More Than Fine – Wood & Vine

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

In 2011, I gave the newly opened restaurant Wood & Vine a stellar review. The talented Executive chef Gavin Mills was very creative in the small kitchen (I’ve been told it might be the smallest restaurant kitchen in LA). Originally it was built as a gathering space for friends and neighboring locals to come enjoy the elegant 140-seat cocktail bar and restaurant serving farm to table share plates.

It’s located at Hollywood and Vine in the historic 1920s brick Taft building, that once housed the majority of radio and motion-picture businesses until the 1960s. The 4,000-square-feet of indoor/outdoor space, became very appealing to Pantages theater patrons due to its close proximity and chef Mills pleasing menu with dishes served in a timely manner.

Mills left to go work at Tavern in Brentwood and Executive Chef Marc Johnson from La Cañada-Flintridge, took over. After a few years at Wood & Vine, he left to lead the kitchen at Tipple & Brine in Sherman Oaks.

Bar Menu - Photo by Jill Weinlein
Bar Menu – Photo by Jill Weinlein

While Johnson was gone, some friends dined at Wood & Vine and complained to me about the food and service. They told me they would never go back again, unless some changes were made.

Happily, Executive Chef Marc Johnson is back at Wood & Vine. While attending a preview dinner last week (for tonight’s Sunset & Dine food festival showcasing some of Hollywood’s newer and established restaurants), I was introduced to the General Manager of the restaurant, Wally. He shared with us that the staff is gearing up for the opening night of two big Broadway shows: Book of Mormon and later Hamilton at the Pantages. “We make sure the dishes come out of the kitchen quickly,” Wally said. “When Pantages patrons told us they were seeing the recent hit, Beautiful, we fed them in less than one hour.”

Sitting at the center communal table on the redwood-decked patio, near wood shingle walls, among pepper trees, and a fire pit blazing in the summer night air, we sipped glasses of rose’ and a craft watermelon mezcal cocktail.

The atmosphere has a bit of a Brooklyn vibe with views of surrounding office buildings, the W hotel, and the charcoal colored night sky.

The restaurant was designed by Kenneth Brown, finding inspiration from Old Hollywood, with touches

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

of vintage wood, furniture, and exposed brick. Johnson was not in the kitchen, that night I dined, however the sous chef Natalie Soward took over and sent a bowl of potato chips intensified with truffle oil and sea salt to our table. They were so addicting, that I made a conscious effort to only eat 5 chips, otherwise I would have enjoyed the entire bowl within minutes. You have been warned.

When chef Mills ran the kitchen, he introduced fried chicken and waffles with a maple roasted squash syrup. It was a huge hit and one of the most requested dishes, even with Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles only two blocks away. Chef Johnson upgraded the sage infused buttermilk waffles with a little flash fried sage leaves on the crispy fried chicken. Pouring a little of the pure, high-grade Vermont maple syrup offers a sweetness to the savory protein and starch component.

Wally told us that guest sitting on the patio, enjoy watching nightly movies projected on the large blank wall of the W Hotel Residence (there are no windows). Their favorite movie request is Sixteen Candles with Molly Ringwald. “It’s the most photographed Instagram post,” Wally said.

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

We all raved about the summer watermelon and tomato salad. Rainbow colors of green, yellow, orange and vibrant reds are served with watercress, cucumber slices and some pickled watermelon rind. On top is a sprinkling of blue cheese chunks and a light blue cheese dressing.

The menu emphasizes that meats served are from humanely raised animals, grass-fed and sustainable ranches and farms. Their suppliers include Mary’s poultry; Rocky’s chicken; Niman Ranch pork and Sunfed Ranch California grass-fed beef.

There are multiple gluten free plates that include a hamachi crudo with strawberries, hearts of palm, red onion, aji amarillo and Thai basil. My favorite dish was the slowly braised short ribs, served in a bowl of corn pudding, cabbage, cherries, chilies and light jus. It was fabulous.

The original menu offered a butterscotch pot de crème with a caramel ice cream and black molten sea salt. Currently the chefs substitute in bourbon ice cream and a sprinkling of sweet thyme crumble on top of the heightened custard-like dessert.

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

Come back to a fun neighborhood gathering spot for your next pre or post-theater cocktail, relaxed dinner or late-night dining adventure.

The restaurant is closed on Mondays. It opens at 5 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday it opens at 4 p.m. $$ Valet parking available next door at the W Hotel (Argyle entrance); $10 for first 2 hours. $15 thereafter. Street parking and surface lots also nearby. 6280 Hollywood Blvd. (323)334-3360.

This article was featured in the September 1, 2016 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News.

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