As many Westsiders have probably noticed, most restaurants that set up shop where Washington Boulevard and Abbott Kinney meet have not lasted more than about three months. Apparently, Amuse’s chef Brooke Williamson and company took this as a challenge to see if the charm of their eclectic recipes, which Campus Circle favorably covered in 2003, could break that spell. It seems so far that they have succeeded, with Beechwood being one of the hottest spots south of Wilshire Boulevard.

For one thing, Beechwood is something that’s lacking in the neighborhood, a hip bar that just happens to serve amazing food. In fact, the bar is the main attraction. As you enter through the metal doors, a cheerful server greets you and immediately asks if you’d like to sit in the bar. And who wouldn’t? High ceilings, West Elm-style lounge chairs and high tables are so inviting that it’s tempting to actually live there. This large room opens to an even larger outdoor patio wrought with rustic details and luxurious mahogany benches that house a giant fire pit in the middle of the space.

While the surroundings may suggest you’ll be spending a lot of money here, the reality is quite the opposite. Drinks start at $5 and they have great beers by the bottle including brews such as Sierra Nevada Pale, Echigo Lager, Lambic Peche, Newcastle, Duvel, Staropramen Lager, Fischer Amber and Woodchuck Pear Cider. But don’t hesitate to order one of the signature martinis!

What’s better to pair with your drink than a selection from the excellent bar menu. While Beechwood does serve entrees, their strengths lie in the bar menu. The Amusing Ground Rib Eye Burger ($12) is delightful with gruyere cheese and just enough arugula to balance out the sweetness of the homemade barbecue sauce. Pressed Pulled Pork Sandwich ($11) with provolone cheese is an ode to the famed North Carolina bites. If you decide to order the recommended fries, you have a choice of shoestring or sweet potato ($1 extra). The fries come with three dipping sauces, all of which compliment every bite. Sauteed Grain Cakes ($7) and Artichoke, Goat Cheese and Walnut Gratin ($8) are light but perfect complements to one of the many wines that Beechwood offers.

If you plan on visiting Beechwood for a nightcap, take full note of the desserts ($7) that have received accolades from scores of foodies, including the food editors of the Los Angeles and New York Times. The most talked-about treats of the evening were the Peanut Butter Truffle Tart with homemade cracker jacks and Trio of Cupcakes: Red Velvet, Devil’s Food and the cupcake du jour, made with fresh fruit from the local Farmers Market. Fabulous, especially with a nice port!

With treats like these, Beechwood will continue to thrive in the spot that many doubted would ever house a great restaurant again. This is an excellent date spot, start to your bar crawl and nightcap establishment. Check it out before it gets too "trendy," as is sure to happen in the fall/winter season.

Beechwood restaurant is located at 822 Washington Blvd., in Venice. Hours: Dinner Tue-Sat 6 p.m.-11 p.m., bar menu available seven nights a week 6 p.m.-1 a.m. Ample street parking and valet parking are available. For more information, call (310) 448-8884 or visit