Lisa Vanderpump’s stake in a very specific corner of West Hollywood got even larger this week when the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Vanderpump Rules mogul opened Tom Tom, a new bar and restaurant partially owned and named for Rules castmates Tom Schwartz and Tom Sandoval. INTO writers attended the brand new spot’s opening night tasting event and reported back about the breezy-named drinks and Instagram-ness of it all.
— Hispanic Pixie Dream Girl (@mathewrodriguez) August 7, 2018
Kevin O’Keeffe: So Mathew, we have finally seen Tom Tom, the latest jewel in Lisa Vanderpump’s West Hollywood crown of bars and restaurants. It joins SUR Restaurant (which, never forget, stands for Sexy Unique Restaurant Restaurant) and local fairy garden Pump in the Los Angeles gayborhood. It is also, perhaps, the first bar to be created solely because of a reality show, as Vanderpump Rules stars Tom Sandoval and Tom Schwartz are both the faces and the restaurant’s namesake.
I’m a big Vanderpump Rules fan, so going to this press tasting was a thrill for me. But since you are a more impartial observer, Mathew, I’d love to ask you first: What did you make of Tom Tom?
Mathew Rodriguez: First, let me say it was lovely to share a meal and drinks with you at Tom Tom. Second, let me say that Tom Tom seems like the kind of place made just as much for a visual experience as a culinary one. Everything about it begs to be Instagrammed, even if it does lean into its tackiness a bit too much at times. (Using wine bottles as decor is a bit senior year of college for me, but it was very #onbrand for the eatery). The IG-ness of it all felt very much like what a reality show contestant might want out of a bar-cum-restaurant. You’re not just there to consume, but to offer non-attendees something to consume, as well.
KO: Not just wine bottles: Vanderpump Rosé bottles. The branding is strong with this one.
But I agree with you. I think Tom Tom falls into the same niche as so many things here in Los Angeles: it is more an “experience” than anything else. I expect that people will flock to Tom Tom because of the reality TV connection more than anything else. This has proven to be a successful business model at Lisa’s other two WeHo spots — I still get a frisson of thrill when I remember seeing original Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Adrienne Maloof and The Morally Corrupt Faye Resnick at Pump one of my first weekends in LA.
That said, I don’t want to downplay the actual food and drink at Tom Tom. Because you know what? It was pretty good! Did you have a favorite item you consumed?
MR: Oh, yes I’m there with you 100%. To me, a lot of “experience” restaurants actually leave the quality of the food behind when going for Instagram double taps, but that’s really not the case with Tom Tom. I’d say my favorite food was oddly enough the artichoke dip. I know everyone reading this is like, “How can you rave about artichoke dip?” but I assure you I can. There were full pieces of delicious AF artichoke in there and they had those lightly fried naans to dip it in. It was warm, creamy and probably the most gluttonous thing on the menu, hence my love for it. I also loved the hangar steak and that fried cauliflower that deceptively looked like orange chicken but was not! What about you, what was your favorite thing to eat?
KO: Totally and completely with you on that artichoke dip. It was the one bite I had where I was completely taken aback — I can’t remember tasting another dip like it. There was some garlic breading on the top that really gave it a special kick. I’d absolutely go back for it during happy hour.
That said, I think happy hour is the only time I’d go back to Tom Tom. My primary reason for this: space. The way the bar is laid out, the inside area is pretty dark and cramped, but the patio is gorgeous. (This is the one area where the Vanderpumpian decor works well, too.) Happy hour would likely make it easier to get some of that prime outdoor seating. I honestly can’t imagine going out-out at Tom Tom. It’s just too awkward a space for it.
MR: Yeah, I would tend to agree. It’s also very dark inside and can’t imagine being in there at nighttime. The lanterns and stuff are too “Abbey” austere for my tastes. I know I’m a sinner but I don’t wanna feel like one all the time, ya know?
The drinks were certainly concoctions! What was your favorite?
I’d like to solve the puzzle… BUTTERFLY PEA TEA BARNUM pic.twitter.com/ABDjSSC3vU
— Hispanic Pixie Dream Girl (@mathewrodriguez) August 7, 2018
KO: Of course, I’m not going to remember any of these names. Because the names are very Vanderpumpian. Lots of jewel tones in the names, lots of what I like to call breezy words. “Bay.” “Rose.” “Desert.” I keep thinking my favorite drink was called the Amethyst Rose, but that can’t possibly be right.
Help me out here, Mathew. Did you have a favorite?
MR: Well, I know that I did not like the one with the bee pollen or the one that said it was mezcal but did NOT taste like mezcal. Also take the flowers out of my drinks! I don’t need a flower taking up space where alcohol ought to be. However, the other drinks I tried were tasty AF. That mango citrus papaya chili four-other-ingredients shot was really good and the hibiscus drink I had was lip-lickable. But sometimes I just want a vodka cranberry. Dear Diary, Am I Trash?
KO: Diary: “Yes.”
Okay, so let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Yes, Lisa and the Toms were at the taping. Also Pandora Vanderpump-Sabo and husband Jason. Also Ken and a dog that is probably not Giggy? (I can’t keep track of the Vanderpups.) Also Paul “PK” Kemsley, aka mysterious-accented Real Housewife Dorit Kemsley’s husband. I still don’t get why PK was there. But what did you think of seeing Lisa up close and personal?
MR: Well, let me say this, Lisa is PETITE. She was adorable. But she’s very well-coiffed. The thing I loved most was the dress she was wearing. I’d expect her to show up to Tom Tom in like a blue ball gown a la Christine Baranski at the opening of Hotel Bella Donna in Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again but that’s not the case! It was a cute dress that I wouldn’t be surprised to see at Target. Because I’m not as much of a Vanderpump person, I didn’t care about the Toms and their white suits annoyed me. However, I was fucking thrilled to see Giggy.
Is it time for final verdicts?
KO: Maybe-Giggy, you mean.
I give Tom Tom a conditional thumbs-up! Definitely go during happy hour, and come as much for the food and environment as for the drinks. But especially since it’s so close to our office here at INTO, I definitely see us going back.
MR: Yeah, I would definitely head there after work while the sun is still out but when it’s time to Marry the Night I might see myself changing venues. But I’d move mountains for the artichoke dip.