Silver Lake’s Bar Angeles Spices Up the LA Restaurant Scene
By Michael Vallens
Having recently unlocked their doors to much fan fare and a little bit of controversy, Silver Lake’s most talked about new restaurant, Bar Angeles, had their grand opening at the end of February. The establishment was well known and became a cultural hot spot thanks to the mural that once dominated the original wall, but now graces only one side of the wall besides the entrance. This mural was on the cover of local legend Elliot Smith’s album Figure 8 and the name of the restaurant was inspired by a song from the aforementioned singer.
Upon arrival, it was apparent that the half of the mural that was on the cover of Elliot Smith’s album was still in its pristine condition and in the same spot, while the other half was carefully placed within the restaurant, a thoughtful and pleasant surprise.
“We saved the piece of the mural that was cut out to make way for the new glass block window, and preserved it in the restaurant. Essentially, it’s in the same spot, just moved back 40 or so feet, and we left the area that Elliot used for his album art untouched.”
The mural was not the only buzz surrounding the opening of Bar Angeles. Owners Wade McElroy and Russell Malixi recruited Chef Joey Booterbaugh and together have come up with a menu that features fresh ingredients and recipes that clearly elevate what ones concept of what “bar food” encompasses.
“It’s thoughtful bar food with a California twist.” says Booterbaugh. “We looked to neighborhood taverns for inspiration while still keeping the menu ingredient driven, seasonal and savvy to what is happening in the culinary universe.”
I started the evening off with the En Fuego, a fantastic cocktail made concocted with cilantro vodka, freshly squeezed lime juice and agave habanero. The citrus and cilantro flavors complimented the natural sweetness of the agave, while the habanero provided the necessary element to make this adult beverage memorable.
The first appetizer was the Chopped Salad, a medley of salty fish roe known as bottarga, pepperoncini, garbanzo beans, olives, radicchio and provolone. The zesty pepperoncinis and bottarga were the showcased and were in abundance. They mingled nicely with the olives and the creamy provolone to create a light but flavorful Italian familiarity.
The Manila Clams were the second appetizer the chef prepared and it looked to have a lot of promise upon first inspection. Presented with nicely toasted baguette, the Manila Clams were made with XO sauce, chili oil and cilantro. The heroes of the dish were the fresh Manila Clams and the brilliant XO sauce. This sauce was slow cooked and really packs a flavor punch in the best way possible. This dish was one of the highlights of this evening’s culinary adventure.
The first entrée plate was Bar Angeles’s Cheeseburger, made with quality ground beef grilled medium and paired with house sauce, sharp cheddar, house-made pickles, iceberg lettuce, grilled onions on a fluffy brioche bun accompanied by French fries with ketchup and garlic aioli. The burger was juicy and full of flavor from the savory house sauce and grilled onions. The Brioche held all ingredients together and was not as messy as I was anticipating.
The last entrée for the evening was the Salsa Verde Pizza, made from Bar Angeles’s new pizza oven. Chef states, “Our Pizza defies categorization, but if I had to describe it, I would call it Cal-Italian style. We are using ingredients with a combination of different techniques to make and mix Roman and New York style pizza.”
The Salsa Verde Pizza was a sight to behold. After first bite, I savored the unique combination of flavors. The taste of the creamy mozzarella, the fresh-as-can-be salsa Verde and hot Anaheim chilies were remarkable and I continued to reveled in the crisp and chewy crust. It was obvious that Chef has mastered his new pizza oven.
For dessert, I was presented the Vanilla Panna Cotta with seasonal berries and balsamic. Curiosity got the better of me and I wondered how the flavors would blend together seeing that I have only had balsamic on salads and not desserts. The Vanilla Panna Cotta was rich and smooth and was surprisingly complimentary with the balsamic and tart berries. I felt challenged by this dessert offering but ultimately rewarded for my willingness to try something out of my comfort zone.
Bar Angeles brings the heat and flavor to its dishes. Its past is still present and one can enjoy a relaxing environment. One can enjoy Happy Hour from 5:30 to 7pm, Monday thru Friday. Be sure to go out of your way to experience a part of LA history while enjoying food that brings us into the future.
4330 W. Sunset Bl.
Los Angeles, CA 90029