i don’t have a dream job. in fact, about as close as i’ll ever get to my own dream job is posting silly messages about food and restaurants on my little blog. so i continue my not-quite-miserable reign over this technogeekdom by day, and only at night, do i transport myself into fantasy food land, on my own little rockstar restaurant, bar, and personal kitchen tour.
somehow word has gotten out around the office that i have quite the after-hour social life. how this happened, i have no idea (perhaps it’s my habitual pre-10-a.m. very obvious mini-hangover that i nurse, huddled over desk, refusing to speak with anyone until i am fully caffeinated and re-hydrated). they just don’t know that once i leave the premises, i go from marketing nerd to even bigger food nerd. no, i may not have a dream job, but my harmless reputation at the office has now won me an exciting new project! setting up a monthly happy hour that will, as the executives say, build morale. it may not be morale, but cocktails with co-workers sure will build something.
and so with my marketing and sales savvy, i’ve convinced the cxo's that as with any proper marketing project, i must do a month of extensive *ahem* field research to identify a place within reasonable distance, with the right vibe, that actually offers a “happy hour,” that’s cost effective, and...well, this will take a lot of research, you understand. of course, they’re nodding, “we understand. and we’ll join you.” damn. now i have to be on good behavior.
this week, it’s a sexy pair of beach bar restaurants in venice, james beach and canal club. they are across the street from each other, perfect for a bar-hop if one or the other isn’t doing it for you. parking’s tight around the intersection of pacific avenue and north venice blvd, and though there is valet parking, there’s ample parking for $3 in the structure behind james beach. first stop, james beach.
i can see the main dining room through a doorway on the right, dark, quiet, clean, but not at all the subject of this study so i turn my attention to the bar, not more than 2 feet from the front entrance, but pretty small. though there's no official happy hour, it’s quite a mix of the happy hour set: from fresh-from-college frat boys starting their nights with beer to buttoned up (but unbuttoned in the bar) business casuals unwinding with martinis. the dining room spills over into this room as well, so even hip moms, instinctivly rocking strollers with their flip-flopped feet, are gossiping over wine, which are listed on a chalkboard over the bar. it’s a cool, casual vibe, but a little cramped, and definitely not conducive to bar-bites. i make note that the area with a pool table, in the back and up a few stairs, is a good place for a large happy hour gathering. *gulp* citron/soda (which is deliciously strong) and take five steps across the street to canal club.
the large left-half-sushi-right-half-bar bar is smack in the middle of fairly crowded canal club. it’s the same sort of set as james beach, just louder and livelier in this environment. a $2.95 happy hour menu includes spicy tuna and california rolls from the sushi bar, but you’re better off getting real sushi up the street from hama. besides, there’s an unspoken warning about operating heavy (chopstick) machinery and balancing skinny stemmed cocktail glasses in a very crowded bar while under the influence. it’s not pretty – soy sauce everywhere. stick to global bar-bites like spring rolls, edamame and fried calamari, which are nothing to rave about, but an inexpensive way to pace yourself on the drinks. quesadillas are never something to write home about, as they are quite the everyday taste in so cal, but this one deserves a mention because it’s a creative twist: brie and grapes. cool, in a weird, mexi-french sort of way, i guess.
research brief: james beach, with a more mellow atmosphere and less crowded, stays on the list for a work happy hour, but canal club will have to be reserved for personal socializing. the hunt continues.
2025 pacific ave (@ n. venice blvd)
venice, ca 90291
60 n. venice blvd (@ pacific ave)
venice, ca 90291