Lemon Butter: Best of L.A.'s Theatre Adjacent Restaurants and Bars - September Edition

Lemon Butter is a bi-monthly column featuring choice restaurants, lounges, Happy Hours, and other spots where hospitality is offered, that are convenient to theatre venues throughout Los Angeles. For distances and times given traffic and parking are not factored in. Where available, contact all hospitality venues for valet or parking information and/or reservations.

This month's Lemon Butter covers just a few restaurants and theatres on the Westside in Beverly Hills, Malibu, and Santa Monica!

CHEZ JAY

Photo by Monique A. LeBleu - The Jay Dog at Chez Jay The Backyard, Santa Monica, California, August 13, 2019.

Perfect for pre or after dinner theatre, and nearest the Santa Monica Playhouse and Morgan-Wixson Theatre is Chez Jay.

Owned by Michael Anderson and operated by his son General Manager Chris Anderson, the Historical Landmark in Santa Monica on Ocean Avenue recently opened The Backyard, featuring al fresco dining by the ocean and under the stars.

Designed by Chris Anderson and Nataly Lopez, The Backyard is a comfortable, open space–much like your own backyard–and features picnic tables, couches, Adirondack chairs, a fire pit, wine barrels, hanging vintage lanterns, string lights, and a protective canopy from the noon-day sun, and is fenced in where it abuts Santa Monica’s Tongva Park.

Chef "Memo" Guillermo De Arcos G, having been in the kitchen at Chez Jay, now a landmark restaurant in Santa Monica of over 27 years, recently introduced the new Good Eats menu at The Backyard with starters such as the Peppercorn Maple Bacon, Grilled Street Corn, Southwest Steak Nachos, Truffle Fries, Kimchi Guacamole, Rhode Island Calamari, Shrimp Ceviche Bites, and Baked Clams.

There are also salads, such as the Crispy Calamari Salad, prepared with fried calamari, frisée, romaine radicchio, tomatoes, pickled red onion, and French Dijon vinaigrette, The Cobb Salad served with grilled chicken, romaine, bacon, egg, blue cheese, tomato, avocado, and lemon honey vinaigrette, or the NY Steak Salad prepared with Angus New York Strip, arugula, mixed greens, blue cheese, cranberries, walnuts, pickled onions and balsamic vinaigrette.

The Mains features seafood selections such as the Mahi Mahi Sandwich of grilled filet of Mahi Mahi, lettuce, tomato, onion and tartar sauce on a toasted bun, or the Fish & Chips with Allagash beer-battered cod and french fries. There is also the Chez Burger of a ½ pound Angus beef, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion, served on a toasted bun. There is also the Steak Au Poivre Sandwich with a Peppered Angus NY Steak, cream of horseradish, picked cabbage, arugula on sourdough, Memo's amazing Jay Dog prepared with a grilled 10 inch Wagyu hot dog, tomato, pickles, onions, relish, peppers and mustard on split-top brioche, or the appropriately named Mike’s Melt, in honor of Michael Anderson, prepared with a pressed ½ pound Angus beef patty, melted cheddar, and caramelized onions on rye, and–a personal favorite–the Crispy Chicken Sandwich of fried chicken, house coleslaw, apple, frisée, chipotle aioli, and pickles on a toasted bun.

To finish, you can choose the ultimate comfort food! Chef Memo’s Fried Oreos are crisply fried with a batter, remaining soft and sweet inside. A most decadent dessert!

Cocktails are served at the bar, exclusive to Chez Jay's The Backyard, such as the  Hotel California of Bombay Sapphire, grapefruit, lemon and rosemary, the Chevy To The Levy comprised of mezcal, pineapple, Ramazzotti Rosato, lemon and sage, The Juan Margarita spicy margarita prepared with Casamigos Tequila, jalapeño, cucumber, cilantro and lime, a Pimm’s Cup made of Pimm’s, cucumber, mint, ginger, and lemon, the Dark & Stormy prepared with Gosling’s Rum, ginger beer, and lime, the Never Old Fashioned with Slow & Low Rock and Rye Whiskey, orange peel, Luxardo Maraschino Cherry and bitters, or the Tecate Michelada made with veteran Chez Jay Bartender Petter Wichman’s Wickie’s Bloody Good Mix, and lime with a Tajin rim. Wines by the glass are offered, including the Cupcake Prosecco, Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Ferrari Chardonnay, Bev Rose, Meiomi Pinot Noir, and the Josh Cabernet. Their beer selections are the Allagash White, Heineken, Santa Monica 310, or Angel City IPA, Palmia Light, Tecate, Angel City Pilsner, Golden Road Wolf Pup, Corona, Bud Light and Angry Orchard.

The Backyard at Chez Jay is open every Wednesday and Thursday from 4pm to 10pm, every Friday from 4pm to 11pm, and every Saturday from 12 noon to 11pm, and every Sunday from 12 noon to 8pm.

