Playa Del Rey Bar Report: The Tripel
The Hours: 5 p.m.-Midnight Mon.-Thu.; Noon-2 a.m. Fri-Sat.; Noon-Midnight Sun.
The Digs: When a person is stylish and fit but somehow not entirely appealing, he or she is sometimes said to be "put together" instead of charming or attractive. Bars can be put together too -- slick, effective assemblages of service, design, and quality products that draw you in only to leave you feeling, despite the booze and grub, a little hollow at night's end. The Tripel is put together. Owned by the Hudson House team and designed by Glen Bell of Dex Studio, the Playa Del Rey gastropub has all the right moves -- at least when you first sidle up. A Sumerian beer-making poem is etched into a wall of reclaimed wood. The communal tables of repurposed factory steel bear generous platters of cured meats and pickles, burgers anointed with the requisite duck confit, truffle something-or-another, and apricot jam, and high-octane pale ales. Even the restrooms have sleek sliding doors. When you walk in, you're impressed.
The Verdict: But then the music is too loud, which is a buzz-kill in a place this small. The pub should be a site of socialization, of sharing food and conversation, of nights that start early and end late. You won't stay if you have to yell until you're red in the face to ask your across-the-table dining companion to pass the sweet potato tots ($4). Those, by the way, are excellent and don't, as is usually the case, require the accompanying smoked almond chimichuri. The namesake Tripel burger ($15) oozes more condiments than an upended hot dog cart.
Excess is a hallmark of gastropubs, where more often than not, it seems that no dish can be considered "done" without an extra spread, another frequently incongruous topping, usually something sumptuous and rich to drive the ravenous target right back up to the bar for another brew. In the case of this burger, for example, the jam, onion brioche, and truffle pecorino pummel the palette, though not in the name of any unified vision. Still, it's not not good. Likewise, the fried gigantes beans ($4) and house pickles (particularly the sweet, tangy fluorescent-orange carrots) make any beer-tasting party a little livelier.
The Grade: B