The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2018

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Page 98 of 132

98  /  the tasting panel  /  august 2018 ON THE TOWN N amed after an acrobat and trapeze artist who performed in drag in 1920s Paris, West Hollywood bistro Barbette may not be the Moulin Rouge, but it's certainly a hip and imaginative new venture from Sean MacPherson and Jared Meisler—the duo behind L.A. hotspots like Jones Hollywood, The Pikey, The Roger Room, and Bar Lubitsch. Barbette undoubtedly succeeds in capturing the mystique and romance of the era it aims to celebrate: The dining room feels like a classic Parisian brasserie with its marble-topped bar, vintage mirrors, brass railings, and apropos portraits and artwork. Beyond the main area, Barbette offers dinner on a romantic, enclosed patio with ivy-covered walls, a fireplace, and lazily spinning ceiling fans. The restaurant also excels at blend- ing the modern with the traditional, as Executive Chef Robert Flaherty has created an of-the-moment menu of mostly gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan fare. His approach fuses the cuisine of California with decadent bistro mainstays like moules marinière, chicken à la diable, and steak frites. Headed up by the always-on-trend Brittany Olsen, Barbette's cocktail program is particularly ambitious. Olsen began her career in the punk bar scene of Long Beach, where she became passionate about craft cocktails and mixology. She even creates her own absinthe, enhancing its mixability by adding Herbes de Provence to the botanical blend. "I wanted my menu to have all the influence of French spirits and flavors, but I wanted to have approachable drinks that people aren't afraid to order, so I have a lot of fresh and juicy flavors," Olsen says. Meisler's first love is music, so he curates Barbette's playlist with a mixture of old-school hip-hop and chill wave, an obscure genre of hypnotic lounge music that creates a dreamy mood throughout the establishment. But there's more to Barbette than meets the eye (and ear), largely driven by the restaurant's informal mantra that "the service has to be good." "We hire people who are genuinely passionate about hospitality," Meisler says. "Barbette is not super expensive, it's not super fussy, but it's still a really good hang, and that's a big part of our brand. We try to be nice to every- body—that's why we have places that have been around for so long." Barbette, 7511 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, 323-850-8888, Flying High WEST HOLLYWOOD'S BARBETTE IS A NOT-QUITE-TRADITIONAL FRENCH BISTRO by Albert Letizia / photos by Rob Stark Brittany Olsen heads up Barbette's cocktail program, which features drinks like the April Run with tequila, Peychaud's Apertivo, ginger, grapefruit, strawberry, lime, and soda. Endive and beet salad with candied walnuts and blue cheese, salad verte, and classic pommes frites make an appearance on the menu at Barbette in West Hollywood, CA.

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