The Good Eats menu at The Backyard ranges from $6 to $16, with beer, wine and custom cocktails from $7 - $14. Happy Hour specials at Chez Jay are every Monday through Friday from 4-6:30pm., with dinner starting at 5:30 pm.

CHEZ JAY - 1657 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90401 - 310.395.1741

Distance to the Santa Monica Playhouse  - (0.9 miles, 5 min. drive)

Shows to look for at the Santa Monica Playhouse on Better Lemons' Calendar:

(IM)Perfect
Absolutely Halloween
Binge Free Festival
Binge Fringe Free Festival
Love in Bloom
Magic Monday

Distance to the Morgan-Wixson Theatre   - (2.3 miles, 7 min. drive)

 


DUKE'S MALIBU

Nearest to Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum and the Malibu Playhouse is Dukes's Malibu.

Photo by Monique A. LeBleu - The Crab Cakes at Duke's Malibu by the beach, Malibu, California, August 17, 2019

Named after Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, Hawaii's Olympic Gold Medalist in surfing, Duke's Malibu is a Hawaiian themed restaurant situated on the Pacific Coast Highway with pristine and open views of the Pacific Ocean. The expansive restaurant features a central bar and the Barefoot Bar, which also includes seating at an outside patio.

Inside, through picture windows, the booths overlook the pristine and open views of the Pacific Ocean. On weekends, Happy Hour is in the central and Barefoot bar for those who are awaiting the dinner seating crossover, which begins at 4pm.

To start, there's Crab Cakes of lump crab, old bay seasoning, preserved lemon, Meyer lemon remoulade, or Korean sticky ribs, a Lobster Mac 'n Cheese with creamy white cheddar and ditalini pasta, Crab Wontons with crab meat, cream cheese, macadamia nuts, mustard plum sauce, or the Crispy Coconut Shrimp with Lilikoi chili water for dipping. For salads, there is the Rocket with arugula, Maui onion, bacon, roasted beets, goat cheese, and white balsamic vinaigrette and the Maui Farm Salad of local greens, marinated hearts of palm, pickled mango, Pohole fern, Maui onions, and miso lime dressing.

For the main course, there's the Seafood Hot Pot filled with lobster, shrimp, mussels, fresh fish, coconut cilantro broth, oyster mushrooms, peanuts, served with Jasmine rice, the Furikake Ahi Steak with fire-grilled sashimi-grade ahi, chili oil, truffle unagi glaze, shiitake mushroom, black bean-peanut charred bok choy, served with coconut bamboo rice. The Fish Tacos are with grilled fish, corn tortillas from La Chapalita, tomatillo sauce, cabbage, pico de gallo, queso fresco, and chips, and the Roasted Tristan da Cunha Lobster Tails, which are the “world’s only sustainable lobster tail”, are served with herbed Jasmine farro rice, roasted asparagus, and drawn butter. The Steamed Alaskan King Crab Legs are available in two sizes, served with herbed Jasmine farro rice, broccolini, and drawn butter, and in addition to all this, there are daily fish specials.

For land lovers, there's a Prime Sirloin from the Double R Signature Ranch, with miso brown butter, mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, and broccolini, the Roasted Huli Chicken –an all natural half chicken seasoned with a garlic shoyu marinade and served with horseradish mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, snap peas & summer squash, and the Chef's Cheeseburger of 1/2 lb Angus chuck, brisket & hanger grind, white aged cheddar, bacon dijon aioli, Maui onion jam, heirloom tomato, mixed greens, brioche bun, and served with fries. They also have a vegan option, which is the Lilikoi Glazed Tofu with charred bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, sesame grilled asparagus, served with jasmine rice.

Happy "Aloha" Hour provides items that range from $6 to $15 in the Barefoot Bar, with lunch in the main dining from $8 to $19, and for dinner, from $8 - $18 for starters and $16 to $51 for entrees.

DUKE'S MALIBU - 21150 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265 - 310.317.0777

Distance to Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum - (9.7 miles, 15 minute drive)

Distance to the Malibu Playhouse - (11.6 miles, 15 minute drive)


Photo by Monique A. LeBleu - Vinoteca Wine Bar at the Four Season Beverly Hills, California, August 23, 2019.

VINOTECA

Nearest to The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and the Beverly Hills Playhouse is Vinoteca.

Adjacent to the prestigious Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, Vinoteca is a standalone dining and drinking destination and great for Happy Hour.

Vinoteca's bar and outdoor patio accommodate hotel guests, locals, and movers and shakers of the entertainment world, featuring all of the hospitality and amenities that you would expect from a Four Seasons Hotel.

