A single red door stands out along a wall dyed yellow by the bright lights on Vermont Avenue in Koreatown. There’s no signage to ensure you’re at the right place. To the right, Stall 239, a new walk-up restaurant serving international street food and artisan sandwiches, has closed for the night. A person looks through a peephole after two knocks on the door.
The door opens into a small, dimly lit waiting room with an expansive wall of doorknobs. As a hostess welcomes you to Lock & Key, she points to the dozens of doorknobs, “Try out a knob to get in.” (The hostess will give you a hint if you're too far from the mark.)
Only one doorknob gives you access to this 1920s-era, Hollywood-meets-Koreatown speakeasy. Once inside, a large white marble bar showcases fresh drink accoutrements from a local farmers market. Riveted green leather chairs and banquettes are inviting, while dark wood, black walls patterned with stencils of gold chains and moody jazz music create a mellow atmosphere.
A menu of 10 craft cocktails developed by Christophe Namer, formerly of the now-shuttered Pastis, sits framed at the bar between crystal punch bowls filled with fresh fruit. A bartender promises, upon inquiry, that the Torpedo "will take you on a journey."