Laurel Tavern

Your Rating: None
10 Ratings

Type: Bar, Eatery

11938 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, California, 91604-2606
United States

(818) 506-0777 | map

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Added by DrewBeechum on 11-25-2008

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Ratings: 10 |  Reviews: 6
Reviews by charlzm:
Photo of charlzm
2.78/5  rDev -24.3%
vibe: 2 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 2.5 | food: 3

Visited on Sunday, April 18th, 2010 about 1:30pm.

The resemblance to Father's Office is, I'm sure, not coincidental. General layout and decor, limited artisanal menu, a good number of craft taps, order at the bar only, no reservations... it felt very familiar.

On closer inspection, however, the resemblance grew strained. The food may be just as expensive, but it's nowhere near as good. The beer list, while relatively large and free from macros, is unadventurous. One thing that's similar, though, is the clientele... more on that later.

My friend and I ordered food at the bar - we both got the Old School burger and split an order of fries. He had an Old Rasputin on draft (rapidly becoming an admittedly welcome cliche here in LA) and I had a Pranqster (fairly unusual to find on draft). The 16 item beer list veers towards the lighter end, with safe, baby-steps gateway beers like Seadog Blueberry Wheat and Craftsman 1903 lager being fairly representative. The only dark beers on the list were Arrogant Bastard and the aforementioned Raspy.

The food arrived about twenty minutes later and was unremarkable save for its expense.

The atmosphere was somewhat upscale/hipster, what with $4.00 valet parking so the guys in T-shirts and designer jeans and their girlfriends in movie studio swag t-shirts and sweats wouldn't have to carry their Macbook Pros a half a block and leave their Escalades and Audis on the street. I saw more wine and cocktails than beer on the outdoor patio where I chose to sit.

So... this carbon copy of Father's Office (implying it didn't come through quite as clearly as the original) offers an unexciting beer list, overpriced food and a pretentious vibe from the customers.

Not really a BA kind of place, I"m thinking. Not this BA, anyway.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of AleHunter805
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4

Photo of LakerLeith
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of Kramerwtmf
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of dmquinn
4/5  rDev +9%

Photo of Dirksen
3.88/5  rDev +5.7%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.25

I went when it first opened and was a bit put off by the crowds. But I suffered through it, enjoyed the chorizo and a couple decent pints, and left feeling even. A year later, I figured I'd try again, and went through the same exact experience.

Not much seems to change here. The selection(16 taps) is decent, but not amazing. The staff seemed indifferent. And their endgame seemed more moving people through, which I understand to a certain extent.

I probably wont go back. But only because I've already forgotten it exists. But it wont matter, they're still popular to the blue moon ordering dime-a-dozen-actroid-hollywood-types.

 635 characters

Photo of Retsinis
3.48/5  rDev -5.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

Been to Laurel Tavern a few times over the years.

They have 16 taps, all dedicated to craft, and it is broken down to 'Five Dollar Beers" & "Six Dollar Beers", I guess due to the difference in alcohol. The list of beers does not fluctuate that often, but they do rotate, albeit not often enough to seek something out, but rather if you drop in a few months apart (my case) you might be surprised from time to time. Their system is fairly efficent though, since all the pours are the same, and in the same glass, but I've had it run better in the afternoon then the evening when their busy.

Large window upfront that looks out to Ventura Blvd, decent seating, brick, solid wood tables, etc. Clean spot, but it's bit trendy as far as the crowd. Decent spot for the area, or if your with those non BA friends that we all have, that are just starting to get adventurous with beer, but are still the "night at the Roxbury" kind of crowd, if that makes sense.

Food is good, but can be a bit pricey. Best to remind yourself that it's a bar on Ventura Blvd, then it stings a little less for some reason, but there are also other options for food in the area easy enough too.

While there are far superior bars in the Valley in terms of rotating craft beer selections imho, (Boneyard Bistro, Tony's Darts Away, Instant Replay, etc.) the place has been busy every time I've been there, so does not seem to be going anywhere, and any place that serves all craft beer, and does well, is better than not I say.

 1,503 characters

Photo of the1DarkLord
3.6/5  rDev -1.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

On Ventura Blvd, in the heart of upscale sushi and hip almost hollywood hot spots.

I didn't walk in here expecting a crazy craft beer experience.

I came with friends to have a good time.

The place seems to be busy every night. I have never really had to wait (scavenge) for a table more than a few minutes. It is a 20's and 30's moderately trendy feeling vibe.

They rock the dimly lit industrial gastropub feel. Brick walls and rich woodtones. It feels nice inside.

It is all bar service, and I feel like it may have taken a bit longer than usual at times to get service, but it is typically pretty good.

The food is fun. I have gotten the chorizo sliders and the prosciutto and melon. They were both tasty and recomended.

Their beer list certainly isn't earthshaking, but it does consist of craft beers, so I can't really complain. I think I have gone with Racer 5 and Old Rasputin on my trips there. They are good standbys and better than I'd typically see at a chain restaurant or bar.

I cant really say that I would recommend this place to the BA crowd, but wouldn't dismiss it either. For me, it is somewhat of a go-to spot if I am going out with non-BA friends.

 1,176 characters

Photo of augustgarage
3.48/5  rDev -5.2%
vibe: 2 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

One of the weekly group rides I cycle with (Bicykillers) often ends their rides here - beer being a fine recovery drink. Despite the rest of the clientele being "dressed up" (well, if faux-hawks, uggs, and Ed Hardy count), the bouncer never gives us sweaty lycra clad buffoons any problems.

The Studio City patrons fit the Hollywood stereotypes quite well - short-tempered (I've seen people ejected multiple times here), self absorbed, ostentatious...which makes the place feel more like a club than a bar, minus the DJ and the velvet rope (though at peak hours, there IS a line to get in). The crowd is generally in their 30s - 40s, though the preening douche-baggery exhibited (by some) is more typical of a younger crowd. This character grows much more strident on weekends.

The interior is well decorated and its leather/brick/wood elements have an understated albeit generic elegance; the lay-out could use some revision though: the bar gets overly crowded between people ordering (no table service here), chatting one another up, or milling around in the tight space between the bar seating and the long unfinished tables that take up the center of the room. The acoustics are decent, as no matter how crowded it gets, the noise level is manageable.

Service is relatively prompt and responsive, though you must be assertive or people will cut in front of you...on the other hand, it has a "retail" feel to it, as the interactions with bartenders are necessarily curt.

Full bar with plenty of wine (and some craft soda in bottles) as well, so the emphasis isn't on the beer geek; that said, the selection is decent. 16 taps or so with multiple offerings from North Coast, Lost Coast, Stone, Dogfish Head, Hangar 24, Bear Republic, and Craftsman. Pale ales and wheat beers make up the bulk of the offerings, though you can get Old Rasputin or a couple Belgian-style ales as well. Tap rotation is poor - so the selection hardly varies at all, which is fine for the majority of patrons who just want "that one I had last time...with a lemon on top."

Beers are all in the $5-$7 range, with the majority being $6. This is better than Blue Dog down the street in Sherman Oaks, though the latter's selection is a little more varied despite having a smaller number of taps. Pours are a decent size, and the glassware is primarily generic goblets and nonics.

All in all, yet another trendy aspirational gastro-pub riding the coat-tails of Father's Office. With Boneyard Bistro in the neighborhood and Tony's Darts Away also in the valley - an experienced beer advocate's money and time is better spent elsewhere.

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Photo of goillini93
4.2/5  rDev +14.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

We went to Laurel Tavern the night before Thanksgiving - the traditional night to go out with all of your high school buddies that are also in town suffering with their parents. We were suffering with one set of parents (who graciously babysat, so we weren't suffering too much) but did not go to HS in the valley. What I'm trying to say is that it was crowded, and it was only at the end of our first beers were we able to sit down. No big deal - rumor has it it's always crowded in there though. It was pretty loud, and it was difficult to hear the music - which might have been OK because it was classic rock when I was in high school 20 years ago. It's just east of Laurel Canyon and the parking is typical of that part of Ventura Blvd. - meters, some permit parking, illegally parking at the Trader Joes, etc.

It's a lovely space that is easily comparable to the Santa Monica Father's Office, but bigger. The bar is on one side with a number of different-sized tables on the periphery, including a long community table parallel to the bar. There were only two bartenders who were overworked with the crowd but were super friendly. The food and beer menus are on chalkboards.

Food reviews have been pretty stellar on other websites, and the food certainly looked tasty - pork belly skewers, chorizo fondue, fries (cooked in duck fat is an option), a burger, maybe a few more smaller plates/salad type dishes, all priced from $7-12 - seemed very reasonable to me. Again, the Fathers Office comparison is probably unavoidable with the food. Christina Perozzi, who used to work at FO, picks the beers out here too.

I think there were 16 taps, no bottles, very California focused. There were four Craftsman taps, Green Flash IPA, Arrogant Bastard, Telegraph White, a couple Anderson Valley beers (no Winter Solstice at the time), Lost Coast, North Coast, etc. Beers were served in 'goblets' (hopefully I'm getting that right...probably around 14-16 oz) and were either $5 or $6.

The Valley totally needs places like Laurel Tavern and I'm happy it's around.

UPDATE 4/18/09: the food is delicious. The bleu cheese burger is less appealing aesthetically - but tastier than - the Father's Office burger. The beer is cheaper too (but admittedly less adventurous). You read it here first. Now they'll ban me from FO.

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Laurel Tavern in Studio City, CA
Place rating: 3.67 out of 5 with 10 ratings
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