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Review: The Tar Pit

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Robert Hess Posted: 18 Dec 2009 9:16 AM
Review: The Tar Pit
609 N. La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
USA
MODERN - $$$$ - EAT -
With a grand bar which stretches around 40" in length, which greets you imediately as you enter the door, it is easy to see that this is definately a cocktail-focused establishment. The drink menu is a wonderful blend of both classic and modern cocktails, with a special "New Age Tropica" section providing a wonderful and unique collection of drinks which have taken their inspiration from the Tiki drinks of old.
While the name might seem a little gruff, the interior is definately classy, with marble floors, elegant booths, and a lovely and massive marble-topped bar. Entering the Tar Pit you will feel like you are walking into one of the classic Hollywood bars of the 40's.
The drinks are all (for the most part) $12, and a wonderful collection of small-pate food items at $10 each. This flat pricing scheme includes the wine as well, with each selling for $38 a bottle.
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Here are a few pictures to give you an idea of the space:

The street-side view is a little under-stated, Dark chocolate wall, with the door alcove tiled as you see here, with the simple sign:

Here is the lovely bar, which is the first thing you see as you enter the room. The back-bar isn't stocked yet here, but imagine it filled with wonderful spirits and liqueurs:

Here is the view of the room as seen kitty-corner from the entrance: 

And here are some of the booths which line one entire wall: 

They are officially open as of today (Dec 18) so if you are in the LA area, please drop by and check them out!

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Coverage on food GPS:

 

http://www.foodgps.com/the-tar-pit-pairs-peel-with-cocktails-on-la-brea/

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Review for The Tar Pit has been updated by Robert Hess
  • Latitude was changed from 34.0823793278083 to 34.082066
  • Longitude was changed from -118.34421157836917 to -118.344059
  • Email was changed from to info@tarpitbar.com
  • Phone was changed from to (323) 965-1300
  • Summary was changed from With a grand bar which stretches around 40" in length, which greets you imediately as you enter the door, it is easy to see that this is definately a cocktail-focused establishment. The drink menu is a wonderful blend of both classic and modern cocktails, with a special "New Age Tropica" section providing a wonderful and unique collection of drinks which have taken their inspiration from the Tiki drinks of old.
    While the name might seem a little gruff, the interior is definately classy, with marble floors, elegant booths, and a lovely and massive marble-topped bar. Entering the Tar Pit you will feel like you are walking into one of the classic Hollywood bars of the 40's.
    The drinks are all (for the most part) $12, and a wonderful collection of small-pate food items at $10 each. This flat pricing scheme includes the wine as well, with each selling for $38 a bottle. to With a grand bar which stretches around 40" in length, which greets you imediately as you enter the door, it is easy to see that this is definately a cocktail-focused establishment. The drink menu is a wonderful blend of both classic and modern cocktails, with a special "New Age Tropica" section providing a wonderful and unique collection of drinks which have taken their inspiration from the Tiki drinks of old.
    While the name might seem a little gruff, the interior is definately classy, with marble floors, elegant booths, and a lovely and massive marble-topped bar. Entering the Tar Pit you will feel like you are walking into one of the classic Hollywood bars of the 40's.
    The drinks are all (for the most part) $12, and a wonderful collection of small-pate food items on the bar menu, most of which are $9 each with a dining menu ranging from $7 to $17. They also have an interesting pricing scheme on the wine, with each selling for $38 a bottle.
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I'll be hanging out at the Tar Pit for New Years eve. Should be a great time!

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Here is a link to a PDF of their full menu:

http://www.tarpitbar.com/tpb_menu.pdf

Word has it, that the "Trident" is proving to be one of their more popular cocktail offerings :->

-Robert

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Were I not on-call this week, I'd probably be attending the NYE event, but instead I'll be at home waiting for the phone to ring.  But I will be at the Tar Pit tonight to finally check it out.  Looking forward to it.

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I'm going tonight.  Very excited to check it out.

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I meant to come in here and post a review yesterday, but my cold didn't agree with my staying out so late on Tuesday night and I spent the day in bed.

I had a great time at the Tar Pit the other night.  I even got to bother Robert when I saw him in the hallway (sorry for imposing myself like that).

