ROLLING STONE L.A. AIMS TO ROCK
With the record business turned upside down, and some already declaring it deceased, one-time music juggernaut Rolling Stone Magazine, the music industry bible for years, is hardly the force it once was. And now, it an attempt to remain vital and current, it has opened its first restaurant and lounge aptly called Rolling Stone Los Angeles (RS/LA), declaring its "not just about music, but the things and attitudes that music embraces."
Attempting to capture the spirit of the iconic magazine in a mix of edginess and excellence, classic and contemporary, RS/LA is located at Hollywood & Highland, adjacent to the Kodak Theatre. And that’s a move a bit off kilter right off the bat, as Hollywood & Highland is looked at as more of a tourist spot than a location most locals really care to venture to. Aiming for style and hipness, it’s hard to achieve that kind of swagger in a giant tourist mall.
But give RS/LA props for creating a stylish destination spot nonetheless. The upstairs restaurant, complemented with an outside patio, exudes chic comfort with hardwood floors, 1950s-style leather chairs and tufted red-leather banquettes, offering open seating as well as two semi-private sections for larger parties. Its downstairs lounge, where small-bites are served, is a beautifully designed space with private booths, overstuffed chairs, an area for bottle service, and a dedicated lounge bar serving signature drinks.
Your first impression of what RS/LA will look like is probably akin to a Hard Rock Café, and that will definitely need to be adjusted - don’t think kitschy burger joint, think way more upscale than that. While the actual restaurant space is small, its menu isn’t. Starter items include Torched Yellowtail, Acorn Squash Tortellini, Smoked Trout Toasts, Spicy Steamed Clams & Mussels, and Dungeness Crab Stuffed Mushrooms. Not too shabby.
During our recent visit, we started with a Hearts of Romaine salad, with roasted baby beets, pink lady apple, spiced pecan, and goat cheese (salads range about $10 a piece). It was paired with a refreshing Sauvignon Blanc, Cloudy Bay, Marlborough, New Zealand 2009. And do make sure to order the Soft Pretzel Knots with Beer Cheese Fondue ($5) as an appetizer. They’re delicious!
For our entrees we had the Pan Roasted Atlantic Salmon with wilted baby spinach, fingerlings, capers, and golden raisins ($20). It was paired with a Chardonnay, Cakebread, Napa Valley 2008. This is a wonderfully guilt-free, light and refreshing selection. Or you can go with the Grilled Rack of Lamb with black quinoa, asparagus, and Greek yogurt (Half $18; Full $34). A hearty selection that won’t have you running for the treadmill to burn off unwanted calories. You can’t go wrong with either choice. And it went perfectly well with a Malbec, Massimo, Mendoza, Argentina 2009.
Another fine selection is the House Ground Burger, with balsamic red onions, and Smokey blue, aged cheddar ($14). Yes, they do also make a mean burger, just as you’d expect when first hearing about the place. You’ll probably want to pair this hefty choice with a beer, although a nice glass of red would also be appropriate.
If you saved room for dessert, the Seascape Strawberry Rhubarb Tart was very tasty, especially with a nice glass of Moet & Chandon Imperial NV, Reims. Although more decadent selections like the Super Funnel Cake Sundae or the Potted Chocolate Cake are extremely tempting.
The restaurant claims to pay homage to the brand's musical pedigree, with Rolling Stone covers cleverly reflected onto tables and oversized photographs that “make guests feel they're on stage, a star among stars.” However, and maybe it’s because they didn’t want to go over-the-top, I thought they kept things too subtle. The music was too far away in the background, and I didn’t think there was enough Rolling Stone Magazine feel to the place.
After dinner there’s a great dance floor space below, and make sure to hit up Wednesday’s mid-week mixologist stir-n-shakedown, “Are You Experienced?” - a weekly series of high-end craft cocktails served in the venue’s 45-person capacity VIP lounge, B-Side. Beginning at 8 p.m. each Wednesday at B-Side – an intimate space with its own bar and private entrance off Highland Avenue – “Are You Experienced?” will welcome guest mixologists while showcasing the talent of liquid magician Tricia Alley, who derives inspiration from the classics, prizes the seasonal farm-to-glass approach, and enjoys composing tinctures, cordials and bitters that aren’t found elsewhere. This is a great, little gem of a bar, sans pretension and is a wonderful throwback to a different time and place than fast-paced, tourist-laden Hollywood Boulevard.
RS/LA is located at 6801 Hollywood Blvd., at Hollywood & Highland. Open Sunday through Wednesday. Hours: 11:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – 12:00 a.m. The lounge is open 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Dining reservations recommended. Call 323-464-4000.
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Some Photography courtesy of Rolling Stone Los Angeles (RS/LA