The Cat Came Back

A slice of history and a clean plate in Silverlake

These days, Wikipedia pages have replaced barflies as keepers of some bars' histories.

A cartoonish cat grinning above Sunset Boulevard in Silverlake marks the spot where a pre-Stonewall riot erupted in 1967.

When the owners of The Village Idiot developed their latest project at the site of the former bar, they adopted the mascot. Although the new venture is a full restaurant with a dapper, market-driven menu from former Lou Wine Bar chef D.J. Olsen, zoning laws for the Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument limit guests to drinking age.

The informed cocktail menu pays tribute to the classics with a few welcome twists. The Sage Smash ($11), a tart Margarita of tequila, lemon and sage, subdues a sweet staple, and the Smokey Martini ($14) alludes to the vapors that must have curled through the air here more than 40 years ago.

Velvety duck rillettes sealed with orange gelée validate the house-made charcuterie plate ($16), and you'll be reminded of the pâté's decadence by the chicken confit with port-braised figs ($19).

But the superb fried catfish with corn pudding and crispy green tomatoes ($21) is undoubtedly bound to be Black Cat's signature howl.

Black Cat Tavern, 3909 W. Sunset Blvd., Silverlake; 323-661-6369