The Breakfast Club is like an all day/night long brunch extravaganza. Dinner selections include chicken and waffles, pizzas, roasted salmon, shrimp and grits, and much more. They have a fresh juice bar as well as a
full-service bar offering an extensive list of cocktails, wines and beer. If I lived nearby, I’d be a regular for sure. Just a couple of blocks southwest, I found myself at Lighthouse on Sunset Boulevard. The world famous Van Gogh immersive exhibit was showing. Obviously it isn’t something new, but the reason I’m pointing this out is because of the new venue. Lighthouse was originally the iconic Amoeba Music building, and before that the Park Bowl Bowling Alley. The space offers the immersive 25,000 square feet to display Van Gogh and his work in all its beauty and sadness. It is a cavernous venue, and and even has a staircase up to a catwalk where visitors can watch the exhibit from above. Floor to wall to ceiling transformations of the artist’s work and life constantly shift, move and morph to tell his story and exhibit his breathtaking artwork accompanied by classical music. Adding Edith Piaf singing at the denouement of the visual story offered a well-needed emotional boost to the experience.
I was excited that mid-way through my visit to Los Angeles I was going to switch hotels and move over to the Silver Lake Pool and Inn located in the gorgeous Silver Lake neighborhood. The Inn is a gem of a hotel and beautifully designed. Staying here felt like I was at an upscale Mexican spa. My very spacious room had a full view of not only Griffith Observatory but of the Hollywood sign, too.
Upon securing a chaise lounge by the pool, I ordered an exceptionally smart cocktail called an Usignolo. It’s a concoction of tequila, Aperol, and blackberry with lemon, which instantly melted away all my cares. The Inn’s restaurant, Marco Polo Trattoria and Bar, was fantastic. Billed as an Italian Coastal restaurant, the breezy outdoor dining area transported me back to Sorrento. I invited a friend who lives nearby in Silver Lake to join me for dinner one night and everything we feasted upon was delicious.
I have to admit, my favorite dish at Marco Polo was probably their simplest. When I first checked in it was almost 3 P.M. and the kitchen was going to close for lunch in 5 minutes. I quickly ordered their cucumber salad made with avocado and mint tossed with a green goddess dressing and a sprinkling of bottarga. If you’re not familiar with it, bottarga is the roe sac of a fish, which is salted, massaged to expel air pockets, and has a wonderful fishy and savory taste. It topped the salad beautifully and I had the chef add to the dish a perfectly grilled chicken breast. Smoky char on the outside, soft, almost buttery on the inside. With a cold glass of Pinot Grigio, I was in heaven.
The Inn is within walking distance of Sunset Junction, which is the intersection of Santa Monica and Sunset Boulevards. A plethora of restaurants, boutique stores, coffee shops, and bars populate this area. And although it’s certainly not new, it’s worth mentioning that the Eagle LA is just a block and a half from the Inn.
One afternoon, I called a car to take me to Daybird, Top Chef winner Mei Lin’s sandwich shop. It initially opened March 2021, and when we arrived there was a line of hungry patrons winding around the Silver Lake Plaza. During my visit there was no seating inside or out, so I picked up my pre-ordered Szechuan hot chicken sando (fried chicken thigh) with purple slaw accompanied with the Daybird special sauce and I had my driver head back to the Inn. The sandwich was bigger than my head and with one bite of the super crunchy crust with the perfectly cooked thigh inside I realized why people were lining up for this sandwich. Although I ordered the “mild”, after two bites my eyelids were sweating. Delicious, I thought, smiling through tears.
The most extraordinary meal and dining experience of my trip, how ever, was at Nancy Silverton’s The Barish, which is located in the historic Roosevelt Hotel.
For those who don’t know, Nancy is a chef, baker, and author. In 2014 she won the James Beard Foundation’s Chef Award and she’s famous for her sourdough and artisan breads. Nancy opened the outdoor Barish popup with a limited menu in November 2020, and the current restaurant expanded to its full concept for indoor dining in April 2021.
