Regular patrons and those who popped in for the weapon-lined walls and intimate atmosphere all feared the worst, but The Arsenal came through unscathed and has reinvented itself just fine, thank you very much – and no, despite the regular calls, it has no affiliation with the current champion English soccer team of the same name.
New manager Rodney Smith wanted to keep the feel of the old but take it up a
new notch, and has successfully steered the ship through the icebergs. The Arsenal’s
now been split into three sections; an outdoor covered patio, a sports bar with
low, plush black leather couches and chairs, and the restaurant – with
its candles and bright red leather booths – effortlessly creating and an
atmosphere ideal for seduction or, as the menu puts it, break-ups.
Gone are most of the weapons – too many were getting stolen – and the jukebox in the corner that played Ol’ Blue Eyes and Patsy Cline, but in came a new juke in the sports bar, playing tracks from across the board. While there, we heard everything from the Sex Pistols, to Dylan, to the Beatles, and of course, Frank Sinatra.
The Arsenal’s great, super-friendly service is still present, and there’s even a DJ booth in the sports bar, keeping the place absolutely jammed from Wednesday nights onwards with a variety of music such as hip-hop on a Thursday and reggae on a Sunday.
As for the nosh, the effort has been made to keep things fresh and "above bar food" standard. With that goal in mind, The Arsenal has really hit the spot: there are daily specials, and they offer quite a rare and precious thing in L.A. – a decent and tasty meal. Food and even cocktails are reasonably priced.
For starters, my guest and I shared the scrumptious cream cheese-stuffed jalapeños ($5) and the juicy Southern chick-a-tenders ($7). For those watching the dollars instead of the calories, take note: these two as a combo, with maybe another side, would make a meal in themselves.
For the main course, a standout is the classic and huge Arsenal Burger ($8). Priced affordably and served with hand-cut fries, it absolutely dwarfed my guest’s petit filet mignon ($13) – perhaps so much so that it was to the poor steak’s detriment. Maybe a salad or another side dish would have made the steak plate look like a better deal.
With our cocktails, the fresh but not-too-sweet Pomegranarita and the truffle-liquorish Crazy Dutchman (not orange as you’d think, but still like drinking candy), which were both $9, the overall cost for two was about $60. My guest assured me that the spirit of the "old" Arsenal was still there like a happy ghost haunting the place and glad to see so many new faces.