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Vodvil: Campy Fun with Games, Food & Drinks

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Good old fashioned game night fun isn't relegated to the basement anymore thanks to Vodvil, Fairfax's new kid on the block restaurant and bar. Combining the style sensibility of a well-appointed 1960s ultimate swingin' rec room and modern amenities like screen displays, Vodivil creates an instant community while you eat and drink thanks to rounds of group games led by an engaging host.

We were invited to check out Vodivil on a recent Word Game Wednesday, and since we happen to be fond of words, it seemed an ideal night for the adventure. In fact, our table of two writers ended up winning a couple of rounds, which meant we took our tokens to the kitschy vending machine to redeem for some trinkets as prizes. A little corny, yes, but once you get a couple of drinks in you, the idea of filling out little slips of paper decoding the names of European cities or trivia about L.A. landmarks for the big win seems oddly compelling.

Speaking of drinks, the way to go at Vodvil is to go with friends and order off the punch menu, since those are the most appealing cocktails coming from the bar. Our pick: The Fairfax Scorpion (Plymouth gin, Gran Sierpe Pisco, Don Q rum, orgeat, orange juice, passion fruit puree), which was not too sweet and definitely packs its intended punch.

Vodvil's menu was designed and is executed by Chef Jamie Lauren, who came on board after her recent post at Beechwood. Lauren's menu is an eclectic mix of re-imagined comfort classics and parlor room snacks ideal for sharing, though the food is admittedly hit and miss.

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The housemade chips and onion dip (and the bowl they came in) were a big hit and our fingers meandered over to scoop up the creamy goodness with the salty, thick chips over and over during the evening. The "Pickle Jar" yields curiosities like pickled cherries, watermelon rind, and other veggies, and it was fun to reach in with miniature tongs and fish out something new to nibble on. The Lamb "Slyders," (despite the ridiculous "y" in the name), were fantastic, though it was the Smoked Trout Salad, oddly enough, that absolutely stole the show thanks to its complex layers of flavors and textures.

Vegetarians, you will find a few more things to nosh on, particularly a robust and satisfying Mushroom Pot Pie, which is made with mushroom stock.

Less successful were the dry and salt-free pretzel bites with a zip-less cheddar beer sauce for dipping, and a boring pork skewer, alas. Keep with the mood of the room and focus on apps and drinks made to share as you debate trivia answers with your teammates, or, later on in the night, step up for some karaoke.

Vodivil is campy, to be certain, but it is all in good fun, and it can make a fun group outing destination, or serve as a place to start for a longer night out with friends. Check the calendar for what games are happening each night.

Heads up: You'll be paying for the games via a $4 "Entertainment Fee" per guest on your check, and while they say they'd prefer you'd leave your kids at home, there were a couple of them hanging out and playing the night we were there, so take that with the grain of salt that got left off those pretzel bites.