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I think we found where he might be hiding out! The NICE GUY in West Hollywood opened today. Last night’s pre-public opening to media and friends confirmed how much I want to return to this upscale lounge. The hip, groovy crowd dined and shared exquisitely crafted cocktails in this intimate setting of candles, live music, floral patterned booths, wood paneling, classic lighting fixtures, all with sexy servers in suspenders. We felt like we were transported back to the 70s.
Not only is the spacing of this establishment done so well with the bar set back, but the whole dimly lit place feels like you are being hugged by the inviting table layouts which offer conversation amongst small groups and between tables, which provides the perfect atmosphere to mingle. I could envision people actually standing up and dancing as the night swayed on. The Nice Guy made me think of the red leather booths at Dan Tana’s, but with a much younger better-looking crowd, and just a way better feel.
Mafiosa inspired, this retro 1970s ambiance includes old school record players and groovy metal twisted art decor. In the corner, there’s a piano with a microphone stand, which was accompanied by a saucy hypnotic old-school lounge singer. The design was brought to life by Built Inc in collaboration with John Terzian. LA these days seems to really want to connect with the past because there are countless speakeasies, 1920’s themed bars, and nostalgic throwbacks (like Good Times at Davey Waynes) to perhaps a better, more innocent time, like the seventies. Social joints now seem to be way more inclusive. People don’t enjoy a door girl, a line, or a “Are you on the list?”
The NICE GUY is the kind of place I would like to come with my girlfriends so we can sip cocktails at the marble-top bar or nestle in with a date at the small lounge area in the back. Cocktails are $15 and the creations are worth it from mixologist master Brian Stewart, formerly of Soho House LA.
Here are some concoctions you won’t want to miss – Jojo (Ultimat Vodka, St. Germaine, fresh lemon juice, strawberries, and prosecco); The Pretty Boy Floyd (Nolet’s Gin, blackberries, honey, and coconut cream); Mother’s Milk (Tito’s Vodka, house-made chocolate milk, soda water); Daddy’s Little Angel (Silencio Mezcal, pineapple juice, organic agave nectar, fresh lemon juice, Angostura bitters halo); The Bobby Soxer (Casamigos Reposado, blackberries, fresh lemon juice, honey, Campari, and fresno chili peppers); and my favorite Moscow Mule. If you are looking to go big, you can order your favorite cocktail in a large punch bowl for $350. The wine, champagne, and beer list are huge too.
Hats off to the Chef John-Carlos Kuramoto, formerly from Michael’s in Santa Monica. Every single item we tried was exceptional. The NICE GUY offers a fresh take on Italian, with a wide selection of options. Chef Kuramoto says, “Guests will enjoy a full menu ranging from healthy to the unexpected.” Some of our favorite starters included the sweet Black Tuscan Kale Chips with a Spiced Maple Glaze that came in a brown paper folded bag and the Kale Salad sliced so thinly doused with pomegranate, Parmigiano, pepitas, and lemon vinaigrette.
Memorable dishes included Cheddar & Fontina Mac n’ Cheese with egg yolk and breadcrumbs; Blue Crab Arancini; Crispy Eggplant “Parm” Sandwich, and the Thyme and Garlic Infused Flat Iron Steak.
They also have a selection of pizzas including Squash Blossom, Chorizo, Calabrian Chili; Prosciutto Di Parms, Duck Bahn Mi; and Figs, Caramelized Onions, Gorgonzola, Balsamic Glaze, and Thyme. If you like sweet, I would go for the fig, but I enjoyed the squash blossom best, and next time would definitely order the Duck Confit pizza. You can also customize yours with a gluten-free crust and additions like an egg, burrata, anchovies and prosciutto.
Desserts were divine and made me question whether or not they had a pastry chef onsite. All items are created in-house. We sampled every dessert and all were sinfully dreamy – Fresh Baked warm Chocolate Chip Cookies with milk, Strawberries with housemade rich not-too-sweet ricotta, Affogato (salted vanilla ice cream, espresso, and brown butter breadcrumbs), and warm lusty fluffy Donuts that you can dip in a chocolate hazelnut glaze.
Apparently, there’s also a special chef’s table in the kitchen called “the surveillance room” where there’s a board with photos of crime bosses mixed in with members of the restaurant staff, and under a couple boxes of linguine sits a vintage recorder.
We can thank the minds of the following NICE GUYs – John Terzian, Brian Toll, Markus Molinari and Adam Koral of The h.wood Group, for this latest addition to La Cienega near Melrose. They are known for Bootsy Bellows, Hooray Henry’s and Shore bar. Adam Koral says, “The Nice Guy” menu is a throwback to when food and drinks were interwoven in the fabric of having a night out on the town. We took an old staple of classic food and turned it on its head.”
For a night of nostalgia, exceptional food and drinks, make a reservation for the restaurant, bar and lounge since this intimate space is reservation-only. Reservations can be made by calling (310) 360-9500 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. The NICE GUY will be open Tuesday to Sunday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
401 N. La Cienega Blvd.
West Hollywood CA