THE nightlife goliaths at SBE Entertainment are positioning their latest project -- the tiny, emerald-hued Foxtail supper club in West Hollywood -- as an intimate nest for industry insiders fatigued with the industry-insider scene.
But raising Foxtail -- which houses an elite upstairs lounge and smoking patio and sits next door to paparazzi perch Dan Tana's -- above the velvet-rope-crush crowd might prove a bit of a chore. It is, after all, the work of TMZ staples Sam Nazarian and Brent Bolthouse, along with four of their most powerful friends: director Brett Ratner, NBC Entertainment co-Chairman Ben Silverman, producer Scott Stuber and super agent Patrick Whitesell.
Foxtail's Hollywood pedigree even stretches into the kitchen: Head chef Antonia Lofaso is currently L.A.'s only contender on Bravo's "Top Chef." And in a precious bit of Hollywood synergy, "Top Chef" premiered on March 12, two weeks after the restaurant's soft opening.
Lofaso's no-nonsense French bistro fare includes steak frites served with a fried egg topped with shaved black truffles in a small cast iron pan, a crispy croque-monsieur oozing creamy Gruyere cheese and beef carpaccio brushed with flavorful olive oil and dusted with bits of salt. Complemented by a list of inventive cocktails (like the Uva Bella made with pressed grapes, gin and elderflower liqueur), the food might be comforting enough to bring bone-weary execs back. But the sense of belonging that greets them at the door, says Bolthouse, will seal the deal.
"It's kind of like a boys' club," he says. "A place where we can eat and drink, bring the wives and hang out."
SBE's Restaurant and Nightlife Group President Kevin Stuessi elaborates: "It's a new Brown Derby for a new generation. A little jewel box where industry heavy hitters can go when they get out of work."
Art Nouveau and '70s glam cozy up inside the diminutive two-room space flush with stained glass, low hand-painted ceilings, pink-and-white marble, leopard-print runners, ostrich feathers and finely detailed dark wood. While Jared Leto and his entourage dine quietly behind him, Nazarian sums up the design's allure with enigmatic aplomb: "You think you're in Milan or New York. You don't know you're here, the eyes self correct, it's a mystery that just keeps on growing."
Whether Foxtail will stay an intimate mystery or join the ranks of SBE's high-wattage spots like Hyde and S Bar depends on the ability of SBE -- bolstered by two key players who double as reality TV stars (Bolthouse plays himself in MTV's "The Hills") -- to foster the intellectual fraternity typically associated with a salon-like environment. Bolthouse, for one, is hopeful.
"I'm invested in this in a more emotional way," he says. "My friends are in it with me. I can't wait to see what happens." 9077 Santa Monica Blvd., (310) 859-8369