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Being a fan of Italian culture (food, wine, fashion, language, you name it!), I remember when I first went to Bar Toscana in Brentwood in West Los Angeles in 2010. Located next door to the long-standing restaurant Toscana, Bar Toscana reminded me of a bar I would go to in Milan, Italy. It was modern, minimalist and had a super cool feeling with white leather ottomans, digital images displayed in between the glass windows, a menu composed of small plates, or stuzzichini, and a selection of hand-crafted Italian-centric cocktails. Seven years later, Bar Toscana is still open but after a remodel, they have a new look and that is why Bar Toscana is the Please The Palate pick of the week. The space is still modern with a cool vibe but now there is a warmth to the space. The stark white and black furniture has been replaced by warm colors of brown and burnt orange which match the exposed brick. Instead of white ottomans near the entrance, there is a large communal table and additional seating. And, along the glass windows overlooking San Vicente Blvd. are cozy round tables with comfortable chairs.
There is no sign outside. But the deep red panels interspersed with wood panels and large glass windows that are open on a warm day, sitting on the north corner of Santa Monica Blvd, just west of the 405 freeway, will catch your eye. This is The Nickel Mine, West Los Angeles's newest sports bar. The long v-shaped bar is surrounded by large flat screen televisions playing a variety of live sports games. But, The Nickel Mine is more than a sports bar. It is a cocktail bar, a whiskey bar, a gastropub and a fun neighborhood spot to hang out with friends.

Unlike your typical sports bar, The Nickel Mine has an impressive whiskey selection with more than 50 choices, two dozen draft beers and one dozen wines. There is also a fun cocktail list that goes beyond typical well-drinks.

With so many new restaurants opening up in Los Angeles at record speed, it's hard to keep up. While the list of new restaurants to try gets longer and longer, it's also good to remember restaurants that have stood the test of time and have been open for more than 3, 4 or 5 years. One of these restaurants is Bombay Cafe in West Los Angeles which is celebrating it's 25th anniversary. Bombay Cafe Bombay Cafe, owned by Kamal Git Singh, has been serving traditional Indian cuisine for more than two decades. Perhaps it is because Indian food is very natural, using spices like cumin, coriander, cardamom, tumeric and saffron to add color and flavor to the food.  And, with most food cooked in the tandoor oven where fats cook off naturally, the meats are lean and healthy. Some highlights on the menu are: Aloo-Ki-Tikki - Indian potato pancakes, topped with chopped onions and tamarind chutney.