Having just opened last week, The Fiscal Agent is already bringing upscale cocktails and delicious fare to Studio City. Though the Valley is certainly making a comeback, it's no secret that it's still devoid of good cocktail programs. But luckily, it just received a major cocktail boost from the best in the business-- the brainchild of superteam Julian Cox and Bill Chait (Rivera, Redbird, Sotto, Brilliantshine, need I say more?), The Fiscal Agent sits discreetly above BBQ joint Barrel and Ashes, with a small, dimly lit hallway and subtle signage as the only indication of it's existence. The hostess escorts you up a back stairway and into a small, cozy bar that's the perfect mixture of vintage allure and modern elegance. See below for some interior scenes.
The cocktail program is an homage to vintage drinks, but reinvented with a modern, fresh feel. After sitting down at the marble-countered bar, we were immediately presented with a small glass of champagne, a classy way to start out the night. The menu is small and cocktail-focused, with a few small bites expertly crafted by Michael Kahikina of Barrel & Ashes downstairs.
For our first drink, I went off menu and asked for something light and refreshing with gin. Julian himself made me an excellent combination of gin, grapefruit, lime, and I forget what else, but it was exactly what I wanted. Really light, refreshing, and surprisingly strong.
Kyle ordered "The Departed"-- a whiskey drink that he said that was very smooth and really delicious. As we didn't recognize most of the ingredients in most of the drinks, we were ordering a bit blind, but the bartenders were more than happy to walk us through the menu.
We also decided to order a few bites to get a sense of the menu. We started with the Peruvian scallops, which came in these beautiful shells and doused in fish sauce and lime. The fish sauce was incredible and added a really hearty flavor to the scallops. Absolutely delicious.
Next was a small plate of arancini, also known as fried risotto balls. I'm always a fan of arancini, and these were prepared perfectly. Crispy on the outside, hot and gooey on the inside. The smoked tomato really made the dish (when you sit above a BBQ joint, why not make use of the smoker?) and added a subtle BBQ flavor. A really fun take on an Italian dish.
We love a good smoked trout rilette (which is essentially a paté), and this was a fantastic take on the dish. The trout was especially smokey, but wasn't overpowered by the smoke. It was creamy and flavorful, and perfect on the sourdough. The pickled vegetables added a nice acidity and brine to the dish.
For our last small bite, we had to order the octopus, which I weirdly use as a barometer for a restaurant's quality. The octopus was cooked so perfectly; it was tender, juicy, and when paired with the potato, frisee, and aioli, a perfect little bite. Quite addicting.
Overall, we were incredibly impressed with The Fiscal Agent. The bar program is stellar, and so are the small bites. Considering it opens at 7pm and stays open until 2am, it's definitely more of a late night meet-up spot for a group to gather for excellent drinks and a few bites, but we wouldn't exactly recommend it for dinner (just since the plates are so small, it seems as if you're meant to have a few little bites instead of a full meal). We're so excited to see a bar of this caliber hidden away in the Valley, and will undoubtedly return soon.