In recent years, the Sunset Strip has been going through a transformation from grunge-y rock hub to a glamorous, upscale destination. The Den on Sunset’s Brett Latteri was inspired by these changes to transform his bar and restaurant at 8226 Sunset Boulevard. Two months ago, Latteri closed the Den for a complete renovation, with new food and drink menus in tow — and it reopens on November 10.
Latteri has had a long history with the Sunset Strip. When he was a teenager, he spent his time cruising down the boulevard with friends, dreaming of one day having a place of his own. Since he opened the Den in 2009, Latteri has seen the area’s evolution, noting that the historic House of Blues music venue was replaced by the luxurious Pendry West Hollywood, which includes two Wolfgang Puck restaurants.
“The street is transitioning a bit, as is the neighborhood and residents that live adjacent to us,” says Latteri. “And then we had COVID, which changed everything as well.” He adds that he felt the time to change was now, to create something new for the community.
Latteri hired painter and sculptor Nora Shields to revamp the space from a low-key red-boothed bar to a modern design. The team considers the new floor in the bar area as an art installation. “It’s handmade Moroccan tiles laid in a herringbone pattern with four different colors,” he says. “Our designer is actually an artist more than she is an interior designer, so she met daily with the tile layers to hand place each color in a particular way. It’s all done with intention.” The herringbone pattern alternates between shades of green and white, and surrounds a section that has a black and white cubed design reminiscent of M.C. Escher artwork.
The floor pattern extends outside to the newly designed patio and fireplace. Soft lights hang above with greenery surrounding the space. Inside, cushiony blue banquettes, and vintage books and records (that nod to Laurel Canyon’s counterculture history) line the interior walls. With a warm and inviting vibe, the dining room feels classy without being pretentious.
For food, Latteri brought on a new chef, Ronnie de Leon, who hails from the Philippines and previously worked in the kitchens of Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows, and Maybourne hotel. There’s a new raw bar and a more high-end menu with dishes such as salmon crudo with caviar, charred octopus with romesco, and steak frites with Nieman Ranch flat iron cut.
The Den also has a new drink menu from consultants Pascal Shin and Darwin Manahan of Punch & Company. “The majority of our cocktail program is on draft and we batch it out daily,” says Latteri. “We squeeze the juice with our juicer, so it’s all fresh ingredients in the keg, but it comes out really fast. So, you’re getting high-end mixology at a fair price because we can batch it out at a quick pace.”
A component of the Den’s past that will start up again is its continuation of DJ nights on Fridays and Saturdays. Latteri installed a new mirrored DJ booth reminiscent of a disco ball inside the restaurant space. There’s room for dancing, too. The Den 2.0 may just be what the Sunset Strip needs to fit into the area’s more grown up establishments.
The Den will be open for food Tuesday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 10:15 p.m., and Saturdays from 3 p.m. to 10:15 p.m., with the bar open late Tuesday through Saturday.