Unlock Great Flavors…

church key 2Word on the street is that The Church Key, located in West Hollywood in the Sunset Plaza area of the Sunset Strip, is a restaurant worth congregating in.

interior church key

Of course, I was intrigued. This area was my old stomping grounds, just a couple of doors down from the famed celebrity and rock n roll hangout, the old Le Dôme. I cannot believe how many journalists and rock bands I wined and dined at Le Dôme.

The outside belies the stunning interior. They have transformed a formerly dreary location into a an eclectic oasis. The openness and numerous seating  areas are very appealing. The floor and ceiling are all new, but made to look original to the environment.

The Church Key is the project of maître d’ Joseph Sabato, bartender Devon Espinosa and executive chef Steven Fretz, who have been around town for years, although not always together. They have worked at XIV, Bazaar, Pour Vous and Ink. Together, they have created a unique and exciting dining experience.

bar church

Attendants dressed up in tailored Pan Am stewardess uniforms make Odder-er Pops (Otter Pops) and serve canned cocktails off the airline carts. Dress up pays homage to the owners love for the 50’s and 60’s and the Pan Am attendants represented the epitome of service.

Pan Am Stewardess
Pan Am Stewardess

The “Odd-er Pops” are pre-made three-ounce cocktails in those familiar popsicle bags. Just like the Otter Pops of our youth, each color is representative of the flavor. The liquid popsicle is given a short, smoky nitrogen bath. The final result is a booze filled popsicle. Children can also indulge in the non-alcoholic 21st century Shirley Temple.

The cocktails are canned in house. The cart server will either pop the can open for you with a church key or you can do it yourself. In case you are out of the loop, a church key is a can opener with a triangular point at one end for punching holes in cans and a rounded edge at the other end for removing bottle caps.

The biggest decision of the night was were to sit…all areas were enticing. We ended up settling in by owner, Joseph Sabato’s family, who were delivered a plethora of amazing looking dishes which definitely piqued our appetite. His young, adorable daughter kept the evening exciting.

We settled in to a table in the middle of the restaurant so we could take in the action and carts from all angles. Our serve, Kaela, really made the dining experience fabulous. She was gracious, knowledgeable and attentive.

Fashioned Chai
Fashioned Chai

I started out with a lovely glass of the Lucky Country Shiraz ($10) which was full bodied with an elegant finish.  The entire wine list was eclectic. David ordered the Fashioned Chai with Applejack brandy, Buffalo Trace bourbon, chai syrup and orange peel…yummy ($13).

Brussel Sprout Caesar
Brussel Sprouts Caesar

Our first course was an amazing Brussel sprouts Caesar salad with tomato raisins, sunflowers seeds and Parmesan cheese and a truly remarkable Ahi tuna tartare with pineapple, Greek yogurt, pistachios, cucumber ($18), accompanied by homemade chips.

Ahi Tuna Tartare
Ahi Tuna Tartare

This was followed up with a tantalizing grilled asparagus topped with a sunny side up egg, crispy shallots and a delectable smoked tomato Hollandaise sauce ($14).


I was tempted by the chicken liver parfait with blackberry port, toasted brioche ($14), but wanted to share everything. The potato Pierogies with apple butter, aged Gouda, chives and creme fraiche ($17) were on our bucket list as was the highly recommended tapioca crusted Tai snapper with broccoli rabe, sushi rice cake with a white soy vinaigrette ($29). Alas, it was just the two of us so we regrettably, had to edit the order.


The carts started rolling and we selected the hamachi in a mango infused sauce. This was followed by the best ribs I have ever eaten. David scooped up the coconut shrimp that were crunchy and light. (Dim sum $4-7).


Kaela indulged us with the famed falafels as were were bragging about the unbelievable Parisien falafel sandwiches in the Marais section. The order came with a creamy truffle aioli and were airy and flavorful.


When you are finished with your Dim Sum ordering, you just prop up your Dim Dun card and the Pan Am peeps just roll on by.

dim dun

We were desperate to try the brioche donuts with brown butter glaze and cinnamon caramel ($10), but there was no more room left.

The Church Key is a fabulous, trendy spot and the food and interior design live up to the hype. Unlock a truly delicious and fun evening….come worship at the cocktail and fine food shrine.

The Church Key 8730 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, California. Open 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays to Saturdays. Credit cards accepted. Full bar. Valet and metered street parking. thechurchkeyla.com


  1. Great review…Superb writing

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