & Basil.



Truffle & Parmesan Fries.



Part of the Decor.


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