Walking into the Grand Lux Café on the corner of La Cienega and Third Street at the base of the Beverly Center, my daughter exclaimed, “I feel like I’m in Las Vegas.” The marble floors, rich jewel tones and gold accents reminded us of the Cheesecake Factory at the Caesar Forum. Our waiter explained that Grand Lux Café was a brainchild of David Overton, Founder of The Cheesecake Factory. He was approached by the Venetian Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas to create an upscale, yet casual restaurant for the resort. Overton was so excited about the opportunity that he traveled to Europe to study cafes, trattorias and bistros in Italy, France and Vienna. The trips inspired his design concept, menu and décor. He wanted Grand Lux Café to be a destination where anyone in the family or group could find a dish they like, so he offers food from around the globe. Recipes from Asia, America, Europe and even the Caribbean are featured throughout the menu of over 170 items. Since his Las Vegas flagship was a huge success, he has opened others in eight states.
While dining for lunch, I asked the waiter what dishes are popular? He replied, “The crispy calamari is the number one appetizer sold.” It arrived with a warm Marinara sauce and was a tasty treat. Another top seller is their BBQ pork sliders topped with cole slaw. I thought I would order something healthy, so I requested the beet and ricotta salad with arugula, fresh oranges and hazelnuts. It was refreshing. Next we were curious about the fried pickles. How often does one see that on a menu? They arrived warm with a tasty Remoulade sauce and were crispy, yet soft in the middle. They tasted heavenly. For an entrée, we ordered the Mahi Mediterranean. A crusted fresh Mahi fish arrived on a bed of mashed potatoes with roasted tomatoes, artichokes, capers, basil and topped with a olive oil and balsamic vinegar sauce. The portions are large and can easily be shared by two people. We were pleasantly surprised about how savory the sauce was in this dish. It had a hint of sweetness, yet pleasant to our palettes.
For dessert, they offer freshly baked (order with your entrée, because they take up to 20 minutes to bake) molten chocolate cake, warm New Orleans beignets served with three sauces for dipping, warm rustic apple pie a la mode, or my absolute favorite – homemade warm chocolate chip pecan cookies (arrive by the dozen) or a box of four freshly baked chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting. I wanted to try the beignets and the cookies, so I ordered both, ate one of each and took the rest home. Both were better than I expected.
Grand Lux Café serves lunch and dinner daily and offers a breakfast menu for Saturday and Sunday. For those who like to dine early, the Grand Happy Hour from 4 – 6:30pm on Monday to Friday with selected well drinks and wines by the glass are $5. Draft beers are $4. The majority of the appetizers, tapas and mini bites on their Happy Hour menu are also under $5.
In today’s economy, the Grand Lux Café is a safe bet for a winning meal.