The drinks are very well-made, and the staff is courteous almost to a fault.  I made a point not to sit at the bar, where I'd be tempted to just try to soak up all of Marcos' time.  The wait-staff was just incredible.  My brother was a bit put-out when one of his drink orders got switched up and he got the wrong drink, but that was the only miscue.

The rum selection (go figure that I'd make special note of that) is top-notch.  Better than anything I've seen north of Laguna Beach and south of San Francisco.

One thing I really like about the drink menu is that it's firmly rooted in the classics, with nothing over-the-top.  I did think it was a little interesting that with such a wide selection of rums, the number of rum drinks on the menu was rather sparse (compared to the gin drink selection).

I am a big fan of the ambiance of the bar.  There are touches of art-deco without it becoming kitsch, and it has a very classical LA feel to it.

This is definitely a place to check out when you're in LA.

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Matt, sorry not to stop and chat, we had just gotten into the bar, and were in the middle of taking care of some things when you passed in the hallway. Glad you enjoyed yourself and thanks for posting the review.

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Went last night with a friend, and sat at the end of bar so we could have a view of the full room, and watch the bartenders in action.  Our first round was a Gin Gin Mule a Palm Frond, both delicious.  Second round a Fitty Fitty and a Gibson, each perfectly executed.  The only minor quibble is that my friend, a Gibson fanatic, wasn't too crazy about the onions (a touch on the sweet side for her taste).  

For dinner, we had the Steak Tartare, fried oysters, boar meatballs, braised pork cheeks with pasta and salsa verde, and for dessert profiteroles with nocino ice cream and chocolate sauce.  Again, all excellent (though I should that I'd expect no less from Mark Peel - Campanile is one of my favorite restaurants, and in the 20 or so years of going there I have yet to be disappointed in a meal).

Really, a lovely place, and I look forward to returning soon, and often.

And, yes, I heard that Drinkboy himself was in the house.  Robert, sorry that I didn't have a chance to meet you.

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Went last night; we had the same bartender (Dave Kupchinsky) as last time we visited; he seemed a little tired at first, but overall, he was very friendly and helpful. He said they're in the middle of testing out their summer menu.

I thought the drinks were still excellent overall (compared to my last visit). I had a better time this time, mostly because it wasn't quite as crowded / hectic (maybe because the Tar Pit doesn't have a TV and it was Lakers night). I thought their Green Point was excellent; I had a Monte Carlo and a Little Italy, which were both pretty good.

The Lemon Verbena Sidecar on their spring menu was a little on the sweet side. A Rhum, lemon and Chartreuse drink was a little more balanced, and I thought had some interesting flavors going on. There was also a Thai influenced cocktail which was interesting; I don't know if I'd want to drink a whole one, but it wasn't bad, and even though there were a lot of ingredients, the flavors seemed to work together pretty well.

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Damn.  They beat me with the Lemon Verbena. 

Liberty Bar  ::  Seattle, WA  ::  Alcohology

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I stopped in last week while in LA for work. I opened up with a Sidecar, and had the artichoke appetizer.  The app was pretty good, although at least one of the artichokes still had challenging bits attached - always a potential issue with artichokes. The wild boar meatballs were tasty.

The sidecar was well made, but I forgot to ask for it to not have a sugar rim. The person who appeared to be a head bartender or manager suggested my next drink, The Last Word, based on my stated preference for a gin drink. I found it to be truly excellent. My final tipple for the evening was a Black Summer, which included Cynar and muddled plum. Bitter - but I do like a Negroni, and my fondness for them was the basis for that suggestion from the main bartender. I will say some of the final bits included chunks of plum, which reminded me of haw flakes (a Chinese candy I sometimes like).

The service was excellent - fresh water appear in my water glass frequently and unobtrusively. Much of the barware was an agreeable old school 30's style. The place does have an excellent art deco look. It did seem more like a meeting place for dates and small groups of friends, so it was a little odd being solo at the bar. Also, the fact that I was dressed in a rather summery white ensemble (linen pants, Havana-ish shirt, panama hat - I know, after labor day no less) vs. the LA crowd all in blacks made me stick out a bit. Still, it was an enjoyable experience. 

One of the best surprises was discovering that they decided to comp me a drink, as they liked my selection of classic cocktails. All in all, great drinks and a fine time - I'd happily go back.

 

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