WOOD & VINE
HOLLYWOOD GEM OFFERS SEASONAL DELIGHTS
While the glitz and glamour surrounding Hollywood Boulevard, and in particular the famed intersection of Hollywood and Vine, is a bit faded and slightly tarnished for actual locals, it is a landmark of sorts and home to the nearby Pantages Theatre and for the last few years Wood & Vine, which made a name for itself by focusing on seasonal small plates that highlight market fresh ingredients.
With Chef Marc Johnson (formerly of Waterloo & City, and STK) creating wonderful seasonal dishes and Beverage Director Justin Stidham crafting classic and seasonal cocktails, Wood & Vine manages to delight with its fresh fare and cool cocktails, and is a favorite among locals and visitors.
“My overall goal is to make good, seasonal food with the best products available,” Chef Johnson explains. “While I still wanted to appeal to our clientele that is stopping in to grab a bite before they see a show at the Pantages, I also wanted to revamp the menu so that it would appeal to a wider audience and make our restaurant a destination for everyone who appreciates a creative menu and good food.”
During our recent visit for dinner, I started with a cocktail as I’m prone to do. The Ancho Rancho, made with Pierde Almas Mescal, Anchor Reyes Liqueur, bell pepper, lemon, and honey, is a wonderful drink. It’s tasty with a hint of smokiness from the mescal. Likewise, the Above the Clouds, mixed with Ron Zacapa Rum, blood orange, cinnamon reduction, angostura bitters, lime, and orange peel, is really tasty without any harshness.
With drink in hand, you may want to start with something sharable and Chef is a big fan of Terrine (forcemeat loaf similar to pâté), Cheese and Charcuterie. Fans of terrines and charcuterie can choose from Duck & Walnut with Cherry Mostarda, Wild Boar & Pecan with Apple Chutney, and even a vegetarian option, Vegetable Terrine with Ricotta.
“I personally love making terrines, and I subscribe to the whole ‘nose to tail’ philosophy,” Chef says. “These dishes are quick and simple. They arrive at the table shortly after they’re ordered, which makes them the perfect pre-theatre bite.”
We actually started with Terrines, Charcuterie & Cheese plate, which featured a varied selection of local, artisanal charcuterie that normally rotates depending on market quality and availability. While I usually skip on the cheese and charcuterie, sure they’re delicious but they tend to be pricey and as someone once pointed out to me, we could have split a half gallon of ice cream instead of the cheese, this was a very tasty treat to share.
Since we ate family style, we shared several dishes to try out as many plates as possible. The Beet Root, with horseradish, kumquat, sourdough, and amaranth, along with the Roasted Cauliflower, served with peanuts, salsa verde, and lovage (an herb with big flavor), are great starter items.
Looking for a biggerand slightly more filling dish? The Mussels, with onion, ginger, coconut, cilantro, lime, and baguette, are a sure fire winner—you’ll definitely want to soak up every last drop with the accompanying baguette. Another favorite are the Pork Meatballs served with collard greens, apple, and gravy. These will pair nicely with the Wood & Wine house wine.
“I like the pork meatballs with collard greens, bacon and calvados,” Chef points out. “I grind up the meat myself, using parts of the meat that people don’t usually think to use or aren’t used that often.”
Bigger and heartier dishes to serve as entrees include the Pork Ribs with sweet chili, aji Amarillo, and cilantro—so savory and tender. Not to be outdone, the Risotto with squid ink, crab, corn, and tarragon really hits the spot.
And last but not least, the Braised Lamb with chickpea gnocchi, harissa, sorrel, and peas is delicious. This one screams for a red wine pairing.
“The meat for our braised lamb with chickpea, harissa and sorrel, actually comes from the neck, and has a fantastic flavor,” Chef noted.
Always crowded before a show at The Pantages, make sure you make reservations if you’re eating before the theater or you’re just looking for an early bite. If you come after 8pm, there’s definitely a more relaxed vibe at Wood & Vine, just perfect to chill. And make note of their Double Happy Hour—Monday thru Friday from 5pm to 6:30pm; Monday thru Thursday from 10pm to midnight; and Friday and Saturday from midnight to 2am featuring $5 cocktails, wines, beers, and dishes. Monday nights are also Market Mondays where you can get a 3-Course Farmers' Market Dinner for $18, along with a select $18 bottle of wine and $3 beer.
While the somewhat daring menu may bring people slightly out their comfort zone, it definitely allows guests to potentially discover new favorites. And that’s how Chef likes it.
“That is what Wood & Vine is about.”
Wood & Vine is located at 6280 Hollywood Blvd. Hours: Monday through Thursday from 5 pm to Midnight; Friday from 5 pm to 2 am; Saturday from 4 pm to 2 am, and on Sunday from 3 pm to 10 pm. Call (323) 334-3360. Valet parking available.
Story by Jose Martinez
Photos: Pork Ribs, Beetroot and Kale Salad, Chef Marc Johnson
Photos by: Acuna-Hansen