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Tavern- Brentwood - Update

What is it with me that I don’t like Suzanne Goin’s cuisine? I have never liked AOC or Lucques. Well, Tavern is the newest venture of Goin and her partner Caroline Styne. They have taken over the old Hamburger Hamlet space in Brentwood. Not wanting to cook, why not have a quick bite at Tavern? I didn’t take any pictures, but did include pictures of how a dish should be done.

Gougeres with French radishes – I have never in my life had a deep fried, breaded gougere – different yes, but give me the original.

Fried Oyster and Bacon Brochette with Tabasco Aioli – I was imagining lovely fried oysters that would take me back to New Orleans. No such luck. This version was a lump of 3 oysters on a skewer that tasted as bad as it looked; heavy breaded greasy mushy oysters, bordering on “bad” oysters with barely cooked bacon – a mess.

Steak tartare with quail egg – this was OK but for $12.00 the smallest portion of steak tartare I have ever seen. Go to Riva and have a wonderful beef tartare with incredible bacon sabayon.

Our server talked us into ordering the Beets and Carrots with Chickpeas and Feta – this was the dish of the afternoon – excellent.

Niman Ranch Beef Burger with Cheddar Cheese and a side of Onion Rings. Whoever is working the fryer needs to go back to culinary school or maybe it is the line cook who needs a refresher and relearn his breading technique– the onion rings were inedible. The burger was OK, but way too much bun relative to meat. At least it was rare.

They spent a fortune on refurbishing the place, but whoever did the tabletops in the bar is in big trouble. There are stains on every table that they can’t remove. I am not talking little stains; I am talking many white rings on the tabletop.

This is not cheap – anything but. Save your money.

I wrote the above and then went again. Why???? Because, my son knew I had eye surgery, my husband was out of town and I was stuck and hungry at 3:30. It was just as bad. Don’t bother.

Pics of good dishes here:

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  1. Thanks for the intel. I will have to reconsider trying it out now...

    8 Replies
    1. re: J.L.

      Don't reconsider. I picked a box of pastries (Chocolate Chip Cookie, 2 Croissants, and Monkey Bread) from the larder which made a great picnic. The food is going to be great. Starting a review with (paraphrasing) "I don't like Suzanne Goin's food, not sure why." pretty much dictates the OPs feelings on her restaurant chains. Do a search for the other Chow folks opinions on Lucques, AOC, and Hungry Cat and you'll see a different sentiment.

      1. re: zjarrett

        Exactly. I've always loved Luques and AOC and Hungry Cat. And I very much enjoyed my one visit to Tavern.

        1. re: zjarrett

          Hungry Cat- way overrated. Outrageous prices for decent seafood in a seafood deprived town (aside from the Asian places).
          Lucques- quite good for what it is.
          AOC-this place wouldn't last a day in the Mediterranean where tapas and mezze are a way of life. She uses quality ingredients but I'm always disappointed when I leave there. The menu is much too limited.
          Tavern- after a lousy dinner I got cajoled into a breakfast that was quite good. Butter crisp eggs with polenta. Probably a million calories. I make the same thing at home just as well, I think. More importantly, I think Prune in NYC does those eggs much better. But definitely an artful attempt.

          Goin's cooking is close to what I love but never hits the high notes. It hits plenty of low's. And the service is usually atrocious. It is homey but not as good as at home, usually. It is playful but sometimes the play doesn't add much to the original.

          I think there are plenty of us on the Boards that have expressed dissatisfaction with all these restaurants.

          1. re: epop

            But plenty of us who love them as well.

            1. re: epop

              I am with you re: Hungry Cat - if only those prices would come down a few bucks, it would match the quality of the food.

              I have never had the privilege to go to the Mediterranean, so I don't know what would restaurant in LA could be feasibly transported there and last. That said, I have been to AOC and I like it. It lasts in LA because it is good for what it is and, if done carefully, actually is not terribly expensive.

