Think of Houston's, Rock Sugar, Gulfstream or Westside Tavern - restaurants that offer solid execution in a dark/modern space without cuisine that's too challenging for the average Angeleno diner. The restaurant has done a good job of setting themselves up for success by hiring the capable Sosa, but they went another step forward by building in 120 beer taps (maybe a bit of overkill), and then had bartenders Damian Windsor (one of my favorite bartenders in L.A.), along with Jason Bran and Simon Ford. The drink menu looks good enough, though I'm more overwhelmed by the beer selection.
I had a bunch of bites last week with my friends Chris and Grace, and plan it hit it up again before they summon Froilan back to New York. Not sure when that will be, but with the straightforwardness of the menu I don't foresee a big drop off in quality, especially for the reasonable prices.
I started out with the Belgian flight ($14), which features a strawberry lambic (Chris loved it, he of the sweet tooth), and four other solid Belgian-esque choices (Blanche de Bruxelles, Unibroue Maudite, Alagash Curieux to name a few). Each pour was at least 4 ounces, maybe even more, making the flight a pretty good deal and something really fun to drink throughout the meal.
My friends each had a cocktail (check out more of the cocktails on my friend Caroline on Crack's post), the Mayan Mistress (Zacapa rum, lemon, vanilla, orange, passionfruit) and Black 'n Bulleit (a take on a blackberry bramble with Bulleit bourbon, cassis, blackberries and orange). Both were very good, though I thought it was almost wasteful to use a great rum such as Zacapa in a mixed drink.
Overall the food is delicious, unfussy, and crowd-pleasing. The burger reminded me a lot of the Bradley Ogden burger with a terrific grind and soft bun, though the richness of the bone marrow made it almost impossible to consume as a whole (I split it w/ the Kims). Grace loved the grilled tilapia sandwich though after the burger it didn't stand out as much to me. Pretty much everything else we got is worth getting, though be prepared for some pretty heavy food. I could see myself coming here instead of the other more generic Century City chain-type places. The very East-Coasty, Americana type vibe inside would feel right at home in Boston or D.C., making it an ideal after-work and happy house venue with co-workers. The larger tables also make it a good meeting place for groups, and who can deny the awesomeness of free valet (with a text-message service to have your car ready when you're on your way out!).
The check came out to $129 after tip. The GM came by right afterward and lifted the check so we left a $40 tip in cash.
SmithHouse Tap & Grill
10351 Santa Monica Blvd (and Beverly Glen)
Los Angeles, CA 90025