Finney’s Crafthouse and Kitchen
982 S. Westlake Blvd., Westlake Village

Brews, burgers, Brussels sprouts, buffalo cauliflower and a whole bunch of craft cocktails — yes, Finney’s is yet another gastropub to offer diners “upscale” cuisine in a “casual” atmosphere. And it fits the mold to a tee. Chalkboard menu? Check. Locally sourced, seasonal ingredients? Rustic wood, black leather and brick? Check, check, check. The concept is hardly original. But if the food is tasty and the drinks are well-prepared, it hardly matters. Trends come and go, but good food is always in vogue, and at Finney’s, that’s exactly what you get.

Gastropubs are intended to be casual dining, and Finney’s is certainly both stylish and unfussy. With that in mind, the establishment is particularly welcoming to children — we saw several families with kids of all ages there — and even offers a nice, large, covered patio where patrons can bring their pups. The overall vibe is friendly and forgiving, and the seating is surprisingly comfortable, with plenty of elbow room — definitely a place you wouldn’t mind hanging out for a while with the family in tow. With seven HDTVs, it’s a great place to catch a game, too.

Finney’s boasts 30 taps, so there are plenty of beer options for all palates, from malty browns to earthy wheats and light blondes. One third of the menu is devoted to IPAs (hopheads, take note) and a few taps are reserved for the less easily categorized. You might find a fruit beer, sour ale, imperial stout or other interesting option in the mix. The wine list isn’t bad — around 18 wines, mostly the usual suspects (Sanford, Babcock, Rodney Strong), with a few unknowns (Wayne Gretzky Estates?) to keep the discerning drinker on his or her toes. Naturally, the full bar offers its own menu of handcrafted cocktails. A crisp, cold pint of Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider was all we ended up ordering, but there was much to tempt us.

The appetizer list alone would be worth a trip, and includes such items as chicken and waffle bites, nachos, minibratwursts and fried dill pickles. We ventured into slightly healthier territory with the crispy Brussels sprouts, which are roasted with figs, sesame almond furikake and tamarind lime. These were fantastic and went down like popcorn — even the kids partook — and there wasn’t a single overcooked sprout in the batch. The German pretzel was also good (and very pretty) but the star here was the trio of sauces — sweet mustard, beer cheese and caramel — that came with it. Hearty portions were offered for each.

My husband ordered the Finney Burger, made with a blend of chuck, hanger steak and brisket. He was impressed: The sandwich was tender, juicy, perfectly pink and a bit messy to eat — exactly as it should be. The pickled onions were a nice touch. My young son ordered the sliders, which are essentially smaller versions of the original burger, and care was clearly taken to keep them just as juicy and well-seasoned. The pepperoni flatbread pizza had a nice chew, a tangy sauce and quality meat. And by the way, the French fries were great.

The mahi mahi tacos, on the other hand, were not my favorite. The fish was light and tender, the chili garlic sauce was spicy and flavorful ,and Finney’s doesn’t skimp on the avocado. But the rubbery tortillas and stale chips on the side really took away from the dish. Next time, I’m sticking with a burger or perhaps one of the elaborate and delicious-sounding salads.

Our bellies were too full to partake of the dessert menu, but that might have been a mistake. With Coolhaus ice cream sandwiches and churros available, I might save some room next time.

And I do hope there is a next time. Yes, we’ve got a ton of gastropubs in this county, but if the burgers (and other offerings) are delicious and the taps are quality, I say, go for it. Finney’s excellent quality will help ensure that the gourmet pub grub trend doesn’t go away any time soon.