Last night I was lucky enough to attend a sneak peek of the new vegan-friendly gastropub Mohawk Bend in Echo Park. The spot comes to us courtesy of the people behind Tony’s Darts Away in Burbank and occupies a space that once housed the Ramona Theater on Sunset Blvd. That famous Vaudeville space is now gone, but some of its walls remain in the beautifully designed (Spacecraft, natch) venue.

Mohawk Bend doesn’t open until the end of the month, but after the jump, check out pics and early impressions of the food and drink…

The main “pub” area. The space is tall, slightly industrial, and rather striking. We’re later told that the goal is to make Mohawk Bend THE pub of Echo Park. I wouldn’t say this feels like the quintessential pub, but as urbane, upmarket drinkeries go, the design hits the nail on the head.

Three of many pub touches on the wall.

A glimpse of the swanky patio at the front of Mohawk Bend. We ultimately ended the evening out there, and it proved to be my favorite space of the restaurant.

Seventy-two taps, all devoted to California brews.

Across the way from the bar was the open-air kitchen, the top of which was adorned by many, many jars of Sriracha sauce.

Behind the main pub area is a dining room that looks and feels like an airy courtyard. Surprisingly though, there’s a roof.

There’s also a big, beautiful fireplace roaring away. The brick walls, it should be noted, are from the original Ramona theater.

The dining area.

Looking back into the pub space from the dining room.

And yet another view of the pub area.

The bar previewed three cocktails, including this, the Vanilla Bean Daiquiri. It’s Charbay Tahitian Rum, vanilla bean syrup, and fresh lime. Unfortunately, the VBD (as I like to call it) was too sweet for me. I couldn’t finish it.

The cocktail menu trends towards the fruitier side, which is fine; although, I tend to gravitate towards more “herbaceous” drinks. The Thai Town Mule, for instance, is more my speed. Surprisingly, the lead mixologist spoke to us extensively about his experience with tequila, but there’s not a single tequila drink on the menu.

Given the seemingly never ending row of taps on the wall, I decide that maybe I should focus less on the cocktails and more on the BEE-YAH. I snag a super tasty smoked porter, courtesy of the Stone brewery.

Along with our cocktails, the good people at Mohawk Bend supply us with bowls of delicious dips. This appears to be guacamole, but it’s actually an avocado and goat cheese dip topped with cucumbers. It’s fresh and divine.

Tapenade. Can’t go wrong with that.

I never found out what this was, but it tasted like a ricotta dip of some sort. Whatever it was, it was delicious.

Soon it was time to sit for dinner. I wound up at a table next to the fireplace. It was a scenic view. It was also blazingly hot. We were sweating by the end of the meal.

The restaurant is helmed by two chefs, one of whom is a vegan. As such, the menu is very vegan friendly. In fact, Mohawk Bend turns the traditional menu style on its head and marks non-vegan (NV) dishes as opposed to the other way around like most other restaurants. It’s supposed to make everything feel more inclusive. Or something like that.

First to arrive at our table is a duo of aioli: one is lemon garlic, and the other is red wine.

The aioli is meant for these hearty, delicious artichokes. So far, we’re off to a good start.

We soon receive a sampling of potatoes and cauliflower. The table devours the potatoes quickly. The cauliflower, well, not a huge hit.

Vegan pizza. Not the worst thing in the world, but… well… look, I enjoy vegan food quite a bit, but let’s just move on.

I couldn’t help wondering if the vegan pizza would have fared better with us had not a “real” pizza arrived next to it. The response was unanimous: the real pizza was significantly better than the vegan offering. Later on, a mushroom pizza emerged, and that was rather nice as well. The table consensus, however, was that the dough was more in the flatbread realm than the pizza area. We were all probably acting like nitpicky food bloggers though. Regardless, pizza does not seem to be Mohawk Bend’s strong point.

Fish & Chips! I spoke to diners at other tables who loved this dish. Unfortunately, ours arrived in a pool of grease. The top was crispy, the bottom soggy. Yikes. The fry batter was light and tasty though.

The Mohawk Salad! Fennel, cucumbers, etc. After the pizza and the greasy fish and chips, this light, fresh dish was a welcome sight.

As lovely as the Mohawk Salad was, this one, which featured what appeared to be grilled romaine lettuce and a creamy, dill dressing, was a standout. I wanted it all for myself.

The meal finished with a bonus round of mussels. They were quite nice.

For dessert, we returned to the patio in front of the restaurant where we were given “Nickelbags,” an off-the-menu, word-of-mouth dessert. What could it be? Clearly something fried.

Some shaking occurs. That’s not my hand, in case there was confusion.

Ta-da! Doughnuts. Sort of. More like fried pizza-dough, coated in sugar and cinnamon. Either way, tasty.

All in all, I had a lovely time at Mohawk Bend. The space is really amazing, and I think it will be a great place to grab a beer. Clearly the kitchen excels at farm-fresh foods (the dips, the artichokes, and salads), and drinkers should be sure to gravitate towards those items when it comes time to snacks. It would be nice to see an original tequila cocktail make its way on to the menu, but for now there are more than enough beverage options to keep anyone happy.

Thanks to Mohawk Bend for having me in. Looking forward to ordering another smoked porter once the doors officially open for business…