Bar Notes: Have you been to Prince O' Whales?

The Prince O' Whales ("P-O-Dubs" to the locals) has been a mainstay on Playa del Rey's modest bar row for just about forever. Rochelle has been bartending there for as long as I've been going there, about five years. It's a tie for first thing you'll notice about her: beautiful green eyes and her no-nonsense running of the place. Those eyes light up when talking about food, and sometimes she'll let slip a little gossip about which of the regulars did what to another. But God help you if you even so much as think about violating the sanctity of the bar.  On the night I'm in, she tells me they had to put extra security at the back door, because of kids sneaking in over the patio fence. Ridiculous.

I show up around 7:30pm, and there's a large group standing around several tables pushed together in the bar to the right. One of the trademark features of POW is that it is actually comprised of two bars (and back patio), connected by a covered courtyard that used to separate two buildings. I always opt for the right. The left bar is smaller, and that is where the POWers that be have mercifully chosen to give free reign to some of the worst bands and karaoke singers you will ever care to hear.

The group in the middle is making the type of drunken commotion familiar to anyone who has been to a sports bar when a "big" game is on. Sure enough, each of the two dozen televisions plastered around the bar are showing college basketball. I care for basketball little enough, but can at least understand rooting for professional players. Why would you want to watch kids barely out of high school? Give me the gently lulling buzz of an afternoon baseball game, any day.

Luckily, the game soon ends. The co-ed group in their matching "O" gear (Oregon? Ohio? Whatever the difference) disappears. That leaves just me on one far end of the bar and an old couple on the other. Rochelle mans her station in between.

I point out a bottle of Lot No. 40 and she lets me have a taste. It's a Canadian whiskey. I would say the flavor is flat, or nondescript. I opt for High West's American Prairie Bourbon on the rocks. It's got good caramel and sweet notes, and goes down smoothly.

By the time my friend Eric joins, the right bar is full again; actually spilling a bit into the courtyard. It's a going-away party this time. Some of the girls are cute and I strike up a conversation with Taylor from Ohio. Turns out her English boyfriend is there and Eric is hungry. The food at POW is exactly what you'd expect from a dive. So it's back out into the night, in search of something passable from this stretch of Culver Blvd. that is "downtown" Playa del Rey.


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