In London, you can usually tell a so-called gastropub from an ordinary sort of pub by the presence of a wine list, a menu that includes foodstuffs that don’t happen to be fried sausages or offal-stuffed pies (not to mention the existence of a menu itself), and the presence of actual women, attractive ones, amid the many, many examples of slumped, sozzled manhood. The Village Idiot, housed within the scraped, hollow bones of the former Chianti, which in 1938 was probably the fanciest Italian restaurant in the United States, is probably the biggest gastropub in town at the moment, a vast place dominated by the surging throngs around the bar, a pub where you can get fish ’n’ chips, pints of Boddingtons and hand-drawn cider of a real pub, but also crunchy cornmeal-crusted catfish with a kind of black-eyed-pea ragout, grilled chicken with a Zuni Cafe–style bread salad, and a delicate goat-cheese tart served underneath a refreshing fennel salad. Are there salads with candied nuts and blue cheese, braised pork, and a version of the Father’s Office burger? Of course. As loud as the crowd is, the rock & roll is even louder, a solid, echoing thrum that will set up whitecaps in your glass of pinot gris, and as long as you will have to wait for a table on weekends, the shouted, ale-lubricated conversation is probably half the reason for coming here — the ratio of great-looking women to shaggy indie boys may be the most impressive in all of Los Angeles. 7383 Melrose Ave., L.A., (323) 655-3331.


LA Weekly