THE TUCK ROOM TAVERN
A WESTWOOD DRINKING & DINING DEN
Restaurants often try to create unique vibes, from chic to industrial all in hopes of creating an environment that will foster a good time and hopefully a better dining experience. Walk into The Tuck Room Tavern in Westwood and you may feel like you’re entering another dimension or possibly a board game realm.
From James Beard-award winning chef and cookbook author Sherry Yard, who worked with Wolfgang Puck for nearly 20 years, The Tuck Room Tavern has been referred to as whimsical, partly because its décor.
Housed inside Westwood’s iPic Theater, known for its plush and intimate screening rooms loaded with comfy chairs, tables and complete food and beverage service, this is Yard’s four collaboration with the theater chain. The winning combination has propelled the concept of dinner and a movie to new heights.
I love the décor as you walk into the parlor, although while I found the setting comfy and intimate in the evening it did come across as dark in daylight. The plush patio serves as the “conservatory” and the dining area is the “den,” all of which creates a fun setting.
While The Tuck Room Tavern has been described by some as a “modern speakeasy,” I found that comparison a bit of a stretch. The cocktails aren’t stellar and the vibe doesn’t really warrant the speakeasy tag as this is more of an eclectic yet charming restaurant space.
During our recent visit for dinner, we set up shop in the parlor room and started with a Tuck Old Fashioned made with house infused fig and walnut rye, maple house spiced walnut bitters over hand-cut ice. It was a decent drink but I like that the bar lets you tailor your drink if you so choose to, which led to me coming up with a fine Mezcal Manhattan and a pleasing margarita with Cazadores Reposado tequila and a mezcal float. That’s as good as a margarita gets, albeit it’s off menu.
For starter items, the Brioche Crusted Crab Cake with old bay remoulade, frisee and Polito Farms citrus salad, and yuzu vinaigrette was simply delicious. This is a terrific appetizer to share. The “K-Town” Short Rib Sliders with ginger and carrot bun, spicy short rib, pickled cucumbers, and daikon cress were good but didn’t wow me, and The Avocado, served grilled with stuffed Hass avocado, shallot mousse, breadcrumbs, cotija cheese, and finger lime pearls was a bit of a letdown. I’m big Caesar salad fan but I found the Classic Caesar to be very blah as it needs more flavor.
Our second round of menu cocktails disappointed as the Afternoon Delight with house infused lemon berry vodka, lemon berry tea, Aperol, fresh lemon lemonade, and mint was too sweet, and the Southern Decadence with Bacardi Maestro de Rum, El Dorado 8-Year Demerara Rum, Balsam American Amaro, Rare Tea Cellar Magnolia Oolong, strawberry, passion fruit and pineapple suffered from poor balance and was too fruity.
For our entrees, we went with the Mango & Habanero BBQ Baby Back Ribs with spicy tangy coleslaw, honey-glazed cornbread topped with whipped goat cheese. This was a solid and hearty dish that definitely delighted.
The Seared Wild White Bass served with garden panzanella salad of cucumber, tomato, basil, sourdough croutons, and pesto was good but I’ve had better. I love sea bass so I tend to be pretty critical with my bass. This paired well with a night glass of Chardonnay, which helped create a more flavorful dish.
As far as side dishes go, the Sweet Corn with toybox tomato, bacon lardons, and fresh tarragon was amazing. Consider this a must-have item. Likewise, the Crispy Weiser Farms Potatoes with chimichurri sauce were hearty and tasty.
Wanting one last round of cocktails, we went with the The Coconut Grove made with fresh coconut water, homemade coco lopez, grilled pineapple, Bacardi 8-year rum and El Dorado 8-Year Demerara Rums, with a hint of Balsam American Amaro. Served excessively garnished, I found this drink somewhat bland. But the Booth 50 with Evan Williams Bourbon, hand squeezed California grapefruit, wildflower honey, and yuzu made for a good nightcap.
But no experience at The Tuck Room Tavern or anywhere Chef Sherry Yard sets up shop is complete without dessert. It is her specialty after all so make sure you leave room for divine decadence. Her famous Red Velvet Pavlova is beloved for a reason (because it’s fantastic!). Her take on Baked Alaska, this dish prepared with crispy vanilla meringue, red velvet raspberry, chunk ice cream, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce doesn’t miss a step.
But if you think dessert can’t get any better, well, you’d be wrong as the Chocolate Hot + Cold is out of this world good. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’m a chocolate person but this rich and winning combination of deep dark chocolate sauce, chocolate gelato, chocolate pearls, and cake croutons is one of the best desserts I’ve had in some time.
Happy Hour is available Monday thru Friday from 4pm to 7pm and all “tucking” Thursday and includes $5 draft beers, $7 cocktails, $7 to $10 glasses of wine and $10 bar bites.
The Tuck Room Tavern is tucked away inside iPic Theaters located at 10850 Wilshire Blvd. Call (310) 307-7004.
Story by Jose Martinez
Photography Courtesy:The Tuck Room Tavern