Best known for some of the best cannabis pairing dinners on a plate, Herbal Chef founder Chris Sayegh has teamed up with Jared Ventura to open his first brick-and-mortar restaurant and bar, Nostalgia Bar & Lounge in Santa Monica – giving a whole new meaning to Otter Pops, Push Ups and Yoo Hoos.

There won’t be any of his signature use of cannabis-infused food on the menu due to current legislation, but expect inventive CBD- and terpene-infused cocktails, as well as gourmet bar bites and live music. Nostalgia’s mocktails (nonalcoholic) also can be infused with CBD upon request. Suggested cocktail: the End of the Otter Pop made with vodka, Clement Creole Shrubb, blueberry, raspberry, honey, Abstrax raspberry lemonade terpene, with a berry fruit popsicle as garnish. The Woo Hoo is a frothy twist on the current espresso martini craze, with vodka, Tia Maria, Crème de Cacao and espresso.

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Mary Larson pops up at Nostalgia Bar & Lounge (Michele Stueven)

Menu highlights include Kobe toast made with freshly baked sourdough toast, whole-grain mustard aioli topped with A5 Kobe beef lightly torched with marinated radish, turnip and microgreens, as well as Fire and Ice oysters two ways, made with smoked furikake sabayon for “fire” and pineapple habanero granita on “ice.” The lobster roll comes with fresh poached lobster, herb aioli, lobster shell caramel, served on a toasted brioche roll (add Kaluga caviar for +$10).  

For dessert, the PB & J comes as chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, peanut mousse, raspberry sorbet and candied peanuts. The Nostalgic Push Up stays true to form in a trio of flavors of cherry/beet, orange and strawberry.  

Located in the former Speakeasy dive bar on Pico Boulevard, which has seen its share of flying pool cues in past years, the space has been beautifully redesigned with a fun and whimsical vibe, and old-school board games like Operation and Battleship dotting the tables. A huge mural by Takun Williams filled with cartoon favorites like Ren & Stimpy, Johnny Bravo, SpongeBob and the Power Puff Girls punctuates the lounge.

“I wasn’t really sure it had the bones we needed when I first looked at it,” Sayegh, who has worked at Mélisse under Chef Josiah Citrin and Providence under Michael Cimarusti, told L.A. Weekly at the opening party last week. “But low and behold, with all the renovations we did, we made something really fun out of it with a nostalgic touch for anybody born from the ‘70s to the 2000s. People are dying to be connected right now, and this is a place where we can sit back, celebrate old memories and reminisce.”

Members of The Herbal Chef’s Secret Supper Club at the Nostalgia Bar and Lounge can attend private, closed-door fine-dining cannabis dinners at Nostalgia monthly.  

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Nostalgia Bar & Lounge (Adam Episcopo)

Herbal Chef

Kobe Toast (Adam Episcopo)

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Nostalgia burger (Adam Episcopo)

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Herbal Chef Chris Sayegh (left) and Jared Ventura at Nostalgia Bar & Lounge (Michele Stueven)

LA Weekly