Hotel California

Democracy rules at Warren's Blackboard in North Hollywood
Warrens Blacboard
Mushroom and asparagus popover | Bucatini with lamb ragú

Warren Schwartz, former chef of Westside Tavern and Saddle Peak Lodge, wants to hear what you think--about his food, at least.

At North Hollywood's Beverly Garland--an adobe-roofed, 1970's-era Holiday Inn revamped into a boutique hotel--Schwartz is operating his own restaurant pro temporeWarren's Blackboard.

Next summer it will become the hotel's permanent restaurant, The Front Yard. For now, though, Schwartz's menu is in workshop mode. Each day, new dishes are scrawled onto a blackboard above old-school diner booths.

"If people like it, it stays. If not, it changes," explained one of the waiters.

Scallops with squash risotto (Photo: Warren's Blackboard)
Our visit yielded a few successes: an airy popover ($10) overflowing with sautéed mushrooms, asparagus and nubs of bacon; the "white boy" fried rice ($9), studded with broccoli and chunks of Spam; and a flaky apple crostata ($6) scattered with the perfect amount of salt.

Are the bouncy strands of house-made bucatini with lamb neck ragù ($14) worth the trip over the hill? If you aren't dissuaded by chintzy hotel wallpaper or the patrons at the table next to you discussing their upcoming appearance on Judge Judy (seriously), then the answer is a definite yes.

One dish we hope Schwartz never takes off the menu is the thick cheeseburger ($13) topped with Fiscalini cheddar and melted onions and served with addictive double-fried Kennebec potatoes.

Warren's Blackboard 4222 Vineland Ave. North Hollywood CA 91602 818-255-7290

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