just before the holidays, i met up with a close friend and spent the day with her and her lovely family. we hadn't seen each other in years, and we fell in like old times, only this time with her toddlers and amenable husband in tow. we had a very yummy mummy sort of brunch in a neighbourhood joint popular more for its location, agreeable attitudes towards large parties with more children than adults, and pet-friendliness than its food or ambiance, although to be fair, the latter two attributes were more than satisfactory. she is as vivacious and kind as ever, she has married a good man, and her children are adorable as children get. however, i found myself exhausted from their exuberance and vigour, and feeling a little alien in this cosy family unit. i left them with well-wishes and a sincere hope to keep in touch, but with also a desperate desire for a tall alcoholic beverage and some room to breathe.
luckily a quick phone call and even quicker ride down sunset brought me to the cat and fiddle, a pub in hollywood that we--old friend and i--had frequented much during university years but i had not been to since. the building is a spanish-style stone complex built around a large courtyard, and dating from the 1920s. it is quiet and calm at any given time, and takes you away from the rush of sunset boulevard just yards in front. i found it to be the same as ever, although a bit foreign in the light of day. it was bright but chilly, and my friends were already ensconced in a cozy corner of the courtyard, nursing pints of stella. (i don't know if we've talked about this before, but i gave up drinking awhile back. i was a teetotaler up until...sometime this summer, but haven't really imbibed much in the ensuing months. however, when i was younger, i was a bit of a lush.) i was quite fond of snakebites; besides completely dating me (and apparently outing me as a former goth), i don't think there's any pub in la that will serve them. still, pubs get extra points from me if they've got cider on tap; cat and fiddle has strongbow, a pint of which suits me fine in my creakity older years.
i admit to have gone to the cat and fiddle for food, not drink, before, even though ye olde king's head has better batter on their fish and chips. it's still california, though, and i feel like the vegetables are more abundant and fresher than typical pub grub. we ordered plates of cod and chips, which came with either soup or a big green salad, and welsh rarebit, an abundantly cheesy toast made with double gloucester and served with a broiled tomato. everything was hearty, well-prepared, and reasonably priced. they've got typical fare as scotch eggs, shepherd's pie, and bangers and mash; of course you are in los angeles, so like other pubs, there are healthier, grilled fish and meat, and vegetarian alternatives. good side salad. good bread rolls (if you don't get one, ask).
the pub, at night, can get lively and horribly overcrowded in the late evening, but the afternoons are generally calm and genial--the perfect respite. it has been awhile since i've had the time to just hang out with my friends, and do absolutely nothing at all except sit and enjoy each others company. as the afternoon wore on, the christmas lights were turned on, and some of the employees began to decorate the tree outside, laughing and joking as if it was a christmas tree and not just the garden ficus. i began to appreciate my morning of familial chaos more, but also really treasured the "family" i was with at that moment. it was good to catch that breath before another season of chaos, stress, and overwhelming festivities began, but also to remember and experience a little of the real reason for the season: caring, compassion, friendship and family.
(and a little tipple to grease the wheels never hurt either--but don't drink and drive, folks!)
the cat and fiddle
6530 w sunset blvd (x-street shrader)