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Celebrating the Sun at Beechwood

Some of us are feeling a little sunned out these days. But no one is ever tired of sunsets. The day is beginning to cool and suddenly everything turns gold, then the sun is gone and the thick summer twilight rules, with its astonishing array of colors. It's tough to find a place in LA to enjoy sunsets, with a laid back attitude and good food. Beechwood is one of those places.

If you go early, the crowd is mixed. there are a couple of young families, some older people, hipsters out by the fire pit, having casual drinks. As it gets later, the crowd gets younger, more bar oriented. There's a dining room in the back, but the action is really in the bar where you can order off both the bar and regular menus.

Both menus have meat and vegetarian dishes, a casual, California cuisine, with few surprises, but a lot of carefully considered choices. They're known for their fries -- both french (two cuts; shoe string and 3/4 inch) and sweet potato, which can be ordered on a huge platter. There's also a choice of fries with a number of hot sandwiches. The pressed chicken with brie is moist and delicious. The burger (with homemade bbq sauce, gruyere and arugula) is just different enough to get your attention, but still burger-y enough to satisfy the urge. The pork sandwich works for some people, especially if they dig the spicy food.

Beechwood steak, my personal favorite is the grilled skirt steak with lavender jus. Lavender is just coming around again as a spice for meats (most reddish ones like steak and lamb) and also for desserts, where they give off a poignant, almost sage-like edge.

Beechwood doesn't disappoint on the cocktails either. (Though their wine list is a little hit or miss.) But what they do best is mojitos, served with LOTS of fresh mint and they do both the traditional rum and the lighter vodka.

The only disappointment at Beechwood is that they make their own ketchup. I say, why mess with perfection? It's ketchup, sweet and tangy, the perfect condiment. Beechwood's version is too spicy to be properly enjoyed on the fries.

Beechwood is a great place to start an evening, with dinner and drinks, or just to have a dinner out, listen to some pretty good music, watch the people and the sky and share some intimate conversation.

822 Washington Blvd. Venice, CA 90292