Executive Chef Warren Schwartz, previously of Patina, Saddle Peak Lodge, and, most recently, Whist at the Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica, has finally opened his own restaurant at the Westside Pavilion. The philosophy behind the restaurant's "California Tavern Cuisine," Schwartz explains, is that "the food is made with a personal touch and with simple, quality ingredients."

 

That means the menu is packed with "simple" and fresh starters like artichoke flatbread, chicken liver mousse with green apple chutney, and a slew of salads like the roasted beets and burrata, and the Dungeness crab cakes, avocado, tomatoes and Japanese cucumber tossed in a honey-lime vinaigrette.

Entrees are just as hearty, especially the juicy cheeseburger with cheddar and caramelized onions on an egg bun, and the grilled pork chop with candied onions and an apple-almond-raisin slaw. The beef short rib pot roast with glazed carrots and mashed buttery potatoes is the way to go for the meat-and-potato fellas out there. The desserts are equally traditional but fresh, especially the gooey toffee cake with creamy whipped mascarpone, or the pleasantly tart and airy lemon meringue pie.

Simplicity is also the catchword for the restaurant's design. Wooden beams and tables, brick walls, dark leather booths, brass light fixtures and a 50-foot walnut bar that all hearken back to traditional pub d├ęcor, as does mixologist Ryan Magarian's cocktail menu, with new interpretations of pre-Prohibition favorites like a Manhattan made with anejo tequila, a Canteloupe Sour, and a Blood Orange-Sage Gimlet.

Now that the Westside Pavilion is getting a new lease on life, the location at the corner of Pico and Westwood seems like a good choice to introduce California cuisine to an otherwise bereft part of the city, especially once lunch service starts on July 7.