The Woodman Brings A Roadhouse to Sherman Oaks

Continuing the wave of Los Angeles restaurateurs coming to the 818, particularly toward the East Valley, comes The Woodman—which opened last week, replacing Smiles Cabaret at 13615 Ventura Boulevard. It's that buzzy kind of casual neighborhood place to drop by for a drink or a meal. The Woodman is owned by Ryan Sweeney, who is […]

Continuing the wave of Los Angeles restaurateurs coming to the 818, particularly toward the East Valley, comes The Woodman—which opened last week, replacing Smiles Cabaret at 13615 Ventura Boulevard. It's that buzzy kind of casual neighborhood place to drop by for a drink or a meal.

The Woodman is owned by Ryan Sweeney, who is known as one of the foremost craft beer impresarios in Los Angeles due to his success with The Blind Donkey, The Surly Goat and The Phoenix, along with partners Brandon Bradford, Alen Aivazian and Michael Malin.

With an open floor plan and a sidewalk patio looking in, The Woodman is a rustic roadhouse with barn-red French doors, reclaimed wood walls and tables, chairs made from tree stumps, black tufted booths, a bar area, and corrugated metal siding. The décor includes an old bike hanging on a wall, a ladder, farm tools, buckets, barrels and signs—and of course you cannot miss them: seven flat-screen televisions sure to draw sports crowds. For a feel of more neighborhood fun, there are board games stacked on the bar that are free to borrow.

The well-priced beer menu includes 16 very unique beers on tap, mostly from California and a few from Oregon, Colorado and Hawaii, plus a few bottles. Coffee Milk Stout from Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, Maui CoCoNut PorTeR from Hawaii and Anthem Cherry Cider from Oregon are just a few standouts. There’s also a fairly extensive selection of bourbon and whiskey from Tennessee and Kentucky as well as Ireland and Scotland. Cocktails have fun names that jive with the roadhouse theme: Blood and Lumber, Moustache Ride and Campfire Punch are just a few. To get really local, there’s even the Ventura Boulevardier. There's also a wine list. Happy hour is daily, 5 to 8 p.m., with select drinks for $4.

(l-r), Coffee Milk Stout from Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido and Anthem Cherry Cider from Bend, Oregon. 

Chef Noah Stewart is from Atlanta, Georgia, and brings a touch of southern cooking, combined with Asian, Mexican and California influences to his eclectic menu, with dishes meant for sharing. The dinner menu is split into two categories expanding on the roadhouse theme: Kindling and Firewood. Kindling represents smaller plates, while Firewood lists a bit more substantial fare. The Woodman is open for dinner Monday through Friday and for brunch on Saturday and Sunday. The brunch menu includes: country Benedict with ham, short rib hash, buckwheat blueberry pancakes, southwestern veggie fritatta, and plus some more lunch type selections. Several dishes on both menus are marked as gluten-free.

I've only visited for dinner, so I do need to go back and work through the menu, as I missed some really tasty-sounding dishes, such as meatball sliders, Wagyu bacon burger, Thai coconut curry mussels, albacore hamachi, smoked turkey Reuben, and maple and date bacon-wrapped shrimp. 

That being said, take a look at some dishes I did enjoy: 

Oatmeal stout short rib tacos with kale, shaved ricotta salata and blueberry jam.

Fried chicken and white cheddar on flaky biscuit sliders. Make sure you indulge in the strawberry jam for dipping.

Shredded apple and a sweet agave lemon dressing give this quinoa and kale salad a unique spin. Served in a Chinese takeout carton with metal chopsticks—makes it fun. This version has tofu added, but chicken is also an option.  

Smoked salmon mixed with bacon aioli, stuffed in wonton cones: tasty snack food. 

Seared sea scallops served on top of rich cheese grits are sweet and tender.

Grilled corn lollipops are slathered with lime aioli and sprinkled with queso fresco and chili powder: a perfect mix of sweet and savory. 

Chili glazed shrimp and avocado salad is chock-full of grilled corn, pistachios, radish, cherry tomatoes and mixed with a jalapeño lime dressing.  

The brussels sprouts are made with pork belly, but we asked if it was possible to make the dish without it.  The server asked the chef who easily agreed to change up his recipe—with delicious results.

The Woodman, 13615 Ventura Blvd. (just east of Woodman), Sherman Oaks. 818-386-9401. Open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday to Friday, 9:30 to 2 a.m. Saturday, noon to 2 a.m. Sunday. 

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