Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >
Jan 6, 2010 04:15 PM

The Tar Pit: Has Anyone Eaten There?

The Tar Pit (Mark Peel's new lounge on La Brea) is getting a lot of great buzz and their menu looks fantastic, so I'm interested in trying it out this weekend. Has anyone been? If so, can you give me any pointers as to what to order? Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I drive by there at least once a day and the menu board is empty and there are valet signs but they're not out. They don't seem to be open yet but I'd imagine close. Maybe the buzz is from critics only nights or something?

    3 Replies
    1. re: PinotPlease

      they have been open and running since before christmas. i have been but only for drinks so not able to answer the op's posting.

      1. re: PinotPlease

        They've been open for a full 3 weeks now.

        1. re: wutzizname

          My bad, sorry about that. Maybe they're not open for lunch, hence the not-so-open-looking vibe. Glad to hear it's good, Mark Peel's a great culinary contributor to this 'hood!

      2. The menu is interesting, lots of reinterpreted classics, and the design is swank--reminiscent of an old time supper club. We enjoyed the crab cakes, clams casino and the fried oysters with drinks; nothing revelatory but all quite tasty. The cocktails (mostly $12) were different than the norm and good and the bar menu reasonably priced. You can also order the full menu at the bar and I am tempted to come back to try the steak & kidney pie with yorkshire pudding, the coq au vin blanc and the lobster bisque.

        1. I ate there New Years Eve and all the food was quite excellent, but the unique and amazing cocktails still stole the spotlight. Between my friends and I we tried 9 or 10 different ones. They were all varying degrees of great, but our favorites seemed to be the ones listed under the heading "Tributes."

          For dinner we had the Crab Cakes, the White Bean & Pecorino Salad, the Shrimp Louie, and the Wild Boar Meatballs, which were all very good. But it was the Lobster & Scallop Newberg that blew me away. The flavor and richness of the sauce combined with the substantial portions of perfectly cooked sea scallops and lobster made for one of the best dishes I've had in a very long time. Looking forward to going back for it again soon.

          N.B. By the time we were ready for it, they had run out of Bananas Foster, but that seemed to be the dessert everyone was raving about.

          1. We ate at the bar over the weekend and were really disappointed with the food and service.

            We had the following --
            Saffron-Scented Shrimp Cocktail - Seville Orange Remoulade
            Calamari - Lemon Wheels, Shallot Rings, Fried Parsley Rouille
            Duck Slider - Crisp Duck Confit, Buttered Soft Roll, Cointreau Sauce
            Lobster Bisque - Scented with Cognac

            Nothing was horrible, but everything we tried was tasteless and bland. The cocktail shrimp were fresh but the accompanying sauce was basically mayonnaise. The calamari batter needed salt and again the sauce was overwhelmingly mayonnaise. The duck slider meat was tender but could have been mistaken for a pulled pork sandwich any day and desperately needed some seasoning. Finally the lobster bisque tasted so overwhelmingly of cognac we could not finish it.

            It took our food over an hour to come out and it seemed overall that they were severely understaffed. There was a single bartender working the entire bar, so we often had to flag the barback/busboy for things (to check on our order, to bring a spoon for the bisque). The host was rather unwelcoming and kept disappearing from his post. Since we were seated on the bar corner right by the front door, we observed a ton of people waiting confusedly for someone to show up and some people leaving when one didn't.

            Of the cocktails, we tried the Gin Gin Mule, Lemon-Thyme Daiquiri, and something off the menu called Little something-i-can't-remember. The Gin Gin Mule was very good - the flavors well-balanced and the hint of ginger spicy and not overwhelming. The other drinks were nice to watch being made but not remarkable. All cocktails are $12 each so these add up quickly.

            We'll probably only be back again for drinks in future.

            1 Reply
            1. re: TracyS

              Bummer. My experience on NYE was almost the opposite. Loved the food. And under the circumstances (it being New Years Eve and only open a week and a half) I thought service was pretty impressive, including the hiccups. Specifically...

