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Byline: Larry Lipson Restaurant Critic

LANA TURNER'S GHOST never materialized during visits to the new version of the legendary Hollywood eatery Schwab's.

But in keeping with movieville tradition, there were some pretty women in attendance, both staffers and customers, perhaps hoping that history would repeat itself.

The original Schwab's was where Turner purportedly was discovered while seated at the drugstore counter. Consequently, the new Schwab's duplicates the 14-seat counter and displays a large photo of the first one.

However, today's full-service Schwab's restaurant (on Vine Street just north of Sunset Boulevard) appears to draw more patrons to its booths and tables than to its counter. And noticeably, nobody could be seen reading the Hollywood trade papers.

Perhaps this will happen once Schwab's starts serving its promised breakfast. During its debut period, it has served only lunch and dinner.

With its handsome, neo-industrial interior design, it strives to avoid a coffee shop image despite the all-important counter and lack of tablecloths.

Sugar is spooned from a small white bowl. Also set for spooning, salt and pepper arrive in separate little containers perched on a bright orange platter. No shakers or pourers here.

And no bottles either. Even ketchup comes in a bowl with a spoon.

This is obviously needed with the Schwab's burger and fries ($9.95), fashioned from quality ground sirloin, thick and juicy.

Of the several other sandwiches for lunchers, the Dungeness crab cake ($13.95) and salmon ($9.95) offerings are both substantial and flavorful, plated with a generous heap of crisp, non-oily fries, each sandwich yielding a gratifying midday meal.

Soups, always an indicator of kitchen merit, avert institutional suggestiveness, particularly the savory tomato soup ($3.95), bold in flavor, deeply satisfying.

A filling, nutritious white bean soup ($4.95) with rosemary overtones provides a satisfactory alternative.

The real hot weather refresher from the salad list is the chilled, crunchy iceberg ($6.95) - a shareable, large half-head - coated with a creamy Maytag bleu cheese dressing. You might want to ask for extra dressing with this dish.

Alternatively, the heirloom tomato salad ($8.95), though not quite as big, has both green and red sweet tomatoes in thick slices deliciously gracing the attractive plate.

A fall-off-the-bone tender half-rack of babybacks ($8.95), a hillock of crispy calamaretti fritti ($6.95) and a respectable bowl of steamed littlenecks ($9.95) for the clam fancier furnish fare for lazy afternoon noshes or as evening dinner starters.

From the more than a dozen dinner entrees, the Schwab's kitchen earns praise for its thick, moist, bread-crumb-crusted pork chop ($16.95) paired with a hefty serving of tart sauerkraut and a nicely handled, roasted half-chicken ($16.95) boosted with lemon and garlic, the latter accompanied by good mashed potatoes.

For a homey, all-American Schwab's ending, a warming order of the house-baked apple pie a la mode ($5.95) seems to be a fitting finish in the current version of the place.

The original Schwab's was filled with history. Back when everyone smoked with their meal, author-screenwriter F. Scott Fitzgerald actually suffered a heart attack while purchasing a pack of cigarettes there in 1940.

Today, budding Scott Fitzgeralds and other wannabes who smoke are relegated to Schwab's patio tables.

Boy, how things change.

Larry Lipson, (818) 713-3668



Food: Three stars - Service: Three stars - Wine: One star

Where: 1521 N. Vine St., Hollywood.

Hours: Open daily for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and dinner from 4:30 p.m. to midnight. Bar menu available until 1:30 a.m. (Breakfast service begins Monday at 7 a.m.)

Recommended items: Tomato soup, iceberg and Maytag bleu cheese salad, heirloom tomato salad, half rack of babybacks, fried calamari, Schwab's burger, crab cake and salmon sandwiches, pork chop with sauerkraut, lemon-garlic roasted chicken, house-baked apple pie.

How much: Starters from $4 to $10, pastas and entrees from $13 to $29, desserts $6. Full bar. Major credit cards.

Reservations: Taken. Call (323) 462-4300.




A plentiful portion of linguini and clams in a white wine sauce is available at Schwab's on Vine Street in Hollywood.

Evan Yee/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Review
Date:Sep 2, 2004
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