The Sunset Strip is a notorious playground for locals and visitors alike, both of whom flock to Sunset Boulevard for a good time where rules are meant to be broken. From music, food and drinks, standards are high on Sunset. And all eyes are fixed on State Social House, the latest inhabitant to The Strip.
Billed as a new restaurant/lounge concept, State Social House took over the former Red Rock, and Isla Cantina locations, giving birth to a sprawling dining area, ample bar, downstairs smokers lounge, and top floor piano bar. And with 20 televisions in all corners, this is the place to watch the big game or PPV match. There really is something for everybody here.
Executive Chef Vernon Cardenas—former corporate executive chef at Boa, Katana, and Sushi Roku, and former executive chef of Pink Taco—has crafted some inspiring “pub bites” and savory American fare with flavors from the farms of California and influences from the Far East and Europe.
We’ve been lucky enough to feast on food and drink at State Social House so don’t try to take on all the following items, but it’s a good guide of what you might find favorable on the menu.
As we’re prone to do, we started with a round of specialty cocktails, which cost $13 a piece, because that’s what friends do when they’re out for the night at a bar-friendly joint.
The Dry & Rye Manhattan, made with Bulliet rye whiskey, Amero, bitters and a twist, is a great starter drink. Likewise, Sweet Endings, mixed with Chandon champagne, Aperol, orange juice, lime juice and St. Germain, goes down very easy. And the Thai’d Up, a mix of Akvinta vodka, strawberry, balsamic vinegar, basil and lemon, is sweet but not sickeningly so, and is also a great way to start a night out.
There are plenty of tasty bar bites to be had and some of our favorites included the Kobe Meatballs with smoked mozzarella, demi sauce and baby arugula; Duck Fries (need I say more?); and Crispy Calamari with tomatillo sauce.
Mad props for the wonderful Beat Salad with baby arugula, goat cheese, walnuts, Dijon vinaigrette and balsamic glaze—this is a terrific light and healthy choice that also extremely tasty. The Bacon Wrapped Scallop Salad with Baby-Frisée, soft poached egg, roasted fingerling potatoes and champagne vinaigrette is a flavorful dish that’s loaded with great and unique tastes, starting with the bacon wrapped scallops, not to mention the soft poached egg, and potatoes. Just terrific.
Another round of drinks included the Backroom Mob, made with Bulliet bourbon, St. Germain, lemon, soda and mint, was damn fine, as was The Muse, mixed with Kettle Citron vodka, lime, agave, blueberries and Marchino liquor, which was stronger than I thought—a mistake I’m usually glad to make.
Hidden Gem, an Irish Whisky, Amero, orange bitters, and Guinness Stout concoction, was a disappointment, which was surprising considering it’s made with my very favorite Jameson. However, this Jameson/Guinness combo should not be served over ice; instead it should just come in a cold glass as the ice immediately started watering down the drink, leaving a flat, slushy and unappealing drink after a few minutes. Sorry, I didn’t feel like pounding this drink as it’s not an Irish Car-bomb. I guess they can’t all be winners.
Chef’s Whiskey Burger, made with a Jameson onion jam, arugula, gruyere and special sauce, has immediately garnered a lot of attention even before the restaurant actually opened as foodies were already craving the savory Jameson Jam. While I thought it was more bun than burger, the Hidden Gem sauce was really nice, and don’t get me wrong, this is a tasty and hearty beast.
The pizzas and flatbreads at State Social House are great to share and some of our favorites included the Smoked Salmon Pizza with Baba Ganoush, dill cream, red onions and fresh squeezed lemon, along with the Shrimp Flatbread with mixed mushrooms, mozzarella, provolone and pesto.
If you’re in the mood for a stiff drink, go with El Padrino, made with Bushmills Irish whiskey, lime, lime juice, ginger beer and agave. There’s a lot going on in this drink but the result is a formidable cocktail that hits the spot. Margarita fans should enjoy the Sunset Strip, made with Don Julio anejo tequila (a very nice tough), mint, sugar, grapefruit and fresh lime.
Entrees tend to run about $25 (the most expensive item being the $34 Prime Ribeye Steak). While you can make a whole meal out of smaller dishes, especially if you’re sharing, the bigger plates are the way to go if you’re really hungry and you’re going to skip on all the appetizers.
The Grilled Half Chicken with house fries, broccolini and Dijon butter sauce is a night, light dish, as is the Pacific Bass with edamame, corn succotash with bacon braised kale (this was my fave). Both dishes also pair very well with a New Harbor, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (a great glass for only $7).
Heartier dishes that delighted included the Asian BBQ Skirt Steak with broccolini and house fries, and the aforementioned Prime Ribeye Steak with potato puree, broccolini and soy garlic sauce. Both paired nicely with the Lote 44 Malbec.
And don’t skip out on the Mac N’ Cheese with cheddar, gruyere, Gouda and bacon side dish as it’s really decadent and delightful. Good times.
If you have room for desserts, the Peanut butter & Jelly Ice Cream Sandwich is touted but I preferred the Sautéed Apple Tart served on a puff pastry with vanilla almond butter and comes with salted caramel gelato. They’re nice but not extraordinary so save a little cash and have another cocktails or side item or just save a little cash.
After dinner and drinks, heads down to the Cigar Bar if you like to smoke or venture upstairs to the comfy Piano Bar to listen to live music. The vibe upstairs is so laid back and chill, creating a great space just to hangout. Kudos to the powers that be at State Social House for coming up with a place to eat, drink, offer a front row seat for the big game, lounge and listen to live music, and smoke.
State Social House is located at 8782 Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood. Open 11:30am to 2am seven days a week, with the exception of the upstairs Piano Bar, which is open from 5pm until 2am.
By: Jose Martinez.