Earlier in the week I proposed an outdoor Street Food Cinema Los Angeles showing of Goonies for Saturday night. It seemed a sound plan until Joy told me she was obligated to see a friend’s play at the Fringe Festival. She in turn bribed me with, “I’ll take you to dinner beforehand if you come,” and it worked, which is how I found myself at Running Goose.
It wasn’t until we were driving by the restaurant in search of parking that I realized exactly where it was. Running Goose is in the heart of Hollywood, on Caheunga between Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard. I used to drive this street everyday on my way to work when I managed and bartended at Township. Also frequented this neighborhood when I took classes and performed improv at IO WEST (R.I.P.) just a few blocks east. I’m never in this area anymore; not too long ago it was an everyday occurrence. This stretch of Cahuenga is loaded with restaurants, clubs and tourists. It’s crowded, hard to park, and shines “we’re in Hollywood, let’s party and get after it!” light.
Running Goose restaurant proper is rather small. Bar and kitchen area to left when you walk in, to the right a few tables in this rectangular shaped room with large windows looking onto the street. The real gem is the outdoor space. This location has turned over several times during my years in Los Angeles. Most recently it was a German beer garden. The host greets us. Joy provides her name for the reservation; an outdoor reservation made. The host lets us know outdoor is just a “suggestion” and not “promise” and he can seat us inside immediately; outside, who can say? Staying true to our purpose, we say we’ll wait. Before we can even discuss or select a glass of wine to drink while we wait…a table opens up outside. Fairly certain I rolled my eyes and shook my head in the hosts’ face. I understand the game, but seems all too transparent.
Outside is the attraction. Wood tables, wood beams, dark wicker chairs and a variety of plants and greenery. It delivers on that magical promise: an oasis in the middle of bustling Hollywood. It’s a hot day but outside there’s a gentle breeze and it could not be a lovelier spot to enjoy a meal. Directly at the table across from me sits Jeri Ryan. It doesn’t always happen this way, but sometimes it does, just like out of town-ers dream. You go to Hollywood and you spot a star. For a second I lock eyes with her and like so many of us do when we see a celebrity, I almost say hello, feeling I know her. Then for a second I debate saying something till my brain kicks back in and I think, “Why the hell would you say anything??. I loved you on Star Trek Voyager”? She’s enjoying dinner with a friend and their two young daughters (guessing). Back to us. I grab a glass of Sancerre (light, mild acid, minerally) and starving, we quick order some tapas: an arugula avocado tostada, shrimp in cherry tomato, chili de arbol, and garlic oil, and grilled lamb chops.
Catching up with a friend, sitting in the outdoor oasis, sipping wine is the best part of the night. I haven’t seen Joy in a while and she catches me up on her recent out of town trip. She tells me about people I never met navigating relationships I have even less information about. But it’s the type of conversation that makes me feel connected; to my friend of course, but to everyone. They become important because she is important to me and as I listen and sip and bite and chew the world gets a little smaller and connected. The food is fine. Nothing is bad and nothing knocks our socks off. Still hungry we order the gnocchi with kale and brown butter and the salt cod churros. You read that correct, churros. It’s a salty for sweet play that is more interesting then revelatory. The Mont Vallon Chardonnay, (ripe pears, baked apple, butter, silky texture) on the other hand is. The conversation pleasantly moves along as we sip our wine in this outdoor oasis.