In L.A., dinner and a show doesn't have to mean parking at the Arclight and walking to one of the myriad bars and restaurants near the movie theater. There are some great spots around town where you can dine and be entertained at the same time, and we don't mean by your server's tableside theatrics.
At “For the Record” at Barre, the small cabaret attached to Vermont and Rockwell in Los Feliz, you get a Broadway-style show alongside your steak and martini. And you only have to park once.
First, the show. This iteration of “For the Record,” it's now on its fourth theme, features songs and scenes from iconic movies by the Coen brothers, so yes, ditties from O Brother, Where Art Thou, the one we know has a killer soundtrack, but also The Hudsucker Proxy, Fargo, The Big Lebowski and even Ladykillers. Music from Ladykillers? Yes. One song, “Light of the Lighthouse,” and, led by the super talented Rogelio Douglas Jr., it's the most rousing performance of the night.
The actors have television and Broadway backgrounds, each shining as they slip from character to character with slight costume changes. There's usually some banter to set a scene–Jessica Keenan Wynn does her best Marge Gunderson with spot-on Minnesohtan accent, and Darryl Semira dons his robe and boxers as The Dude–and then the singing starts. The cast moves around the room, through the tightly spaced tables, dances on the bar and on stage with the live band. Watching the rest of the audience react to the singers right in front of them is as much a part of the show as the performers.
If you've seen the movies, you'll appreciate the musical memories. If you haven't, there's a good chance you'll know the songs anyway, and singing along is encouraged. Sometimes the servers seem part of the act, but they're just keeping your glasses filled.
Seating is first-come, first-serve, which is why you'll want to get there early–and where dinner comes in. There's a full menu with appetizers (we liked the spicy tuna in jicama tacos), a tasty house burger, salads, pizzas, and even a ribeye steak with garlic mashed potatoes. It's basically what you'd get at Rockwell or Vermont, but in this room you have live entertainment.
In addition to the full bar, there are a few cocktails themed specifically for the performance. For the Coen Brothers, there's a White Russian, of course (they even pass a few out to the audience), and the sweet, candy-like Hudsucker, you know, “for the kids.” There's nothing truly spectacular about any of them, but it's still good boozy fun.
We loved the “For the Record: John Hughes,” and heard the Baz Luhrman show was a hit (how could it not be?), but after watching the Coen brothers in song, which seems an unlikely thing to begin with, we just wanted to run out and watch all of the movies again.
See “For the Record: The Coen Brothers” on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights now through September 24. Tickets are $25, plus a two-drink minimum. Get them online here.