07 March 2018

Star-Studded Tuck-Away

Simple and elegant are two words we hear thrown around together quite a bit, but I’m not sure that they go together very easily. That is to say, if something is elegant it probably took quite a bit of time, while if something is simple it shouldn’t take too awfully long to assemble. One place I’ve always thought was simple and elegant is the Hollywood Brown Derby, nothing seems overstated, food and décor are well-executed, but not complicated for the sake of being complicated, and there is a luxuriousness that fills the dining room and then menu. The question for the past few years, at least for me, is does that sumptuousness extend beyond the walls of the Hollywood Brown Derby to the exterior lounge, simply named the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge.

On the style side of things it is a mixed bag. Yes, the high-top tables mixed with your standard dining set do give the lounge a certain energy, which is helped along by the style of the tables themselves and the black linen napkins. The exterior walls and doors of the Hollywood Brown Derby lend their elegance to a meal or drink at the lounge, as do the oaks draping themselves over the walkway and half wall on the other side. However, sit there for too long and the pyrotechnics and sounds coming from the Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away show tends to take away from the proceedings. As far as atmosphere is concerned for the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge, the end result is a mixed bag.

In terms of food offerings, let’s start with a staple of the Hollywood Brown Derby, the famous Cobb Salad. Served on a bed of finely chopped greens, the salad includes turkey breast, bacon, egg, tomatoes, crumbled blue cheese, avocado, chives, and Cobb dressing. This isn’t a tossed salad either; everything is perfectly portioned on top of the greens so you can see the vibrant colors, even if that is simply highlighting multiple shades of green, and textures of the salad. The dressing on the side is also a plus, as you can add as little or as much as you wish. This is a rich salad, in case you couldn’t tell from the egg, bacon, and avocado in the description. It truly is one of the more elegant salads out there, and the simple presentation helps.

Moving on from the classic to something with a modern flair, we also want to look at the Braised Beef Arepas with roasted red pepper and Fresno chili coulis. The three arepas are presenting in a particularly beautiful arrangement, with the layers of red, yellow, brown, and green all being visible and contrasting well off of one another. The beef is fork tender, while the cornmeal arepas are earthy and delicious, and I could drown a whole loaf of bread in that bright layer of roasted red pepper! The simplicity here comes from the ingredients and presentation and it definitely something to aspire to.

Can the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge live up to the refined expectations of the namesake restaurant it is attached too? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean it should hang its head like a dejected and forgotten sibling. The food alone proves that something can be simple and elegant when it comes out of a kitchen. If the ambiance is lacking that same sense of comfortable luxury, it isn’t for a lack of trying. Overall, the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge creates its own thing, and it is well worth visiting for a smattering of the great food and drinks it has to offer.

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