Posts Tagged ‘Beverly Hills’

Viviane takes up residence at Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills


Photo courtesy of Viviane

When I first heard that a new restaurant was taking over Oliverio at the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills, I was kind of bummed. I could always find a solid meal there in a sleek setting without having to endure a “scene.”

So when I heard that local French restauranteurs Stephane Bombet and Francois Renaud were taking over the space to open Viviane, I was both excited and sad. On the one hand, Bombet and Renaud have a good track record with Terrine, and Bombet and Chef Michael Hung found success together at Faith & Flower. On the other hand, I have great memories from Oliverio, including having my bridal brunch there.

After having dinner at Viviane soon after its official opening, I’m intrigued enough to want to return. The menu focuses on contemporary takes on the classics in both food and drink. Chef Michael Hung offers seasonal, elevated versions of well-known dishes such as linguine and clams, steak tartare, and chicken and dumplings. And barman Ryan Wainwright, he of The Tasting Kitchen and Terrine fame who designed Viviane’s cocktail menu, has variations on the Manhattan, Cosmopolitan and even Long Island Iced Tea.

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11 2015

Amorino gelato packs big flavor in pretty package

Amorino gelato's flower cone

Amorino gelato’s flower cone

I love ice cream and all its variations, so when I learned about Amorino gelato and its beautifully crafted flower cones, I jumped at the chance to try it. Everything looks like it tastes better when it’s shaped like a flower, right?

Luckily, Amorino gelato lives up to appearances. Using all natural and organic ingredients, the Beverly Hills store (the only one on the West Coast) makes wonderfully smooth gelato. Texture is key to me, and Amorino’s gelato is nicely dense and elastic, just as gelato should be (American ice cream has more air and cream churned into it, so it’s fluffier and creamier than gelato, which is generally denser).

The gelato’s flavor is satisfying, too. I tried the tiramisu and chocolate, which complement each other. The tiramisu has just right amount of espresso, and the chocolate is rich.

One thing to note: I had this gelato in a take-home container, which is supposed to be consumed within two days for optimal taste. If you take the large container home, you better have a bunch of people ready to help you eat because there is A LOT of gelato in there. Then again, you could just keep it all for yourself…

Note: This tasting was complimentary.


05 2015

Celebrate 100 years of Beverly Hills with Suite 100

Beverly Hills Hotel Golden Age suite. Photo by Peter Vitale and Beverly Hills Hotel.

Beverly Hills Hotel Golden Age suite. Photo by Peter Vitale and Beverly Hills Hotel.

Beverly Hills turns 100 years old this year, and to celebrate, the city has teamed up with some of its most luxurious hotels to offer special experiences.

Through the Suite 100 program, five hotels — the Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hilton, Peninsula Beverly Hills, L’Ermitage Beverly Hills and Montage Beverly Hills — have each redesigned a suite to reflect a moment in time from the past 100 years. The 1940s through the 1990s are represented (the 1980s conveniently have been left out, which is probably for the best), with homages to 1940s film noir and 1970s Studio 54 included. My favorites include the Beverly Hills Hotel’s 1950s Golden Age suite (pictured above) and the Peninsula’s 1990s Birth of Modern Glamour suite.

Even if you can’t afford to stay in one of these suites, you can experience a little of this nostalgia with special throwback menus at the hotel restaurants. From June 1 to Sept. 30, try the lobster thermidor at the Montage’s Parq Bar, the truffle mac and cheese at the Peninsula’s Club Bar, or the Tahitian vanilla and sour cream cheesecake at the Beverly Hilton’s Lobby Lounge and Circa 55.

Beverly Hilton cheesecake

Beverly Hilton cheesecake

There are other ways to celebrate Beverly Hills’ centennial that include shopping, too. Check out Love Beverly Hills for more information.

Note: The menu tasting was hosted.


05 2014

Summer treat: The Peninsula Beverly Hills’ rooftop barbecue

Side dishes at Peninsula BBQ

Clockwise from bottom left: Brandon’s Barbecue Pickled Salad, Minted Macadamia Nut Cole Slaw and Red Pepper Orzo at The Peninsula Beverly Hills’ Roof Garden

What’s better than lounging around outside on a warm summer’s evening? Lounging around on The Peninsula Beverly Hills‘ hotel rooftop while enjoying fancy barbecue and cocktails, obviously. And with the hotel’s Weekend Barbecue at the Roof Garden, you can do just that.

Grab a Speckled Jalapeño Margarita — it has just the right amount of kick — and nosh on some addictive roasted red pepper hummus and pita chips while you take in the view. Then move on to the mains: I liked the Giant Tiger Shrimp served “char siu,” or Chinese barbecue, style and the ribs best. And don’t forget the side dishes — purple Okinawa sweet potatoes; Red Pepper Orzo with roasted corn, cilantro and blue cheese; and Brandon’s Barbecue Pickled Salad are all standouts.

