by Anthony Vargas
The HMS Bounty in Koreatown remains my favorite spot for pre-concert dinner and drinks, despite the fact that Wilshire Boulevard is no longer the music and entertainment mecca it once was.
Located off the lobby of the Gaylord Apartments, the HMS Bounty is a throwback to the days of red leather booths and very dim lighting. The theme is nautical and the crowd is a mix of old time white residents on one side of the bar, middle-aged Korean men on the other and hipsters who can’t afford apartments in Silver Lake seated at the booths munching on hamburgers or fish and chips.
The menu is simple: sandwiches, steaks, fish and salads. The bar is heavy-handed, so ordering a mixed drink is advisable over beer or wine. The galley has really surprised me on numerous occasions and the staff has always been accommodating.
The chicken noodle soup is a great starter, hearty and simple. The softness and texture of the chicken indicates that it has been slowly simmering. There is no instant soup to be found. The salads are rather disappointing, but I suppose that salads don’t hold too well with the ocean air.
The fish and chips were good and reliable, as is the surf and turf. For what you get, the prices are reasonable. Mr. Bligh’s Board, which is the sandwich listing, is a good way to go. Keep it simple, the ham sandwich is thickly sliced and served on a beautifully soft roll.
Our martinis arrived quickly and were cold. Suddenly, after a few sips and a couple of bites out of the minute steak, it became apparent why HMS Bounty is worth the drive. That very location, 70 years ago, was the epicenter of entertainment in Los Angeles. Across the street, 30-piece orchestras played at the Cocoanut Grove within the Ambassador Hotel. Just west, on the same block, was the original Brown Derby restaurant, serving its famous Cobb salads to the Rat Pack.
Wilshire Boulevard was once called the ‘Fifth Avenue of the West,’ although you really wouldn’t know it today. The HMS Bounty is one of the last reminders of a time where people drove to Wilshire for a night of music, dancing and drinking while Beverly Hills and Hollywood were mostly barren.
3357 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Close to: The Wiltern, The Stone, Little Temple, The Derby