THE RESTAURANT AT HOTEL BEL-AIR
FRENCH CALIFORNIA HAUTE CUISINE by Kaya Morgan
A quiet retreat, tucked away in a forested canyon, amid the bubbling fountains and a well-manicured landscape lies the historic Bel-Air Hotel. One of the most luxuriant and respected properties in the world, its situated one mile west of infamous Beverly Hills, and just a brief half mile off Sunset Boulevard. Here you enter another time and place located on 12 expansive acres of lush gardens overflowing with roses, hyacinths, gardenias, flowering peaches and a 200 year-old California Oak. Soaring bird of paradise, tipu trees and swaying palms accentuate the pink stucco, mission-style structure reminiscent of the Hollywood of old.
Its no surprise that the Hotel Bel-Air has long been a private and exclusive hideaway for the movie moguls. A well-known haunt of the rich and famous with its close proximity to the studios, many film executives and screen legends alike including Grace Kelly, Jackie Gleason, Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe were frequent patrons. And, the legacy continues today as you may just as often find celebrities like Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt, Billy Crystal, Kate Winslet or Whoopi Goldberg tucked away in a quiet corner sharing a meal or perhaps working a deal with friends in the industry.
Whether your preference is the main dining room or outdoor, alfresco dining of the supremely-coveted, Terrace tables overlooking the gardens and picturesque Swan Lake, you are truly in dining heaven. Executive Chef, Thomas Hanson, has been instrumental in developing and creating many of the signature dishes that have made the Hotel Bel-Air renowned today. Hanson, a native of California, has a history of culinary experience from top resorts and hotels throughout the Western United States.
Superbly relaxed and comforting, the French country-style dining room offers some exceptional surprises. At "Table One," the private dining room, a nine-foot picture window allows up to eight guests to watch their meal being prepared by the Chef. But, do schedule in advance as it is available by reservation only. And, Chef Hanson will customize the menu to diners particular preferences, offering various seasonal specialties. The six-course dinner menu is a favorite choice at a reasonable fixed price per person.
The menu is eclectic, ever changing and very, very creative. The seasonal menu in the main dining room begins with Maine lobster pot pie with black trumpet mushrooms and spring vegetable, jumbo lump crab and avacado parfait with cucumber, or oven roasted squab with three cheese ravioli, Swiss chard and pancetta-sage sauce. Just imagine the tastes of dishes like pumpkin seed crusted John Dory with squash blossom risotto, wilted greens and sauce raito, or marinated spicy lamb loin with lentil-couscous, yogurt cucumbers and cumin-mint sauce. You might wish to try the contrasting flavors of the seared Ahi tuna and Foie Gras with jasmine rice cake, Shiitake mushrooms and mango-ginger sauce.
Lunch is equally tantalizing with niçoise with Ahi tuna, haricots verts, new potato, tomato and Quail eggs or spicy grilled swordfish on crispy noodle cake with pineapple relish and curry-mango sauce.
You may even say, "The devil made me do it," when giving in to the temptation of a dessert menu such as the bitter chocolate and coffee soufflé, orange calisson almond crème anglaise or the ever-popular chocolate pyramid at the river Nile.
Under the dutiful guidance of award winning, hotelier and Vice-President, Frank Bowling, the hotel has maintained its ranking as one of The Leading Hotels of the World. It is, without a doubt, an icon in the Hollywood movie industry. Yet, the beauty, comfort, and hospitality of the restaurant and its attentive staff notwithstanding, it is most definitely the food that has brought The Restaurant at Hotel Bel-Air, the renown it enjoys and so richly deserves.
Grilled Veal Chop with Gremolada,
Roasted garlic-sage Polentaa
and Barolo-Sage Reduction
8 veal chops (tied)
1 qt. soft Polenta with sage & garlic
6 bunches broccollini (blanched)
1/4 cremolada (see below)
1 pt. Barolo Jus
8 sage sprigs
1/4 c. lemon zest (finely minced)
garlic (finely minced)
red pepper (fine brunoise)
chives (chopped small)
Neatly cut all ingredients and mix gently.
2 c. polenta (medium coarse)
1 qt. chicken stock or water
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz. sweet butter
1/2 c. roasted garlic purée
1/4 c. sage - chiffoonade
salt (kosher) to taste
pepper (freshly ground) to taste
Bring chicken stock to a boil. Next, in a slow, steady stream add polenta while continually whisking so the polenta doesn't get lumps. When the polenta starts to thicken, lower the heat to low and cook 30-40 minutes stirring every few minutes so the polenta doesn't burn. When polenta is cooked, remove from heat and add the rest of the ingredients and adjust the seasoning to taste.
*Note: If the polenta gets dry and thick, add a little stock. This can also be done at the end of cooking, too!
1 large diced carrot
1/2 large diced onion
1 rib large diced celery
3 sliced shallots
2 coarse chopped garlic
1 sachet of sage-parsley-thyme
2 c. Barolo wine
3-4 c. veal demi
salt & pepper to taste
sweet butter (optional)
3 T. oil
In sauce pot caramelize the vegetable (mirepoix) lightly. Add the sachet, red wine and reduce until 1/2 cup remains. Next, add the veal demi and reduce until 1 pint (2 c.) remain. If the sauce is not thick enough, you may thicken slightly with a little cornstarch; this is sometimes necessary when the veal demi is not too reduced. Strain the Barolo sauce through a chinois or fine mesh strainer, cover and keep in a warm place. If you want a richer and more delicate flavor whisk in a few pats of sweet whole butter.
For reservations call 310.207.5175 or www.hotelbelair.com
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Las Vegas, NV. 89117
More stories by journalist, Kaya Morgan, can be found by clicking the link. Contact us for reprint rights as most articles are available.
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