Disclosure – this is not an ad or sponsored post. This is my review of a great new resto. Enjoy!
I wish there was a place where I could get a good drink without a lot of hype, but excellent quality and high end food, but in a casual environment.
Doesn’t that sound good? It actually sounds terrific. I could think of restaurants that fit the bill, mostly in L.A. I haven’t found quite the place yet in the Valley.
I want to go somewhere I can sit down at a table, have a few drinks, order some food, and just hang out. Either before or after dinner with my friends. But, not too trendy either. And I am tired of the same old bar food. I have had my fill of avocado wraps, cheesy artichoke dips, and chicken wings.
Guess what my friends! Such a place exists! It is not Uptown Calabasas or Midtown Wilshire – it is right in the middle…hey, let’s go to Downtown Johnny’s!
Downtown Johnny’s in Sherman Oaks opened this week and I highly recommend it! I didn’t get to try everything on the menu, the servers couldn’t pass out the samples fast enough – everything was so good people were grabbing them off the trays. In fact, I didn’t even see a server or a tray the first hour I was there and I wasn’t that far from the kitchen. The service was excellent, don’t get me wrong. It was packed with foodies trying to savor and enjoy every bite. When I finally got to taste some of the fare, I found out why. Everything is fresh, unique, and lovely. Especially the cocktails!
Okay, so you know me. I am sophisticated, right? I have been to a lot of restaurants, right? Okay, okay, I admit it. I eat a fair share! Pictured above are some images of items that I had never tried before. Until the other night at Downtown Johhny’s. Here are some important things for you to know about this place:
“My Uncle Johnny introduced my family to the hospitality business with his nightclub back in 1980,” says Richard DiSisto (Principal, Vantage Restaurant Group) of the new spot’s namesake, “and his advice to me was always to keep it simple.”
Now, 35 years and many successful restaurants and bars later, DiSisto is heeding that advice with his new modern sports tavern. “The art of hospitality is all about people coming in and having a great time,” he says. “Downtown Johnny’s really goes back to basics: It is just down to earth food, approachable cocktails, a long and versatile beer list, and a great time!”
Vantage Restaurant Group Executive Chef Marc Johnson, also in charge of overseeing the kitchen and creativity at DiSisto’s neighboring seafood-inspired Tipple & Brine, created a menu of what he calls “modern tavern cuisine” for Downtown Johnny’s. “Anyone walking down the street can come in and find something they will like,” Johnson says, “but I don’t want your typical sports-bar food—I want to elevate it with modern technique, quality ingredients and unique presentation.”
For starters, they actually do have Chicken Wings but, they are Korean-style, flavored with spicy-savory gochujang and garnished with peanuts and cilantro. They don’t just serve fries, they serve Johnson’s Poutine, which is sure to be a crowd favorite, atop hand cut French Fries with duck confit, white cheddar and perfectly rich gravy. The Macaroni and Cheese at Downtown Johnny’s is made with speck and black truffles. Then, there are the cleverly named Tongue & Cheek Tacos filled with hearty and tender beef. You can also munch on these offbeat bar must-haves: house-made Beer Nuts, a large house-baked Pretzel served hot with mustard and salt, and made-from-scratch Chips with herbs and a garlicky dip. And those are just the starters!
If you are having a meal at Downtown Johnny’s they will serve up some sure to please Salads, Flatbreads and Burgers & Sandwiches that will satisfy any taste. Try the Brussels Sprouts with Caesar dressing, almonds, scallions, lemon confit and sourdough. The Chicken Flatbread is topped with smoked Gouda, caramelized onions, eggplant and a romesco sauce, and the Mediterranean-styled Lamb Flatbread comes with potatoes, olives and feta. Two burger options stand out, both delivering a huge 8-ounce patty: the Downtown Burger is topped with caramelized shallots, blue cheese and mushrooms, and the Patty Melt hews to tradition, with Swiss cheese, caramelized onions and house-made special sauce on toasty sourdough. I want to cry, it sounds so delicious!
The Mains include mouthwatering favorites from Fried Chicken, served with spicy honey and bread-and-butter pickles atop potato purée, and flatiron Steak Frites with a red wine sauce—to the more unique, including Mussels, cooked in a green-curry coconut-milk broth, and the marvelously rich Crispy Pork Belly, served over polenta with pickled ramps, oven-dried tomato and a clever vanilla bean applesauce. These dinners sound amazing, don’t they. But it is a bar, right?
I might be name tossing here…just a little. The Bar Director at Downtown Johnny’s is Daniel Ponsky, a 21-year veteran of the hospitality business who has slung drinks at such notable spots as Chapter 8 Steak House in Agoura Hills, Vitello’s in Studio City and Ford’s Filling Station in Culver City.
When it comes to cocktails, “My philosophy is to keep the focus on the spirit and use the other ingredients to accentuate it,” Ponsky says.
In addition to the newest cocktails with a twist (see what I did there?) Downtown Johnny’s will also feature 20 beers on tap, plus another 35 bottles and 6 cans. The selection focuses on local and regional brews (all but five of the draft beers are made in California), but also encompasses a wide range of styles from around the world. Trust me on this, if you want to try something different, they’ve got it.
Seriously, where is the dessert? It is my understanding that there is no dessert on the menu. I guess Uncle Johnny was Diabetic or something. So am I. So, at Downtown Johnny’s I will have my sweet stuff in a cocktail and pick up a gelato on the way home.
I could tell you more about the cool decor, the giant screens with movies and sports playing and the awesome booths…but what are you waiting for? Get over there already! Tell me if you like those Devine Deviled Eggs!
14649 Ventura Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
I will probably be there this weekend, so if you see me – say, “Hi Miz Meliz!”
If you like my review, you will love this one about a great Baja Style Resto in Valencia, it’s solita’s Tacos and Margaritas and it is awesome!
P.S. Soon I will be trying something new, pay per view. That isn’t new! Yes, it is for bloggers. Would you pay $1 to read a review like this? Would you click on an ad like a game ap to read it? It is in support of the writer. What do you think of the idea? If you like it, let me know and I will tell you all about it. If you hate it. Well, tell me anyway, but I want details and suggestions, no rants about how everything costs something these days and all those advertisements. Yada yada. I need to get paid sometimes. Thank you.