Speakeasy to Me: The BoardRoom in DTLA
Kendall's Brasserie (Patina Restaurant Group) has been serving up traditional French cuisine to Downtown Los Angeles eaters inside the Music Center for 14 years now. This past month, the owners opened a speakeasy in the back called The BoardRoom, and I can assure you, the meetings held there will be nothing like the ones at your 9-to-5. Think of The BoardRoom as Kendall's artsy, Francophile little sister.
The BoardRoom has the speakeasy essentials — a slightly tricky-to-find front door, dim lighting, live performances (Thursday through Saturday nights), cushy seating in booths (intended for large groups), and a menu offering updated classic cocktails and shareable dishes. From the moment I walked in through what seemed like Kendall's back office, I could hear singer Melissa Morgan crooning to a standard jazz tune with her band.
Christina Russo is currently the bar manager of The BoardRoom and has created a cocktail menu inspired by the arts. I always love seeing punches that serve 4 to 6 on a menu. These trending cocktails are perfect for larger groups. But what separates Russo’s menu out from others in LA is the Tripple Tipple, her three-course cocktail tasting menu, which looks like it will change bi-weekly to weekly — as if you needed another reason to return.
The Tripple Tipple on the evening of our visit was inspired by the musical Miss Saigon, and the drinks were named after the show's main characters Kim (soju, ginger liqueur, grapefruit liqueur, and orange bitters), Chris (green tea vodka, Domaine de Canton, lemon, and soda), and the Engineer (an old fashioned-style cocktail with ginger syrup and orange bitters).
If mixing different liquors isn't really your thing, try Russo's “William Faulkner” cocktail —coconut-washed Four Roses Bourbon, demerara sugar, orange peel, and toasted pecan bitters. As far as the cocktails on the menu, this was my favorite. Her favorite is the Frida Kahlo, Ilegal Joven Mezcal, Aperol, lime, and Giffard vanilla. And you can't go wrong when your cocktail comes with a macaron, like the Tennessee Williams.
The BoardRoom's "sexy little tastes" are French takes on American bar foods. Like the very concept of a speakeasy, this runs along the theory that "everything old becomes new again," which I am A-OK with. I recommend the Uni Deviled Eggs. The four deviled eggs are topped with Santa Barbara sea urchin and nori, with a crunchy seasoning underneath — perfect finger food for sharing with friends.
If you're watching your figure, I recommend the Crudite Chop Salad, fresh vegetables with crunchy kale and a green goddess dressing. If you're living it up, I recommend the Black Market Burger, which comes with a thick burger patty, Comté cheese, foie gras, red wine caramelized onions, truffle aïoli, and arugula on top a butter brioche. It's a packed burger that somehow manages to not drip all over the place. Well done.
Other favorites are the Escargot Shooter (à la carte) and the Oxtail Poutine.
It wouldn't be a proper joie de vivre kind of night without French macarons! One order comes with five, and selections change daily. The flavors I got were espresso, Earl Grey, salted caramel, mandarin orange, and raspberry, which presented a fantastic mix of sensations. These are intended to be a shared item, but if you're feeling a little like a petite bête, these are a pretty sweet way to end the night.
Reservations are recommended and can be made through The BoardRoom's website. Parking is $5 in the adjacent Music Center garage. Also, one thing I love about restaurant groups are the rise of online memberships. The BoardRoom is owned by Patina Restaurant Group and if you sign up for its email list, you'll receive $30 off on your birthday!