The Place: The Tar Pit, 609 North La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles. (323) 965-1300.
The Hours: Daily 5-6:30pm
The Deals: $6 cocktails and wine by the glass, $2.50-$5 snacks.
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The Digs: Chef Mark Peel's Old Hollywood-style bar/restaurant can be found on the bustling, metered-only stretch of La Brea. Mixologist Audrey Saunders has long since left -- David Kupchinsky is now the bar manager -- but you can order cocktails and Peel's dishes at the long marble bar or enjoy them at one of the many booths along the wall. The low-lit interior is decorated in the style of a 1940s movie with chandeliers, beige club chairs for the lounge section and ivory leather dining seats with the banquettes. The clientele is a mix of those emulating Mad Men glamor and the t-shirt-and-jeans set.
The Verdict: Although this "Guilded Hour" happy hour features some tasty classic cocktails like the Bee's Knees and the Brown Derby for only $6, the fact that it starts at 5 and only lasts til 6:30 leaves 9-to-5ers not in the immediate area out of luck. Add to the fact we found most of the food choices, not as scrumptious as their descriptions lead us to believe and we're looking at a happy hour more about the drinks and the elegant decor. The mini mac and cheese tasted simply of plain, cooked macaroni without the savoriness or even creaminess of cheese. The deviled eggs were vinegary and chewy. Only saving grace for the menu was the huge pile of fries with its addictive aioli that will become your default dipping sauce for all your snacks. The dishes themselves took forever to arrive, about 25 minutes. Because of this, we ended up finishing our cocktails by the time the server showed up with the plates. The Sunday we swung by this happy hour, Mark Peel was there tending to some children who were running and squealing around the bar. When we complained to our bartender about the stage area, normally used for jazz trios and singers, being turned into a makeshift daycare, she replied, "It is a Sunday..." True, but personally we don't like kids, especially the screaming kind, with our cocktails.
Overall Grade: C+