After a few weeks of renovation, 60-year-old West L.A. mainstay The Arsenal is back in business. The bar and restaurant is completing its second renovation in six years, thanks to the new ownership team which took over in 2003. To celebrate their re-opening (and to show off the copies of their original menus), you can eat and drink at 1950 prices from tonight through next Friday, between the hours of 7 and 9 p.m.
"It needed to act its age," said part-owner Gillian Spaak of the remodel, all while flanked by workers who were putting on the finishing touches. "The first renovation took it back to the 50s. This one, I think, took it back to the 40s a little bit. A little more speakeasy." The remodel features a totally re-vamped central bar, as well as lounge seating area. There is still an outdoor patio with plenty of seating, though it was getting some last tweaks during our visit and wasn't photo-ready.
The menu has been updated as well, with the biggest change coming in the form of a "space age" pizza oven in the kitchen. All together the menu, smartly, doesn't try to step out of its bar roots, with a variety of burgers, as well as steaks, fish-and-chips, a bacon-wrapped hot dog, and poutines (yes, plural). There are basic pizzas -- a margarita and one with sausage, mushrooms, and onions -- but there are also some more inventive ones, like the pie with vodka-roasted potatoes, spinach, and burrata. There is also a mac-n-cheese pizza, listed with the description, "No explanation needed. Really sick good."
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History seems important to Spaak, who remarked on the changes since The Arsenal first opened its doors. "Everything gets plowed [in L.A.]. I worked really hard to keep the original room," she said, referring to the front bar, before adding that back then, "Pico was just a backwater." Her goal was to make something, "authentically Los Angeles, not celebrity Los Angeles. It's still casual, but more dignified."
We were able to sneak a glance at their old 1950 menu, which will function as the menu for their special roll-back prices over the next week. Grasshoppers and pink squirrels for seventy-five cents? A chopped sirloin steak with mushroom gravy for a dollar twenty-five? How about a filet mignon for three twenty-five? Count us in.
The Arsenal: 12012 W. Pico Blvd., West L.A., (310) 575-5511.