Wood & Vine Makes a foodie play
New Chef, Menu Topline Other Culinary Moves at Hollywood Bar-Restaurant
Don’t call it a reboot, but Hollywood food scene mainstay Wood & Vine is ready for its second act.
Ensconced at the historic intersection of Hollywood & Vine for the past six years, the vintage-tinged bar-restaurant has cultivated a unique niche as a casually upscale hang for locals and Pantages crowds alike. Across Hollywood Boulevard from the famed theatre, guests can sit on found furniture amid Wood & Vine’s exposed brick walls and a massive wood bar – or in the unique urban oasis of its back patio – as they nosh on new American comfort food and throw back a pre-show cocktail or three.
Wood & Vine's new menu includes a truffle grilled cheese sandwich, "adult" mac n' cheese with beer stout cheddar and jalapeno jam, and a revised take on its famous chicken and waffles.
But as Hollywood enjoys a renaissance marked by an infusion of creative, food-savvy millennials and gleaming new hotels, Wood & Vine is upping its game right alongside its glittering surroundings. This week, the restaurant unveiled a completely reinvented menu from its new chef, Jennifer O’Neil, who came over from Leona, the heralded Jonathan Gold 101 restaurant a few zip codes away in Venice. O’Neil also began her career at Leona, working under chef Nyesha Arrington.
In addition to the new menu, Wood & Vine has added a number of other gastronomic flourishes, including an ongoing slate of winemaker dinners, a recent Scotch tasting featuring Scottish small bites, a members-only rewards club, and even an upcoming mixology competition.
Owner Scott Kay said the moves are a conscious effort to open a new chapter for the restaurant. Wood & Vine came to Hollywood in 2011 with its Kenneth Brown-designed two-story space and its locally famous uptown version of chicken & waffles.
“I’m extremely gratified that we’re still thriving after six years, but to accomplish that in this town you have to reinvent yourself along the way,” Kay said. “We don’t want to be known as the fancy chicken-and-waffle place forever. And the only way around that in a landscape as competitive as Hollywood is through world-class talent like Jennifer’s
For O’Neil, the move to Wood & Vine was a chance to create her own menu and put a stamp on an establishment that has more than earned its Hollywood stripes.
“I’ve been to Wood & Vine on several occasions over the years – mostly when I happened to be in Hollywood for a night out with friends or going to a show,” O’Neil said. “But with all the energy and density in the area now, I want Wood & Vine to be a destination of its own with a menu that commands attention on the biggest stage.”
O’Neil said she makes globally inspired, high-end comfort food that often blends several different cuisines. Examples from the new menu include O’Neil’s pork belly tacos, a lamb burger, a branzino filet with roasted tomato caper tapenade and mango puree, and a pistachio-crusted rack of lamb.
A self-professed foodie, owner Kay even hosts a podcast out of the restaurant called “Hollywood Uncorked”, where he and two co-hosts rate wine and swap stories with guests from the world of entertainment. Pasts guests have included Ahmet Zappa, actress Lauren Ash (“Superstore”), and HBO co-president of drama David Levine.
Kay said it’s all a product of his desire to stay engaged with what makes his neighborhood tick.
“Complacency is death in the restaurant business,” Kay said. “But that’s actually not too different from any other industry in this town. Everyone who makes it here has to evolve and grow throughout their careers, and a restaurant is no different.”
Supplementing the new menu is a renewed focus on special events. The restaurant’s “From Vine to Vine” wine dinner series has brought top winemakers to the restaurant for special four-course pairings, including Levo’s Bret Urness and Cordon’s Etienne Terlinden – with three more scheduled for the summer and fall. To expand on its significant spirits cred, Wood & Vine also partnered with K&L Wine Merchants to host a special tasting of rare bottlings of Ardbeg scotches last week, and will hold a multi-round mixology competition for area bartenders in September. The restaurant also initiated its members-only “Vine Club” offering free bites and drinks, as well as free tickets to exclusive events such as Pantages shows.
"Adult mac" with beer stout cheddar and jalapeno jam.
Chef Jennifer O'Neil has relaunched the Wood & Vine menu.