Jul. 12th, 2011

Public Kitchen & Bar at the Hollywood Roosevelt: An L.A. Eatery for the People

Photo Courtesy of Hollywood Roosevelt
The legendary Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel has been a Los Angeles landmark since 1927, having hosted the first-ever Academy Awards and still serving as a playground for tinsel town's A-team. Fun-loving gastronomes like me also flock to the locale for another reason: Public Bar & Kitchen.

Situated just off the lobby area, Public Kitchen & Bar is a see-and-be-seen spot serving up eclectic American fare courtesy of Executive Chef Tim Goodell. Having opened for business in February 2011 in the space that previously housed Dakota, this restaurant and bar duly harkens Old Hollywood but with a decidedly hip, provincial and comfortable sensibility.

The décor at Public Kitchen & Bar is rustic and reminiscent of a 1920s dining hall rife with commanding butcher block tables, dark woods, leather booths, and roomy diamond-tufted banquettes. Adding an elegant feel are opalescent marble tiles and grand ironwork chandeliers with amber glass lighting that accent a restored ceiling mural uncovered during the restaurant's renovation process.

Premier people-watching prevails at this democratically themed eatery. With the idea that everything is "for the people", this righteous restaurant offers up comfort food favorites alongside new Arcadian additions. Be sure to start this experience with fresh Parker House baked rolls with Vermont creamery butter served piping hot in a small baking pan.

Small plate appetizers on the menu also tantalize, including my table's choice of Diver Scallops with zucchini risotto and Mint mascarpone; Charred Octopus with potatoes tossed in a tomato-coriander vinaigrette. The scallops and risotto were cooked to perfection and the combined flavor profile was impeccable, while the chilled octopus was the most tender I've had.

Public Kitchen & Bar entrées, all priced under $30, are equally enticing. My party ordered the Colorado Lamb T-Bone, a lean lamb loin served with seasoned confetti cauliflower; along with the Spice Duck Steak Leg Confit with caramelized turnips; and a Black Sea Bass with little neck clams served in a chili oil-spiced broth on special that evening.

The burger here is equally epic, served with lettuce, tomato, onion, four-year aged cheddar, bacon, roasted tomato jam, hatch green chili and roasted mushrooms. Order this with a side of hand-cut Kennebec fries for your personal slice of heaven.

If by some miracle you still have room for dessert, there are a number of great menu options. My party chose the Valrhona Chocolate Soufflé for two, served piping hot alongside velvety vanilla bean cr?me anglaise. This insanely decadent dessert takes 20 minutes to prepare, so order accordingly.

Food aside, this locale is also a popular watering hole. On one half of this Los Angeles restaurant prominently sits The Library Bar - an expansive marbled presence along with a large liquor display. It features a wide array of clever specialty cocktails, a list of over 100 bottles of wine, draft and bottled beers, and a menu of cured meats and cheeses, oysters, and small plates to share. Try a Spiced Cucumber Collins that, while fresh and light, also delivers a Shoshito pepper kick. The "It's All Good" is sweet and tart, concocted of Skyy Vodka, Domaine de Canton, mint and a splash of soda.

***Some or all of the experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***
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Eric Rosen
Eric Rosen lives in Los Angeles and writes about food, wine, travel and adventure... usually in some combination of the four. He regularly contributes to Los Angeles...

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