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Part of Adam Jackman's ongoing column for Century City News on where to eat in Los Angeles, Where To reviewed Citizen Smith Lounge & Restaurant, published on July 16, 2007. Century City News, like most paper periodicals, has long since been purchased by a bigger media company, and Citizen Smith, like most Hollywood Starlets, has long since reinvented itself as something else, but reviews are forever.
Century City News
by Adam Jackman
Published July 16, 2007
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1600 N. Cahuenga Blvd. Hollywood, CA 90028
Lunch, Dinner, Lounge/Drinks
Mon-Fri 11am-2am / Sat-Sun 5pm-2am
I arrived at Citizen Smith in no mood to “dine.” I had been on a film set all day, I was tired, I was cranky, I had eaten roughly three times my own weight in chocolate-covered-peanut-butter-filled pretzels and Australian red licorice, and Judith was late picking me up. The prospect of suffering through another hipster club posing as a restaurant put fear into my soul, and I wanted to eat real food. Pretzels be damned.
Citizen Smith, seeing my scowl, turned on the charm from the minute we walked in the door. The place was decked out, from the miles of candles to the Brazilian bull-hide walls. Our hostess tucked us into a spacious leather booth and left us to absorb the spectacle. Even on a Wednesday night, it had a respectable bustle going, just enough to give it a bit of a buzz.
The menu is pure southern comfort, with style. We burned through Citrus Glazed Shrimp wrapped in applewood bacon and drizzled with a candy-sweet glaze. It might have been too sweet were it not for the Soup & Smith, a tasty, salty Tomato-Basil Bisque served with just enough Gruyere Cheese Sandwich to leave room for entrees.
Dinner options ranged from a Linguini Lobster Alfredo to Southern Fried Chicken and a short list of steaks. The Panko-Crusted Tuna was delicious, but the real star was the Braised Short Ribs, fall-apart tender but unexpectedly flavorful, surrounded by a surprisingly good bit of buttery bok choi.
The lounge menu was full of smooth indulgences, Onion Ring Towers and Fried Chicken Skewers in buttermilk batter. We didn’t have room for the Cajun-Barbecue Shrimp in Beer-Butter Sauce that night, but we promised to come back another night and order a half-pound or two. We couldn’t resist the Mac & Cheese, a dish that has inexplicably become the “it” entree on every foodie-friendly menu in Los Angeles. It was awe-inspiring, maybe the best I’ve had in town. The chef also gets points for having a second Mac ‘n Cheese on the menu, a jalapeño variation for the South-of-The-South Set.
The service was perfect. Our server guided us through her menu favorites with genuine enthusiasm, and steered us to a vodka mojito that suited the ahi better than its older rum-cousin.
Citizen Smith bills itself – himself – as “The Everyman’s Bistro” and it’s not, not really. Any restaurant with a MySpace page is a little too self-aware to be the Everyman’s Anything. Citizen Smith has put endless effort into being effortlessly cool, a little overdressed but absolutely making it work. He’s all sweet-talk and charisma. We knew we were being played, but we smiled and gladly gave into it.
Great place for friends or clients, but call ahead. Reservations aren’t always necessary, but the bouncers aren’t afraid to velvet-rope you. A comfortable but impressive nightspot, well worth the trip down the Cahuenga Pass.