Monday, April 21, 2014

Where to Eat: The Oyster Bar @ Tipple & Brine (Part 1 of 2)

The Eats: A daily selection of oysters from around the world and other inventive dishes with an emphasis on seafood

The Location: The Valley (Sherman Oaks)

The Vibes: Barn Chic

Good for: Dates, groups, solo

When-To-Go: Dinner, daily beginning at 5 p.m.

The $ Factor: $$; Oysters are $3-$3.50 each; entrees are in the $15-$30 range

The Names behind the scenes: Owner Richard DiSisto (Vantage Restaurant Group); Executive Chef Mike Williams (Epic Roasthouse and Boulevard, The Tasting Kitchen, The Parish); Chef de Cuisine Logan Jones (The Parish, Axe, The Tasting Kitchen)

The 4-1-1: Owner Richard Disisto built the entire restaurant…by hand. As if that's not impressive enough, he skillfully used refurbished materials to make mostly everything; light fixtures, walls, stools, etc.

I’ll Be Back…: For the oysters and the Brussels Sprouts!

The Thursday before its grand debut (on Monday, April 14), Tipple & Brine held an Opening Party to provide a sneak peak of what it plans to offer, once its doors officially open to the public.

Guests experienced complimentary champagne, bite-sized hors d’oeuvres, craft cocktails and one of the main attractions of the restaurant—the oysters.

Oysters are a very big deal at Tipple & Brine. From displays instructing how to properly eat them to signs that proclaim "It was a brave man that 1st ate an oyster," it's clear they reign supreme here. At the end of the cocktail bar is a vibrant oyster bar, where daily oyster selections are prominently displayed and the team that attentively prepares them are hard at work. Each day there will be six types of oysters served on the half shell, hailing from both the East and West Coasts, and from around the world, that you can mix and match, at $3 to $3.50 each. They’re carefully hand picked and selected—I saw the team mercilessly toss multiple oysters if they didn’t look or smell “right”—and platters are accompanied by lemon wedges, vinegar and a tangy mignonette sauce.

Aside from oysters, Tipple & Brine will have a select menu that features other seafood and land-based entrees and a rather impressive selection of vegetable dishes. Servers passed out bite-sized portions of some of the appetizers, entrees and the two desserts that are currently on the menu—the carrot cake and an amazing, chocolate concoction called the Chocolate Cremeux, pictured below, with caramel, pretzel streusel and brown butter whipped cream.

Although the focus is mainly seafood, it must be noted that the vegetables are most certainly pulling their own weight. The favorite for many guests of the night, and a few servers I talked with, were the Brussels Sprouts, which are fried, drenched in a sweet chili vinaigrette and topped with misonnaise and green shallots. The Cauliflower with pickled chili and currants wasn’t passed around, but I heard is most certainly another “must-try” item. Aside from the veggies, I also thoroughly enjoyed the fried chicken with raw kale and a Green goddess dressing made in-house, pictured below. That may have been a special for the night as I didn’t see it on the regular menu, but if it happens to somehow magically appear, definitely order it. You won’t be disappointed.

While I did get to try all six of the types of oysters on deck for the night, I didn’t get to experience the entire menu, so I will definitely be back to do that. I’m already getting ready for what I’d order; the Lamb Shank with creamy grits and the much-talked-about Cauliflower.

Tipple & Brine is part of DiSisto’s dream to turn the stretch of Ventura Blvd. where the restaurant is located into a “downtown Sherman Oaks,” with same pull that downtown Los Angeles, West L.A. and other prominent city neighborhoods have, with their scores of reputable bars and dining destinations. I’m sure with the spectacular oysters and unique menu, that won’t be much of a problem.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Tipple & Brine—an in-depth look at its cocktail program!

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