Finding a delicious restaurant in Los Angeles can be difficult among the city’s thousands of dining options. To help readers narrow down their search, the Daily Bruin will review restaurants located along main streets near UCLA each week.
Nothing says romantic like a candlelit dinner under a giant mural of dancing bears dressed like a couple from the 1950s.
The kitschy interior of The Tuck Room Tavern on Wilshire Boulevard is certainly a conversation starter for couples who want to indulge in a sophisticated and slightly unsettling date night. Conveniently located next to iPic Theaters in Westwood, the restaurant provides newer, or less inventive, couples with a classic dinner-and-movie date option.
Within the first few seconds it takes to adjust to the dark and moody lighting of the space, illuminated only by three opulent chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, customers glimpse a grand piano in a room adorned with red velvet curtains skirting a checkered floor. Fittingly, the decor resembles a mashup of props from quirky film sets, as if designed by an edgier Wes Anderson.
Other framed paintings feature animals dressed like French aristocrats. The most questionable portrait portrays a dignified sloth wearing a beret and holding a skull. Other details such as blue velvet armchairs and pastel grandfather clocks somehow complement the eclectic atmosphere of the restaurant.
The Tuck Room Tavern specializes in comfort food accompanied by cocktails served from boozy punch bowls. The menu consists of meat-heavy entrees and a diverse selection of appetizers, such as the Ahi Tuna Poke or the Reuben Croquettes.
The croquettes are fried balls of cheese and pastrami coated in crispy breadcrumbs, reminiscent of a warm deli sandwich. The platter of six is perfect to share between a couple and comes garnished with sauerkraut and pickles. Additionally, the Thousand Island dressing spread across the plate neutralizes and balances the combination of the acidic sauerkraut and rich swiss cheese.
The Mediterranean Turkey Burger arrives on a wooden cutting board with a pedestal of fries. While most turkey burgers have the reputation of being too dry, The Tavern’s variation had the opposite issue.
Juice from the tomato and greek yogurt dressing seeped through the burger to the bottom bun, resulting in a bed of soggy arugula below the patty. The meat itself, made out of ground turkey, was devoid of texture and flavor. Despite its flavorful ingredients, like goat cheese and pickled cucumbers, the burger was a bland disappointment.
The fries, however, are addictive. They are thick-cut and crispy on the outside while maintaining a fluffy, buttery interior. Although the fries come with a side of ketchup, they are savory enough to eat on their own.
The crowning jewel of the dessert menu is the Red Velvet Pavlova. The cake is unconventionally shaped for a pavlova, with layers of whipped cream and raspberry-swirl ice cream stacked on top of each other, resulting in a red velvet Matterhorn, one scoop from toppling over.
An airy, crisp meringue encases the cake and manages to retain the odd shape of the dessert. Combined with the mild flavor of the whipped cream, the meringue balances out the sweet creaminess of the vanilla ice cream.
Coated in red cake crumbs and paired with a chocolate raspberry sauce, the Red Velvet Pavlova is an appropriate end to a Valentine’s Day dinner. The sheer size of the cake makes it a dessert that must be shared.
The price of the entrees at The Tuck Room Tavern range from $16 to $36, which on a college budget might only be reserved for special occasions.
Aside from a mediocre main course, The Tuck Room Tavern is a surefire icebreaker for first dates that is worth a splurge. Just make sure to save room for dessert.
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