Swanky lounge. Innovative cocktails. First-rate chef. We’re talking about The Nice Guy. The West Hollywood hot spot on the La Cienega corridor is the latest venture from the team of John Terzian, Brian Toll, Markus Molinari and Adam Koral of The h.wood.group. Don’t worry, they’re good fellas.
Terzian describes the mafia-style joint as “one step above a restaurant,” but not quite a club, providing diners with the “feeling of being a part of something.” What that “something” is, it seems, is an old-school dining experience with a modern sensibility, free of paparazzi and pretense.
Helming the kitchen is one of the city’s best chefs, John-Carlos Kuramoto — yet another fine branch in the Michael’s tree. And behind the bar is a whiz of research mixologists, making every drink on the menu the perfect concoction thanks to Adam Koral, mixologist Brian Stewart, and vast array of behind the scenes samplers.
The seating is intimate with just enough light to read the charmingly concise menu, with a low-decibel ambience that allows for hush-hush conversations about who’s on the take, where the bodies are buried and other waste management industry topics.
Announce your standing as a “made guy” by ordering The Chairman: Gentleman Jack, Aperol, cacao, salted cola reduction and cider vinegar (yep), served Prohibition-style — in a hip flask. High-rollers will appreciate the pricey bubbles selection. And for the poshest of palates, try the Beluga amuse bouche, featuring Siberian caviar, shaved asparagus and creme fraiche with a shot of Beluga vodka.
Additionally, there is a strong list of other signature cocktails, a modest beer selection and an ample wine list highlighting California, including a couple of classy Opus One bottles. After your meal, scotch it up with any one of the classics or take a swig of bourbon or rye.
As for dinner, consider starting with the Blue Crab Arancini, ignited by a Calabrian chili aioli. Neither could you go wrong with the housemade Butternut Squash Ravioli, attacking your taste buds with citrus brown butter, chorizo vinaigrette and toasted pepitas. And you’d be remiss if you didn’t try John-Carlos’ pizza. I’m thrilled to recommend the Duck Bahn Mi (oh my) — yeah, you heard mi right. Enjoy your chicken either Parm’d or Picatta’d. There’s also an eight-ounce Certified Angus filet with truffle fries and steak butter. But if you’re counting calories — fuhgit about it.
Even Justin Bieber was one of the Nice Guys this weekend, putting on an impromptu performance for his birthday as part of their live music ambiance. For even more information, read about the girl’s perspective of The Nice Guy in LA. Last time LaLaScoop Lady Melissa was drinking, mingling, and dancing with her crew at The Nice Guy, Kate Hudson, Derek Hough, and friends were squeezed in at the table nearby.
401 N. La Cienega
West Hollywood, CA 90048
Scott Bridges is an L.A.-based journalist who has worked as a police-beat reporter, a community newspaper editor, and a food and travel writer. He currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to The Huffington Post and Bizjournals.com, among other sites. He is a native Californian who lives on the Westside. Follow Scott Bridges on Twitter.