            2. re: zjarrett

              I'm with you - with the opening line about not liking the Goin/Styne restaurants, why spend one dollar in any of them and go somewhere else, like Literati on Wilshire & Bundy at that hour? OP - Don't sit here ragging on the two women who definitely have a divided loyalty on this board - go to one of the previous posts regarding negativiity.
              But for those of us who like Lucques and AOC - never been to either Hungry Cat as menu is not interesting to me. While I may like to see changes on the AOC menu more frequently, the food is well prepared at what it is trying to be. As to Lucques, still one of the best dinner houses in the city, period! Not cheap, wasn't meant to be, but still really tasty food served in fabulous surroundings by more than just competent servers. I like it more in winter, due to look and food being offered.

              Have not tried Tavern because too many people like it and I cannot get in - you have a problem with the place, stay away and leave it to the rest of us who might like to get in in less than a week.

              1. re: carter

                Each of the times I've gone Tavern has been relatively empty. I haven't been there for dinner in a while but even then I got in right away.

                1. re: epop

                  You can often walk in and sit on the take out side, depending of course on the day and time of your arrival. The main dining room is another situation. It is usually booked in advance.

          2. i went for brunch the past weekend...and i must say that the ricotta pancakes with blackberries were pretty great...i'm no pancake expert but these were the first ones that actually had the texture of...well cake.. the other dishes that my co-diners had were ok

            4 Replies
            1. re: peppermonkey

              These pancakes pale in comparison to the blueberry w ricotta pancakes at BLD and nothing compares to the blueberry pancakes at Clinton St Baking company. The wait makes them that much more sweet.

              Brunch is definitely the strong point of Tavern but is still way over priced. I was there with a party of 6 and split 5 entrees, 2 croissants, 1 bread basket and 3 coffees for $18 per person. Very expensive considering we ordered from the larder and not table service. The bread basket is good but if you're going to Tavern you might as well drive the extra 25 blocks to Huckleberry. It's one of the only times you'd ever say you're going to Huckleberry and actually saving money on brunch.

              BLD Restaurant
              7450 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

              1. re: js76wisco

                Just had the blueberry ricotta pancakes at BLD which were indeed delicious but the tavern pancakes were indeed comparable

                BLD Restaurant
                7450 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                1. re: js76wisco

                  Comparing the Larder to Huckleberry is, IMHO, crazy.
                  I dare anyone to attempt to prepare for a leisurely weekend breakfast at Huckleberry with a family in tow.( or even a couple of grown up friends). The OP is suggesting that he can save a few $$ by "dining" at Huckleberry" on a weekend. Good Luck! I think Huckleberry has great food but there is no way I am going to wait 45 minutes in line for my order to be taken, wait another 25 minutes for the food to be delivered and then have a server hover over my table practically begging me to leave. Please note that I am comparing the brunch service at both restaurants. BTW, no need to wait at the Larder for service. The table service in the main dining room at Tavern at brunch is really delightful. No quarrels, at all, with food at Huckleberry. Problem is that there is NO SERVICE!

                  1. re: js76wisco

                    My pancake rankings of the listed above:

                    1) Lil Dom's blueberry ricotta pancakes
                    2) Clinton St's(close 1st though)
                    3) BLD
                    4) Tavern's

                    BLD Restaurant
                    7450 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                2. Agree with you on Lucques (I had one "I don't get it meal" and one pretty satisfying meal there once) and A.O.C. (didn't get it all). I haven't even bothered going to the Brentwood Tavern.

                  1. Going this Sunday for brunch; sounds like they're still figuring things out in the kitchen although a friend of mine just went for dinner this past weekend and loved it.

                    Concerning Goin in general, I find all her restaurants very enjoyable i.e. Hungry Cat, AOC and Lucques.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: vinosnob

                      A group of 6 plus my 18 month old son had a fantastic brunch this past Sunday at Tavern. Despite my fondness for Goin's restaurants, I was a little skeptical going in considering the love or hate reviews, but I kept an open mind.

                      Like others have mentioned the space is beautiful and sectioned into three, well-thought out areas. The larder, bar area and dining room. This place will kill it just on concept, location and design alone not to mention a talented chef.

                      We started with some their cocktails (2 different bloody mary's) which were delicious and nicely spiced.

