Whimsy on the Sunset Strip: Pan Am, Graffiti and Indulgent Bites

The sunset strip evokes a cocktail of glamor, drama and secrets. Which is why when an institution like The Church Key presents a brief cameo experience, yours truly is happy to salivate what West Hollywood has to offer in a flicker before it vanishes.

The spunky ambiance comprised of construction style interiors, hardware on walls and a graffiti style bathroom with a painting saying “You are fine” and retro Hollywood glam for bathroom signage. But possibly the funniest of things in this institution was the fact that aside from the staple menu, women clad in Pan Am flight attendant gear would swing by often with carts filled with dim sum, alcoholic ice pops and other treats that changed on a daily basis!

The cocktail duo included a Ck strawberry martini with a strawberry twist on solid, strong vodka, while the second was a Pecan old fashioned, paying a tribute with to one of my favorite nuts: Bushmill’s Red, candied pecans and bitters for a spirit forward cocktail.

The burrata and peach salad was a sumptuous tribute to California. What with freshly made salty burrata cheese, perfectly sliced peaches and lightly cooked tomatoes, topped with salty Parmesan cheese and greens for a savory bit. Accompanied by a side of asparagus with bread, vietnamese noodles, horseradish mustard and a popped sunny side egg on top, it made for a hearty accompaniment of bites that reminded me of a home pantry or homely buffet.

As a nod to fried Southern food were the Ososky’s potato pierogies, complete with spiced apple butter with 5 year aged gouda cheese (another homage to my former home in Holland) and sour cream piped like a meringue. The fatty and flakey potato was seamlessly sliced by the spicy and sour sauces, and the sharpness of the cheese, making it a decadent bite. Soft and crunchy, they whisked me back to the South and to yesteryears, but were presented with dollops of food artistry that was oh-so modern.

The Pan Am ladies brought us some saucy meatballs and homemade pretzels, but I naturally dove to the salt and pepper and peppercorn popcorn, so much for alliteration! More flavorful like a zesty snack than an actual side, they made me reminisce watching movies… albeit, why need to watch movies when you can people watch?

Skipping to the dessert trio, a legacy at this point, was probably a wise decision at this point.

The first was a the chocolate mousse bomb, which was a gigantic brick cake of sticky, gooey toffee and date cake which was so moist and rich that it was flirtatiously indulgent. It was topped with crispy chocolate feullitine, salted caramel sauce and marshmallow ice cream, making it an adult gourmet version of a campfire treat.

Which brought me to a bewildering puzzle on finding that very treat – s’mores – deconstructed – as the next dessert! Graham cracker salty cookies were topped with chocolate ice cream, bourbon fudge and marshmallow meringue, which was presented in a vertically positioned series of discs that were like a castle from one angle and a crown from another! The complete bite was indeed one of that classic s’mores whimsy, but it was the deconstruction that earned immense merit.

The palette cleanser dessert was once again shaped like the galactic discs of Saturn, which was a pineapple flan with raspberries, coconut and a toasted coconut feullitine, combining a Hawaiian flair with Parisian dessert making. While rather soupy and fruity for my chocolatey tastes, the citrusy flavors were a needed break from the indulgence.

With a whimsical night surpassing every minute of the time in this illustrious city, it was time to let loose in the depths of West Hollywood post sunset on the Sunset Strip. Wink Wink.

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