Upon entering the restaurant, I was greeted by the very personable and smart general manager, Carone Lowrey. Glancing at the beautiful dining room and bar, I asked her who created it. “Our interior was designed by Nikki Kehoe. We did quite a bit of remodeling and updating when we entered the space.” The Barish is sophisticated yet gives off a very friend ly vibe. It’s elegant but not stuffy. Upon being seated, Carone went over the menu with me, making suggestions here and there and then paired my choices with possible wines.
Enter David Mintz, my server. He helped me to hone my choices and choose my wines. I must interject that David was outstanding. My first job when I moved to New York City was as a server at Windows on the World, and I know how challenging the work can be. As imperative as the ambience, as well as the food and wine are for a successful dining experience, a huge influence is your server. David was professional but friendly, knowledgeable, and patient. It’s a talent.
This looked like it was going to be maybe six or seven courses and I realized I’d better just have a few bites of everything or I was not going to be able to get through the evening.
A glass of Nerello Mascalese, a delicious red from grapes grown on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, and suggested by Carone, appeared at my table. Then the feast began. First up, Cicchetti (think Italian tapas). I chose the Pizza Fritta and the preserved vegetables. The pizza features Nancy’s signature dough, so I had to taste it. Each bite was a soft, pillowy, and slightly sweet pocket of deliciousness topped with fresh ricotta and black pepper. I wanted to devour the entire dish, but I needed control. Another plate, the preserved veggies appeared: zucchini, artichoke and eggplant served with a perfectly charred chunk of French-style Boule. The sweetness of the vegetables paired beautifully with subtle acidic tones in the preserve.
Then the tomato insalate with a white gazpacho arrived. There were roasted marcona almonds plus a stunning anise hyssop dressing. Oh, and slices of tangerine gave the dish a zing.
Suddenly I looked up and the very soft-spoken Chef Armen Ayvazyan appeared at my table, making sure that everything was to my liking. I praised his wonderful work.
For the pasta dish, I ordered the rigatoni. I know, I know, you’re thinking rigatoni? But wait. Mezzi rigatoni (half portion rigatoni) are stood upright individually and piped into each one is a filling of goat cheese and then a filling of corn. On top was a sprinkling of sage and rosemary, and something else I couldn’t quite put my finger on, then it’s baked in the wood fired oven. It’s a symphony of flavors. I took another bite and standing before me was Nancy herself, with her signature hairstyle and round colorful eyeglasses. Her huge smile appeared and I suddenly recognized the spice on top and blurted out, “Vadouvan! Kind of a French version of curry?” She laughed and said, “Exactly.”
The vadouvan, which does have a kick of heat, dances so well with the tanginess of the goat cheese and the sweetness of the corn. The sage and rosemary added the touch of savory and then there’s the vadouvan. Nancy said that she makes her own blend. Seriously, she should bottle and sell it, if she hasn’t already. This was the most unexpected and exciting dish on the menu. This isn’t your mother’s mac and cheese, this is the adult version. The rigatoni is not only beautiful and delicious, it’s fun and whimsical.
Nancy also shared that she recently opened a Pizzeria Mozza in London to great success and she’s excited about opening Osteria Mozza in Singapore in the near future. I thanked both Carone and David profusely, and as I turned to leave I spotted Nancy. She smiled. I went over to her and whispered, “I feel like I just had dinner at your home. Thank you, so much!”
Seventeen years went by and I had returned to Los Angeles again, but this time as a full-fledged tourist. From the glitz and sparkling beauty of the Thompson to the sophisticated sumptuousness and welcoming of The Barish, it was exciting to discover that LA was more than alive and still kicking. She is actually stunning. She is a star. She is a true comeback Story. But if that’s the case, then I guess I’m the Come Back Kid!
