Located in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles, Sawyer is what I’ve come to think of as typical LA chic with clean lines, big windows and gorgeous light streaming in. The seafood-focused restaurant is the project of restaurateur Beau Laughlin and chef Alex McWilliams, the latter a former East Coast chef who’s worked under Tom Colicchio and José Andres.
Of course the best part of the experience this evening was getting to share it with Hilary, but the food was excellent too. We started with oysters that were good, but not quite as big and luscious as our Bay Area oysters. Ken and I were at Le Bernardin in New York years ago, and the waiter, not knowing where we were from, recommended our Tomales Bay oysters.
Hilary and I also shared a Smoked Trout Salad, which was good without being precious. The entrees were hearty and just what we wanted. I had fried chicken and mashed potatoes. This is one of those dishes that everyone watches as it crosses the room. You get two generous and beautiful whole legs, perfect for those of us who like dark meat. This was crispy and moist and, yes, I ate the whole thing and the delicious potatoes as well. Hilary had the soft shelled crab sandwich and she loved it. We don’t get soft shelled crab very often out west, so it was special. The squid ink bun didn’t really benefit in taste from the ink, but the black bun looked really cool. (LA. It’s all about appearances, right?) The crab was done well, crispy on the outside and moist on the inside, like the chicken, and came with a ton of good fries.
As happens often with the Eggers, we filled up on starters and the main dishes, so we didn’t have room for dessert. Everything we had, though, was flavorful and well presented. With all the good restaurants in her area, it’s difficult to get back to some places, but this is a restaurant that Ken and the seafood-loving AJ would like, so maybe we’ll do it on our next family visit.
According to their website, “MessHall stands in the storied walls of what was once Willard’s Chicken Inn, and later The Brown Derby. During the ‘Golden Age of Hollywood’, legendary film director Cecil B. DeMille opened Willard’s Chicken Inn, a country-colonial chicken restaurant that quickly became the place to be for Hollywood’s elite. The building’s unique dome-shaped roof allowed for a water pumping system that made it one of the first air conditioned restaurants. The structure was designed by influential architect Wayne McAllister, credited with creating some of the most popular mid-century drive-ins and car hops. After Willard’s closed in 1940, the Los Feliz Brown Derby Restaurant opened on the site as a 24-hour Drive-In Car Café, and remained popular till the ‘60’s. MessHall now moves into one of the architect McAllister’s only original designs still standing.”
As I mentioned above, we don’t often go to restaurants a second time in LA just because there are so many to try, but this is an easy to walk from Hilary’s apartment in Los Feliz and we can always get in. Usually, if possible, we sit outside on the patio with the kids and the dogs, because it’s a lot quieter. Also, if we’re in L.A., the light is better and the air is more pleasant outside.
We almost always start by sharing the spicy tuna tartare with guacamole and the kale salad. Both are consistently good. The burgers here are also consistently well prepared and they come with a generous portion of fries.
MessHall is the place we go to when we’ve just arrived in town, don’t want to drive anymore and are looking for a beer, a quick burger and some fries. Not fancy or special, just consistently right for the moment.
Mess Hall: 4500 Los Feliz Blvd, Los Angeles. Lunch/brunch everyday 9am – 3pm, dinner Sunday – Thursday 5pm – 10pm, dinner Friday – Saturday 5pm – 11pm, happy hour Monday – Friday 4pm – 6pm, happy hour Saturday – Sunday 4pm – 5pm. Reservations available on OpenTable.com.
*Lookout for our guest blogger over the next couple of weeks!