                      To start, we all shared an order of the lemon ricotta pancakes with blackberries; light, fluffy and flavorful. A perfect start!

                      For entrees, most people had the "tavern benedict"; personally, I didn't like the hollandaise (too lemony) and the toast (brioche I think?) was too rich. Maybe I just prefer the classic version with English muffins.

                      I had the "brisket hash with fried eggs and horseradish cream"; this was phenomenal! Perfectly braised, tender chunks of beef brisket with potatoes, a light gravy and topped with two sunny side up eggs. I built little bites using the toasted bread as a base and topping it with the brisket, eggs and a dollop of horseradish cream.

                      We finished with three desserts; a fruit crumble, watermelon and mascarpone coupe and a chocolate and caramel torte. All very good, but for me the cocktails, pancakes and brisket hash were the stars. Also, service was friendly and professional.

                      All in all, I would go back for brunch and am curious to try the dinner menu.

                      1. re: vinosnob

                        Sound great, vs. I love a good hash and that one sounds right up my alley. Did anyone try any coffee? If so, how was it (if anyone mentioned)? Or did you just do the cocktails?

                        1. re: Servorg

                          Totally forgot about the coffee; I did order one latte that tasted very good, but it was served lukewarm. Keep in mind I'm not a coffee drinker so I don't know good coffee from great coffee, but my son is in the midst of teething again so I need caffeine!

                          1. re: Servorg

                            i had the coffee togo from the lardo...and it was pretty bad...tasted very acidic like it had been sitting around all morning

                          2. re: vinosnob

                            You're killing me, vinosnob! I've got to go there!!!

                            1. re: buhhh

                              We frequently go to Tavern for Brunch. Sometimes it is just the two of us and sometimes we are with family members, which include young children. Speaking of children, I wish they offered that kiddie menu to the adults. My granddaughter always orders the fish and chips,which are out of this world (my vote for best fish'n chips) and my grandson loves the1/2 size cheeseburger. The servers even bring milk to the 2 year old in a plastic cup with a lid and a straw (Advantage of having owners with toddlers). I am crazy about that brisket hash and my husband loves the eggs benedict. I get the "Queen Mary" as a beverage. Basically, a bloody mary but with cucumber juice in there. So good. Dinner also remains consistently outstanding. The fish, along with the very creative sides, are among the best preparations in town. I look forward to perusing the often changing seasonal menus. There is an amazing chowder currently on the menu. OMG. Fantastic!

                        2. My girlfriend and I just had a perfect brunch at Tavern. The chorizo and egg scramble with fried potatoes were fantastic, and the eggs Benedict with prosciutto were about as good as eggs Benedict can possibly be. Took a bit for the coffee to come out, but that was the only slip up.

                          Have had lunch there a few times and love their burger, "New Yorker" sandwich, and BLTA. Their fries are amazing. The pork chop with chorizo and cornbread dressing is AWESOME. The restaurant is beautiful. The service is very friendly and attentive.

                          People need to stop hating on Tavern, seriously.

                          1. I couldn't disagree more.

                            I go to Tavern all the time, often spur of the moment, and always have a great meal and impeccable service. Granted, I like to sit in the bar, and I'm addicted to the burgers (especially the turkey burger), so it doesn't seem expensive to me at all, but I really do love it there. And, I'm not really a local (don't live in Brentwood).

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: yogachik

                              If a $17 burger is not expensive to you, you should live in Brentwood. I found all the food there expensive and BORING (good service though). Won't be back at those prices....

                              1. re: yogachik

                                I believe you meant agree, yoga. Others of us disagree more.

                                1. re: epop

                                  I disagree with the OP. I could not disagree more strongly. Has nothing to do with others agreeing or disagreeing. I like Tavern.

                                  $17 for a burger is on par for dinner nowadays. And theirs are all hand ground, on site. It's worth it.

                                  1. re: yogachik

                                    $25 for a burger (after tax & tip)...you may be right...$17 is probably the going rate for a burger at a upscale restaurant. Add in a couple beers, and we're talking over $40.00!

                                    I'll take a double-double, with fries and strawberry shake for under $6.

