[RESTAURANT REVIEW] Sawyer Brings Sea and Scene to Silver Lake

Sawyer’s popular back patio is a pretty new addition to dining in Silver Lake. Photo credit: Ryan Tanaka

Sawyer’s popular back patio is a pretty new addition to dining in Silver Lake. Photo credit: Ryan Tanaka

Sawyer may be the quintessential restaurant for Silver Lake 3.0.

The previous occupants, Indian restaurants Tantra and Naya, spent lavishly on impressive decor and a loungey bar, but the restaurant was completely closed off to the street.

With windows open to Sunset Boulevard, Sawyer represents where new neighborhood folks wants to eat right now, with food that’s just serious enough to please its worldly clientele.

It’s trying hard not to appear too formal, with a menu that features burgers and lobster rolls alongside fresh fish entrees and a drink selection that includes fresh-pressed juice and kombucha alongside artisanal cocktails and a nice wine list.

Sawyer shares the kitchen with neighbor Kettle Black, which skews more Italian but with a similar breezy approach.

It all seems carefully engineered to appeal to the young Eastside diner, but in a beguiling way that shows that owners Beau Laughlin and partners Brett Cranston and Jay Milliken have a handle on what’s appealing, from the decor to the menu.

A long wood-topped bar is fronted with the very of-the-moment Moroccan tile, while flowered wallpaper helps keep the mood light and bright.

Modern white light fixtures complement warm wood tables and that inevitable but uncomfortable fixture of new restaurants, backless stools surrounding high tables. It gets noisy inside, but the back patio is tranquil with eclectic indie music and a fire feature for cooler evenings.

To start, order up the decadent duck fat popovers and one of the refreshing cocktails like Seconds Count with gin, champagne and bee pollen.

A soft-shell crab sandwich makes an impressive entrance with a house-made coal-black bun colored with squid ink, and though messy, it’s a saucy delight.

Ling cod isn’t seen that often on menus, but it’s nicely roasted—though the accompanying cauliflower puree seems more like a buttery sauce than an actual vegetable.

The menu isn’t huge, but daily fish selections change from halibut to roasted black cod to tea-smoked albacore.

Chef Alex McWilliams manages to inject even vegetable dishes with unexpected flavor notes, though nothing too hard to grasp: fried Brussels sprouts are perked up with pungent bagna cauda sauce and an egg, while grilled octopus comes with pine-smoked mayo(!).

At brunch, there are toasts, of course: avocado but also prosciutto and almond butter, along with crab benedict and chicken and waffles.

Happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. every day has many local fans, with $6 wine and discounted snacks like oyster po’ boys.

You could try to come up with reasons to dislike Sawyer—the clientele is too attractive, the reservations too hard to get, dinner for two adds up to $100 fast—but when you’re sipping chilled white wine on the greenery-lined patio, any quibbles are likely to fast disappear.

Sawyer

3709 W. Sunset Blvd.

(323) 641-3709

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