I know L.A. Times staffers and other Downtown barflies were a little offended when nightlife impresarios took over the venerable Redwood Bar & Grill and outfitted it with a seagoing pirate vibe. But since I never hung there back in the day (Variety staffers, when they have time to drink, repair to Tom Bergin's), I can't say I was upset to check out the decently-priced menu of tasty bar food the new owners brought in. Kevin Roderick says the food was pretty basic back when he was at the Times, but while the new menu still covers the bar basics -- burgers, fish and chips, chicken wings -- it's all done with a good dose of flavor and care, plus more upscale items like mussels and fries or rock shrimp panini. Jeff's Kobe burger was huge, with a side of well-done sweet potato fries. Kathy and I shared the fish 'n chips -- not as crispy as the King's Head, but the fish was good and we loved the thick homemade potato chips that stood in for fries. I also liked the Redwood's modern take on a Waldorf salad, with frisee, apple slices, walnuts and roquefort and no Miracle Whip to be seen. The draft beer selection was merely adequate, so we split a hearty Arrogant Bastard ale -- there's a few good bottled beers, but the beer selection could be even better without much effort. The crowd was also far more to my liking than some of the other Downtown places we've tried. Chalk one up for the Redwood, even if it's not a dive anymore.
The Redwood Bar & Grill
316 W. 2nd St.