Laurel Hardware Delivers The Goods
Laurel Hardware is the Swiss army knife of gastropubs; part restaurant, part late-night watering hole, part lounge and part garden. And like the multi-purpose tool, this recently opened WEHO hot spot will quickly become the go-to place in your cocktail toolbox.
In what was once a long-standing hardware store (the old sign still hangs out front), Laurel Hardware has been given a rustic remodel with bare bulbs, exposed rafters, white tiles and hardwood floors. The mirror-backed bar area is surrounded by huge wooden communal tables with elevated booths aligning the wall. The front restaurant area has open windows facing the ever-bustling Santa Monica Boulevard, given the entire place a bright and airy feel.
The cocktail program, designed by Hotel Shangri-La's Cole Apodaca, is as original as the look of the joint. Their most popular drink, Gangster, is a fantastic concoction of watermelon juice and cucumber-infused vodka that is so immensely drinkable that it should be considered dangerous (hence the appropriate name). The Creeping Fig is bourbon-based with lemon, fig, black tea and bitters. The tea and fig mix perfectly so you never feel that the two flavors are competing with each other. And the Aqua di Vida — plum vodka, Champagne and St. Germain — is especially good, almost with a candy-like feel to it, but not in a cloying way.
The food is equally impressive at Laurel Hardware, courtesy of Mario Alberto, formerly the chef of the very popular Freddy Smalls. They have an extensive selection of pizzas, their best being the merguez and dandelion greens topped pizza. Another exceptional entrée is the pork cheeks with squash and pea tendrils. Both dishes go great with the bourbon and hibiscus water cocktail called The Reserve.
What really stands out about this place is the little things. The bill comes in a little notebook that you can leave notes in and even read other people’s comments. And nothing is better than after dinner to head out to the back where the amazing and spacious patio garden lies. You feel like you could literally chill there all night.
Laurel Hardware manages that tricky skill of being a forward thinking restaurant/lounge while at the same time embracing its distinct and different past. So even while you’re enjoying your meal or cocktail you can’t help thinking to yourself, “Damn, this used to be a hardware store!”
Laurel Hardware, 7984 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90046
Image via Yelp