|Giovanni Martinez and Joel Black of Les Deux Estate|
The cocktail list is short, with seven selections, as the bartenders expect to be making a lot of Dealer's Choice in which the customer describes the flavor profile and spirit they are looking for and the bartender "does the rest." Each of the three bartenders contributed 2-3 drinks to the list; fans of Black will be excited that he brought his signature Smashed Irishman (below) to the program. The Irishman includes Jameson Irish Whiskey, Lemon, Basil, Red Bell Pepper, Honey and a housemade Guinness Reduction.
The kitchen is helmed by David Schmit, former sous chef at the Buffalo Club in Santa Monica. The food menu is also short and heavy on classic American bar food, with options such as the Strait Up Burger ($11), Honey Sambal Wings ($10), and the LD Caesar Salad ($9) as well as some more refined options like the Roasted Beet Salad ($11), the 1/2 Jidori Roasted Chicken ($19) or the Pepper Crusted Salmon ($20). The only dessert is Bourbon Bread Pudding, so Chef Schmit must have confidence that it is a winning dish.
Martinez said that they are hoping to be a neighborhood spot where locals can grab dinner, a snack or a drink from 6 pm - Midnight on Wednesday through Saturday evenings and be a respite from the large clubs nearby. The cocktail list is seasonal and they most of their herbs on site. They are currently growing chili peppers, herbs and cucumbers on the roof. "We'll be doing market driven cocktails with classical execution and classic drinks with a market driven execution. There are no holds barred as we develop the menu," Martinez enthusiastically commented. Martinez's Highlander cocktail is below. It includes Tequila Ocho Blanco, Drambuie, Thyme Infused Agave and Lemon Juice. It was garnished with a sprig of thyme on top and tasted great; the tequila flavor predominated.
However, one thing to note is that the decor does not jibe with the gastropub concept. Just ignore that and head straight to the bar and get a cocktail. It is refreshing to see a list of drinks that 100% of which were developed by the bartenders making your cocktail in front of you. There was no consultant swooping in from out of town. Giovanni, Joel and Jason are veterans and it shows in their beverages.
It is refreshing to see a velvet rope, DJ/promoter driven place evolve into an establishment that respects quality. So don't expect any clipboard wielding women or burly bouncers blocking your way into Les Deux. The doors are wide open now, so feel free to check it out. Well-made drinks await you.
Les Deux Estate: 1638 N. Las Palmas, just South of Hollywood Blvd. Website: www.lesdeux.com