Speckled Jalapeno Margarita

Speckled Jalapeno Margarita

Giant Tiger Shrimp

Giant Tiger Shrimp

If you’re still hungry, order the Ahi Tuna Chop-Chop from the rooftop’s regular menu. Accompanied by avocado, crisp pineapple, baby coconut and roof garden-picked herbs, The Peninsula’s take on the ubiquitous ahi tuna-and-avocado starter is a revelation and by far one of my favorites.

Ahi Tuna Chop-Chop

Ahi Tuna Chop-Chop

You have until September 2 to enjoy the weekend barbecue, which happens Saturdays and Sundays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Note: This meal was hosted.

Further reading:

BBQ at the Roof Garden, Peninsula Hotel (Beverly Hills) by Gourmet Pigs

Peninsula Beverly Hills’ BBQ and Cocktails on the Roof Rock by Deathbed Food


07 2012

New chef, amazing desserts at Enoteca Drago

Strawberry Short Cake at Enoteca Drago

Strawberry Short Cake at Enoteca Drago

Beverly Hills’ Enoteca Drago, one in Chef Celestino Drago’s stable of Italian eateries, has a new chef de cuisine on board. Garrett Mukogawa, a Drago protégé, has designed a new menu that incorporates Asian flavors and some of classics from the now-shuttered Drago Santa Monica.

Where Mukogawa shines is in the small plates, including the burrata salad, made with mozzarella, green lentil, roasted beets and asparagus, and the lamb belly with honey comb, goat cheese espuma and pickled fennel. An off-menu item of sweet corn agnolotti in brown butter and sage was divine.

When it comes to the mains, stick with the pizza. The Bomba, an enclosed puffy tent of mozzarella, caramelized onions and black truffles, is delicious in its simplicity.

But if you’re going to visit Enoteca Drago, you need to have dessert. Pastry Chef Mario Ortiz works wonders in all mediums, from the chocolate hazelnut crunch bar with the inventive orange black pepper sorbet and marmalade to the butterscotch espresso pudding with rosemary tuile and fleur de sel. But the strawberry short cake, served with Chambord gelato and a sweet balsamic reduction, is a revelation; I’ve never had a flakier, more satisfying biscuit with this dessert.

See more photos from Enoteca Drago:

Note: This meal was hosted.


07 2012

So close to the mark: Caulfield’s Beverly Hills

Caulfield’s, one in what seems like a growing string of literary-themed bars and eateries (Hemmingway’s, Writer’s Room), is the Catcher in the Rye-inspired restaurant that took over the Bond Street space inside the Thompson Beverly Hills hotel. Now, I’m not sure how you get a French bistro out of the Holden Caulfield character, but I guess that’s neither here nor there. What would be significant is the food and drink; unfortunately, some of the menu here misses the mark. While some dishes are really good, others are kind of boring. The good thing is, nothing I tried here recently was actually bad.

The good:

We started and ended well. The appetizers Toad in a Hole, with the traditional egg cooked into a piece of toast and as well as a side of smoked trout salad, and the Pan-Seared Crab Cakes served with planks of corn were mighty tasty. These dishes were seasoned well and prepared nicely. The Banana Terrine dessert, which was really more like a trifle with layers of banana, wafers, chocolate and rum custard, was a delightful way to end the meal.

The not-so-good:

Our first Frisée Bacon-Lardon salad arrived sans bacon and with an overcooked poached egg. Our second salad was better, though there wasn’t much in terms of seasoning on it. Same goes for our mains: the chicken pot pie and the beef short ribs lacked pizazz, and by that I mean salt and pepper. This was unfortunate as the dishes could have been much better, though I could have done with some kind of starch to go with my huge plate of short ribs.

As for the cocktails…I don’t remember much about them other than whatever whiskey-based drink I ordered was very strong. Obviously these didn’t make much of an impression.

If Caulfield’s would step it up a notch and make some small adjustments, this could be a great place for an upscale-yet-unpretentious meal, which I would find welcoming in shi-shi Beverly Hills.

Note: This meal was hosted.


02 2012

Restaurant Row’s best bang for your buck: Gonpachi Beverly Hills

Gonpachi's courtyard

Gonpachi's courtyard

Restaurant Row on La Cienega Boulevard has been long known for its large, overly expensive eateries — Lawry’s The Prime Rib, Benihana, Woo Lae Oak, The Stinking Rose. But the Row’s Gonpachi Beverly Hills, though large, is one of the best values on that strip with its incredibly fresh-tasting sushi-grade fish and satisfying hot dishes, including robata.

I was recently invited to dinner at Gonpachi to try out its new menu. I hadn’t been to the restaurant for years, and only for happy hour, so I was excited to go back. The courtyard is lush with foliage and a koi pond, and the interior is reminiscent of the film Kill Bill (which was filmed at the Tokyo location of Gonpachi). All this really sets the scene for the fine meals served here.

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09 2011

‘Tis the season: Christmas dinner roundup

Georgio's Cucina. From Gilt City.

Georgio’s Cucina: From New York chef Gary Robins and Chris Heyman, restaurateur behind Table 8 and 8 oz. Burger Bar, comes a Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner at this new Studio City restaurant. The 7-course prix fixe ($65 per person, with a $45 wine pairing supplement; $15 children’s menu also available) will feature oysters on the half shell with prosecco gelée and black caviar, giant shrimp, big eye tuna, clams with pancetta, lobster risotto, roasted branzino and a selection of desserts.

