Thursday, July 7, 2011

Black Market Liquor Bar || 6.30.11

It is rare gem that would justify a city dweller to suffer through the traffic of the winding canyons or the dreaded 101 freeway, especially during rush hour, and Black Market Liquor Bar, the newest spot to crash the San Fernando Valley, is indeed such a place. With an all star compilation of the team behind Harvard & Stone, Top Chef All-Star Antonia Lofaso, and the general manager from Bardot to keep the crowds at bay, this could have been a perfect recipe for a classic Hollywood-esq ego-tripping disaster, but instead it seems that a new destination with staying power has been born.

Like many hot spots of late, finding the bar is a bit tricky with their lack of signage, but look for a collection of pleasantly full and slightly tipsy crowds gathered around a valet stand squealing about the most amazing mussels they’ve ever devoured and you’ll know you’re in the right place. Once you’ve tossed your keys to the parking attendant with a wink, it’s a quick step to the entrance where you’ll be greeted with the familiar ambiance of an upscale turn of the century gastropub replete with exposed brick dome ceilings, a long mirrored bar stocked with fresh ingredients, and a pulley operated series of fans. Track down the harried, yet optimistically friendly hostess who will help you find a seat, or at least flag the attention of a bartender so you can peruse the inventive and deliciously strong selection of cocktails while you wait for the crowd to thin.

The cocktail menu is strategically arranged in varying degrees of proof, with the lighter drinks hovering near the top, and the knock your socks off, dark liquor laced ones at the bottom. So if you’re looking for more “bang” for your buck, start with the “Amber and Embers” and work your way up until you can’t stand anymore.

Once you’ve finally secured a table, hopefully one in the back, slightly away from the hustle and bustle of the busy bar, which will give you the perfect perch to watch Antonia fry up fluffer nutters, and still have an intimate conversation without being constantly bumped by patrons waiting for their table, flip the menu over for an eclectic mix of shared plates whose flavor profiles hail from all over the globe. Declared by my east coast seafood aficionados as some of the best mussels they've ever tasted, these succulent morsels are definitely not to be missed.  A few other stand-outs include the peel & eat shrimp, soft shell crab po-boy and oxtail ragu.  And be sure to save room for dessert.  Deep fried fluffer nutter for one?

The one thing that every item has in common is it’s ability to trigger long lost memories of good times shared with friends & loved ones. So here’s a toast to what will undeniably be a new glittering landmark on the Los Angeles food scene, and the fact that you’re not only a part of it, you’re a trendsetter who can look back in 30 years and exclaim “I remember the days…”

Black Market Liquor Bar
11915 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604

(818) 446-2533

Monday thru Sunday 5 pm to 2 am

price range for dinner entrées
Shared Plates that range from $5 - $19


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