Chef de Cuisine Luca Moriconi’s menu at Vinoteca provides easily shareable bar bites, crisp pizza breads, hot wings, fried stuffed olives, oysters on the half shell, and a variety of wines, beers, and cocktails.

Happy Hour at Vinoteca features a special food item and specialty drink, and are offered for every day of the workweek.

Mondays start with $1 Oysters and $10 rosé. Tuesdays they have $1 Spicy Chicken Wings and $5 bottled beer. The market oysters are often Pacific or Pacific Northwest, which couple well with the rosé or a nice brut. Served with a creamy Gorgonzola dipping sauce, the Spicy Chicken Wings are a beautiful sweet-spicy mix that pair well with a cool, crisp beer.

On Wednesdays they offer 50% off of Wine Bottles selected by Sommelier David Gary which is served with a complimentary Cheese Plate for each bottle ordered. On Thursdays, Chef Moriconi features selected Pasta and a glass of Prosecco for $7 each, and on Friday's they offer M&M – a crisp Pizzetta Margherita and a Margarita each for $7.

Should you choose to expand on your meal, either before or after the theatre, there is also the fine dining option of the adjacent Culina.

Outside of the Happy Hour specials at Vinoteca, bar bites, pastas, pizza, and panini's range from $9 to $24.

VINOTECA - 300 South Doheny Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90048 - 310.860.4000

Distance to The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts - (0.7 miles, 4 min. drive)

Shows to look for at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on Better Lemons' Calendar:

LOVE ACTUALLY LIVE

Distance to the Beverly Hills Playhouse  (1 mile, 6 min. drive)



Audio Interview: The cast of “Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People” at Theatricum Botanicum

When the water in a popular tourist spa at the heart of a local town’s economy is discovered to be contaminated, powerful people have to decide whether to put the health of visitors above the town's commercial interests. Geer’s adaptation resets the play in the small town of South Fork, South Carolina in the 1980s, where issues of race serve to further compound the economic concerns at stake.*

Enjoy this interview with the cast of “Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People” at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, playing through Sep 28th. You can listen to this interview while commuting, while waiting in line at the grocery store or at an audition, backstage and even front of the stage. For tickets and more info Click here.

*taken from the website


Now registered this week on the Better Lemons Calendar through July 1, 2018

New shows registered on the Better Lemons calendar. For more shows visit our Calendar. For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.

Visit our Wakelet for more stories: https://wakelet.com/@BetterLemons


WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE FAMILY IMPLODES (On Stage and Screen)

Paul Simon wrote that there are 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, and that sounds about right.  But it's much harder to change the world around you when things are going wrong. Even harder perhaps to change oneself.

Because when the world breaks down and things aren't working out as we hoped, then we need someone to blame.  It has to be someone's fault.  Your husband, your wife, the Arabs, the Jews, the Aristocrats.  But if it's yourself?  Then how do you deal with that?

YEAR BY THE SEA, a movie written and directed by Alexander Janko, adapted from Joan Anderson's memoirIn the opening scene of this movie, Joan (Karen Allen) is at her older son's wedding reception when she finds out from her realtor that her husband Robin (Michael Cristofer) has put their home on the market without even bothering to tell her.  Her son the groom gives a toast without even mentioning her.  Her other son doesn't even ask her to dance.  She has somehow become a non-person even to her nearest and dearest.  The only friend she seems to have is her publisher (S. Epatha Merkerson), who keeps asking Joan when she's going to write her next book - which is curious, since we never even see Joan open a book, much less make any attempt to write one.  In any case, Joan finds a coupon ad for a rental cottage in Cape Cod, and she impulsively calls and rents it rather than go off to Wichita, Kansas with her husband for his new job (whatever that may be - we never find out).

The good news about this movie is that Karen Allen's smile is still an elixir for whatever ails you, lighing up the screen with her inner glow.  The camera still loves her, and her likeability quotient is as high as ever too.  You want to like her character, just as you want to like this movie, a true independent with lovely shots of seals playing on the beach and small town eccentrics doing eccentric things.  But this is where the bad news comes in, because writer-director Alexander Janko has no clue how to write a screenplay.  Even more, he's clueless about his cluelessness, saying at the Q&A after the screening that "the creative aspect of this movie was never a problem" - ha!  It's a huge problem when your main character says "my sons are going to hate me" for leaving their father, and then there is no follow-up phone call or scene addressing this.  When she tells her husband, "We had a successful marriage, we did a great job raising our kids," but the one time she tries to reach her sons (at her husband's prompting), they don't even pick up the phone and apparently never call back.  And then what's really the state of this marriage?  Did these people ever love each other?  Michael Cristofer does an admirable job trying to invest his character with some sense of reality when in fact there isn't any - he's just a type, not a human being.  And every time there's a scene between him and his wife, it is interrupted by the wife of psychologist extraordinaire Erik Erikson (how specific is that?), who wants to go dancing on the beach, scarves flying like some Cape Cod protege of Isadora Duncan.  Instead of genuine emotional discovery, we get self-help slogans and New Age psychobabble. And still, Joan never even makes a notation in her journal until suddenly in the Third Act she turns out a memoir at the same time that Mrs. Erickson is writing hers (pre-sold, of course).  Because it's just that easy!

