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A full-size crocodile is just one of the many eye-catching items adorning the walls at Spare Tire Kitchen & Tavern, including the signature “spare tire” art piece. Owner Paul Boettcher has collected an eclectic array of creative art pieces for the restaurant — including some of his own work.
After many successful years in the restaurant industry, he opened Ye Olde King’s Head pub in Santa Monica and Studio City. He also acquired the Sagebrush Cantina in Calabasas. He opened the sports bar, Busby’s East, which is filled with flat-screen televisions, dart games, pool and tennis tables, basketball hoops and a dance floor. When the space next door became available, Boettcher opened the eclectically designed gastropub on Wilshire Boulevard, near La Brea Avenue. A big brass chandelier is located in the dining room. Neo-classic columns separate the dining room from the bar area. Communal tables offer social gathering spots for guests.
The eclectic menu offers an abundance of creative plates to share, wood-fired pizzas, entrées, specialty cocktails, a respectable wine list and a fantastic list of draft and bottled beers.
The pizza kitchen and chef are in full view of guests in the dining room. The pizza oven was imported from Italy and bakes Spare Tire Kitchen & Tavern’s specialty wood-fired pizzas at more than 800 degrees. We started with the prosciutto, red onion and arugula pizza, with a delicious fig jam spread on the dough. The pizza offers the sweetness of figs and saltiness of prosciutto, and paired well with Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery’s Mirror Pond beer on draught.
Whiskey lovers will also enjoy a large selection. The specialty cocktails offered have names such as Brown Hound and Writers Mistress, made with Jack Daniels, honey syrup, lemon and basil.
This is not your traditional gastropub bar fare – it’s more chef-driven with cuisine that offers an international flair. Gavin Mills, former executive chef at Wood + Vine, and chef Isaias Pena helm the kitchen. In April, Pena will create a new seasonal menu for spring.
We started with a charcuterie board of Mill’s smooth and slightly sweet duck and cherry pâté, which we spread onto crusty bread. On the plank were generous slices of Truffle Tremor goat cheese and English Stilton cheese. House-made pickled carrots and mushrooms accompany the cheese and pâté. They also make a dynamite apple chutney with golden raisins. Guests can choose from three, five or seven items on the custom plank, which is served with house-made mustard. Other charcuterie items include head cheese, chicken liver mousse, prosciutto and finocchio fennel sausage. The menu also offers cheeses made from sheep, cow and goat milk from Spain, France and California.
The charcuterie boards could be an entire meal, paired with a glass of wine. I chose the Joel Gott sauvignon blanc, which paired nicely with the meats and cheese. It offers bright citrus aromas with tropical notes, and flavors of melon and Meyer lemon zest, with a balanced finish.
Our server, Thomas, recommended a few of his favorite dishes, like the rainbow roasted carrots. The sweet and pleasantly crisp carrots were dressed lightly with cilantro and lime yogurt and sprinkled with Marcona almonds.
Another great dish was the heirloom farro salad with roasted butternut squash and truffle cheese. It’s topped with greens and aged balsamic vinegar.
Mill’s hanger steak with small Yorkshire pudding popovers arrived with an exquisite slow cooked confit shallot ragu. The meat was tender and flavorful, and enhanced by the sauce, in which I dipped pieces of the bread from our charcuterie plank.
Hanger steak is also an ingredient on one of the pizzas, with chimchurri, Fresno chilies, pickled red onions and cilantro — another Pena creation. The chef also makes coffee and ancho chili-rubbed tuna, which is served with sliced grilled watermelon, honey tomatillo salsa and a white wine reduction. It’s a recipe he learned while cooking in Mexico.
Pena also made the house-cured salmon served in slices with arugula, cucumber and fennel salad, and crunchy baked fingerling potato chips.
Our last dish was a small plate of roasted pork belly that arrived with apples, parsnip purée and celery leaves. Thomas urged us to order at least one dessert before leaving. We opted for caramel custard pot de creme, served in a small glass. It was smooth and creamy with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of sea salt.
Matt, the general manager, runs the restaurant flawlessly and is very well-liked by the servers and staff. When the staff is happy, the chefs are pleased and guests enjoy a wonderful meal.
Spare Tire Kitchen & Tavern is open for lunch, dinner and late-night snacks from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., Thursday through Saturday; and from 11:30 a.m. to midnight, Sunday through Wednesday. $$ 5364 Wilshire Blvd., (323)525-2618.
Wood-fired pizzas are a specialty at Spare Tire.
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