Los Angeles RESOURCES
Thompson Hollywood, 1541 Wilcox Avenue, Los Angeles. Tel: 323-465-1234. A luxury lifestyle hotel, Thompson is located in the heart of Hollywood. This 11-story hotel features 190 guest rooms, 16 suites, 15,000 square feet of event space, a state-of-the-art fitness center plus a rooftop pool. www.hyatt.com/ en-US/hotel/california/thompson-holly wood/laxth
Tommie Hotel, 6516 W Selma Avenue, Los Angeles. Tel: 323-871-1234. Offering a balance of luxury and minimalism, Tommie celebrates the creative traveler wanting to be inspired by their environment. http://www.hyatt.com/
Silver Lake Pool and Inn, 4141 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles. Tel: 323-486-7225. A restorative jewel in Silver Lake offering extra spacious light-filled rooms, an elegant pool and an exceptional Italian restaurant on site. www.palisociety.com
The Godfrey Hotel Hollywood, 1400 Cahuenga Blvd, Los Angeles. Tel: 323-762-1000. With 220 guestrooms and one of the largest rooftops in Hollywood, the Godfrey is a stunning new hotel. www.godfreyhotelhollywood.com
The Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles. Tel: 323-856-1970. Completely renovated and located across Hollywood Boulevard from the Chinese Theatre, it was the host of the first Academy Awards, and is now home to the Barish Restaurant. www.thehollywoodroosevelt.com
Vogue Multicultural Museum, 6675 Holly wood Blvd, Los Angeles. Tel: 323-463-6767. Built in 1935 and once the theatre that premiered all the new movies in Hollywood, the renovated Vogue is now a versatile museum with an eclectic line-up of coming exhibitions. www.vmmla.com
Lighthouse, 6400 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles. Tel: 844-307-4644. The former mega Amoeba Music store, Lighthouse is now an expansive exhibit venue. www.vangoghla.com
The Barish, 7000 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles. Tel: 323-856-1970. Celebrity Chef Nancy Silver ton’s exceptional California inspired steakhouse located in the historic Roosevelt Hotel. www.thehollywoodroosevelt.com/about/foo
Bar Lis at the Thompson Hollywood, 1541 Wilcox Avenue, Hollywood. Tel: 323-410- 6210. Bar Lis celebrates the South of France with gorgeous décor, a bar with a retractable roof and an extensive offering of small plates. www.barlisla.com
The Terrace at the Thompson Hollywood, 1541 Wilcox Avenue, Hollywood. Tel: 323-465- 1234. Located on the rooftop of the Thompson Hotel, The Terrace is open for breakfast and lunch with 360-degree views of Hollywood and beyond. www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/california/thompson-hollywood/laxth/dining
Mes Amis at the Thompson Hollywood, 1541 Wilcox Avenue, Hollywood. Tel: 323-465-1234. Chef Lincoln Carson’s new French restaurant inspired by the cafes found in Paris and Lyon. www.mesamisla.com
Mother Wolf, 1545-1551 Wilcox Avenue, Holly wood. Super star Chef Evan Funke’s new Holly wood restaurant located in the historic Citizen News building celebrating his love of Roman inspired dishes. www.motherwolfla.com
The Dude’s Brewing Company, 6615 Holly wood Blvd, Hollywood. Tel: 323-321-6056. Hollywood’s first brewery offering up a staggering amount of signature beers, ales and wines alongside an extensive food menu. www.thedudesbrew.com/hollywood
The Breakfast Club, 1600 Vine Street, Hollywood. Tel: 213-802-2582. Popular hangout for instagramers and influencers offering brunch day and night with a full-service bar. www.thebreakfastclubla.com
The Marco Polo Trattoria and Bar, 4141 Santa Monica Blvd, Silver Lake. Tel: 323-486-7176. Set amidst the Silver Lake Pool and Inn this beautiful indoor/outdoor restaurant offering Italian coastal dishes is inspired by seasonal California produce. www.marcopolola.com
Daybird, 240 N Virgil Ave Suite 5, Silver Lake. Celebrity Chef Mei Lin’s incredibly popular fried chicken outpost. www.daybirdla.com
Bar Lis, 1541 Wilcox Avenue, Hollywood. Tel: 323-410-6210. Located on the rooftop of the Thompson Hotel offering an abundance of small plates plus live music and DJs with amazing views of Hollywood. www.barlisla.com
Eagle LA, 4219 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles Tel: 323- 669-9472 Although not new, this iconic leather bar is located just a block and a half from the Silver Lake Pool and Inn. www.eaglela.com/home
Avelo Airlines, 346-616-9500. New to town, the budget airline based out of Houston, Texas servicing Hollywood. www.aveloair.com