It's understandable that Mr Janko has discoveries of his own to make about screenwriting and directing, since he has made his living up until now as a movie composer.  What is less understandable is how terrible the score for this movie is.  There are so many songs, and every single one so on the nose.  I mean, it's just cheesy to use a song about feeling depressed when you're feeling depressed.  Isn't that in Movie Scoring 101?  Against all odds, I still think this movie is worth catching - first for the seals, and then for the luminous, inventive performances of Karen Allen and Michael Cristofer.  Just imagine how great they could have been if they'd actually been given something to act!

Alan Blumenfeld and Kevin Hudnell, 2 Venetian Jews

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE by William Shakespeare, directed by Ellen Geer - There are only 3 more performances of this remarkable production at Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga - on 9/17 at 7:30, 9/23 at 3:30 and 10/1 at 3:30.  I urge to catch this show before it closes.  The cast is excellent, none more so than Los Angeles theater stalwart Alan Blumenfeld.  His Shylock is a proud Jewish man in a city that hates Jews, and that does not allow a Jew to hold any job that a Christian can do.  He is a legal alien, and he has become a money-lender because this is the only way he can provide for his family.  He has in fact become the most successful Jewish money-lender precisely because of his pride - he is determined to succeed in spite of all the obstacles that the Christians have put in his way.  The object of his deepest affection is his daughter Jessica, but early in the play we see she has fallen in love with a cavalier young Christian man, and she elopes with him, taking a huge portion of her father's wealth with her.  So when rabid anti-Semite Antonio comes to him for a loan of 3,000 Ducats for his friend Bassanio, Shylock draws up a contract demanding a pound of flesh if Antonio defaults on his loan.  Director Ellen Geer and her artistic associates have edited the play a bit to emphasize the cruelty at the core of it.  When Portia - played wonderfully by Willow Geer - recites her "The quality of mercy is not strained" speech, it seems deeply hypocritical, as she delights in Shylock's destruction, just as she has earlier delighted in the defeat of the Prince of Morocco, wishing that "no more of his hue come to court me."  Far from seeing the play as a triumph of "mercy," the Botanicum production shows us a narcissistic, self-satisfied society with no problem demonizing the Jew as "the other."  Far from diminishing the play, it has never seemed so gloriously cogent to me before.

Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz

A TALE OF TWO CITIES, adapted by Mike Poulton from the novel by Charles Dickens, directed by Julia Rodriguez-Elliott and Geoff Elliott at a Noise Within - "It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times" is the famous opening of Charles Dickens's novel, A Tale of Two Cities.  Regarding Mike Poulton's adaptation, I would call it "the best of adaptations and the worst of adaptations" - well, maybe not the worst, but definitely lacking.  What it does best is to create the terrifying reality of the French Revolution, that began as a blow for populist justice and morphed into a frenzy of bloodlust and revenge.  The staging at A Noise Within is very inventive in creating tableaux that bring this national nightmare to blazing life.  This is embodied in the character of Madame Defarge, brought vividly to life by Abby Craden.  Madame Defarge's need for justice is entirely understandable, but her thirst for revenge has become insatiable, and Ms Craden forces us to experience the erotic urge that this has come to represent for her.

Photo Credit: Craig Schwartz

Where Mr Poulton's adaptation is lacking, however, is in developing characters of any depth that we can understand and care about.  There is simply so much plot - so much story, so many twists and turns - that it's hard to get beneath the glossy surface of the scenes from the French Revolution and feel anything for those who are trapped there.  This is not an easy problem for any adapter - Dickens's novel is bursting with storylines, and it has dual heroes - Charles Darnay (Tavis Doucette), who is at first accused in British court of being a French spy, only to end up a prisoner in the Bastille; and Sydney Carton (Frederick Stuart), a lawyer's associate who is responsible for Darnay's London acquittal.  But who is Darnay?  It's hard to get a grasp on his character in the midst of his continuing peril.  And who is Sydney Carton?  Well, that comes through more clearly, thanks in large part to Mr Stuart's memorably persuasive portrayal. Carton is intriguing but quite an enigma.  I could have used more scenes deepening his motives, especially with Lucie, the central female figure, to make his actions at the conclusion feel more inevitable.

I did love the theatricality of this production, as well as its ambitiousness.  At the very end, a young actress gives a speech in the shadow of the gallows which was genuinely heart-wrenching.  It demonstrated what happens when the human family gives way to self-destruction.  I just wish this production had more of that.