March 22, 2014

Justice Urban Tavern

Feeling justice wasn't served [in the courtroom]?  That's okay, because now we have Justice Urban Tavern.


This new gastropub, located next to the DoubleTree Hilton in Little Tokyo, aims to provide "high quality, fresh, wholesome dishes with a California sensibility and seasonal awareness."  Sounds like a lovely mission statement, but will it follow through?  It's tough to tell this early on, but from what I saw and tasted at a private event, I can say it is very promising.


Pro: Plenty of natural light.

Pro: Plenty of choice beer and cocktails for your midday or happy hour pleasure.

Menu

Menu.

Fun "Justice"-style names that I found amusing.

Part of the Beer List.

Starter: Mushroom Flatbread-- Mozzarella, goat cheese, arugula, and truffle salt -- $10

The flatbread is simple: mushrooms, cheese, and arugula topped on a buttered/ toasted piece of bread.  And yet, whether it's the truffle salt or goat cheese pieces, something sets this flatbread apart from other flatbreads.  This is a great way to start your meal!


Starter: Parmesan & Cornmeal-dusted Fried Calamari with lemon slices and spicy marinara -- $9

The calamari is presented in a small basket, but once you open it, there're more pieces of calamari than you'd expect!  I loved the texture and flavor to this.  Dip this in the spicy marinara and you have another great starter.


Side: Mac N Cheese topped with barbecue chips -- $5

Oh yes, classic Mac N Cheese!  The barbecue chips were a nice touch, though the chips had lots most of its crunchiness by the time the dish reached the table.

Starter: Big Spiced Shrimp with chorizo and Tillamook cheddar grits -- $12

This isn't a light starter, but I loved the flavors.  I couldn't put my spoon down; cheesy grits you're fantastic!  The jumbo shrimp (three pieces) was good and nicely spiced, too.


Starter: Black Mussels -- steamed in Blue Moon ale with roasted garlic, sweet onion, tomato, and saffron -- $10

The mussels were smaller than usual and the sauce was not as rich as I would have liked, but the Blue Moon addition was a nice touch.  It'd be nice if this came with a slice of bread so that the broth could be better enjoyed.

Ahi Tuna Salad -- not on menu.

Fried Chicken Po'Boy -- fried chicken, smashed avocado, corn relish, lettuce, smoked jalapeno mayo, with a side of fries -- $9

The Barrister Burger -- Medium-done meat patty with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles on a warm brioche bun -- $12

I ordered the burger, especially because it had two stars next to it on the menu.  For a burger priced at over $10, it's good, but not extraordinary.

Chocolate Ice Box Cake (only in shape/ not temperature) with vanilla ice cream (half portion) -- $5.

I'm not even a fan of chocolate cake, but the cake is moist and icing is not overly sweet or dense.  I loved this!

Sticky Toffee Pudding with vanilla ice cream (half portion) -- $5.

I was less impressed with the sticky toffee pudding because it wasn't sticky, I couldn't really taste the toffee, and the whiskey sauce purported to be used with it, was hardly noticeable.  That said, after the bread was soft and fluffy.  Not a bad dessert; it just wasn't what I was expecting.


Overall, the meal was fantastic.  The portions (even for appetizers) are reasonable and easily shareable. The decor is contemporary without being too weird.  The natural light that fills the room during the day creates an airy, relaxed vibe.  I'm sure the indoor lighting at night will be just as nice.  There's an outdoor patio with shaded seating, perfect for those warm days or beloved summer nights.

The service was attentive, but based on the newness of the restaurants/ servers, it could be improved.  Also, for some reason, we were given four different menus, so we can to play a game of figuring out all of the menu items.  Consolidating the menus would be greatly helpful, to create uniformity and avoid confusion.  Lastly, the entrance from the front (Los Angeles & 1st) is tough to locate.  If the patio gate is not open, look for a single glass door between the doors to the hotel and the patio.

Who's ready to check Justice out for happy hour?  Let's go!




Justice - Urban Tavern on Urbanspoon

cuisine: American
location: Little Tokyo
hours: Sun-Th: 6am-10pm; Fri-Sat: 6am-11pm; Happy Hour: M-Fri: 3-7pm
websites: { JT | yelp | facebook | twitter }
attire: Casual
parking: Self-parking at the hotel ($8); street meters; or nearby lots.

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