I think a question often abhorred by food writers is the impending, "What is your favorite restaurant?" I however love this question and feel that if you have a passion for food, you always have a favorite - even if it's changing quite often. My favorite at the moment is Wolfgang Puck At Hotel Bel-Air.
The renovation of Hotel Bel Air has caused a bit of upheaval among certain folks. It was thought of as a landmark and we angelenos are very protective of the two or three landmarks this city has. Alas, change is inevitable. But the good news is Hotel Bel Air is looking up...
I have now been several times, a birthday brunch for a friend, a couple times for dinner and another time for lunch. My most recent visit began with a visit to the famous bar. It's worth noting that the bar is still very, very special. A fireplace still glows bright in one room and a new and impressive cocktail list makes both locals and visitors happy. I settled on a tequila cocktail with cucumber and basil. I could have drank 5 of these but thought better of it. It was smooth and refreshing. The perfect drink for a warm summer evening.
After enjoying our cocktail we moved over to the restaurant and were luckily sat in one of the booths. The patio is my current favorite in all of LA. Heaters and a retractable roof make it the perfect setting for our varying LA weather and particularly lovely on those rare warm summer evenings.
The menu reads similarly to Spago in some ways (the pastas and the seasonal ingredients) but is more American in style.
We started with a tasting of the fava bean soup. My was it spectacular. I've never had fava bean soup and while it could be too green, this was perfect and a wonderful reminder that summer is here.
A must order is the fresh pasta. I dare say Wolfgang Puck makes ravioli better than anyone else in this town. They are always buttery and delicate - little pillows of heaven. I almost feel guilty eating them but they are so, so incredible. Most recently they've been filled with artichokes and mascarpone, but no matter what they are filled with, order them! You will not regret it!
For entrees, I've become infatuated with the lamb saddle. Mediterranean in preparation, it comes with yogurt and smoked eggplant and a lovely lamb sauce. I could eat this dish once a week. Maybe even more. The lamb is from Colorado and so tender. The smokiness from the eggplant and the coolness of the yogurt provide a great juxtaposition.
Enjoy the lamb with the Bordeaux by the glass and savor every moment... It doesn't get much better than this!
This is one of those restaurants where you feel like you are celebrating just for being there. And life is short, so we should celebrate as often as possible!