Eva Restaurant: For a family-style dinner, hit up Eva’s prix fixe ($39 per person) on Christmas Eve to enjoy a prime rib roast, roasted organic chicken, creamed spinach, butterscotch pudding and more. Given the high quality of the food here, this meal looks like one of the best deals out there!

Gladstones Malibu: Looking for somewhere to nosh during the day? This SBE takeover is offering a Christmas Eve Dungeness crab feast ($70 per person; $30 for children 12 and younger) from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. You’ll also get Caesar salad, boiled new potatoes, steamed corn, asparagus and eggnog golden raisin brioche bread pudding. There’s fun for the whole family, too — new hopscotch courses and a sandbox, as well as a coloring contest for a chance to win special holiday treats.

Whist at Viceroy Hotel: Can’t decide which day to eat out? No worries because Whist is offering its Christmas menu ($75 per person) on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. You’ll start out with a smoked sturgeon salad with the option to add on foie gras torchon or raw oysters, and for the main course, choose two whole roasted meats, including a pork rack, organic turkey, prime rib and wild European turbot. There will be all kinds of sides, too, including black truffle, chestnut and pancetta risotto, and ricotta and spinach lasagna, in addition to a variety of desserts — even roasted chestnuts in a brown paper bag to go.

Oliverio at Avalon Hotel: Chef Mirko Paderno (a bit of a character, if you’ve ever met him) will be serving up some of his family’s Italian traditions on Christmas Day this year ($48 per person). These include marinated salmon in pink peppercorns with a citrus salad, a cauliflower soufflé topped with parmesan sauce, tonnarelli pasta made with crabmeat broth, and veal cheese and truffle fondue ravioli. Choose from either the roasted Mediterranean sea bass (AKA branzino) with cabbage and porcini mushrooms or the baked chicken served with artichoke and potato. Enjoy a cranberry parfait drizzled with dark chocolate sauce for dessert.


12 2010

Bits and pieces: Junior Drake sales, Oliverio chocolate madness and Hilton weekend discounts

Junior Drake Shina bag

Junior Drake warehouse sale: The purveyor of handbags is at it again. Seems like JD has this sale every other week, but no matter. From Dec. 17 through Dec. 19, get bags at prices as low as $14.95 and even a three pack of leather bags for $99. Can’t make it to the sample sale? Get 60 percent off online purchases plus a free leather coin purse (discount is taken at checkout).

740 E. 60th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90001
Dec. 17 and 18: 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Dec. 19: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Oliverio‘s Choco-Sutra: Avalon Hotel’s tasty restaurant just got tastier: now there’s an unlimited chocolate buffet. Every Friday and Saturday, indulge in everything from triple chocolate truffle pizzettas made with Nutella, dark and milk chocolate, and topped with white chocolate shavings, to a dark chocolate, cinnamon and red chili pot de crème.

9400 W. Olympic Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
$28 per person ($17 with dinner) or $50 per couple

Hilton HHonors Any weekend, Anywhere sale: Hilton HHonors members who book stays between now and Jan. 31, 2011, at the Hilton family of hotels can save from 20 percent to 50 percent on a future weekend stay any weekend in 2011. Current HHonors members will also receive double base points on completion of their stay.


12 2010

Gobble, gobble, snooze: Thanksgiving meals at L.A. hotels

The Bridge. Courtesy of The Bridge at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

The Bridge at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel: This Thanksgiving meal ($49 per person, $25 per child) includes chestnut agnolotti with crispy sage, ameritti cookies and shaved parmesan; squab-roasted root vegetables and foie gras remoulade with huckleberry jus; and chocolate cake with salted caramel.

Delphine at the W Hotel Hollywood: The brasserie-inspired prix fixe menu ($45 per person) includes the run of a raw bar with a selection of oysters, prawns and ceviche; butternut squash soup; a variety of hors d’oeuvres; an entree of roasted turkey with wild mushrooms, sweet potato puree, stuffing, and haricot vert and almonds; and dessert of pumpkin pie with brown sugar bourbon ice cream or chocolate pecan pie with nutmeg pear ice cream.

Cézanne at Le Merigot Hotel: A three-course dinner ($49 per person) with choices including lobster chowder; persimmon salad with arugula, burrata and speck; braised short ribs en cassoulet; roast turkey; black pepper crusted filet mignon, duck breast and confit duck leg; rum baba; banana cream pie; pumpkin pie; pecan pie; and chocolate ganache cake.

Whist at the Viceroy Hotel: The meal ($68 per person) features a buffet including butternut squash soup topped with sage and prosciutto; a turkey and poached char carving station; and a risotto station (!).

Oliverio at the Avalon Hotel: The menu ($40 per person) features a winter pepita salad with pumpkin seeds, goat cheese and walnut dressing; roasted turkey; and apple pie topped with cinnamon ice cream.

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11 2010