Highland Park's gentrification generation gets styled in its own moody supper club. Outfitted like Seven Grand's little brother, minus the taxidermy, Sonny's Hideaway marks an upgrade in composure and quality for York Boulevard's advancing drinking and eating scene. In fact, this could be the first neighborhood restaurant required for non-residents to visit that doesn't specialize in huaraches or tacos.
The small-ish space is bisected into a dining room with booths of leather burgundy and tufted two-tops and a handsome dark wood bar lined with leather stools. Stare into your neighbors' eyes as you discuss her city planning degree, pixie cut and horror-themed tattoos. (Just don't look down or the dull concrete floor could shatter the enchanting effect.) While drafts are pounded and numbers exchanged at El Hermosillo down the block, a more laid-back (and dare we say more mature?) crowd of Eastside cool kids soak in Sonny's craft cocktail program. Crackerjack versions of the classics share the roster with more obscure spirits and unexpected ingredients. The Gibson ($12) sports Japanese scallion in place of its famous pearl onion, while a jigger of scarce Czech Becherovka adds an herbal minefield to a bourbon-based Ticket to Prague ($11). A traditional duo of Italian bitters and yellow Chartreuse supports smoky mescal in the Croatoan ($13). Cocktails are compelling, steadfast and reasonably priced. Virgin cocktails are also on the list to keep designated drivers in the game while four California drafts keep it local.
What really differentiates this new address from its noisy neighbors is an excellent, bar-friendly menu from chef Jimmy Everett, former aide-de-camp to Michael White, the master behind NYC’s Marea and Ai Fiori. Everett. LA may have had its fill of coffee-braised pork cheeks during the city's recent gastro-pub explosion, but Everett's luscious, full-flavored cut ($12) breaks the mold ,with lighter notes of coconut, natural honeycomb, and green apple. Andouille-stuffed squid ($14) is supple and fresh: The creamy flesh wraps around an alloy of spicy pork, tamed by a thin coat of a pungent black olive sauce.
Sonny's succeeds with a thrilling selection of dishes and, despite a one-two punch of an ace bartender and laurelled chef, strikes an unpretentious stance. Like its name, this hideaway is a played-down pearl in a charming shell—smarts behind its handsome veneer and a kitchen stocked with grace and guts.
Good for: Brooding solo over a solidly composed cocktail, meeting up with a small group of friends for a leisurely tipple at the handsome wood-paneled bar, a pimp-slapping palate shock over excellent eats in a leather booth, late-night eats when a short menu is served from 11:30pm to 12:30am and happy hour cocktails from 5pm to 7pm when cocktails are offered at $5 and $6.
The scene: Supper club-lite. The masculine wood and leather are in place to charm, but with artistic souls in place of I-bankers.
The playlist: Hey man, is that Freedom Rock? Well, turn it up!
The bartender says: Devoted bar manager John Kelly O'Hare may pull an uncommon bottle—on a recent night, he shared a rare rum that can't be found in the States outside of his hands—off the shelf to share from pure enthusiasm.
Drink this: It’s hard to miss with this killer cocktail list, from solid renditions of the classics to gracefully expressed proprietary creations. Take a dip into a smoke-infused, rye-based Whiskey Business ($11), play Hemingway with a Hotel Nacional Special ($11) of aged rum and fruit juices, and sample the Christmas-y complexity of uncommon Czech Becherovka in a bourbon-based Ticket to Prague ($11). Non-boozy drinks are there for the teetotalers.