This Hollywood speakeasy opened last week, with a party that made me feel like I was in the South.

When you walk “in” on Vine Street, you immediately have to check to see if somehow you walked “out”side. The place looks like you’re on the veranda of a southern plantation. I thought I was in the bayou! (I’m sure I have my southern areas wrong, but you get my drift.)

And there were enough people to make it feel like that, too, especially on such a hot night. I’ve rarely felt such an authentic vibe. I thought Rhett Butler was positively going to step out of the shadows any minute. (That last sentence was written while batting my lashes, behind a fan.)

The musicians on the above-the-crowd stage. All photos by Karen Salkin.

The party was definitely swinging, with a blue grass type of group playing their music high above the main room. And bottles of what was perhaps moonshine were being transported above the main bar all night.

I would have loved to have afternoon tea in the middle room, although I tripped on the very loose carpet, and had I been a litigious person, I would have owned the place by now. (So you, and the owners, should be careful in there!)

Hence, they do need to fix little problems like that. And there was one really shockingly rude waitress, but hopefully she’ll be gone by the time you drop by. (I just pity the customers of wherever she lands.)

The main bar, with the moving bottles.

But the interesting drinks were flowing all night. Vanessa ordered the Apple Moonshine Crusta, which was alcohol with hints of apple and cinnamon with a touch of lemon, making it taste “sweet with a sour punch.” She also said it had a “unique flavor” and was “very strong,” which I’m sure made most of the guests happy.

The culinary situation was interesting. The invitation had mentioned food, so we arrived hungry. But, when we entered, it looked more like a bar than an eatery. I couldn’t imagine what the chow would be, or how it would be presented. And then I noticed that several tidbits were being passed around. When I finally procured some, I absolutely loved the shrimp and grits! It was cheesy and hot and perfect. Especially when served in the tiny bowl with the tiny fork.

The jambalaya would have made a grown man cry, and the crostini with goat cheese and raspberry puree made my veggie pal very happy.

But I was still curious about the food, so on the way out, when I thanked the one person there who looked-out for us that night, Steve Taylor, I asked what was up. So, he took us two doors down, to Vine Street Deli, and introduced us to Antonio Wright, another great guy, who was making all the dishes there!

Shrimp and grits.

And we found-out that’s who will be providing the food that Sassafras will serve every evening, at a sort-of Happy Hour.

So, we hung out with Antonio awhile, and when he told us that they have some southern desserts, all boxed and ready to go, (or eat there,) we sat right down to home and scarfed the warm chocolate cake. It was nice and light, and perfect for after a night in the speakeasy. I have never seen Vanessa enjoy an item of food as much as this chocolate cake! And I’ve known her for over a decade!!! She said it was “amazing,” and she, like me, never overuses that word.

I think this will be a really fun addition to the area. And I can’t wait to get me some more of those grits, child!

1233 Vine Street   L.A.   323-467-2800   www.sassafrassaloon.com


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