Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How to Celebrate a (Belated) Birthday

Me: Celebrating my 41st birthday almost 60 days later
I love my birthday.  I really do.

My birthday is to me, what January 1st is to most people: An opportunity to start fresh.

Unfortunately this year, my husband didn't plan my birthday party, nor did I plan a four-day mini-vacation.

What I did, instead, was to lay face-up in a cold operating room while waiting for my gall bladder to be removed.

Happy birthday to me.

While it was literally impossible to remember that it was my birthday until I checked my Facebook page to read the hundreds of well-intentioned messages, I hated not celebrating my day.

Selfish?  Not really.

Childish?  Absolutely.

Sharon and Suzanne celebrating with me at
SmithHouse Tap & Grill in West LA/Century City
Thankfully a few of my friends and hubby, have now started my birthday month - albeit two months after the fact - to catch up on my customary celebratory outings.

Having probably one of the most stressful months in recent memory, I was not up for one of my typical restaurant scenes.

I wanted to, instead, enjoy a casual night out, eat (not nibble) good food, and have a "stiff drink."

Our first round: Old Fashioned, Old Fashioned and a 7/7/7
With that request in mind, a couple of my friends, both West Los Angeles locals, picked a new spot: SmithHouse Tap & Grill.

Located within a comfortable 10 minute walk, or three minute car drive of my urban oasis, the SmithHouse replaces a once empty sushi bar, jazz joint and steakhouse.

Fourth try is a charm - or at least that is the hope!

Being that Houston's closed a few months back (sniff-sniff), it was only logical that Westside commuters quickly replace their after-hours pit stop with a watering hole "wanting-to-be-Houston's," yet (unfortunately) closely resembling a place I loath: The Yard House.

As such, the crowd on a Thursday evening was 90% 30-something commuters, and a sprinkling of locals: fully ignoring the pseudo meat market (AKA singles trying to mingle).

Stay pass 9 p.m. and it's all locals with a few "drank-too-much" commuters.  The weekends, according to the manager and our waiter (Huge props to Erick!), is 99% locals.  (Which is the number one reason I will probably only go back on either a Saturday or Sunday.)

The SmithHouse is known for the hundreds of beers of tap on their menu.  Which I don't drink.

What I did drink was my much anticipated "stiff drink," AKA old fashioned.

It was OK.  Just OK.

As in: I've had better.

Now on to the menu...
Sapporo Beer-Battered Rock Shrimp Appetizer

First off, if you are a fan of a-little-bit-of-everything-restaurants, the menu will make you squeal with delight because there is SOO much to pick from!

For the rest of us: it's all about the comfort food, with a twist.

Crab Mac & Cheese
Good?  Yes, but not oh-my-God-this-is-the-best-I've-ever hard.

As a matter of fact, everything we ate was usually followed with a "this was good, but was missing something."  Or, "this could be so much better if it had..."

You get the gist of it.

Smithhouses' signature beer battered wings with Hobgoblin
brown ale and SmitHouse's Red Hot Glaze
Being that most people that frequent the SmithHouse are commuters, they are probably singing Hallelujah because the portions are reminiscent of most chain restaurants in the valley: HUGE.

Grilled Herbed Steak Salad
Which is completely unlike the much, much smaller Westside portions that I am accustomed to.

That is why we ordered "tapas-style," shared and still had left-overs!

New York Style Cheesecake with Fresh Strawberry Sauce
& Whipped Cream

Overall, I had an amazing time.  Which brings me to this very important point:  It is all about the company.

Although the lively atmosphere might be a little too obnoxious for my I've-been-there-and-done-that-age-group, the location is perfect and, from what we were told, the restaurant will feature a live band during brunch and a spring-time shrimp boil!

If only for that, I will be returning with my hubby very soon - but of course, only on the weekends!


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