I have been looking forward to writing a post about The Brentwood ever since I started this blog. This is one of those restaurants where everything you order is wonderful, where they surprise you by making even simple things better than you would have expected, where the waitstaff is always on its best behavior, and where the ambiance is second to none. All of these reasons make The Brentwood my go-to place to bring out-of-towners. Its owner, Bruce Marder, is known for creating restaurants with tons of buzz and the food to back them up.
The Brentwood does have one downfall though, and it’s the same downfall all of my favorite restaurants have: it’s very expensive. Therefore, that makes it another restaurant that falls into the “special occasion” category. As I mentioned above, that special occasion is usually that a good friend or family member is coming to visit. However, last weekend that special occasion happened to be that I finished one of my accounting courses.
(Yes, my life is filled with “special occasions” - how else could I keep this blog going??)
If you want to guarantee your spot at The Brentwood, you should definitely make reservations about a week in advance. But don’t dismay if you want to go at the last minute. My husband and I were able to sneak in at 8:30 last Saturday, calling only three hours ahead. Over the phone, the host was gracious as always. I have to say, The Brentwood gets an A-plus for never having a snobby attitude. It’s so refreshing to have that caliber of food and swankiness with not a single jerk to be found.
When you walk into The Brentwood, you are surrounded by a feeling of “cool” - it’s very Old Hollywood with its comfy leather booths, dim lighting, and polished waiters. However, the ever-changing modern art and televisions by the bar bring you back into the 21st century. We were seated right away at a table in the back. We weren’t ecstatic about the fact that they had taken one large booth and put two small tables for two in it, but this is something we have come to expect in our neighborhood. The rents are high and the spaces are small, so the most popular restaurants in the area often have crowded dining. I am sure if we had made our reservation earlier, we could have requested a table at that time.
The Brentwood does have a full bar, which adds to the whole lounge affect. I ordered a pricey raspberry vodka and soda ($10), and my husband got the pilsner on tap ($5). We didn’t go for appetizers this time, but I would highly suggest the artichoke salad. This salad is so much more than it sounds. It has about seven halves of perfectly cooked artichoke hearts, topped with a bit of salt and pepper, fresh Parmesan cheese, and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. It’s truly unbelievable, and I am currently questioning our decision to skip it last time.
Before I get into what we did order, let me explain the menu at the Brentwood. It’s American cuisine that is somehow the perfect cross between burger joint, steakhouse, and diner. I don’t know how Marder did it, but he created a menu that has something for everyone. From the house-ground kobe burger with fresh fries and the large slab of lasagna to the fish of the day and the filet mignon, this menu has it all. My all-time favorite here is the cream-free chicken pot pie. Two juicy boneless, skinless chicken breasts and a variety of steamed and seasoned veggies are lightly covered in a delicate gravy and topped with a homemade biscuit. My husband usually goes for the burger, which is good because it means I can sneak a few of his fries.
Instead of going for our usuals, last Saturday we shook things up a bit: I ordered the farmers’ market vegetable plate, and my husband ordered the fish and chips (yay, I still got some fries!). When my vegetable plate first arrived, I have to admit I felt a little disappointed. I had ordered it because I wasn’t as hungry as usual, but I expected to get some rice or some kind of carb along with it. Arranged on the rectangular plate was a variety of steamed and sauteed vegetables, similar to what is in the chicken pot pie: a large carrot, a fat asparagus spear, a pile of spinach, a cauliflower….you get my drift. One of just about every vegetable known to man. I was very concerned that this $20 plate of vegetables wasn’t going to come close to filling me up, but seeing as how I ordered a vegetable plate, I knew I would have to suck it up. I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong. Not only was each veggie beautifully seasoned to perfectly bring out its flavor, but I found myself becoming fuller by the moment. I wouldn’t order this if I were ravenous, but it was the perfect amount of food for that night.
My husband’s fish was moist and well-seasoned. It was served with a few veggies, and the “chips” came in the signature metal cone. The waiter provided both tartar sauce and malt vinegar for his choosing. My husband’s only complaint was the fish of choice was halibut. Though the flavor was great, he just didn’t feel halibut should be encased in breading. He would have preferred a more traditional, flaky fish, such as cod, in its place. Still, he devoured the whole thing, so I don’t think he was too disappointed.
While we enjoyed our dinner, I think we both will go back to our favorite items the next time we are at The Brentwood. While we were discussing this, I caught a glimpse of the most delectable dessert being delivered to a table nearby: fresh little mounds of fried dough - six in all - with a gleaming sugar crust. Ah, homemade doughnuts! I couldn’t resist - we had to get them. They arrived at our table warm, with three dipping sauces: fudge, glaze, and jelly. Their outsides were golden from the fryer. The insides were not like any doughnut I have ever had before. They were airy, more like a sweet bread than a cake. We ate them slowly, savoring each bite. If I could, I would go back for them alone. My waistline is thankful that they don’t sell those by the dozen in the mornings. Next time I go back, I will bring a camera so I can show you - I promise you will get in your cars and drive to The Brentwood to try them as soon as you see them. I would highly suggest doing so. You will have a great time, an amazing dinner, and fresh doughnuts. What more can you ask for?
The Brentwood is located in the Brentwood Village, at Barrington and Sunset: 148 S Barrington Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90049