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Week in Reviews: Melrose Bar & Grill, Alibi Room, Katsuya Hollywood and MORE

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S. Irene Virbila finds the presto-changeo from Doug Arango's to Melrose Bar & Grill a smart choice. The food fits the price point which fits the new casual décor. Going on about the wine list right up front might turn some non-oenophiles off, but the point is: There's a lot on offer along at Melrose with a few surprises. Chef and owner Chris Bennett and wife Julie seem to scratch all the right itches, and Miss Irene gives props for doing simple things well:

Main courses are fairly plain but well prepared. Tops on my list is the Berkshire pork chop, which Bennett brines in cider to give it a slightly sweet edge and serves with house-cured sauerkraut. I love that tangy sauerkraut, so I'm happy that you can also order it as a side. Veal porterhouse is sheer comfort too, a generous, tender cut of veal served with sautéed escarole and a svelte mushroom butter.

Many restaurants at this price level would serve the same vegetables with every dish. Not so here. Crispy roasted chicken breast comes with roasted carrots and the chicken jus, while the pub steak (a culotte cut) comes with sautéed mixed mushrooms. And that steak is possibly the lowest price I've seen anywhere in town.

By the sounds of it, Melrose Bar & Grill hasn't shed it's dusty past entirely. Many regulars knew the restaurant way back when it was in the desert, so there's still a little fuddy duddiness about it. Approachable, but a little stodgy. Maybe that's in these days: The restaurant gets a deuce. Today the "S." stands for "staid." [LAT]

ELSEWHERE: Caroline thinks the new Alibi Room is just a "mini Beechwood"; Tokyoastrogirl hates Katsuya Hollywood; revisiting two downtown dining institutions, La Parilla and Pacific Dining Car; Mike and Maria do Mao's on Melrose (sorry, couldn't resist) and will do again; and newish Brunello Trattoria gets an OK from the westside.

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