The Pikey: Hollywood's Riff on the London Blues

The Pikey
The Pikey
Denise Milford

We've always had a soft spot for Welsh rarebit -- pronounced "rabbit" -- an English pub staple that essentially amounts to a layer of yeasty cheese sauce broiled onto toast. The name is sort of an Anglican inside joke, implying that a conniving Welshman might try to swindle by insisting your savory cheese is actually made with rabbit (the British had an odd habit of deliberately misnaming their foods; "Bombay duck" is really fish; "mock turtle soup" is made from calf's head).

At The Pikey, Hollywood's newest English-themed gastropub, you can order a slice of Welsh rarebit to start your meal, or to finish it -- it's delicious, flavored with malty beer and Worcestershire sauce, albeit a bit expensive for what it is. If you want a pint of Fuller's, you'll have to settle for a bottle; sadly, there are no English beers on tap. The cocktail list is kind of an overly complex wash, with the exception of a brilliant, tea-infused absinthe and elderflower elixir that tastes like it should have restorative powers, and a PBR and whiskey combo that serves as a clever nod to the space's former life as beloved dive bar the Coach & Horses.

It would seem pretty silly to expect any sort of British authenticity in this part of Hollywood, especially when the bar is helmed by the same guys behind Bar Lubitsch, the clubbish, Russian-inspired watering hole just down the street. Yet a dinner here probably will cure a case of the London Blues better than anywhere else in town, thanks to the sharp and concise menu from Spotted Pig alum Ralph Johnson. (Is it just us or does it seem like Spotted Pig has employed almost every new chef in town?)

A little jar of creamy chicken liver or a bowl of pickled vegetables is a fine way to start a meal. Next, buried in a list of small plates, is a kale salad dressed with a tangy mustard sauce and strips of crispy pig ear. Kale and pig's ear -- nothing could better capture this neighborhood's contrarian cravings than a salad like this.

At some point you'll probably order the fish and chips. It's almost a requirement at a place where almost all the servers speak with an English accent -- contrived or otherwise. It's pretty good, with a delicate batter, the fish moist and sprinkled with just enough coarsely ground salt. Your server might recommend the chicken, though, braised until tender in malt vinegar. In this city, servers will always recommend chicken, though in this case you might be better off for it. Your order probably will involve a stack of crispy "triple-cooked chips," which might instantly be considered one of the better fries in town. Golden and crispy but concealing a fluffy interior, they're great when doused with Gindo's Spice of Life or HP sauce.

For dessert there's a tall glass of blackberry fool, a pillowy dessert made from crushed fruit and cream that's been whipped into a frenzy, which functions as a refreshing end to a meal that undoubtedly will involve some sort of meat-and-vinegar combination (even the burger comes smeared with a zesty Worcestershire aioli), but, of course, if you're looking for authentic British cuisine, that might qualify as the best sign you've found it.

The Pikey
The Pikey
Denise Milford

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miles
The Pikey

7617 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90046

323-850-5400

www.thepikeyla.com


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