04/24/2012 01:19 pm ET Updated Jun 24, 2012

Freddy Smalls Bar + Kitchen: Big on Taste

Don't let the name or the lack of square-footage fool you, Freddy Smalls is big where it matters -- on the plate and in the glass.

Freddy Smalls Bar + Kitchen on Pico Boulevard, west of the 405, does not occupy a lot of real estate, but it may start occupying more of your time and to a lesser degree, your paycheck. That's because the new hotspot is a perfect place to get gourmet grub and classy cocktails.

The liquor list reads like a novella. And it's online, so you can start planning your drinking strategy before you head out the door. There is a terrific selection of whisky, in particular. If you're one who prefers the darker spirits, you've come to the right place -- there is about three dozen labels of bourbon, rye, Irish whisky, single-malt and blended Scotches.

It's a place where you're going to want to eat your veggies. Seriously. Start out with the fried brussels sprouts, sure to convert even those with a childhood aversion to cleaning their plate of them. These are combined with a apple cider glaze and goat cheese -- tender and delicious. The spring broccoli and mushroom stew is also a hearty vegetable dish not to be missed. Hearty and seasoned with green garlic, it's an excellent warm up to the main show.

For the carnivores, you can't go wrong with the Buffalo deviled eggs, with point reyes blue, or the Flash-Grilled Steak Tartare. But if you're coming to indulge, don''t pass up Reuben's Gluttony -- a deconstructed Reuben sandwich with thick slices of corned beef, bone marrow and onions caramelized to perfection. Plan to share.

Freddy Smalls also has two other interesting features -- first, is the menu changes in the late p.m. For those in the know, the pig-ear sandwich, offered only after 10 p.m., is a spicy, crispy tribute to the the whole animal movement so popular in town these days. Second, they offer Night School with Mr. Smalls. For the cost of your liquor they offer classes such as Beer 101, Scotch 101 and so on. If you're looking for a little learning with your liquor (perhaps to impress a future date) this is not to be missed. Freddy Smalls also rewards its Twitter followers and regular with specials -- it's great to see a place engaging and rewarding its regulars.

So next time you're about to spend an hour getting onto the on ramp at the 405, think about hitting up Freddy Smalls. After a couple hours, you'll leave with a full belly and an empty freeway.