Seafood-Intensive Sawyer Kitchen & Bar Hits Silver Lake

With a name inspired by one of America's most iconic fictional characters -- Mark Twain's iconic Tom Sawyer -- this newly opened restaurant is already the hottest new eatery in Silver Lake. Sawyer's a great fit for the neighborhood, thanks to its seafood-centric modern-American fare, gorgeous rear patio, light-filled dining room and cut-above mixology.

I asked co-owner Beau Laughlin about the name and he shared me with me how he and the eatery's other two owners came up with the name:

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a book that Brett, Jay and I have all read and it reminds us all of our childhood. Though our menu is grounded in seasonal California cuisine, there are several nods to southern influence which we associate with the book. The mismatched vintage plates we hand-picked remind us of our grandparents, a southern feel, and again back to the time when we were growing up.

Duck-fat popovers, salt cod brandade and garbanzos with wilted spinach. Photo by Karin E. Baker

The Food: I loved Sawyer's unpredictable selection of small plates, particularly the savory salt cod brandade, with whipped potatoes, white truffle and rosemary anchoiade crumble. It was well complemented by another dish: warm garbanzo beans with wilted spinach, preserved lemon and spiced yogurt topped with a poached egg.

The duck fat popovers with Shropshire English blue cheese are just as delicious as they sound. The Maine Lobster roll is excellent, and is available hot with beurre fondue (my preference), or cold with herbed mayo. The soft-shell crab, strikingly sandwiched in blue-black bread and topped with red cabbage and scallion mayo, is also a must-try.

Other tempting menu items include the Carolina Fried Chicken with sage gravy, jalapeno grits and Swiss chard, and smoked trout and sprouted wheat berries with wild arugula, shaved artichokes and Meyer lemon.

Photo credit: Ryan Tanaka, courtesy of Sawyer

The Look: Open and airy, with huge floor-to-ceiling front windows that flood the room with light, Sawyer features butcher-block tables, a handmade copper door leading next door to Clover Juice, and charming hand-painted wall designs by local fashion illustrator Carly Kuhn, whose illustrations have appeared in Elle and ads for Prada.

Cocktails: The cocktail program's headed up by cocktail innovator Devon Espinosa (The Church Key, The Tasting Kitchen), so Sawyer naturally offers an impressive cocktail list. Among the highlights: Low End Theory (mezcal, tequila reposado, honey, ginger and lime), Ground Control (Laird's Applejack, aquavit, carpano antics, green chartreuse and Angostura bitters) and Seconds Count (Botanist gin, champagne, lavender honey and lemon).

As a fan of none-too-sweet rum libations, I also loved the beautifully balanced Golden Age (Smith & Cross rum, white rum, orgeat, orange and lime).

Second Count cocktail. Photo by Karin E. Baker

The Patio: Enclosed in bougainvillea and birch and olive trees, the rear of Sawyer is home to what has rapidly become one of Silver Lake's favorite patios, with its striking tile floors and roaring fireplace.


Photo credit: Ryan Tanaka, courtesy of Sawyer

Brunch: I haven't visited for brunch - yet -- but when I do, I plan to try the chocolate croissant custard toast with burnt bananas and rosemary-infused maple syrup, and the DIY mimosa kit, which includes a bottle of sparkling wine and your choice of three fruit juices.

Happy Hour: Who doesn't love a daily happy hour? Sawyer's goes from 4pm to 6pm and includes such well-priced offerings as $5 house wine, $4 Peroinis, an Oyster Po' Boy with celery root slaw for $6, and half a dozen oysters of the day with pickled shallot-cucumber sorbet, along with your choice of Happy Hour wine or beer, for $12.

Sawyer is located at 3709 W. Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles.