Bar Marmont exhibits the essence of an aesthetic well beyond any baroque fixtures and themed décor anyone could want. After all, French Indochine circa 1890 is about as far from West Hollywood in style as it is in miles. Visually the red bar in contrast to the ceiling festooned with dead butterflies has a bizarre feel. Upon being seated in the restaurant I was quick to notice the room has a really unique-to-Los Angeles kind of comfort, subdued with a buzz. The staff contributed greatly to my sense of being of some kind of sedate vacation.
The more dinners I go out on the more I come back with the same conclusion; the main course is usually a bit of a let down. Now this is not an indictment of the entrée per se. I’ve just found that a few appetizers and a salad leave me wanting more and maybe there have been a few disappointments from the closer. With this starters no entrees mission in mind, I opened the flood gates on the menu at Bar Marmont.
The first of a few cocktails I tried was the Pimm’s Cup. This drink combines Orange Liqueur with fresh-squeezed lime juice, cucumber slices and a splash of ginger ale. The tang from the lime in contrast to the mellow cucumber taste was simultaneously invigorating and , perfect for the first drink after spending an afternoon in traffic.
First to arrive were the fried calamari and the heirloom tomato and avocado salad. I love calamari almost all forms. I must say the tempura batter on the calamari we received was a little over-bearing based on how thickly the batter was applied. The calamari itself was fine, I just wish the doughy breading was not so prevalent. The heirloom tomato and avocado stood in stark contrast. The pairing of a red tomato with an Amana orange along with avocado and charred corn made this dish as vibrant to see as to taste.
Just as I had sampled both of the first two appetizers, an order of smoked trout was delivered. The trout was set atop a wedge of roasted potato with capers and crème fraiche. Talk about a perfect combination of flavors; smoky, savory, tangy and sweet. The potato added a nice texture too.
Another pair of small plates were brought to our table; deviled eggs with a spinach salad with almonds and crab and avocado with more spinach and a lime vinaigrette. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had deviled eggs. Turns out, Bar Marmont’s take was like catching up with an old friend. The filling was busy with a lot of flavor, while I could taste a bit of mustard, there were too many tasty things involved to nail down the other ingredients.
The Framboise Sauvage had my eye on the drink list. This cocktail mixes gin, raspberry puree, lemon juice, simple syrup and champagne. I know you’re thinking this sounds amazing, but until you try it, you are really missing out.
Now I did start out this dinner intent on just trying a variety of appetizers. However, when our waitress started to tell me how her favorite dish, the Marmont burger, must be tried, I had little resistance. The beef in this burger was every bit as tender and juicy as I had been promised. Served traditional with a side of fries, the burger was very satisfying.
All in all, Bar Marmont did a fine job at meeting some pretty high expectations, made some wonderful drinks and put it all together for a price that was a lot lower than what I anticipated.
Bar Marmont 8171 West Sunset Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90046 323.650.0575