Hollywood is truly about great icons: Rodeo Drive, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the famous sign in the Hollywood hills. And then there are the people: Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando… just to name a few…
We were already staying in the historical Beverley Hills Hotel and it was time to experience the iconic food and restaurants that Hollywood had to offer.
The Zagat guide named Wolfgang Puck’s Spago the most iconic restaurant in Los Angeles, so the two Michelin Star restaurant seemed like the perfect place for us to begin our luxurious foodie tour of Beverley Hills.
Though born in Austria, Wolfgang Puck has become synonymous with fine dining in the USA, and he now has twenty-five restaurants in the States as well as others internationally. His London chapter is called The Cut and can be found at 45 Park Lane, serving incredible steaks and fish.
Spago was Puck’s first restaurant, which he opened on Sunset strip but later relocated to Beverley Hills. In the new location Puck reinvented his Californian classic dishes and he has set the standard as one of the ultimate in fine dining restaurants in LA.
We started with a sushi bento box containing big eye tuna, salmon pearls, red snapper and a refreshing yuzu gelee. The chef at Spago sources the finest ingredients from local farms and fisheries so it was no surprise that the fresh, raw fish was of the highest quality.
I’ve always loved pasta and when we were in Florence Mr Silver and I developed the rather calorific habit of eating a pasta starter. But who can resist when it’s this good? Farfelle with lobster was our second starter, but at least we counteracted the hefty carbs with the portion of sashimi and sushi.
My main course followed the Asian theme of the starter. A Hong Kong style steamed cod with bok choy and Jasmine rice. A lovely, light and healthy dish and with no hint of the dryness I find in badly cooked cod.
Meat-loving Mr S spotted one of his favourite dishes on the menu: rack of lamb. Sourced from Sonoma, near the Napa Valley, the meat was local from California and perfectly rare, just how he likes it. I loved the look of the clever little falafel macaroons that were served alongside the meaty main.
For dessert we shared a strawberries and cream shortcake. We anticipated a small and light dish but actually received a mammoth portion. A little taster was enough for me but Mr Silver has been taught to always finish his food so you can imagine he left feeling pretty satisfied after our meal.
The Ivy on Robertson Boulevard is one of the top places in Los Angeles for celebrity spotting. A-listers such as Brad Pitt, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez and Lindsay Lohan all frequent the charming Beverley Hills restaurant.
When we arrived the outside patio was absolute buzzing with people; this place had a fantastic atmosphere!
Though we had a booking the restaurant was so busy that they asked us to wait inside for twenty minutes, but waiting wasn’t too hard as they offered us free champagne as compensation.
The inside of the restaurant is like a farm cottage with rough wood tables, hanging buckets and brightly coloured walls.
I loved all the gorgeous bunches of brightly coloured flowers that surrounded us.
The old-school rustic feel, comfy sofas and friendly service made us feel right at home and we were soon led to our outside table.
The waiter suggested that we try their signature cocktail, a champagne sangria, a drink nearly as famous as some of restaurant’s clientele. The sangria went down a treat…it was almost too drinkable.
The menu at The Ivy is Californian / Italian and there is so much choice of everything from comfort food to healthy salad. We found it very difficult to decide.
A starter of smoked salmon pizza to share seemed an obvious choice as it was basically my two favourite foods in one! The pizza represents an iconic Los Angeles dish as it was actually invented by Wolfgang Puck at Spago. He topped pizza dough with creme fraiche, smoked salmon and dill and called it ‘Jewish Pizza!’ What can I say, it was divine! Jewish pizza, for the Jewish princess!
I ordered a Scarletti to accompany my main course; fresh strawberries mixed with champagne, was something I just couldn’t pass up!
And seeing as the theme of today’s post is icons, Mr Silver and I choose some of our favourites on our last day in California. Linguine with seafood was comprised of perfect silky strands of pasta and packed full of perfectly cooked shellfish.
And of course my favourite dish in California, fish tacos! And why not go for the best? So I chose lobster served with guacamole, black beans and rice.
We totally adored The Ivy and it’s an unmissable place for lunch. We didn’t see any stars, but hopefully we’ll be more lucky next time. I hear Kim pops in there all the time!!
I mentioned in a previous post that I try not to eat at restaurants abroad that I could visit in London. Now, this rule doesn’t count if it’s Nobu. Yes, I can make my own rules up! Because Nobu is our favourite restaurant, where we are always guaranteed absolutely outstanding food. We had already visited Nobu Malibu
earlier in the holiday but I chose Nobu West Hollywood for our final iconic dining experience.
So why is a Japanese restaurant an iconic LA dining experience? Well it all began with chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Japanese born, he moved to Lima where he integrated Peruvian ingredients into his Japanese cookery. In 1977 he moved to LA and in 1987 opened his very first restaurant in Beverley Hills, named Matsuhisa. So as you can see LA, was the original home of the now worldwide group. In 1994, in partnership with film legend Robert De Niro, the Japanese chef established the first NOBU branded restaurant in New York. There are now 28 Nobu’s worldwide, including Nobu Los Angeles which opened in 2008.
We are greeted by the dark and sexy interior of the super-cool restaurant.
The West Hollywood Nobu is in keeping with the brand style but I love the way every restaurant is a little different.
We tried not to fall back on old favourites and asked the waiter to recommend a few dishes.
Black cod is the most iconic dish served at Nobu, but for something equally delicious and less pricy I also love the Chilean sea bass.
And the mixed seafood toban-yaki.
We ended our final night in LA in another of Hollywood’s greatest landmarks…
Chateau Marmont, a castle-like hotel, popular with the Hollywood rich and famous. The chateau is part of Andre Balazs’ empire which includes the super cool Standard Hotels and celeb-filled Chiltern Firehouse
in London. It is also a well-known hotel for where stars go to misbehave! Led Zeppelin rode their motorcycles through the lobby, John Belushi died of a drug overdose while staying in the Chateau and Britney Spears got banned from the place due to her bizarre behaviour during her meltdown phase! As you can see the place in pretty infamous. Mr S and I enjoyed a drink at the bar and sadly (!) didn’t witness any crazy celebrity antics!
Our time in LA LA land was at in a end and we prepared to move on to our final destination, Vegas!!