People gather at the Rosewood Tavern, a new bar and steakhouse on Fairfax… (David Greenwald, Los Angeles…)
For all its storied history — the Farmers Market, Canter's Deli — Fairfax Avenue's finest foodie days may be yet to come. In the wake of Animal's 2008 opening, the neighborhood has gained gourmet coffee (Coffee Commissary), eco-conscious butchers (Lindy & Grundy), a top-shelf burger (The Golden State), a reasonably priced brunch spot (Black Cat Bakery) and now perhaps its biggest surprise yet: a laid-back steakhouse with 28 craft beers on tap.
At Rosewood Tavern, which opened officially on May 20, customers will find bar stools instead of tablecloths and ale options written in chalk rather than manuscript-size menus.
"The idea was to have a steakhouse and not have it be like Mastro's or Cut or Wolfgang's or any of these places where it's really stuffy-like," owner George Abou-Daoud said. "I wanted to make Rosewood a more true neighborhood place."
Like in a restaurateur version of StarCraft, Abou-Daoud's Bowery Street Enterprises empire has gradually overtaken a stretch of Sunset Boulevard, including venues the Bowery and Delancey. Rosewood comes as a first step into new territory.
"The only significant difference [in this opening] is it's in a completely different neighborhood than before," he said.
His latest offering stocks a full bar with a thorough Scotch list, though L.A.'s growing legions of beer geeks may not get further than its two-dozen-plus taps. On a recent evening, the list included California brewers such as Craftsman and Eagle Rock in addition to out-of-state favorites Deschutes and Dogfish Head. With prices mostly at $6 and $7, a few rounds won't eat too far into one's steak budget. It's a combination that felt fresh to the restaurateur.
"I'd never seen anything like it," Abou-Daoud said. "Originally what I did with [the restaurant] Delancey was beer and pizza, because I think beer and pizza is a great combo and everybody always focuses on wine all the time.... I would much rather eat my pizza or eat a steak with a beer, I'd say, 70% of the time."
Rosewood joins the aforementioned Golden State and the food-free Surly Goat as Fairfax district beer destinations, though Abou-Daoud, whose 20-tap Bowery helped kick off the L.A. gastropub craze in the first place, was quick to separate the venue from the competition.
"They're all completely different animals. Golden State, I'm friends with those guys, they're more of an order at the counter, get a number, put it on your table and sit down [place]. There's no table service, there's no bar," he said.
Yet he doesn't want the relaxed Rosewood to turn too fancy, either, saying he'll eschew the multi-course beer pairing dinners that have popped up around town as the beverage's prestige has bubbled upward.
Between the gas-lamp-style fixture at the doorway and the requisite exposed brick, it's hard not to fall in love with Rosewood's green-papered walls, evoking the retro cool of "Mad Men."
How the tavern will make its mark on Fairfax — or steal Jon Hamm away from Little Dom's — remains to be seen, but with a new neighborhood under his belt, the tireless Abou-Daoud is already planning his next move, including opening the new restaurant Township in the former District space.
"There are definitely things coming up in the future," he said. "I haven't taught myself to stop yet."
Where: 448 N. Fairfax Ave.
When: Sunday-Thursday 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.; Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Price: small plates, $6-11; salads, $9-10; big plates, $12-14; steaks and chops, $22-26
Info: (323) 944-0980; rosewoodtavern.com