In a Mid-Wilshire area, far away from the maddening crowd lays a new gastro pub that is filled with fun, frivolity, and good food. This area has been in a state of flux for the last few years, after much construction and new apartment complexes coming in. Rascals opened 2 years ago, taking over the troubled Shabu Shabu Ya/Noir space. Really, in my opinion it is just what this area needed. I had a friend that lived off of 6th and La Brea for many years, and when I would visit her, the only place to go was called The Little Bar, which is still there. So having this kind of establishment in the area is a welcoming site. You almost feel like you could be in the heart of San Francisco, or Berkeley with its super urban part café part gastro pub feeling.
Owner Sandy Clark is no stranger to the restaurant business; he worked and ran many famous past Los Angeles favorites. Nicky Blairs, Chaya Venice, Trumps in the 80’s, so many it’s hard to keep track. One night while strolling through the area, he and his wife Rebecca asked about the space and Rascal quickly became a reality.
My server Lucy Arancino was an added bonus, she is from Whales, and with her refined British accent you get the feeling like you’re in a pub in the UK.
The crowd is young, hip, and artsy. I noticed some bearded, ponytailed, euro type men, whose intention was quiet conversation. They have small-shared red plates that are put on the table for your sharing pleasure.
The interior is part café, part pub, but with an eclectic vibe. There are old brick walls that are exposed that add an industrial element. Red and beige tableside ottomans make you feel like you could be at someone’s home. A beautiful chandelier adorns the ceiling and the dimly lite ambiance is very sexy. The big detour sign on one wall along with the droplights over the bar can only be described as Americana. There is an outside small patio, with a nice size bar filled with neighborhood regulars. I was there on a Friday night and it was very busy, lots of laughter, mixed with loud banter. Their piped in music: ambient, with classic rock: the likes of Jacksons Brown, Traveling Wilburys, and James Taylor.
Here’s what I tried:
Classic Martini with olive juice, vermouth and limejuice. This martini was extremely light and refreshing, so much so that you really can’t taste the vodka.
Margarita, Zapopan tequila, bols triple sec, lemon & limejuice. A great take on a classic, and so smooth.
New Drink Rascal Goose, grey goose, grapefruit juice and triple sec. Sandy created this cocktail for me for my very own private tasting. The grapefruit added a nice calming effect, with such great vodka how could you ever go wrong!
Sauvignon – Dom. Du Tariquet – 2013 – France. This wine enhanced any of the veggie dishes, with it’s soft, subtle taste.
Chardonnay – Ventana – 2013 – Aroyo Seco/Monterey. Nicely balanced, you have got to try with the Salmon.
Zinfandel – Ozv – 2012 – California. This is a lovely wine to pair with the Red Wine & Tomato Braised Short Ribs. It stands up to the rich tomato flavors.
Cabernet Sauvignon – Ancient Peaks 2011 Paso Robles, hands down go with the Steak with this wine.
Artichoke & Pea Tendrils Soup olive oil, black pepper, queso fresco. Creamy but not rich, not too much salt and nicely blended. This is a healthy soup that has a lot of bang for your buck.
Back Kale Salad hard-boiled egg, queso fresco, white corn hominy, and Parmesan garlic dressing. I can’t say enough about this salad; it is packed with fiber and nutrients. Not fully vegan, but a good thing to order for a healthy life style.
Fried Chicken & Gravy buttermilk marinated boneless chicken, spicy Italian sausage gravy. The chicken is cooked to perfection and the sauce is very subtle with nice small bites of sausage. This dish would be one I would crave, and have to order once a month for sure.
Brussels Sprouts smoked bacon, shallots, garlic, and whole grain mustard sauce. A lot of the Brussels sprout dishes are too burnt and or too crispy, these were fully cooked and had great texture. The added whole grain mustard sauce gives you a nice crunch to every bite.
Tator Tots, crispy, lovely, what you remember eating as a child, but a thousand times better.
Fettuccine Pasta house-made pork merguqez sausage, tomato ragout, wild rocket arugula, grated Parmesan. This sausage has cumin in it, so its more on the Spanish side of the flavor wheel then it is Italian, but great just the same.
Red Wine & Tomato Braised Short Ribs tater tots, wild rocket arugula, queso fresco, pickled onion & jalapeno. The meat is stringy and tender at the same time; it has an amazing flavor.
Veggie Burger house-made corn polenta patty, caramelized onions, sharp cheddar, wild rocket arugula, vine ripe tomato, herb roulade, field greens. I loved this burger; its hearty and you just don’t miss the meat in it at all.
Atlantic Salmon Spanish chorizo, green lentils, pumpkin seeds, saffron wine, artichoke & English pea puree. Nice big piece of salmon with great simple additions that add just the right amount of splendor to this very fresh dish.
New York Cross Steak warm Yukon potatoes & pickled green beans salad, farmer’s market vegetables, garlic butter. The garlic butter is on top of the steak, formed as a green disc. The flavor it exudes is just marvelous, and it melts on top with every bite.
Chocolate & Salted Caramel bar, chocolate ganache, chocolate mousse, salted caramel & chocolate crust. Pretty much heaven on earth, such a great combination, the salty caramel is the utmost decadence, adding to all of these sumptuous ingredients. This is a great way to end a nice meal.
Rascal was voted LA Weekly’s, 2013 -10 Top Miracle Mile Bars, “one of those great neighborhood spots that satisfies without trying too hard.”
Executive Chef Andy Lee recently took over the kitchen from Michael Bartley; he added many unique new items. Chef Andy Lee worked at many other places: Café Pinot, Wilshire, Rustic Canyon, the Lazy Ox Canteen and Café Del Rey. Lee has created what he terms as “humble food”. It’s splendid good food without the pretension and hype. Lee brought in his friend and colleague, Top Chef Just Desserts alum and finalist Danielle Keene, to help bring the restaurant’s sweet treats to the same elevated level of the new dining menu. She has created a new spin on old classics.
Rascal Happy Hour is from 5-7 pm daily and all night on Mondays. Rascal is at its peak right now; I went on a Friday night and the action never stopped. I would recommend that the next time your just aching for something new and different, that’s in an up and coming neighborhood give Rascal a spin.
801 S. La Brea – Los Angeles, CA. 90036