West Hollywood: Cocktails and Dinner at The Nice Guy
The Nice Guy on La Cienega opened a few months ago. The reservations only restaurant and lounge is serving up tasty cocktails and really good food. It’s terrible to think you either get one or another at a sleek place like the Nice Guy but I’m glad this place delivers on both fronts.
The cocktail list is quite extensive. Although it seems like we tried everything, we didn’t so we’ll have to make another trip out.
The Mother’s Milk is normally served with Tito’s vodka but this was upgraded to Russian Standard Vodka which I felt blended better with the house made Straus chocolate milk. Topped with soda, this is an adult milkshake I can get behind. I also liked the High Society, a rum and Campari drink that reminded me a bit of a Jungle Bird. For agave lovers, try the mezcal drink, Daddy’s Little Angel. The refreshing drink goes tropical with pineapple and lime.
Mother’s Milk – vodka, house made chocolate milk, soda
High Society – Blackwell rum, Campari, pineapple, lime, sugar
Daddy’s Little Angel– El Silencio mezcal, pineapple, lime, agave, Angostura bitters
The kale chips are complimentary. The instantly addictive chips were crispy and not too oily. The oil is appreciated though on the warm, lemony olives. It’s a generous portion and I even took the rest home.
The Nice Guy suggests getting the meatballs with burrata but I felt these had plenty of flavor already. The meatballs are lightly seared and still have a nice crispy crust.
The next drink I tried sounded “lucky” to me. With Lucky No. 8, I couldn’t decide if rum went to Italy or Italy went to the beach. Either way, it’s a refreshing drink I’d have with lighter appetizers or salad.
Lucky No. 8 – Bacardi 8 rum, Averna, sherry, lemon, agave
We got the blue crab arancini which are 3 to an order. I could still taste the delicate crab with these perfectly fried rice balls. You probably didn’t need the Calabrian chili aioli but it was a nice complement.
The milky white Infante is one of the best sellers at the Nice Guy. The almond flavor comes from orgeat and mixes well with the silver tequila. There’s extra pep from the lime and a dreamy aroma from the rose water.
Infante – Don Julio silver tequila, orgeat, lime, rose water
While we were debating which pizza to get, our server mentioned we should try the duck banh mi one. I’m glad we did. The crust had a great chewy texture. And I liked the slightly sweet sauce that reminded me of hoisin. Despite my carrots aversion, I got over it quickly because the thinly sliced carrots gave the pizza a nice crunch.
What do you get when you cross rye with citrus? The OK Koral! For those who fear heavy hitting spirits like rye can safely enjoy this one as the lemon and grapefruit juices lighten it considerably. Additional flavor comes from the mellow Yellow Chartreuse and bitter Italian amaro Cynar. This would be my summer whiskey drink (or an every day drink in LA).
OK Koral – Rittenhouse rye, Yellow Chartreuse, Cynar, lemon, grapefruit
Besides the drinks on the menu, The Nice Guy does a great job mixing classic cocktails. We tried the Vesper with a Yellow Chartreuse rinse and Boulevardier. I really liked the Vesper with the rinse as it imparted a slight sweetness that tempered the two strong spirits; gin and vodka. Sometimes when I can’t think of what I want to drink, a Boulevardier is always a great back-up plan. The Campari and whiskey cocktail is perfect before or after a meal. Or during!
I also had the Loni Collins which mixes one of my fave amari, Averna with gin and house made ginger syrup. It’s a nice spin on a refreshing drink. And it’s perfect with the heavier foods like the burger we had.
Loni Collins – Oxley gin, Averna, ginger, lime, soda
Speaking of burgers, I just love a well-made burger. And I was pleased this comes with fries. So many places make fries a la carte these days. The burger was nicely juicy and had plenty of good toppings like maple-glazed bacon, caramelized onions, arugula and The Nice Guy’s house American cheese.
The Minty needs her veggies. This night we picked Brussels sprouts. These were roasted with a Caesar vinaigrette and tossed with feta. Like the olives earlier, this was a big portion for a side.
I loved the presentation of the Chairman, a whiskey drink with many interesting components. The salted cola reduction and cider vinegar would appeal to those who love savory drinks. Sadly, you can’t keep the flask. The drink is poured out for you to enjoy.
The Chairman – Gentleman Jack, Aperol, cacao, salted cola reduction, cider vinegar
The Nice Guy and the Roger Room would make an easy mini bar hop on La Cienega. Welcome to the neighborhood, The Nice Guy!