Two colors of cauliflower, green beans and garbanzos make a pretty plate
When I moved near the rather desolate strip of Hyperion where Barbrix is now located, there was not much around except the terminally grungy Zen Sushi and even older spots like the Flying Leap and Casita del Campo. Comfort Cafe and KP's Deli came and went, and I still haven't been to Speranza, but despite way too many body shops, Hyperion is looking much, much better. Fix Burgers and Tomato Pie Pizza moved in, Fritzie's spruced up into Sila and Zen died and was reborn as the much more pleasant Barbarella.
But enough with the history lesson -- Barbrix, located in a former house-turned-Scientology school, is the best thing to happen to Silver Lake in some time -- at least since Intelligentsia opened, anyway. With reasonably-priced, user-friendly wines, a choice selection of small plates and a cool patio for summer evenings, owners Claudio Blotta and Adria Tennor Blotta and chef Don Dickman clearly knew exactly what the area needed, even if it did take a while to finish construction. Inside, both front and back bars and several tables in-between are all packed, and the opening week noise level is pretty high. Outdoors is much quieter, with the patio thankfully far removed from the street and a screen of bushes already starting to take root. Wines by the bottle are priced as low as $19, but Kathy decides on a glass of Bien Nacido Syrah, while I try the Niepoort Twisted from Portugal -- it's just $6, but the Bien Nacido at $9 is clearly more fully realized. Portions are tiny, which keeps the prices down, so this probably isn't the place to take your 250 lb. male friend from Texas unless you're hitting the steakhouse later on. Dickman's menu is set up like that of AOC, but it stands on its own with some lusty Mediterranean flavors.
One grilled sardine with mint aioli (above) is perfectly nice at $6, but he seems a little lonely on the plate. Roasted cauliflower pops with garlicky flavors; all the vegetables are top quality. The lovely McGrath farmer's plate (left) is also a welcome selection, since so many wine bars neglect the vegetable aisle. All three cheeses we selected were wonderful, especially a ripe, mellow Epoisses and Barely Buzzed Utah cheddar, which is rubbed with espresso and lavender. Service was amazingly cheerful and competent for such a recently-opened spot.
This was just a quick visit, so I'll try to get back soon to try the garlic sweetbreads, ginger shortcake and maybe some wine from Croatia or Slovenia.
Tip: Park around the corner on Tracy or Griffith Park Blvd. to avoid the valet charge, if you can't walk. If you're not familiar with that stretch of Hyperion, look for Baller Hardware right across the street.
2442 Hyperion Ave.