What we saw: Point Easy’s owners have worked hard on this new space, transforming what used to be a cozy and dark neighborhood pub into a bright, welcoming spot filled with light, even during its rainy soft opening last week. This new addition to Whittier officially opened on Wednesday, June 29, at the address that was most recently home to Whittier Pub. Before that, it housed M&D’s Cafe for over thirty years (that shuttered in 2012).
Whittier Pub shut down in 2020, and the restaurant was vacant through the pandemic. But now the space has been completely transformed from a pub with a digital jukebox, wood bar, awkward booths and televisions into a sleek space that, as a friend noted, “feels like we were sitting outside.”
Along with the bright interior, which includes a long bar that seats about twenty, Point Easy has a few tables on the patio and a bar facing Race Street, perfect for dog watching in this walking-friendly neighborhood.
It’s owned by industry vets Dennis “Denn” Phelps, his brother Dan Phelps and business partner Andy Bruch. Their idea was to create a restaurant that keeps things easy — a concept focused on the operations, not the drinks and food, which are both creative. Operating at “point easy,” they explain, means that the restaurant will be managed by tackling problems and challenges that are often left to linger until they reach “point chaos.”
During the soft opening, when asked if he felt that the launch aligned with the “point easy” goal, Denn says, “Sure, but today I feel I’m at point lucky, point fortunate.”
Point Easy’s cocktail menu is funky and experimental, as Dan intended. There are a few twists on the classics, like a gin and tonic made with Thai chile and basil simple syrup, and a pistachio-spiked version of a daiquiri, as well as seasonal cocktails, like the Antimatter, which tastes like my grandmother’s iced tea (if it was boozy). For the sober and sober-curious, it offers bottled sodas and an item called Fun Water — sparkling water served with a selection of fruit and herbs that has the appearance of a refreshing fancy cocktail.
One of the best parts of Point Easy is its take on the chef’s menu, which will be launching soon. When it starts, you’ll be able to simply ask to “get fed,” and the waitstaff will learn about your likes and dislikes, note any allergies, and let the kitchen curate a meal for your table.
What surprised us: While we expected Point Easy to be more of a neighborhood bar, it’s got the chops to be a destination for diners beyond the Whittier neighborhood. When Westword spoke to Denn last year about planning the menu, he said, “I have good ideas and silly ideas.” What that’s translated to are items that span cuisines and come with unexpected touches.
The menu includes options at a variety of price points, from snacks ($6-$13) and small plates ($9-$13) to entrees ($19-$34). You can go basic, with French fries ($6), spaghetti ($29) or a half-dozen oysters ($22), or opt for the more creative fare. There is also a concise selection of charcuterie.
The creamy labneh ($12), loaded with Greek herbs and served with toasted bread, are a standout, as are the mussels ($19), served classically but with a cider (instead of wine) sauce. The pork loin ($27) comes with a vibrant, green-hued polenta that perfectly complements the meat, and the addition of morel mushrooms on the agnolotti ($18) upped the earthiness of the dish, which also includes ricotta, lemon and butter.
All of these were must-orders — but you’ll have to go soon if you want to catch them. The menu here will change seasonally, and some items may come and go on a daily or weekly basis depending on the availability of local produce and meats, particularly as the restaurant settles in over its opening weeks, Dan notes.
Coming soon to Point Easy: happy hour, which the team is planning to launch by the end of summer.