A Brief Respite from Los Angeles Reality

The Red Lion Tavern & Biergarten is a trip. To say the least.

On Thursday night I sat with a few friends, my husband and fellow bloggers Will and Jay in the lower bar (there are three) and enjoyed the musical stylings of Rob, the pianoman. Well, enjoyed is an odd word choice, perhaps heard is better.

First, The Red Lion is a German-style beer gardens (complete with an actual patio with lattice and plants) that serves a selection of European beers in classic style. Not overly Teutonic, just a hangout in the neighborhood. The food is average, though the menu is extensive. I had the potato pancakes (and later fries) but several in our party tried the schnitzels. Jay partook of some strange concoction he picked up a propensity for in Germany – a mixture of beer and Sprite (a Radler?). I guess it’s like a wine cooler only with beer. I stuck to my standard gin and tonic, which is hard to mess up.

But what drew us (well, me, I was driving this train wreck) was the evening’s entertainment. Will and I had ventured there the week before and stumbled across the live piano player and vocalist. Rob (I’m sorry, I haven’t caught his last name) is an odd sort of entertainer, great at the piano vamp, extemporizing lyrics and general lounge showmanship. His repertoire seems to end at 1986. He graced us with covers starting with Freebird, and then the old Billy Joel Pianoman standard (actually a liberal heaping of Billy Joel songs), some Joe Jackson, the most bizarre upbeat version of Ring of Fire I’ve ever heard, Beatles, Elton John and a terribly uncomfortable cover of Comfortably Numb.

I’m not saying this is a recommendation for going to see Rob on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings. But in this big city full of super-talented people where everything can seem glib and false, there’s a strange comfort in seeing this act. Oh, and the fries were pretty good.

5 Replies to “A Brief Respite from Los Angeles Reality”

  1. I heart the Red Lion’s french fries and their Hungarian goulash…neither of which are German, funnily. But I always dine in the beer garden and the service, um, leaves something to be desired. Are the other bars better?

  2. The service down on the first floor twern’t nothing to yammer home about. Though the drinks were delivered in a timely manner, the fries we ordered took wayway long to arrive, with our server shrugging off several inquiries with the excuse that the ridiculously long time was due to the fact that they were being “made upstairs.” OK, then.

  3. Note: I was there that night to experience the joy of Rob. And I found out a writer I work with, who also tends bar there. She asked, ” Did he start yelling at the crowd?” Apparently his fuck-you-very-much comments to the apathetic audience are common.

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