With its woodsy, everyman decor and comfort-food menu, the new Westside Tavern looks like the perfect, low-key spot to hit after a day of shopping at the Westside Pavilion. But with former Whist chef Warren Schwartz at the helm, it's much more than a typical mall restaurant.
The food court has nothing on Schwartz's menu. For an appetizer, crisp green apple chutney is a perfect foil for luscious chicken-liver mousse ($11). Meats are cooked sous-vide before hitting the grill, leaving flat-iron steaks ($22) and pork chops ($20) fork-tender and full of flavor. With or without the mustard-lemon sauce, spit-roasted chicken ($19) rivals our beloved Zankou with its salty skin and succulent meat. Portions are eye-poppingly generous, especially the desserts: The "mini" flaky apple pie with homemade butter-pecan ice cream ($9) can easily feed four.
There's a large bar area where you can try innovative cocktails like a tequila-based Manhattan garnished with a salami-wrapped cherry or the easy-sipping blackberry julep. We can see this place becoming the next (much better) version of Houston's, but alas, there are no plans for expansion--yet.
Westside Tavern, 10850 W. Pico Blvd., West L.A.; 310-470-1539 or westsidetavernla.com