Posts Tagged ‘The Valley’

Lauded barman Damian Windsor brings craft cocktails to the Salon in North Hollywood

The Salon is located upstairs at The Federal Bar (5303 Lankershim Boulevard) on the north side of the NoHo Arts District in North Hollywood. Walk past the art school kids you’re going to park by, skip the crowd at the main bar downstairs, and tell the host you want to go up to The Salon for some honest-to-goodness handcrafted cocktails. Go through an Employees Only door, up a flight of stairs and you’ll find the entrance to The Salon, a cocktail hideaway tucked into the second floor. Opening up quietly at the end of 2016, but four years in the making, Damian Windsor (The Roger Room, Warwick) created a drink menu that’s both accessible and finely tuned with a focus on classic and craft cocktails.

Crafty cocktails

You have drinks like the Montgomery Martini, which is just a really good martini. But you also have the popular Horse’s Neck that features Lairds Applejack, ginger beer, Angostura and citrus oil. If your friends are just getting out of plastic bottles and into cocktails, chances are they’re enamoured with those mules in copper cups. The Horse’s Neck will be familiar and is the drink you’ll indoctrinate them into The Salon with. Be careful, though, because you most likely won’t be able to get away with just one round of these.

Horse's Neck cocktail at The Salon

Horse’s Neck

Maybe your friends just graduated from Jameson blackouts and now they only drink Old Fashioneds. The Fransisco San [sic] is right up their alley. Taking inspiration from Japanese whisky and San Francisco (as the name implies, despite the curious spelling), this cocktail features Suntory Whisky Toki, Punt e Mes and D.O.M. Benedictine. It’s a bright take on a whisky drink that goes down easy while still remaining respectable enough for Bill Murray to toast while wearing eyeliner.

Fransisco San cocktail at The Salon

Fransisco San


Double dazzle

Fortune Favors the Bold is ironically probably the least bold cocktail on the menu. Double Cross vodka, Carpano Antica Formula, Manzanilla sherry, Cointreau and Spanish Queen olives combine into a smooth but powerful, not delicate, taste. The vodka, vermouth, sherry and triple sec serve to heighten the Spanish Queen olives, making them more than just an accent. What this drinks holds back in adventure, it gives you in unrestrained flavor.

Fortune Favors the Bold cocktail

Fortune Favors the Bold

When you’re ready to commit to a new cocktail experience, go ahead and do yourself the favor of ordering up a Tequila Por Mi Amante. While the pickled watermelon dazzles your tastebuds, the Pueblo Viejo tequila blanco and Chamberyzette dry vermouth await your commitment. The watermelon cubes are more than a garnish; this is closer to a pairing in a glass. Salty, fruity, refreshing, boozy. This is what I started my night with, and it set the bar high. I could most likely drink more rounds of Horse’s Neck on any given night, but the Tequila Por Mi Amante was my favorite.

Tequila Por Mi Amante cocktail at The Salon

Tequila Por Mi Amante


Welcome to The Valley

The Salon has limited operating hours, generally Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8 p.m. until late, but it would be wise to call and check ahead as there are sometimes performances (comedy, music) in adjacent showrooms. The walls upstairs are not very soundproof, so activity in the other room would be definitely noticed. Nevertheless, The Salon is a welcome addition of handcrafted cocktails in an intimate atmosphere that you frankly don’t always find in The Valley.


03 2017

Flipping the script at Vitello’s Restaurant

Rack of lamb at Vitello's

Rack of lamb at Vitello’s

You know the place — the neighborhood Italian red-sauce-and-mozzarella restaurant. That was Vitello’s in Studio City. Dating back to the 1960s, Vitello’s was a Rat Pack hangout. But it became infamous in 2001 when Bonnie Lee Bakely, wife of actor Robert Blake, was shot dead while sitting in her car after eating at Vitello’s. The couple were regulars at the restaurant, and Blake said he found his wife dead in the car after walking back to the restaurant to retrieve a gun he left in his usual booth.

Now far removed from the Bakely murder, Vitello’s is under new ownership and management, with a brand-new look and sophisticated menu to boot. New Executive Chef Tonino Cardia, who is originally from Sicily, has created some great dishes, including the Trofie alla Sausage made with small twists of pasta, Italian sausage, broccoli, diced grape tomato and white wine, and the Filetto di Branzino with an almond crusted Mediterranean sea bass, zucchini and Sicilian pesto.

Trofie alla Sausage

Trofie alla Sausage

Filetto di Branzino

Filetto di Branzino

Cardia gets creative with his dishes, too. He serves salmon tartare with raspberries and tops grilled rack of lamb with lavender. Sounds bizarre, but it all totally works.

Mixologist Josh Curtis has come up some really interesting drinks, too, including The Figueroa with vodka, club soda, muddled fig and olive oil, and the Unusual Sazerac with rye, Aperol and a sambuca rinse. Creativity abounds at Vitello’s.

The Figueroa

The Figueroa

Since the menu now changes seasonally, you’re sure to find some interesting fall dishes. The Beer Braised Osso Bucco with pumpkin risotto and chestnuts sounds especially satisfying — once the weather cools down, of course.

See more photos from Vitello’s:

Note: This meal was hosted.

Further reading:

Vitello’s Studio City…My New Neighborhood Spot by Marian the Foodie


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10 2012