Caitlin Stansbury is one of L.A.’s rock-star sommeliers, a whip-thin woman with the haunted eyes of a lead guitarist and the ability to make Greek rosés and South African syrahs seem like the most desirable liquids in the world. Her wine lists at Tasca and the Lodge were loud, brassy Hollywood documents, fermented grapes turned up to 10. Brix @ 1601, an arena-size space in a Hermosa Beach shopping mall, is perhaps more sedate than Stansbury’s other gigs. The music is mostly light jazz instead of Led Zep, and the customers are more likely to be wearing sports jackets than full-sleeve tattoos. The cuisine of Michael McDonald, who cooked at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel, tends toward the milder side of the pan-global California thing: duck-confit egg rolls, fried blood sausage, seared diver scallops, butter-poached lobster and a rather bland open-faced sandwich of braised short ribs with cheese. But Brix is a great place to drink wine — small-production whites from Oregon, Friuli or the Rhône, available by the glass and the half-glass, idiosyncratic reds weighted toward the racy and the spicy, and bottles ranging from a simple Beaujolais to a ’59 Latour, surgically matched by Stansbury to the food. Call it designated-driver cuisine. 1601 Pacific Coast Hwy., Hermosa Beach, (310) 698-0740.
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