When shopping fatigue hits at The Grove, one's drinking options are plentiful. Surely one can have a cocktail at The Cheesecake Factory (a sombrero with that Oreo cheesecake, perhaps?) or Morel's (which has a not-awful wine list). But each of those, for its own various reasons, is a little unreal -- like drinking in a shopping mall.
One's realistic drinking options are these: head to the Farmer's Market and order a pitcher at one of the two bars, have a glass of wine and some very fine cheese at Monsieur Marcel, or stay in the Grove and head for the Whisper Lounge, my location of choice when the Grove's goodwill and fake neighborhood quality (see? we're in L.A., but it's really like New York, sort of) gets overwhelming.
The Whisper Lounge is at the end of the walkway to the left of J. Crew; a secluded u-shaped bar with a marble counter surrounded by banquettes, with some tables and chairs; proper restaurant tables are on the far side of the bar. There's a menu of specialty cocktails (the current menu is NOT on the website) for grownups, e.g. none of them are too sweet. I had a Salty Dog that was essentially a grapefruit-vodka martini, rimmed with salt, that offered the soothing vodka juggernaut with the nutritional advantages of juice. C had a blood-orange cocktail that she liked a lot.
Bar food (some of which is priced lower during Happy Hour, as are beer and well drinks and a few wines) is what you need, priced right and -- again -- keyed to grownup needs. Our artisan cheese platter, new since my last visit, featured three excellent cheeses, all North American, along with fig jam and other pleasant accoutrements. I've had the pizzas and they are good foils to a voluminous and well-selected wine list. The dinner and lunch menus look good and I'd expect good results based on my appetizer experiences.
I always seem to be there in the late afternoon/early evening, so if things get crazy later don't say I didn't tell you, because I just don't know. But the late afternoon cocktail is a fine practice, and the Whisper Lounge is a good choice for it when you happen to be at the Grove. An added entertainment item is that the soap opera casts from CBS tend to hang out here...even if you don't know who they are, they are entertaining to watch, as the drama seems to continue once the cameras stop rolling.
*I'm renaming my bar reviews under the heading "Let's have a cocktail," which will apply perfectly to many of the places I visit and be descriptively generous to some of the dives...but I am nothing if not generous toward dives.....
Photo by Xina at USC via flickr