Tuesday, June 9, 2009

MEOW: Kid Friendly, Palate Friendly - Tavern, Brentwood

In a part of town where there are as many Bugaboos roaming the streets as there are Bimmers and Benzes, the finer things in life are must-haves for adults and ankle-biters alike. Dining is certainly no exception. And though I am by no means a Bimmer-driving, Bugaboo-pushing kind of mommy, I am still a mommy. Once in a while, this mommy likes to treat herself and her little munchkin to something a little more upscale than homemade butternut squash pureƩ.

Recently, a visit from my friend S and her better half was the perfect excuse for myself and some other mommy and daddy friends of ours to check out Tavern, the newest venture by Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne of Lucques and A.O.C. fame. It was here at this Brentwood eatery that I had my latest MEOW (MEal Of the Week).

Whereas I'd rather eat chain fast food for a month straight than attempt to bring my little one to A.O.C. on any given night, bringing the little guy into this rustic neighborhoody joint was no problem at all. Tavern's main dining room, an airy, indoor version of Lucque's patio dressed in shades of off-white, sage, and goldenrod was all abuzz with thirty somethings, senior citizens, teens and kids alike on this particular Saturday afternoon. I did have to carry our Zippy down a couple steps into the sunken room which wasn't a problem for us but could potentially be if any family wanted to bring wheelchair bound Grammy or Grampy to eat; the people at Tavern, however, quickly made up for that small inconvenience by setting up our metal-studded table for eight adults plus three high chairs with space to park the stroller right alongside as an added bonus.

But the thing that impressed me the most as a food whoring mom was Tavern's menu. Full of the fresh seasonal fare that one could only expect of the Goin-Styne partnership, the menu presents a nice variety of salads, sandwiches, burgers and main courses for lunch as well as a separate menu for their "Little Tavernistas." Wait, rewind...what? That's right, a kid's menu from the A.O.C./Lucques peeps! I gotta be honest--they're not particularly the best value at $5 for a plate of veggies to $10 for a main dish (I could treat my son to this stuff on a regular basis OR afford to send him to college one day. Hmm...) but it's definitely a lifesaver for a busy mommy trying to rush out the door and haul ass to the westside to meet some friends for a nice lunch with baby in tow.

My little tyke shared an order of Jules' Meatloaf and Mash and a side of Olivia's Steamed Broccoli with his 14 month old homegirl. Placed on white dinnerware that had to be kept in the middle of our table and out of little arms' reach for obvious reasons, the tennis ball-sized tomato sauce topped meatloaf and dollop of mashed potatoes looked like something that could have been served at a retirement community Early Bird Special. But for the kids, the small and simple presentation was perfect, the texture perfectly moist for those tiny gummy mouths the flavor surprisingly satisfying for the parents who finished off what the little ones couldn't. Their plate of steamed broccoli was actually a plate of broccolini which were also surprisingly not devoid of flavor but because of their long al dente stalks, more suitable for older kids or adults than the infant or toddler set. On the other end of our table, our friends' toddler was enjoying a grilled cheese sandwich which was grilled to a perfect golden brown though I'm pretty sure that didn't matter so much to the little cutie. For future visits, it's great to know that we'll have more dishes the little ones can try: Pasta with Butter & Parmesan (parsley purposefully withheld), Mac & Cheese, Crispy Chicken with Mozzarella & Prosciutto, or the Half-Sized Tavern Burger to name a few.

Of course leftover meatloaf, mashed potatoes and broccolini weren't the only things I'd lunched on. I started with the restaurant's soup of the day which was a sweet corn chowder with hints of chile and topped with an avocado puree. A soup which my 11 month old, by the way, kept grabbing for as he liked it so much.

Being a cholesterol and sodium lover's delight, I wouldn't let him touch my "Spaniarde" sandwich--a sandwich of mahon cheese, spicy and salty lomo, nutty romesco, sweet quince all nestled between grilled bread and topped with a fried egg--which I ate with a fork and knife so as to not get so much runny egg yolk on my hands since they were pretty full already with you-know-who. It was delicious, but too heavy of a sandwich for everyday eating (at least for me!)

Their "Pork, Pork, Pork" Burger with a ground pork, bacon and chorizo patty served with manchego cheese and romesco was an excellent tribute to the pig in burger format and a unanimous favorite at our table. I couldn't help but think, however, that this burger sounds just a tad similar to a certain well-regarded burger at a certain other joint in town which I actually haven't had myself, and am now wondering which one of the two would win in a triple pork burger smackdown. (Post for another day perhaps?) I also had a bite of their turkey burger, which at many other places would just be an absolute bore, but Tavern's version was a nicely seasoned, all-around good burger.

I'm really excited about Tavern, both as a mommy and as a food-lover. I'm excited to bring my little monster back here maybe to have breakfast or brunch which I hear is in the works or maybe to have coffee and pick up some take-away case goods at the adjoining larder. I'm also excited to try their dinner and bar menu perhaps sans baby as I'm already drooling over items like their fried oyster and bacon brochette with tabasco aioli, fava bean puree with pecorino, olives and toast, and porkchop with cornbread, chorizo, and spiced maple syrup. I think I'd just want to enjoy dinner and drinks without having to clean cheerios up off the floor afterwards. Anyone care to babysit?

11648 San Vicente Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 806-6464

Tavern on Urbanspoon


SinoSoul said...


i friggin LOVE this place. I do, I do, I do. Not the Bugaloos tho.

next time, gotta try the burgers. so lucky to get all the sunlight during lunch time. jealous...

weezermonkey said...

I am really impressed there is a children's menu. Maybe we will go there with Little Monkey Niece!

And have you had the pork burger at Wood Spoon? I wonder how it stacks up to Tavern's and Umami's. I adore the Wood Spoon pork burger.

joanh said...

ooohh.. looks good, though if a 1/2 sized burger is 10 bucks, i'm not sure if i want to know how much a regular one is!

it's always great when the "nicer" places are kid friendly

Susan said...

OMG, Little Tavernistas, are you kidding me? How cute are they?? Thanks so much for your baby-focused review of Tavern. I would have never considered bringing Tater, but now we totally will, so thanks! Must go soon.

Susan said...

Wait, and is that your little one?? SO adorable.

Daily Gluttony said...


I am jealous that you got to eat that oyster & bacon brochette AND all those desserts. Next time!


Wood Spoon has been on my list of places to try. And so cool that they have a pork burger too! Someone should do a writeup comparing the three, but it ain't gonna be me else I'd gain 20 lbs.

And definitely bring Little Monkey Niece to Tavern!!!


It was $17...not a cheap burger but very worth it!


Aww, thanks for the kind words about my son; your little Tater is quite the cutie too! It's so refreshing to find family friendly places (especially nice ones) isn't it? They're hard to come by!

Food, she thought. said...

Aw'ight. The baby menu may not be cheap, but it is thoughtful. And damn your baby is nommingly cute.

lynn said...

Your baby is waaaay too cute.

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