              Though we had a reservation for bar seats, we had to wait about 5 minutes to get seated. But the hostess and manager were very attentive to the delay and very appropriately apologetic for what was really just a minor wait.

              Also...when we realized that one of our entrees seemed to be lagging a good while behind the others, we mentioned it to the bartender who immediately looked into it and then sent over a complimentary cold dish while we waited for the kitchen to prepare the errant hot one.

              Again, given the circumstances and otherwise stellar service, I thought they handled everything with the utmost class. Of course, it was NYE and I know Mark Peel was in the kitchen because he came out in his apron with a cocktail as the midnight hour approached. Based on your experience though, Tracy, maybe they've already moved on to the second team. But I hope and trust that Mark will bring things back up to the level we saw on New Year's. It was a really great night and meal, minor hiccups and all.

            2. I went last Thurday for drinks and food. Sat at the bar and ordered from the bar and dinner menu. I really enjoyed it. Liked the food, drinks and the ambiance. Classy and sophisticated crowd. It got crowded when I left at 9ish.

              1) duck confit sliders
              The duck was excellent, with a mixture of thin tender slices and crispy skin. The duck juices dripped all over the salad and was scrumptious. The slider bun was buttery

              2) fried oysters, with preserved lemon remoulade and crisp ginger
              Delicious, perfectly fried oysters. I really enjoyed this dish: sometimes fried oysters can be dry but these were plump

              3) pork cheek and ear with orecchiette pasta, salsa verde, braised beet greens and dandelion greens, served in a cast iron skillet
              This was from the dinner menu. The pork cheek was tender and the ears were sliced thin and chewy. The pasta dish was a bit soupy and thus was on the lighter side, however I thought it needed a bit more salt.

              2 Replies
              1. re: stuffycheaks

                Stuffycheaks, I was there on the same night and also thought the duck sliders were excellent. They had a divine taste of butter and sugar that I am still craving. I also had the orecchiette which was nice, but not interesting or satisfying enough to order again.

                Additionally we ordered the following:
                -leek salad: nice, refreshing but a little boring
                -steak and kidney pie: fabulously rich and complex, would definitely get again
                -bananas foster: absolutely amazing; homemade marshmallow whip lightly toasted with this fabulous buttery caramel sauce; only complaints were that the ice cream was a bit grainy with ice and overall the dessert was a bit too sweet but really, those complaints are so minor because overall it was delicious

                We had a couple of cocktails as well which were all great, though it would be nice if the menu would expand to add some more whiskey based drinks as almost all of the drinks are gin based.

                As others have mentioned service was slow probably because they only had a single bartender mixing drinks for the entire place, which is absurd. However everyone from the hosts to the waiter and busboys were all very friendly and helpful. Lastly the d├ęcor is just gorgeous old Hollywood. Very romantic.

                Overall I would go back for drinks and maybe a few small bites, but not necessarily for dinner as I expected a little more from Mark Peel (yes it was good, but I want awesome).

                1. re: stuffycheaks

                  I was there a few weeks ago with some friends for dinner. We had a reservation at 9 and we were seated at 9:05 so that is not bad. The place was PACKED!

                  Cocktails seemed like the best thing the entire night, EXCEPT the bartender had to look up my friends drink request in a book. It is a bog bar given the size of the resturant and there were only 2 bartenders, so drinks took a while to get.

                  what we ate:

                  duck sliders - great. i mean PERFECT great.
                  steak tartare - below average
                  tuna tartare - not good at all
                  shrimp cocktail - avg.
                  cobb salad - good
                  green salad with green goddess dressing - avg
                  roasted chicken - good
                  cheese/meat plate - avg.

                  They kept bring our table duplicate orders of thing that we did and did not order. Which was frustrating only when we went to order other things and told that they were out of them. Out of something only because you brought four orders of it to table 3.

                  Not in any hurry to return. The menu will not stand up in the long run. Maybe a cocktail or two.