The Cat and the Fiddle was the first bar I used to frequent with friends on a regular basis after moving back to Los Angeles from New York City in the mid-1980’s. In those days before microbreweries and brewpubs, it was the place where I first learned to appreciate ales and stouts and British pub fare. It was a gastropub before they were called that.
It quickly became a favorite hang-out, and a couple years later the place where my grad school friends and I would most often go for food and drinks. While students in the Directing, Producing, and Cinematography disciplines were on most Friday nights beginning grueling week-long shoots that would determine their future at the school, my fellow Writing students and I would roll out of James Hosney’s film studies course and head to The Cat and the Fiddle for beer and food and bad jokes. Some of my AFI friends probably still remember me as the guy who always ordered Bass and chips.
The growth of brewpubs and nightlife over the years meant that The Cat and the Fiddle was no longer one of the only places you could go to in Los Angeles for a good beer in a pleasant location. In my own neighborhood, The Fat Dog offers the kind of casual urban atmosphere that was almost entirely missing from the L.A. of the 80’s and early 90’s. But The Cat and the Fiddle remained a favorite of mine until the closing of its Sunset Blvd location just a couple years ago – ironically, a victim of rising rents as a result of the Hollywood renaissance that in some sense it helped pioneer.
Happily, the owners are now bringing back The Cat and the Fiddle with a projected March opening, and even happier for me, its new location is right across the street from where I work. It’s the space I still think of as the old Highland Grounds cafe, though it has been through many other iterations both before and after that. There will be an outer patio, though I can’t imagine it will quite match the charm of the 1920’s Spanish-style courtyard of the Sunset location. And though I no longer consume beer, carbs, and sodium quite so unconcernedly as I used to, I imagine at least every once in a while I will drop in to the new location after work for ale and chips. Happy Hour, anybody?