The Place: Rockwell, VT, in the alley behind 1714 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 669-1550.
The Hours: Daily, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The Deals: $5-$8 appetizers and mini-flatbreads; $5 beers; $6 house wines; $7-$8 specialty cocktails
Turn the page to find out what we thought…
The Digs: The Thoreau quote that greets you on Rockwell's website – “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately” – may be all you need to know about the digs, though it probably would be helpful to know that the woods here are located in Los Feliz Village and accessed via the cement jungle of an alley behind Rockwell's sister restaurant, Vermont. A tree towers over the patio and reaches into the sky, reminding that you are in the deep into the wilderness – okay, not really, but the open, airy outdoor setting is cozy and lovely nonetheless. Rockwell is more loungy and relaxed than Vermont, and the happy hour crowd reflects the mood: mostly casually well-heeled 20- and 30somethings meeting for a drink or two before heading out for further urban adventures.
The Verdict: We always appreciate a happy hour that goes past 7 p.m., so Rockwell automatically gets a huge plus in our books. The happy hour itself is not the cheapest you'll find in the city, but it is still quite good. The $5 beers, for example, are discounted from the regular menu price of $6 – not exactly a steal, especially as most of them are bottled. Better, then, to stick with Rockwell's strengths: wines and cocktails. The white wine sangria was quite crisp and tasty, with a good amount of fruit, and there is a generous menu of $7-$8 cocktail specials for every day of the week.
To eat, Rockwell offers a few discounted items off of its appetizer menu and smaller versions of its wood-oven flatbreads. Of these options, any one of the flatbreads probably will be your best bet. A full-sized flatbread on the regular dinner menu will run you around $15, but the half-price happy hour versions were ample. The pancetta flatbread we ordered, with crème fraiche, fig jam, and caramelized onions, was delicious. An appetizer or two to complement the flatbread will be more than enough to feed two. The only item we might avoid in the future would be the fries: these were a bit soggy and very unevenly spiced.
Overall, the rest of Thoreau's quote – “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived” – might not completely apply to this happy hour. You will have lived even if you miss this happy hour, so you need not hike across town to check out this neck of the woods. For locals looking for reasonably priced drinks and eats during the happy hour window, though, the Walden-in-the-city atmosphere makes Rockwell a great place to lounge and contemplate the essential facts of life.