Monday, September 29, 2014

Reviewed: Wolfgang Puck at the Hotel Bel Air

  • Cuisine: American/Californian
  • Location: 701 Stone Canyon RdLos Angeles 90077 
  • Pricing: $$$
  • What's delicious: Seasonal pizza, Heirloom Tomato Salad
  • Perfect for: Al-fresco dining - ladies who lunch - business dining/meetings - those looking to "get away from it all," if even just for an hour or two
  • FYI: Al-fresco dining makes this stunner pet friendly-ish.  Just make sure to call and double confirm before bringing your pooch.  People watching here is DYNAMITE, so be prepared to stay long and linger.

One of the key reasons I moved to Los Angeles was to be closer to my family.  After having lived across the country for 10 years, I guess you could say that I've been making up for lost time.  Instead of seeing them 2-3 times per year, I've been racking in visits at least once/month.  Sometimes twice.

Last weekend, my mom came up from San Diego.  For a woman who used to panic about riding the "disgusting" NYC subway, it was quite surreal for me to fetch her at LA's Union Station, the local Amtrak destination.  "I don't want to deal with the traffic or driving, for that matter.  Plus, maybe I can finally delve in to this new book I started!"  

With an 11:20AM arrival, the first thing on our minds was lunch.  I wanted to treat Mom to something sophisticated, dog-friendly and, perhaps, a bit dainty; somewhere "the ladies who lunch" descend upon to catch up on gossip, have a glass of wine (or two), and people-watch.  So, what better than Wolfgang Puck at the Hotel Bel Air?

En-route to the restaurant via the hotel's gorgeous grounds, Mom and I spied a special events team prepping for a wedding that was to take place later that evening.  Apparently, it costs upwards of $115K to rent out one of the ballrooms at the Hotel Bel Air...And that's just for the space, alone!

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Situated in a lush, almost tropical indoor/outdoor setting, the atmosphere at Wolfgang Puck is casually sophisticated.  

Photo credit: Haute Living dot com
With my dog, Lucy, in tow, we were promptly seated at an outdoor table.  Before I could properly situate myself, two employees approached and asked if Lucy would enjoy a water bowl and small sitting chair alongside mine.  "Why, of course!  Thank you!"  Within seconds, a folded tablecloth was laid on the ground (in the event that Lucy wanted to rest by my feet, instead) as was a sizable water bowl.  A small, folding stool was placed between Mom and my chairs, so that Lucy could relax, at my lap-level, in her doggie purse.  Mom and I felt like movie stars!

  
















I'd be a liar if I said that, after all of the royal treatment and attention that Lucy received, we weren't automatically sold on this place.  However, the food, wine, and service were dynamite, as well...

Moments after we placed our beverage orders - a pinot noir for me, a chardonnay for Mom - a basket filled with warm, crusty, and freshly-baked breads arrived.  A pat of spreadable, salted butter served as an accompaniment.

In an effort to taste more items, Mom and I chose to split everything we ordered.  

Heirloom Tomato Salad Multi-colored heirloom tomatoes and bite-sized pieces of haricot verts and red onion were tossed with Tuscan olive oil and aged balsamic.  Microgreens and a sizable dollop of creamy burrata cheese crowned the colorful vegetables.


Just as we were taking our last bites of salad, our server arrived with three house-made doggie biscuits for Lucy.  They certainly didn't want to leave her out of the meal!




















Summer Squash Pizza Aesthetically, this was one of, if not the most gorgeous pizzas I had ever seen.  And what's better?  It tasted just as lovely as it looked.  
Fragrant basil pesto laid the foundation for a slew of local and seasonal toppings, including: Zucchini, squash blossoms, sun-dried tomatoes, Nicoise olives, and ricotta and mozzarella cheeses.  The crust was perfectly cooked, evoking hues of golden brown and melted cheese-crusted air pockets on nearly every slice.  This delightful pie encompassed summer's bounty in every unctuous bite.



Since we split all of the vegetable-heavy savories, Mom and I felt that we did, in fact, deserve a dessert.  In keeping with somewhat of a "produce" theme, we chose to share the "Stone Fruit Soup,"  Our selection was also an ode to one of my favorite childhood books, Stone Soup.  :-)  

Stone Fruit Soup Chunks of ripe nectarines and brown sugar/oat cookie crumbles were topped with an ice cream-scoop size of snow white meringue and a ladle of "stone fruit" soup (a puree of various pitted fruits).  An edible pansy finished this breathtaking culinary presentation.
A variety of playful textures and both sweet and tangy flavors made this dessert the perfect ending to an incredibly lovely and special meal.



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Lindsay, Beverly Hills Bites