Tuesday, October 27, 2009

If it's good enough for fauxlahipster's birthday party, it's good enough for you

I get asked all the time for bar and restaurant recommendations. But when it came time to figure out my own birthday party, I really wanted a home run in terms of location, ambiance, food, drinks and service for my 25+ guests with ages ranging from mid 20s to late 30s.

After reading countless Yelp reviews and talking to friends, many of whom are well informed bloggers like The Delicious Life and Caroline on Crack, and even fishing on twitter, I had narrowed it down to a few options. The rooftop lounge at Bond St, Trader Vics in Beverly Hills, and Medusa Lounge in Silver Lake.

Here's what I was looking for:
  • Somewhat nice and upscale lounge atmosphere without being overly douchey
  • Drinks that averaged under $12
  • No velvet rope nonsense all night long
  • Location near Koreatown since many of my lame friends hate to leave a 5 mile radius of it
  • Easy parking - via inexpensive valet/lot or ample on street
  • Nice to have's: outdoor area, rooftop views
My birthday buddy Raymond (his bday is a few days before mine so we decided to enter a joint bday venture) and I did a few drive by's of potential options near downtown LA and when we stopped to check out Medusa, we were like Goldilocks when she found her bed - it was just right. They fulfilled every one of my key criteria in terms of location, ambience, and cost. They have a nify page on their website where you fill in a few blanks and the manager Yosh will email you the next day with reservation details. Quick and efficient, especially for people who are afraid to talk on the phone like me - let's not get into the part when I was a kid and my mom would have to feed me a script so I could tell the gas station attendant how much money to apply to our pump.

The ambiance: Medusa is in the former Lowenbrau Keller space which I've never been to. But I was told it was a former German pub/brewery type place. Many "old" details remain at Medusa including the exposed brick walls and vaulted ceilings. It definitely had that goth-like design which I thought was a perfect prelude to Halloween coming up. The lounge portion is an L-shaped space with the walls lined in tufted sofas and a large bar in the middle. So no matter where you're sitting, you have visual access to the bar. The back room is a bit darker and louder allowing you to get your groove on after downing the many shots that bday revelers usually do.

Food/Drink: Birthday buddy, Caroline on Crack, her boyfriend Jay, and I were the first to arrive and none of us had eaten dinner, so we decided to order up some grub. Think of the food as fancified pub grub. I had fried ravioli (2 huge raviolis) served on a bed of rich marinara and topped with a light truffle cream. CoC had what appeared to be an asian spiced sauteed shrimp with bruschetta. Birthday buddy ordered a calamari salad - which he didn't even offer to share, that bastard. Can't remember what Jay ordered. It wasn't exactly Michelin star haute cuisine, but it sure beat bucket-o-wings and greasy fries!

If you opt for bottle service, they offer several specials including a free appetizer platter with the first bottle and 20%(?) off of the second bottle. We ended up ordering one bottle which came with every type of mixer imaginable including Red Bull.

As we entered, the door guy Rob gave each of my guests a little card that entitled us to a flavored shot served in a test tube for $1. It tasted pretty nasty, but everyone seemed to dig the $1 shot served in a test tube concept.

The service: I really think Medusa's service was what really set them apart in excellence. Many bars and lounges in LA can boast a luxe or interesting interior and reasonably priced cocktails. But few can couple these qualities with a friendliness and hospitality that really made me and all my guests feel so welcome. It started off with Yosh accommodating my one bazillion requests and even offering to let us bring our own mixed CD to play in the lounge - which I didn't do out of sheer laziness, much to my dismay. The door guy Rob is mad cool and a total sweetheart. He's a big and hulky in appearance, but he does his job so well, with a finesse that I wish he could teach to other door guys. Our cocktail waitress Irina (sp?) was so friendly and even though a lot of my friends were ordering drinks from the bar instead of from her, thereby reducing her tip, she was still cool about it saying "the girls at the bar need the tips too." Aw, what a team player!

The night was wearing on and it was time to leave. As our car began to pull out of the valet lot (which is only $5 by the way), Yosh stopped us to give each of the birthday babies a gift - a bottle of champagne! I've never heard of a bar gifting regular old joe's like us, but I thought that was the nicest most thoughtful thing any bar staff or restaurateur has done for me. And I have been to A LOT of bars and restaurants.

So I wanted to write this post to give Medusa the just credit it deserves. If you're looking for a elegant yet laid back space to hold your event, birthday party, or filming your teen angst vampire movie, you definitely won't be disappointed here.

Medusa Lounge
8pm-2am Wed-Sat
3211 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90057
Neighborhood: Silver Lake

Thanks to Caroline on Crack for the food and drink pictures

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