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“Great Gastropub Snacks”

Black Market Liquor Bar
Ranked #631 of 10,305 Restaurants in Los Angeles
Price range: $21 - $30
Dining options: Late Night, Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night, Reservations
Reviewed March 3, 2014

We showed up mid week and the host quickly found us a table . We fortunately were sat in the back portion of the restaurant and not at the high top tables that center the establishment. Lake was our server and he offered some great suggestions. Great vibe , albeit a bit loud . smaller portions and prepared for sharing. A bit tricky to find as the building has an aged and worn "motorcycle ad with worn brick facade" it backs to the CBS Radford studio lot. Valets are great and if you decide after eating to grab a drink at the other 5-6 classy bars within walking distance (literally across the street) leave your car here and return later.

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Thank james p
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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44 - 48 of 70 reviews

Reviewed August 12, 2013

... literally! Wow, we must have driven by this place at least three times, until we parked our car and went on foot. I was determined to find it! I had my iphone navigator on to guide us, so we knew we were close. Even though its on the boulevard, it is nestled between two other businesses, with no significant sign or marquee of the restaurant name. It was well worth it however. The place is very hip! Reminded me of the many cool bars I visited in Manhattan, on my New York trip. The food and wine selection were excellent! I will definitely be returning, now that I know where to go...lol

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Thank Caridad C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 10, 2013

Went with another couple on a Thursday night and they were PACKED! The cocktail menu was innovative without being contrived and the craft beer selection was good without being overwhelming. Our server, Natasha, was excellent. We had a half dozen or so plates to share, plus some oysters. The food was fresh, tasty and well prepared. Definitely need to try the house potato chips, they were the stand-out.

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Thank jvnota
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 24, 2013

This is - happily - a neighborhood restaurant for us, and we go often - especially as a treat for friends and family. We love it. Chef Antonia is almost always there, and has been known to bus tables along with her other duties. The drinks are strange and seductive, and the food (all small plates) is terrific. Try one of everything. Share.
If you don't like noise, be sure to go early. It gets VERY noisy after about 8PM. We try to get out of there before 7:30, but then again, we aren't young and dating...

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Thank HedonistSpeaks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 16, 2013

There's no sign on the awning of the Black Market Liquor Bar, which adds a sense of "you have to be in the know" about the place. It reminds me of one of those deep underground speakeasys from back during prohibition days. The ceiling is a curved cocoon of brick that makes it feel like we're all in an abandoned subway station in old New York and we all know something really cool that other people don't.

We decided on BMLB after a particularly nasty day at work. We arrived at about 6:15pm, which is a good time to get there as there is still street parking available within a block or so. They open at 5, so we weren't the only patrons, but it wasn't crowded yet so we were seated immediately. Our server, Natasha, was terrific. My first question was what kind of vodkas did they serve, and she gave me a run down of the very impressive list without even a moment's hesitation.

Once we decided on drinks -- which wasn't easy, the wine list has a lot of unique offerings and so it was like being in a grown-up candy store -- we were delighted to find the menu consists of "small plate" selections rather than large heavy meals. This gave us the opportunity to sample many bites and flavors without getting overstuffed or going over budget.  The menu changes regularly, so we found things that aren't on the online "sample" menu. Again, decisions were difficult because of the wide variety of tastes.

We decided on a small sampling of fresh-shucked oysters, dill potato chips, deviled quail eggs with ahi tuna, the young kale salad, peel & eat lemon pepper shrimps, the Kurobuta pork cheek, and the steamed mussels. It sounds like a huge amount of food, but each portion was just enough for two people to fall in love with the flavor and wish for one more bite when it was gone.

The oysters were a good choice to start -- we had two each and they were clean and cold with a nice lettuce finish. Chef Antonia's take on mignonette was a lovely blend of vinegars which added a sprightly bite without covering up the oysters taste. The dill chips were everything one loves about home made potato chips -- hot from the fryer without being greasy, the smooth dill added a nice contrast to the sharpness of the malt vinegar aioli, and we were tempted to lick the plate.

Allow me for a moment to wax poetic about the quail eggs. Six tiny tastes of perfect flavor, the whites were firm but not rubbery, the yokes were creamy and light with a hint of ahi tuna bits that strangely did not overwhelm but instead elevated the dish to a new level of umami. I would have eaten an entire portion of these by myself.

The young kale salad with shallots, smoked fiore sardo, bottarga and crushed egg was a riot of fresh tastes and smells. The kale was very firm and the usual bitterness associated with the greens when raw was absent. The cheese added a rich, caramel smokiness that balanced the sweet shallots and salty brine of the bottarga, and brought out the gentle, creamy flavor of the eggs. Again, we were sorry when it was gone.

Natasha was very good at timing the delivery of each new plate so there was never a break in the action, but we weren't overloaded with multiple plates either. She was attentive without being cloying, and even as the restaurant became more and more crowded, we never got the impression that we were taking too long or needed to hurry our meal.

The only hiccup in the evening was the steamed mussel dish. The broth itself was heavenly-- white wine, butter, shallots and ground pepper with a fragrant whisper of star anise was good enough to have alone in a bowl with crusty bread to soak up every delicious drop. The mussels themselves, however, we're slightly undercooked; some did not open, and others weren't cooked enough to release easily from the shell. We mentioned this to Natasha, and despite the fact that we ate every bit of the broth and all of the opened mussels, she  removed them from the bill. She didn't have to, we didn't ask her to, but the fact that she did that was testament to the BMLB's high standards of culinary quality.

We look forward to our next visit and whatever Chef Antonia can cook up!

Thank Jtomalley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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