When I first heard its name, I just had to go. Most of the online reviews cover the Village Idiot’s gastropub fare, but of course I had to check it out for its liquor selection. They tout their wine selection, their brews on tap…maybe they had specialty cocktails, too? And on a boulevard crowded with edgy clothes stores, random restaurants and El Guapo, the Village Idiot stood out to me.
We showed up at 8:30 last night and walked into a wall of people. Having read online reviews I knew there was no host stand to check in with so immediately looked for a seat at the bar which was crowded with people. Fortunately, no one wanted to sit toward the back of the room away from the main room action so two bar stools at the end of the long bar were available to us. Yay!
I couldn’t tell what kind of beer was available since there weren’t any bottles on display and the beer tap handles were unlabeled. Fortunately the mohawked bartender was on hand to recite the beer list for us. Thing is, we could barely hear him over the din of the pub crowd. But we were able to make out that he had some Pasadena brews that he liked. So I tried the Poppyfield Pale Ale ($5) and my friend Erin had the Heavenly Heff ($5). Mine was light and refreshing. A bit citrusy on first sip but then mellowed out. Erin’s Heff, on the other hand, tasted like chilled chicken broth to me. Blech. Fortunately she liked it, saying it tasted of banana.
The Idiot is less English pub than English-via-New York pub; there’s a nod to the British, but it’s more a neighborhood place for decent comfort food, nothing upscale, just right.
Looking around the pub, I wondered why it was called a “pub.” With a name like “The Village Idiot” it provoked the same giggle that pub names like “The Dirty Duck” or “The Loaded Dog” get. But here, there was nothing really “British” about it. With high ceilings, it wasn’t cozy but rather felt like a sleek New York restaurant. No English memorabilia decorated the brick walls. If anything it was devoid of any real pub personality. The only hints of its pub intentions showed up on the menu, what with the requisite fish and chips complete with malt vinegar dipping sauce. There was also bangers and mash, ‘cept on the menu it’s called “grilled pork sausage with yukon mash and port sauce.”
Oh, and they had Newcastle and Bass, but in bottles. However, when I asked our mohawked friend if they could make shandys, snakebite or any of those specialty pub concoctions he said yes. So for the next round I ordered up a Poor Man’s Black Velvet (Guinness and cider) for only $5. However, it didn’t taste as yummy as I had expected. Maybe the Granny Smith cider was too tart.
For nibbles, me and Erin just ordered up desserts since we weren’t all that hungry. The roasted apple, toasted almond, brulleed vanilla cardamon custard tart ($6) called to me, especially since it was the dessert with the longest description out of the three available. Erin ordered the housemade chocolate chip cookie ($4).
Yeah, it was weird to have sweets with our beer. Really weird but we just put the drinks on hold as we dug in. My tart was OK. It wasn’t exactly flavorful or rich or anything interesting like that. The only part I liked was the brulee crust, cuz who doesn’t like torched sugar? Trying a bit of Erin’s cookie, I was similarly unimpressed. It was doughy with ample melted chocolate as if to overcompensate for its boringness. Boo! I hate boring desserts. But that’s what we get for ordering it at a pub, I guess.
Looking at the plates of fish and chips next to us, they seemed just as blah. The woman whose order it was lazily dipped the fat chip into the malted vinegar dip, her chunks of breaded cod were left untouched. Hmm, that’s usually the first thing I dig into.
Anyhow, sitting here for drinks was fine. There was a variety of seating areas to choose from, had they been available. Up toward the front of the pub were probably the best seats in the house as the tables and chairs were next to the huge windows looking out at Melrose and offered the best vantage point of the room. More tables and chairs lined the brick wall but seemed too crowded and uncomfortable. And finally, in the back was the lounge area with chocolate brown sofas. A huge party of friends took up that space this night.
So yeah, the Village Idiot was just OK. Being a fan of pubs in general, it’s not my favorite. In fact it doesn’t even make the list. If I want a pub I’d go to Finn McCool’s or the King’s Head. But if I’m on Melrose and want something more upscale than El Guapo but not as shee-shee as the Bungalow Club, I’d try and find a seat here. I guess.
7383 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90046