Two New Restaurants Open at Hollywood & Vine

Vine Street is one of Hollywood’s main arteries, yet for a long time, its nightlife offerings paled in comparison to Sunset’s. But lately, things are trending slightly more upscale on Vine, especially near the famed intersection at Hollywood Boulevard, where several large nightlife destinations are dominating L.A.’s clubland, like The Redbury’s Cleo, the W hotel’s Drai’s, and SBE’s Katsuya.) Now, two new hangouts are set to debut at this new nightlife nexus: the Lexington Social House and Cafe Entourage.

Entourage is a restaurant hoping to lure in clubbers in the mood for something more upscale without the velvet rope hassle of Drai’s. The restaurant boasts two full bars, one for each floor, and a stunning patio that overlooks the W’s valet patio area. Opening this Friday, Entourage represents a new nightlife option for anyone seeking sleek environs. Awash in purple hues and boasting a gaudy gas fireplace, Entourage mimics the look and feel of the W brand. Expect spillover crowds from Drai’s on weekends to end up here, especially with their 24-hour license to serve food.

Beginning tonight, a much different demographic will settle in just up the street, in the shadow of the Capitol Records building, when a private party will offer a first taste of the anticipated venue Lexington Social House. The restaurant lounge opens in earnest in April, but the neighborhood is already abuzz, thanks to the reputations of all involved. The menu, which aims to bring a more Manhattan-style late night dining to Hollywood, was created by Mette Williams, formerly of Spago and Cut. But Lexington will also double as a club, with Travis Andres (a name familiar to long time night owls in L.A.) bringing in large-scale events. Brent Bolthouse has already been in to take a look at the smart spot, formerly the awful Forbidden City (the place was gutted completely).

Designed by Thomas Schoos, Lexington feels casual yet upscale, with classic Queen Anne chairs set against exposed brick walls and tin ceilings. A carrara marble bar is the centerpiece of the interior, with a massive outside patio that will likely prove a hit this summer with patrons seeking a slightly sophisticated oasis in the heart of Hollywood.

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LA’s Redbury Celebrates Grand Opening with Opulence

The recession is over. At least it felt that way last night inside Hollywood’s Redbury hotel. SBE, the nightlife giant and growing hospitality player in L.A., held a grand opening celebration Wednesday evening, toasting the new boutique long-term stay property with a bash that was as opulent as it was blissfully economically tone deaf.

A full banquet in addition to tray-passed appetizers from their new restaurant Cleo (which received an early nod of approval from the Los Angeles Times’ famously picky food critic) won over the 800 or so invited guests, who also indulged in elaborate cocktails (the Lotus Flower in particular was a winner, with Krol Vodka, muddled fresh blackberries, lemon juice, elderflower liqueur and soda).

The event was surprising to some locals, considering SBE has had well-publicized economic problems in late 2009 and early 2010. But SBE’s CEO Sam Nazarian and the real money behind the hotel, the CIM Group, know they have a winning hand to play with The Redbury, and last night, they played it Vegas-style.

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The party’s vibe was playful, with models’ garb landing somewhere between Marie Antoinette and an acid trip. Several guests commented on what a nice job it might be to be paid to sit and look pretty. SBE secured permits to have Dave Navarro’s “hip” cover band Camp Freddy play inside a ballroom, and Macy Gray sang a tune with the band. But most people (everyone from Los Angeles’ Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to Lance Bass) seemed content to simply drink, eat and meander throughout the hotel across the street from the iconic Capitol Records building.

The Redbury, awash in red both outside and inside the hotel, boasts large rooms with kitchens that feel more like suites. At around $250 a night, the hotel is a steal for anyone coming to Hollywood in search of luxury. Rates at the W across the street are about the same, but the rooms are half the size, darker and none of them come with the whimsical touches that make the Redbury unique, like record players with actual LPs inside each room.

To be sure, you’ll want to request a higher floor if you book a room here; the hotel is right next door to the massive Avalon nightclub and some rooms on low floors have a view of the Avalon’s trash area. In an area with surprisingly few hotel choices, The Redbury looks set to do well this Fall with leisure travelers, but luring the business set will be a tougher nut for Nazarian and SBE to crack.

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Hollywood’s Newest SBE Hang Cleo Debuts

Over the weekend, SBE officially opened Cleo to the public, and the restaurant marks the addition of another star in Hollywood’s new nightlife galaxy (with Hollywood and Vine as its nexus). Unlike the nightlife and hospitality giant’s nearby club The Colony, Cleo at the newly-opened Redbury hotel on Vine Street, Cleo offers a more sophisticated evening experience based on fine dining and specialty cocktails, instead of bottle service and DJ-curated beats. The restaurant is most certainly going to become a late night destination for L.A. thirtysomethings this fall. The moody 4000-square-foot space feels like a cross between SBE’s now closed S Bar, and their Barcelona-hip Bazaar at the SLS Hotel.

Think multiple lamps (some are upside-down floor lamps) hanging from a loft-like ceiling with exposed air ducts, and a long, refined redwood bar with views of the dining area and open kitchen. The stellar design was overseen in part by famed music video director Matthew Rolston, and none of it feels overdone. Restraint is deftly employed at Cleo, and the overall effect is that of a casual eatery with serious-yet-sensual late night potential. Although no DJs play at Cleo (the emphasis is on Executive Chef Daniel Elmaleh’s Southern European-inspired fare), the right music is pumped into the space nightly, charging Cleo with a New York-feel desperately needed in Hollywood.

Friday night, I heard everything from Boys Noize’s remix of Feist’s “My Moon My Man” remix to Calvin Harris’ “I’m Not Alone” softly pump through Cleo’s speakers, as diners swooned over oysters and spicy sausages served up Greek-style. Cocktails will equally be a draw at the destination, especially concoctions such as Cleo’s “Aspasia” (featuring Stoli’s Apple vodka, Cointreau, passion fruit puree and fresh lime juice). To be sure, the scene at Cleo and the Redbury is still developing. Servers seem a bit overeager (leave the chatting to the customers, people) and it’s a restaurant, not a nightclub, first and foremost, although it treads the line closely. Still, the Redbury is a guaranteed winner for the expense account set, looking to escape younger crowds on weekends.