The Wellesbourne brings old-English style to West L.A.
Monday night marked the private opening party for a new West L.A. bar -- from a group known as Medium Rare Entertainment -- called the Wellesbourne. The 3,000-square-foot space was designed by the hugely busy Kristofer Keith of Spacecraft to resemble a 19th-century English manor.
An abundance of varnished dark wood accents, elegant wallpaper, shelves stocked with weathered books, paintings of the English countryside and a 30-foot-long bar stand in weird contrast to a foosball table in the game room. I suppose modern drinkers wouldn't want to play tiddlywinks or blindman's buff, but a vintage billiard table would have been more appropriate. (I may just be saying that because I am a known pool shark. Seriously! I will beat you. Actually, when I talk like that I generally end up losing, so....)
Anyway, the drink list revives the old-fashioned vibe with its abundance of old man-friendly cocktails (all priced at a reasonable $9). You can suck down a creamy Brandy Alexander, enjoy the fruity tang of a Harvey Wallbanger or consume a more than reasonable amount of sugar by tossing back a milky-green Grasshopper garnished with fresh mint.
The last drink was definitely my favorite, until I looked up its calorie count online. (Yes, I do that now that a big part of my job involves drinking.) I'll do you a favor and not tell you what it is so that you can keep enjoying this mint-chocolate marvel guilt-free.
It's tough to place judgment on what the Wellesbourne will become once its freshly painted patina gets worn down by drunken, late-night tears; spilled beers; dirty shoes and the general human messiness that weathers bars in all sorts of remarkable ways. But I suspect it will remain upscale in feel but not trendy; and it likely won't attract the mixology crowd since for now its bartenders seem to be sticking to the basics and are a bit unsure of themselves.
For example, when my friend asked for a tequila gimlet, our bartender told us that the bar didn't have tequila. He did this while standing directly in front of a shelf with three bottles of Patrón and a bottle of Cazadores. I thought that this was kind of cute and that it would make for a funny YouTube video, so I didn't point this fact out to him. Chalk it up to opening-night jitters.
Still, I enjoyed myself. I think the Wellesbourne is going to be a cozy place to shack up with a few friends for an old-school drink when I find myself on the Westside. And soon it will start serving small bites such as Welsh rabbit and everybody's favorite sausage-in-Yorkshire-pudding-pastry-treat, the wonderfully named toad-in-the-hole.
The Wellesbourne, 10929 W. Pico Blvd., West L.A.; (310) 474-0102.
-- Jessica Gelt
Photos: Top, the 30-foot-bar at the Wellesbourne; bottom, a Brandy Alexander and a Rob Roy. Credit: Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times.