Countering the trend of new tavern openings in Hollywood, downtown L.A. and the Eastside, an excellent new beer bar/restaurant just opened on the Westside, in the previously craft brew-deprived Pico Boulevard corridor in Rancho Park, just west of the 20th Century Fox Studio lot and Century City. Steingarten LA, in the re-designed space formerly occupied by Kay ‘n Dave’s Cantina, had its soft opening in early March (and was packed on opening night, despite only word-of-mouth and foodie bloggery), and will have its official grand opening in early April.
Despite its moniker, the gorgeous space is more European-looking than traditional German, although there are some long, communal tables of dark wood. The “steingarten” is the outside area behind the restaurant, nicely tiled and landscaped, with tables, booths and a fire pit. There’s also a retractable skylight/sunroof in the large main room. Many of the menu items are also German-inspired, including the sausages –– Steingarten LA’s specialty –– ranging from the traditional (Bratwurst, Polish) to the exotic (Wild Boar, Bison). Burgers, sandwiches, tapas and salads are also served.
Even though there are some German and German-style beers on the 18-tap draught list and the 40-plus-and-growing bottle list, Belgian and American craft beers dominate. One look at the selection (Ballast Point Victory at Sea, New Belgium’s La Terroir, De Ranke Saison, Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus…) and you can probably guess that the beer guy is the seemingly ubiquitous Dave Watrous –– the Zelig of L.A.’s craft beer scene –– who has worked at almost every great beer bar in this city, and is the co-organizer of the Woodshop series of rare beer events.
Hard liquor is given the same attention as beer at Steingarten LA, as spirits specialist Luke Wederbrook –– who shares the beverage director and bar manager titles with Watrous –– will be rotating seasonal distilled beverages. One interesting, and rare, clear whiskey sampled was Double & Twisted, a 99-proof distilled version of Anderson Valley Brewing’s Hop Ottin’ IPA that was hopped again after distilling (although no hop bitterness was detectable).
Watrous points out that the glass-walled beer and wine cooler (chilled to 55º) behind the dark wood bar will soon have small lockers that patrons can rent to age their beers and wines at cellar temperature. Also, brewery dinners, tastings and beer-education events in the private front room, with a window overlooking the street, will soon become a regular part of the Steingarten LA experience. Prost!