THE BLOG
05/14/2010 12:18 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Six: Terrific Gastropub on Westside

To readers who have commented that we only highlight, in my newsletter and on Huffington/LA, the more upscale, expensive dining spots, please note that recently we have featured a number of somewhat casual but no less exciting places to eat and drink in this fair city. As exemplified by the enchanting new spot, THE SIX RESTAURANT (10668 W. Pico Blvd, near Overland and the Westside Pavilion, where Jack Sprat's used to be, (310) 837-6662, with free parking in the rear after 5 p.m.)

What makes this place so attractive - apart from the rustic wood barn décor - is the quality of the food-and-drink served up by the very experienced, enthusiastic SoCal owners. I've known Will Karges for many years; in the eighties, his father owned a fabulous spot on Sunset called Le Toque, and Will is renowned for his Johnny's New York Pizzaria, Jones Hollywood, and Circle Bar. His partner, Jake King, and he had Rix Café, Drake's Venice and El Dorado. Will has spent the last few years recharging his batteries and deciding what he wanted to do next, and he has joined with Jake and Devin Klein to open this place without any outside backers. They minimally refurbished the room into a cool, calm environment, with a wooden-beamed high ceiling featuring Edison bulb light fixtures, wall sconces amusedly collaged with pix of famous old movie stars, specials and desserts written in red lipstick on mirrors mounted on the walls, and a bar made of real wine crates. As of this writing, the new wood-burning pizza oven has been installed.

A major 'plus' for them is the dynamic 24-year old executive chef, David Gussin, who worked at Akasha here and some top Chicago places...he is one of those very talented guys who are enrolled in my celebrated Follow the Chef club. He told me at dinner last night that actor Christian Bale had been back twice last week for the Banh Mi Burger ($16 at dinner, $10 at lunch), an awesome Vietnamese-style burger of ground pork belly with cilantro aioli, jalapeno jam, pickled carrot, cucumber, on French bread...served with a side of awesome airbaked twice-cooked fries. I enjoyed that; my date Patty Einseberg preferred The Six Burger ($16 and $10 at lunch), a hefty patty of fine beef served with onion rings, Maytag blue cheese, thousand island dressing, butter lettuce, tomato and those fries.

But it is the six pizzas (all $13) at The Six which I must elaborate upon, for Will has brought all of his Johnny's experience to bear on offering what we have decided is the best thin-crusted gourmet pizza to be had in this city....or at least on the upper west side of town. On three visits we have eaten four of the offerings, all priced around $13. I am torn between two favorites: The Wild Mushroom, with home-made mozzarella and a drizzle of truffle oil, or the Rosa Grande Pepperoni, with sweet onions, mozzarella, tomato sauce. Patty prefers the vegetarian one, the Roasted Butternut Squash, with brown butter, crispy sage, and mozzarella, or the BBT, applewood-smoked bacon, basil, oven-dried tomatoes. Next in line is a Hosusemade Italian Sausage Pizza, with its carmelized onions, mozzarella and parmesan, or the impressive tri-color Margherita, with mozzarella, tomato sauce and hand-torn basil. Did we mention that Will makes his own mozzarella cheese here? Starting with curds from a farm in Wisconsin, he prepares it on premises to a creamy consistency.

I don't mean to imply that this is just a pizza-and-hamburger heaven, for Chef David is turning out a wonderful menu of dishes which would do justice to any white-cloth establishment in Beverly Hills. Last night we listened with astonishment to the list of specials being offered, which change daily...think Line-caught local Halibut ($21), with artichoke puree and crispy prosciutto with celery root, or Baked Rigatoni ($15), with house-made fennel sausage (delicious!). The Steak Frites ($21) would do justice to any French bistro, and the entrée-size Cobb Salad ($14) was majestic in its freshness and size. I sipped a cup of the Tomato Soup ($7) while Patty enjoyed a juicy Turkey Burger ($16). On a previous visit, I relished a bowl of Prince Edward Island Mussels ($12), rich with its chorizo broth. Next on my list is the Prime New York Steak ($25), rubbed with spices and served with caraway spatzle, juniper-scented cabbage, drizzled with beef jus. Two other entrees sound interesting: the Roasted Jidori Chicken Breast ($19) with bacon jam, carmelized brussel sprouts and blood orange, and the Potato Chip-Crusted Salmon ($20), with leek sourbise, confit Meyer lemon, carmelized cauliflower. Always go with an order of the luscious Blistered Mushrooms, with roasted garlic and thyme.

The lunch crowd is rich with studio people from Fox and MGM, all enjoying the elaborate, inexpensive and delicious menu, from a Tortilla Soup ($12) to a Prime Filet Mignon Salad ($14). The restaurant is in the forefront of the hot new beer movement, so they offer a delightful assortment of unusual brews. Last night I had a Belgian fruit beer, while Patty had an Angel City Lager, brewed here in L.A. They have a separate and exciting brunch menu on weekends, with omelettes, pancakes and waffles, even a breakfast pizza. The wine list is extensive and reasonably priced, with a listing for Laetitia on the way. When I asked Manager Jake King what the name means, he gave me a long and complicated explanation involving a group of artists in Northern California in the twenties called 'The Society of Six.' I stopped listening about then because I was too busy enjoying my dessert of Banana Foster Cookie with ice cream.

We must celebrate having such a fine casual food-and-wine bar in a convenient location at Pico and Overland. Especially one with superb thin-crusted pizzas and a few amazing burgers, along with a surprisingly extensive menu of fine dishes. So, Will and Jake, welcome to the neighborhood!

SIX is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.

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