Whenever I have child-free time, I gravitate to one of three luxuries: listening to a favorite band at higher-than-usual decibel levels, reading a good chef-driven autobiography, or enjoying a dinner out / happy hour (or better yet, both) with Irene. So as we headed into our final child-free Thursday evening of July (the kiddies were spending the night with Irene’s parents before their last day of summer school in the Valley), the extra-curricular wheels started turning.
Joining us to mark the occasion would be our very good friends Jackie and David, and, of course, Irene tasked me with finding a cool spot for dinner and drinks. In this department I lean towards a festive atmosphere with equally imaginative and tasty food so I immediately went into OpenTable mode and found SmithHouse Tap & Grill, a brewery/restaurant occupying the old Lunaria space on Santa Monica Boulevard in Century City (think BJ’s on upscale steroids).
With a menu created by “Top Chef All-Stars” Angelo Sosa, SmithHouse’s ambiance sets the tone for a lively outing with its exposed brick walls and large centerpiece bar offering 120 beers on tap. Our early dinner reservation snagged us one of the raised booths adjacent to the bar, where we had a primo view of the televised sporting events and general restaurant buzz. Service and food are equally noteworthy and you can even reserve a private booth with built-in taps to pour your own draft! Coincidentally, David had been to SmithHouse the night before for a business gathering and told us about the private room with its extra-large screen TV that can also be reserved for big groups.
Selected Happy Hour beers are $3 (domestic) and $4 (import) and “the rest of the rail” tap beers are $1 off, with 50% off a few special small bite dishes (we all split the warm spinach artichoke dip and beer battered onions rings). For a main dish, I really liked my grilled cheese with its blend of aged cheddar and smoked gouda cheeses and bacon bits served on cranberry walnut bread.
Beyond the food and drink, it became readily apparent to me how infrequently I’m able to enjoy the simple act of sharing your views on topics like the current presidential race (David and me) or your mutual love of organizing/The Container Store (Irene and Jackie) with other adults.