7/24/2013

Rascal

The names rapscallion, hooligan, and vagabond all tested poorly.
Happy Hour: 5-7pm Daily, 5-11pm Monday











The Place
Rascal is a gastropub that would be effectively classified as your friendly neighborhood hangout place. I identified right away with the name. 

Their happy hour has the following drink options at $6: three types of wine, one beer on tap and all of their wine cocktails. They also offer a variety of sandwiches and salads from their full menu for $5. 

This would also be an effective mormon family's dining area. Except the decorative lighting and alcohol.

Ambiance
Rascal's ambiance has all the charms of a great bar with none of the drawbacks. The space is very intimate, but has huge wall sized windows facing La Brea, giving you great ambient light and a constant stream of activity to sip a drink to. Every inch of the decor has an idiosyncratic flair, from the lighting to the paintings. Rascal makes you feel very much at home, except for the part where you have to keep your pants on.

Unlike happy hours at restaurants, you can get their happy hour items sitting anywhere, not just at the bar. They have many types of seating: one sided-booth, bar, and high and low tables. It is not particularly crowded during the earlier hours. 

If I had chalkboard skills like that, I would be doing these reviews in chalk.

Drinks
Rascal offers 3 types of wine (white, red and sparkling), a beer on tap and wine cocktails for happy hour, all at $6. Rascal doesn't have a liquor license yet, so instead they offer two wine cocktails (a margarita and a moscow mule) that substitute wine similar to liquor. I appreciated them not throwing in the towel and only offering beer and wine. I am much more of a cocktail person, and these definitely were able substitutes.

The margarita was unlike any other I have had before, mostly because it lacked the bite of the tequila, making it much sweeter than usual. I liked the sweetness, but some might find it too much. The main taste is from the fresh lemon juice in the drink, giving it almost a fortified lemonade taste. I found it refreshing, but after two the combination of the agave wine used and the sweetness may leave you with a different happy sensation than you are used to post-drinking.

The moscow mule was much less overpowering, with only hints of ginger and lime flavor. It had a very light and smooth taste and went down easily. Despite the wine cocktails using a lower alcohol content substitute for liquor, both drinks were strong without predominately tasting of alcohol. Both were a 4 out of 5 on the scale of drink strength. Their size was above average; the glasses they come in look a little smaller than they are. The drinks also come with a bendy straw, which fits well with the comfort-vibe.

I will save you, drowning lime, even if it means I have to drink away your tiny ocean.
Margarita & Moscow Mule
Food
Rascal's food options come directly off the main menu at a very good discount--all are $5. You can get a burger (beef, chicken, or veggie), kielbasa on a bun, or a salad or sandwich with marinated chicken or tillapia. All of these options are entree-sized, which is a great deal, and the food was really good. This is one of those reviews that's tough for me to write because I get hungry in the middle of it. 

I got the chicken burger and tried the beef burger. Both had the same toppings, though I got my chicken burger without greens. The chicken burger came with ciabatta bread, while the beef burger came with a hamburger-style bun. Both had a fantastic taste with very fresh meat, good cheese, and a great combination of korean bbq and mustard aioli sauces (neither of which I like independently). They had the flavors and quality of a burger at an upscale restaurant for a fraction of the price.

 The popsicle stick threw me off at first, but once I figured out you were supposed to bite the sandwiches, they were quite delicious.
Rascal Burger - Beef & Chicken (no greens)

Maybe I'm supposed to use the popsicle sticks as chopsticks for the fries?
The burgers only come with a side of greens and a pickle, so I opted to get a side of "pomme frites" or as we call them 'round here, Freedom Fries. They aren't on the happy hour menu, but were $3.50 and in the "sides," so we'll make an exception. The fries were of the shoestring variety and can be ordered regular, curried, or cajun (I got regular). They also come with a choice of 4 sauces: ketchup, mustard, dill tartar and roasted red pepper. 

The fries were fantastic--perfectly cooked and with good flavor. The roasted red pepper sauce was also very good; a welcome addition for those of us who avoid the normal stoplight condiments. I wish I had gotten a smaller helping of the fries with my burger instead of the mixed greens, but for the price I can't complain. 

Pictured left is the 3rd owner, unhappy painting girl.
The owners, Sandy & Rebecca
Service
The service at Rascal was phenomenal, and really contributed to its neighborhood feel. The staff was knowledgeable about items on the menu and my order was taken promptly. While I was waiting on my food, the owner Sandy came over and struck up a conversation with me. Both he and his wife Rebecca own the place. Talking with him, I really got the feeling he had put a lot of effort into the details of the restaurant. It made me feel like I was a special guest for the evening, despite the fact that I was just another customer. 



Go For:
- Delicious, well-portioned food at a great price
- Gazing at traffic on La Brea
- Low key, warm hospitality 
- Beers on tap, good wines and fresh wine cocktails
- Telling people you ate at a place called "rascal" 

Potential or Actual Kitschy Name for their Happy Hour: Daily Dose

Menu
The Details: 
Happy Hour: 5-7pm Daily, 5-11pm Monday
Price: $$
Drinks: Beer, Wine, Wine Cocktails, $6
Food: $5, American
Parking: Is a little tricky. On the weekends, you can park on La Brea. Otherwise, a good spot is on 8th St between Cochran and Burnside 2 blocks west of Rascal--it has an area where parking opens up at 5, so there are usually spots there. There's also parking on Orange off of 8th two blocks east of Rascal, or at a metered lot at Detroit and Wilshire one block north. 

Pros: Delicious, flavorful entree-sized food at a great price every day. Refreshing drinks. Comfortable, warm environment with great view of La Brea activity. Cool name and people. 

Cons: Parking can be tricky on first visit. No hard liquor for the alcoholics among us, but cocktails still strong.


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