Hollywood's Pantages Theatre hosts many great productions like the recent shows, Book of Mormon and American Idiot. What's not quite as great is battling Los Angeles traffic to get to Hollywood and Vine for those 7:30pm performances. I think the answer to most problems should be to leave work early, followed, or maybe preceded by, grabbing a nice meal and drink.
Of course you only want to park once so restaurant proximity to the Pantages is very important. The meters along Hollywood Boulevard are in effect during the week until 8pm so if you can score one of those prized spots then you're set for the night. Getting to the Theatre for an early dinner also might help you nab one of the coveted spots.
So with tickets in hand for your performance, parking set on or near Hollywood and Vine, you're ready for some pre-game libations and eats. It doesn't get more convenient than walking directly across the street from the Pantages Theatre to Wood and Vine, a nice restaurant serving seasonal small plates. I recommend walking straight through the dark bar to eat in the light, open air patio in the back, but do make reservations first, especially if you're seeing a popular show as they book up.
The vodka based Magnolia cocktail is a great way to kick things off with its refreshing cucumber, lime, and ginger honey. A touch of sweetness, but not overly so. The Thai Town swaps vodka for gin and adds Asian flavors like lemongrass, mint and kaffir lime. Both are easy summer sippers to begin the evening.
The shared plates menu has terrines, charcuterie, cheese and those delectable jars of wonderful things like chicken liver mousse and salmon or pork rillette. We skipped the boards and jars (yes, a bit begrudgingly) and headed straight for the cold and hot plates, starting with the brussels sprouts. While these tiny little cabbages are on most menus, I find them to be a good barometer of the kitchen's cooking. These were well done in a smoky balsamic and lemon sauce with large chunks of chorizo. Starter and dessert in one.
Grilled octopus was tender, but not chewy with fresh notes of fennel, fresno chile, slices of mandarin orange, mint and dollops of mustard seed throughout. Very satisfying and beautiful plating.
Another nice seasonal plate was the bright red strawberries tossed with large, hand torn pieces of fresh mint and salty Pecorina cheese. Summer on a plate.
Wood and Vine also offers an interesting twist on gnocchi, using chickpeas. I loved the gluten free approach, but it ended up being a little too dense and chewy, but the braised lamb was packed with flavor from harissa and some sorrel and peas thrown in.
With no time for dessert, we ambled across the street for our show, already pleased with the performance for the evening.