I woke up today with an extreme hangover…a food hangover, that is. Ten hours after overindulging at The Belvedere at The Peninsula (www.peninsula.com/belvedere, 310.788.2306), I was nowhere near ready for my planned lunch extravaganza. But it was hard to have any inkling of eater’s remorse reminiscing on last night’s phenomenal dinner experience.
The Belvedere serves eclectic, innovative, and flavorful cuisine at one of L.A.’s most revered addresses. Given its long list of accolades – from its 16-time AAA Five Diamond Award to its annual Mobil Four Star rating – the restaurant has become an institution in Beverly Hills. It’s easy to see why. The service is impeccable. Career waiters and waitresses provide only the best service. Even the bus boys are refined and professional.
And the food? Nothing less than spectacular. Each quality ingredient stimulates the senses, almost mocking the U.S. foodie revolution in which grease and bastardizing sauces have restructured the American conception of “flavor.” So what did I eat? Well, to start: the “Sautéed New Zealand Langoustines” with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Spinach, Russian Fingerling Potato Purée, Langoustine Reduction. Next, “Dungeness Crab Chowder” with Carrots, Basil and Dungeness Crab Soufflé; followed by “Golden, Red, and Chioggia Beet Salad” with Tangerines, Honey, Crispy Goat Cheese Pockets, Roasted Almonds and Saba. And for the main course – “Slow Roasted Scottish Loch Duart River Salmon” under Sun-dried Tomato-Yogurt Glaze with Chick Pea Fritter, Fiddlehead Ferns and Espelette Pepper Broth.
As I headed out for another day of unadulterated eating, I sought inspiration from my overeating icon, Kirstie Alley, who was set to make her debut on Dancing With the Stars later in the evening (before even watching, I want her to win!). So I briskly walked down the Sunset Strip from my hotel, the Andaz West Hollywood, to the irresistible diet anti-Christ, BLT Steak for my extended lunch social (www.bltsteak.com, 310.360.1950). After a few bites of the decadent Lobster Cobb Salad, the overstuffed Mushrooms, and a taste of my friend’s buttery sole, I was off for my next late-afternoon social at Villa Blanca back in Beverly Hills (www.villablancarestaurant.com, 310.859.7600).
Villa Blanca is all about the fresh white interior, the over-the-top Roman furnishings, and celebrity sightings. And of course, the chance to run into owner Lisa Vanderpump, the divine raspy-voiced Brit from the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I didn’t see Lisa, but her husband and dog, Giggy the Pom, were indeed present. Surprisingly, you don’t need deep pockets to enjoy this “see and be seen” hotspot. Lisa even offers $10 menu items for lunch and brunch as a way of paying respect to recessionary times. Recession or not – who doesn’t love a great bargain?
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills glam it up at Villa Blanca.