When I first heard about Vodvil, I just didn’t get it. In its press release the brand-new bar/restaurant on Fairfax Avenue was described as a “sexy and smart new entertainment venue offering game night for grown-ups.” Heh? So naturally come preview night I had to check it out.
And, I’m glad I did because no amount of pre-opening press could aptly describe what Vodvil is because you really have to be there to “get it.” There is nothing like it. But, basically, you know trivia night at your favorite bar? That’s Vodvil every night (well, except Monday when it’s closed). So imagine that same high energy, competitive atmosphere and chatty MCs all the time. Either you’re into that or you just want a quiet place to nurse your cocktail. Since I’m a bar purist of sorts, I’m in the latter camp.
Shall We Play a Game?
Sure Vodvil has cocktails and cocktail punches by big guy Alex Straus of Hemingway’s Lounge in Hollywood and nostalgically fun bar bites like pigs in a blanket and pot pies but I can only take so much zaniness and stimulation. I can see this being a great place for a group of 20-30-something friends to celebrate a birthday, bachelorette night, singles mingle and other events where people go “Wooo!”
And I’d love to do just that on special occasions; nosh on pretzel bites and tipple Paul Lynde Punch (love that name!) and compete for game tokens and bragging rights. But, I’m thinking it’s only really fun if you’re with a bunch of bffs, or you’re super social like Ferris Bueller. You can hang out at the bar and people watch and maybe play a round, but crotchety solo drinkers (me) who don’t like activities with their cocktails may want to slink on up the street to the Dime.
From Grubstreet LA:
Clearly, this is not the spot to go to have that relationship conversation.
If you do want to stick around, Vodvil features a different theme every night like “Face the Music,” Word Games or trivia night where it’s $6 to play all night and people compete for tokens to buy candy and the like from the vending machine or make a donation to the venue’s cause of the month. And I admit, the games can be a bit contagious. While my bf and I were just sitting at the bar, even though we didn’t have an answer sheet to mark off we found ourselves shouting out the answers, which you’re really not supposed to do. And when it came time for Word Game with LA restaurants as the theme there was no holding me back.
The colorful space, designed by the same firm responsible for Red O and W Hotel Hollywood’s Bliss Spa, has a main room with couches and banquettes as well as a bar area; a private room behind the stage for private parties; and a karaoke room.
“I’m kind of disappointed it’s a little too modern,” said one of the preview guests, and I’m inclined to agree. I guess I was hoping with its ’70s throwback that it would sport rec room wood paneling and vintage furniture. But instead it has a much cleaned-up, IKEA feel. Not that that’s bad, it’s just that vintage totally would have rounded out this theme of “’70s game show vibe” nicely.
Cocktails and Comfort Food
The cocktail menu is vodka intensive but light and girly. There are four punches ($40-$44) that serve four, perfect for that group of friends; five specialty cocktails ($10); three ultra sweet-sounding dessert drinks ($10-$12); mocktails ($4). Here’s a sample of the offerings:
- Fairfax Scorpion Punch: Plymouth Gin, Gran Sierpe Pisco, Don Q Rum, orgeat, orange juice, passion fruit puree
- Drink Martindale: Absolut Vodka, muddled cucumber, lemon juice, mint, champagne
- Center Square: Four Roses Bourbon, green apple puree, mint
- In the __, Bob: Plymouth Gin, strawberry puree, soda water
- Cookies and Cream: Don Q Rum, Tres Leches, cookies and cream
The Drink Martindale would be perfect for those who don’t fancy the taste of booze and prefer something that tickles rather than buzzes. I couldn’t really taste the apple puree in the Center Square nor the booze but I loved the simple summeriness of the In the ___, Bob’s strawberries.
As for the comfort food, which was created by Executive Chef Jamie Lauren (Top Chef), since I’m doing veggie/fish right now I could only really sample the cheese caramel kettle corn, smoked salmon on bagel chip and the falafel sliders on Hawaiian sweet rolls. The salmon bites were my favorites but the falafel sliders were a bit dry. Surprisingly I wasn’t too crazy about the cheese caramel kettle corn, think caramel corn with a cheese dust. It had that addictiveness of kettle corn but wasn’t as pleasurable to eat. And combined with the cocktails that was just too much sugar for me.
I can’t see Vodvil being my destination drink or food place but for sure a destination fun place, like a bowling alley, karaoke parlor or rollerskating rink, except with better fare. Will that be enough to keep the room packed? You tell me.
More photos from Vodvil’s preview night after the jump.