The Place: The Bar Room at Porta Via, 424 N. Canon Dr., Beverly Hills, (310) 274-6534.
The Hours: Monday-Saturday 5 p.m.-8 p.m.
The Deals: $6 specialty cocktails, calls, wines and beers.
The Digs: The Bar Room, which opened in March, sits adjacent and connected to the California bistro-style Porto Via restaurant on Canon Drive, which opened as a sandwich shop in the '90s. The Bar Room consists of an interior swanky bar space dominated by a green marble bar, and a covered terrace area with a large glass-topped communal table made from an old iron door. Surrounded by Balinese sofas and chairs, the table seats about 10 people. On the other end of the bar, two small interior rooms decorated in jewel tones have movable steel-gray leather banquettes.
The cocktail list leans toward the classic and so do the appetizers. The Bar Room serves small plates of Porta Via's signature dishes such as Peruvian ceviche, chicken taquitos, deviled eggs, filet mignon skewers, and Parmesan-stuffed baked dates
wrapped with bacon. There is also a charcuterie board and a cheese board. Appetizer prices range from $3-$13, but you can also order from the main Porto Via menu.
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The Verdict: The exterior space with the communal table is the place to be. It's a decidedly comfy and casual spot for the 90210, and after a drink or two, patrons sitting around the table become decidedly chummy with one another, even offering to share appetizers. The serving staff is friendly too, and pretty soon you'll forget you're in a bar, because it will feel like you're at a cocktail party.
The Bar Room makes an excellent Cosmo in a perfectly frosty glass. They give you a choice of apple juice, apple cider or green apple liqueur for your appletini -- a nice attention to detail, particularly for those who loathe the bright green apple liqueur. Beers on tap include Affligem Blonde, Napa Smith Amber, and North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner. If you're still hungry after a couple of appetizers, ordering from the Porto Via menu is an excellent idea -- it features lots of light fish and pasta dishes, such as a parmigiano-crusted baked halibut served with asparagus and mashed potatoes.
The bar was just starting to get really lively around 10 p.m. one recent Saturday night, which is like 3 a.m. in staid Beverly Hills time, as most Hills residents are already home snoozing in their beds. Surprising.
Overall rating: A-