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Dining Review: Modern gastropub Basin 141 taps into L.A. history

Basin 141 updates a Montrose mainstay with smart cocktails and excellent service.

October 28, 2013|By Lisa Dupuy
  • Pork belly tacos and braised beef tacos at Basin 141 in Montrose on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013. The gastropub opened in October, serving up favorite local microbrews, specialty burgers and mac n' cheese.
Pork belly tacos and braised beef tacos at Basin 141 in… (Tim Berger / Staff…)

Fat Dog, the Montrose gastropub catering to locals, was a good thing. Basin 141, which took over its location, is an even better thing. Brothers Dave and Joe Friedman mixed some mean drinks back when they were bartenders at the prior incarnation. Now they're mixing and managing at the new digs. Basin 141 is a vintage-inspired modern gastropub serving libations and bites that appeal to both the new crop of cocktail scene-sters and the classic Montrose regulars.

The brothers Friedman updated the interior just enough to make it their own but not so much to alienate Fat Dog or (earlier still) Barru customers. They added some delicious signature cocktails made with fresh juices and premium spirits. They shaped a beer list with tried and true favorites as well as a rotating cadre of local microbrews. The food menu is heavy on trendy but distinctive appetizers and drink-friendly entrees. The atmosphere is warm due to a well-designed motif of reclaimed wood, Edison bulbs and early L.A. nostalgia. Perhaps most importantly, there is a palpable attention to customer satisfaction. It all adds up to a formula that works for Montrosians, old and new.

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The name grew out of an interest in early local history. Basin is for the Los Angeles basin and 141 represents the city's first official census tally in the early 1800s. That was long before Dr. Briggs settled the Crescenta Valley, but the restaurant pays homage to the area with a special chicken sandwich in honor of Colonel Pickens of Pickens Canyon fame.

We settled in at the bar one Thursday night — no room at the semicircular booths smartly saved from before. I admired the cool beer faucets made from vintage pipes, but I didn't go there. I'm a cocktail girl. I settled on the Angeleno Julep made with Bulleit rye and muddled fresh pear. Oh yeah, it's as good as it sounds, especially with the brandy, mint, lime and brown sugar backup.

My friend tried the refreshing East Los with 209 gin, cucumber, mint, lime and soda. Our group also imbibed the nicely balanced Weissen Sour with Buffalo Trace bourbon, orange marmalade and Weiss beer as well as a proper Manhattan, the upgrade to Eagle Rare Single Barrel only a buck extra. The drinks took a little longer than expected to arrive but the wait staff is so friendly and accommodating otherwise, it didn't matter.

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