The past week has seen a few fresh restaurant openings worth mentioning. Gaining the most notice is Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne's Tavern in the Brentwood spot that was for many decades a Hamburger Hamlet location. While lots of people all over Los Angeles have strong sentimental attachments to the dwindling restaurant chain, with its baskets of fried clams, French onion soup and “Those” potatoes, early reports about a packed house suggest that this is a worthy replacement of a beloved but aging institution. With slightly lower prices than the sibling restaurants AOC and Lucques, but with food made with the same skill and ethic, no wonder it's an instant hit at dinner service (breakfast and lunch will follow soon). Just remember this Tavern is not to be confused with Warren Schwartz's Westside Tavern.

11648 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood, (310) 806-6464 or

Other new bars and restaurants include the Pourtal Wine Tasting Bar in Santa Monica, featuring the return of super sommelier Peter Birmingham and making the 3rd Street Promenade a better food destination than ever before, and the revival of the Trader Vic's brand but in downtown rather than Beverly Hills. Ever since the long-established Beverly Hilton bar/lounge/restaurant was shuttered, condensed and relocated poolside, the preservation outcry began. We'll see what the Tiki diehards have to say about the latest L.A. Live incarnation. Maybe the Hamburger Hamlet will somehow find a way to revive its brand the way Trader Vic's has.

Pourtal, 104 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 393-7693.

Trader Vic's, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., Downtown, (213) 785-3330.

LA Weekly