                                    1. re: manku

                                      My negative comments about Tavern have nothing to do with price, but execution. The gougere tasted as if it had been deep-fried. The onion rings were horrible. The oyster brochette was a disgrace. The fried oysters at Blue Plate Oysterette were a hundred times better. I don't mind paying for top quality food, executed well.

                                      Pictured below are the cornmeal-crusted oysters at Blue Plate.

                                      1. re: lizziee

                                        I agree about the food at Tavern (and I've been twice with an investor/vip, so it should be better!). At least with the 20% investor discount and free corkage, it was pretty reasonable.

                                        The food at Lucques and AOC never thrilled me either...the food seems sloppy and incoherent.

                                          1. re: lizziee

                                            The food at Tavern continues to get better and better. It is now the quintessential neighborhood restaurant. Spur of the moment (not unusual for us), we walked in, were seated in the bar (our preference & we noticed that Sara would be our server). I am not going to review every detail of our meal. Just wanted to say that they recently added a braised duck (really a confit) to the dinner menu and it was one of the best preparations of duck I have tasted.
                                            Duck braised in rosé with black rice, almonds, mizuna and cherries
                                            Folks, this was something really special. That black "rice" was wild rice. What an incredible mix of flavors and textures. Kudos to Chef Goin.

                                            1. re: maudies5

                                              That duck sounds great, but don't you find them dishonest for referring to wild rice -- not a true rice -- as "black rice," which is a special kind of rice of which forbidden rice is one example? The Tavern's menu doesn't use quotation marks in the description of this dish.

                                              Wild rice is delicious in its own right -- why not call a spade a spade?

                                              1. re: hnsbmg

                                                The black rice refers to a rice grown in the Veneto region of Italy, not Chinese forbidden rice, and not wild rice.

                                                1. re: jaykayen

                                                  I should have said that it tasted similar to wild rice. No one said it was wild rice.
                                                  In any event, it was delicious with the braised duck.

                              2. Good food, great restaurant. Not sure how anyone could not like this place. This isn't the price range where I expect to be wowed.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: sushigirlie

                                  Dinner tonight at Tavern was phenomenal. Appetizer was a perfectly roasted peach, Prosciutto, Burratta and pine nuts. Entree was grilled Orata served with an eggplant, garlic puree (I'm sure I am leaving out some ingredient). I would have been thrilled with that fish served at any 3* restaurant in France or elsewhere. The restaurant was packed, and deservedly so.

                                  1. re: sushigirlie

                                    How do I dislike it, let me count the ways, starting with the service and leading to the prices, for what you get.

                                    1. re: epop

                                      Price is a fair criticism. I wasn't thinking about price when I said I wasn't sure how anybody could not like the place.

                                      I found the food only a bit above average for the price, but I found the atmosphere much above average. I loved how spacious and comfortable it is. What seemed odd to me is that someone could not enjoy the experience, given how lovely the place is and that the food, while perhaps not "great," seems to be at least "pretty good."

                                      But if you're factoring in price, then fair enough--you can find many restaurants with better food for the price.

                                      1. re: sushigirlie

                                        And probably the worst service I've ever had in my life. The kind where it takes 45 minutes to get the bill and pay, etc., on top of being ignored and being brought the wrong food, then cold food, etc.

                                        Granted, I like the tree in back.

                                        1. re: epop

                                          Reminds me a bit of the (now defunct) L'Orangerie...

                                  2. Have anyone had the Tavern brunch lately?

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: wienermobile

                                      Was there on Saturday. The egg dishes looked tempting, and wanted thebriskey hash with horseradish sauce (and egss), but I resisted and had the Cobb salad. Which was good, but a bit too oily. Maybe more than a bit. I would get it again, but ask them to pull back a little.

                                      Saw the next table get some French frieds. Damn did they look good. I will be going back and just having that.

                                      The main room is very pretty - my out-of-town guests loved it.

                                      Went to Bouchon for brunch on Sunday. And couldn't resist their short rib hash. But I wish I had. It wasn't hash at all, or rather a deconstructed hash with fingerling potatoes - which is more like a stew.