Moody Melrose spot Severance Wine Bar has quietly shut its doors just west of La Brea, following a final Valentine’s Day weekend push — though not for the usual closure reasons one might expect. Instead, the wine bar from owner Evan Charest and chef Weston Ludeke is moving on to a bigger and better space less than a mile west down the street, with a larger kitchen footprint and lots of patio seating. Severance takes over the former the Hart & the Hunter location inside the Palihotel on Melrose, with plans to begin limited service sometime this month ahead of a broader April 1 opening.
“For us, the old model just didn’t make sense anymore, both in the short-term and possible much longer, with the need and demand for social distancing and outdoor dining,” says Charest. “This move to Palihotel allows us to find a stable partner in the market, while at the same time expanding to both brunch and into spirits and cocktails.”
The new space should certainly help on both fronts, with room for two outdoor patios, a larger kitchen, and of course a full liquor license. Expect Severance to continue to offer its rotating list of cheese fondues along with past Montreal classics such as rosti poutine, beef tartare “classique,” and French onion soup from chef Ludeke. Severance will also provide room service for the hotel.
The restaurant’s drink menu of wine and punch carries over as well, but will now be expanded to include bottled craft cocktails to go. Charest, the former national beverage director for the massive Patina restaurant group, has added a nitro Mai Tai, Mailroom Mule with blood orange, and a so-called Severance Consultant, made with maple-infused bourbon and coffee syrup. Once fully open, Severance will keep all-day hours starting with daily barista service from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., then moving to daily brunch and finishing with traditional dinner seating.
The Hart & the Hunter, meanwhile, enjoyed a nearly eight-year run on Melrose as one of the city’s best and most charming Southern restaurants, even earning praise from former LA Times food critic Jonathan Gold in 2013. The group retains a second location in Seattle, Washington.