9500 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA
7.21.06 - Friday, 10 PM
Myself + 7 guests (Out of town investor peeps)
When a gaggle of rich friends swirl in from out of town, and one of them says "Hey, T, get us a true LA bar scene, would ya?" there's quite a few choices. And rest assured, we went to quite a few places.
First on the list - an easy call: Sidebar. The crew was staying at the Regent Beverly Wilshire, after all, so they didn't have far to travel. Sidebar is a newbie - open only for the past 2 months. It's across the hall from Wolfgang Puck's new steakhouse, Cut - a place I can't yet speak to but can affirm is beautiful. Miss Side is in fact a sister to the restaurant, also designed by Richard Meier (the man who designed the Getty Center.) It's a stunner - lit up in opulent golden hues, scattered with cushy chocolate couches, and with a sparsely decorated but equally elegant bar. I was one of the first two of our soiree to arrive, and shockingly, we found bar seats - at 10 PM on a Friday. The place was all a-buzz, but certainly not crowded. Oh, and if it's celebrities you be a-seekin', this place is a go-to. We saw Shaq and Eve. Woo.
They have a cocktail menu - inventive, but very limited. They also don't carry a lot of the bar staples - this is high end/top shelf or no-thing. The bartenders are nice, but often not available. That would prove to be frustrating as the crew shuffled in. And then there's the matter of the bill . . .
The slowness of the staff almost cost my a pretty penny. At one point, one of our friends arrived and needed a drink on my tab. We ordered it, at the same time an impatient and loud gentleman to my left ordered a couple of his own. Our bartender took the orders . . .and disappeared. For a LONG time. When she returned with the drinks, Mr. Impatient had exited stage left. His drinks sat there all night, untouched.
When it came time, hours later, for my portion of the par-tay to vacate, I closed my tab and - you guessed it - when the check arrived, saw I was asked to pay for the long-gone hasty-one. This did not make me happy. An argument - albeit a tame one - ensued over these fair drinks, and I finally - FINALLY - won out. After minutes of button pushing and discussion, the final check was served. By this time, I was annoyed enough to agree with the voices in my head - we wouldn't be coming back. And, in fact, Cut was now on probation too.
When you're charging $14 for drinks, at least charge them to the right peeps. That's all I'm askin'.
Here's the listing of what we had:
1 Glass of house Prosecco - somewhat flat - only so-so.
2 Push-ups - made with Grey Goose Vanilla, 7-up, and a splash of orange juice
2 Rum and Cokes - not strong, but OK
3 Kettle One Martinis - excellent, but hard to mess-up
1 Mojito - the evening's clear winner
1 screwdriver - also just OK
They serve an elegant tray of candied almonds, wasabi peas, and olives - very nice touch. Aces on this one.
BAR REPORT CARD
Ambiance - B+
Service - C-
Wine/Drinks - C+
Value - C
Vibe/Energy/Scene - B
Overall Experience - C+
Final word - Look, there's a million places in this town to ogle the famous ones, impressive a crew of out-of-towners, and get overcharged on drinks. Sidebar isn't a must-see.