TIPPLE & BRINE
RUSTIC SEAFOOD BONANZA ALONG VENTURA BOULEVARD
There has always been a bit of a snide attitude towards the Valley from L.A. proper folk. But these days there’s definitely a lot more going on in the Land of 818 than just valley girls and the Galleria. It started with quality gastro pubs popping up in NoHo and now, with Tipple & Brine in Sherman Oaks, not to mention their “secret” speakeasy Tunnel Bar, ridiculously good times are just an Uber or Lyft ride away.
Tipple & Brine created an early buzz when it opened thanks to its “out of the box” Oyster Luge. I love it when a place is known for a must-have drink. You start with a fresh oyster, get a shot of Bowmore (9, 12 or 18-year scotch), and then do the following: Step 1—take a wee sip of the oyster brine; Step 2—take a wee sip of the Bowmore; Step 3—eat the oyster; then Step 4—Luge, which means pouring some of the scotch into the shell and shooting peaty juice. Repeat as often as desired.
Forget about seasoning your oyster with lemon, cocktail sauce or Tabasco. Instead, drink a bit of the brine, which never occurred to me before, taste the peaty scotch (the brine actually helps neutralize some of the harsh peatiness), and then enjoy the oyster followed by an interesting and tasty shot of scotch with the remaining brine. Good stuff. Who knew?
Start with an Oyster Luge and good times will definitely follow as it’s a fun and tasty way to start your night. And that’s exactly what we did during our recent visit for dinner. Then we opted for a fantastic half dozen selection of Oysters that were just utterly delightful. They included varietals like Fanny Bay from Washington, Carlsbad Luna from California and Blue Point from New York.
If you’re looking for a cocktail to really get you going, The Manhattan Buck with bourbon, sweet vermouth, ginger, lime and soda is a little spicy but very tasty. Likewise, the Ford Cocktail, made with gin, dry vermouth, Benedictine, bitters, and an orange twist, is very refreshing. It’s perfect for day drinking and wonderful if you’re drinking on the early side of the evening. The Ford Cocktail is actually a play on a martini, but uses Old Tom Gin instead of London Dry Gin, and is sweeter, rounder and less intense.
Opting to share several plates from the Vegetables section of the menu, we enjoyed the Kale Green Goddess with ricotta salata, English peas, and fried chickpeas; along with the Cauliflower with salsa rustica, chopped egg, almonds, and parmesan; Braised Greens with poached egg, bacon, cannellini beans, and breadcrumbs; and Summer Squash with burrata, hazelnut aillade (garlic sauce), and crispy squash blossom. I love that the Cauliflowerdish uses the entire cauliflower, roots, leaves and all. It’s perfect as a veggie option.
Seafood is the specialty at Tipple & Brine and there are many main course options to choose from, including Lobster Terrine with smoked corn puree, micro cress and crispy shallots; and Sea Bass with duck fat potatoes, mashed peas and gribiche (mayonnaise-style cold egg sauce). We shared the decadently delicious Sea Urchin Toast with avocado mousse, radish and scallion; along with the Scallops with parsnip, crispy pancetta, horseradish, oyster mushrooms, and arugula; Fried Octopus with squid ink aioli, eggplant, and shishitos; and Crispy Oysters with creamed nettles and smoked onion jam. These are perfect to share, although the Sea Urchin Toast was so good I could have eaten one on my own.
From the Land section of the menu, we went with the highly recommended Roasted Chicken (other options include Lamb Shank, and Flat Iron Steak), which came with drop biscuits (nice touch!), pea tendrils, and spring alums. The chicken is served under the greens and is mixed with the biscuits. It’s definitely not like any chicken dish you’ve seen but it’s so delicious, especially when paired with a Dry Riesling.
If you want one last drink, the Irish Honey Fix with Jameson Irish Whiskey, lemon, honey and nutmeg is tasty, while the Mexican Firing Squad with Reposado tequila, lime, house-made grenadine, and bitters is potent, and the off menu Chet Baker, made with Plantation Original Dark rum is superb. For dessert, we split the Chocolate Cremeux with salty caramel, pretzel streusel and brown butter whipped cream. So damn good!
Thanks to Tipple & Brine owner Richard DiSisto, the Founder of Vantage Restaurant Group, this stretch of Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks is really taking off. Behind the restaurant in the alley is the cool and swank Tunnel Bar, a cozy speakeasy serving some of the Valley’s best cocktails. And he has more development plans in the works.
“It’s not just about opening a restaurant,” DiSisto explains, “it’s about building a destination and transforming this whole section of Sherman Oaks. It’s about restoring it to the glory of what it was 30 to 40 years ago, and creating jobs. This is what makes me so excited about what we’re doing. But above all else, we’re about hospitality. It’s not about us; it’s about the people who walk through our doors. We think the art of hospitality has gotten lost and we want to bring back all the things about hospitality that make people want to come out and enjoy themselves, and we hope this will be reflected from the moment people walk in our door.”
Tipple & Brine is located at 633 Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks. Hours: Sunday through Wednesday from 5 pm to 11 pm, and every Thursday through Saturday from 5 pm to Midnight. Call 818-528-2550.
Story by Jose Martinez — Food photos by Mark Duttweiler
Interior restaurant photo by Moretti Photo