One block away from Lisa Vanderpump’s exclusive West Hollywood restaurant and lounge, SUR, is her recent endeavor with husband Ken Todd, PUMP.
I arrived alone on a Wednesday evening and was welcomed by the charming host up front. He sat me at a lovely table on the outdoor patio, under 100-year-old olive trees, and two tables away from Ken Todd and his daughter Pandora. They were dining with friends at a round table in the center of the patio.
As the sun set, the patio became more stunning and romantic with lanterns hanging from branches of the ancient trees and candles casting flickering shadows on the patio and interior of the restaurant. The decor has a French influence with decorative pieces from Parisian bridges below each bar area.
Looking over the Mediterranean and Italian influenced menu, I ordered a glass of Chardonnay and roasted beet and goat cheese Napoleon with candied pistachios. Todd walked over to my table for a chat. We met before when I dined and reviewed their Beverly Hills establishment, Villa Blanca. I reminded Todd, and we both laughed, about how he sat down next to me at Villa Blanca, ordered a dish of his Grandma Edith’s sticky toffee pudding, grabbed a spoon, and fed me bites of the delicious dessert.
All of a sudden, PUMP grew quiet as Vanderpump strolled onto the dining patio. It was as if the most popular girl in high school was sauntering into a classroom. All eyes were on her. If you don’t know who Vanderpump is, she is one of the stars of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and producer of “Vanderpump Rules.”
She noticed her husband talking to me and came over to my table. After a reintroduction, I learned that Vanderpump personally designs the interiors of many of their restaurants, including Villa Blanca, SUR and PUMP.
I also discovered that this dynamic duo have a big heart and financially support the organization Keep Memory Alive. It’s an organization that develops treatments and preventions of neurological disorders that include Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Wanting to see her daughter Pandora, Vanderpump excused herself and walked over to her table. The amiable Todd gave me a hug and ambled table to table to chat with guests.
This “Hollywood Royalty” now own 27 restaurants and bars. Their daughter Pandora became involved in the restaurants, after graduating from Pepperdine University in Malibu. She currently has a LVP (Lisa Vanderpump) Sangria line that guests can order at PUMP.
Enjoying my salad, I asked my server a few questions about the restaurant and the chef. He shared with me that I should take a peek at the silver vase that Lady Gaga presented as a gift to Lisa Vanderpump. It’s located near the back bar on the patio.
He then had the Executive Chef Penny Davidi come to my table to discuss the menu. Chef Penny was known as the Food Network’s Middle Eastern Mama in the popular television show, Chopped. She was such a fan favorite that she came back on “Chopped All-Stars.”
She shared with me that her Farsi name is Pouneh, which means “edible flower. She is a playful, likable and feisty chef. When Vanderpump and Todd met Davidi, they liked her cooking style and felt she would be the perfect choice as Executive Chef at PUMP.
Davidi is also a certified US Foods Culinary Specialist. She creates both healthy and sexy dishes, such as Kale on a Date, creamy burrata with colorful heirloom tomatoes, the Pinky Pump burger with caramelized red onions, pomegranate ketchup, and feta cheese, on a brioche bun and served with a side of thick cut fries, and Davidi’s favorite the Guinness battered fish and chips.
All of the desserts are made in her kitchen with her recipes. Besides working at PUMP, Penny also owns a bakery, ToC near the Beverly Center and Cedars Sinai.
The restaurant is open nightly and offers a decadent Sunday Brunch. It’s had to believe that this dazzling spot was once the gravel parking lot for Java Detour.
Before leaving I visited the all silver women’s restroom and peeked inside the private cabana’s in the back of the patio. They are decorated with a French Moroccan theme. On the walls were famous hand painted Vanderpump sayings, including “Life isn’t all diamonds and rose, but it should be…”
$$ Hours nightly are 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday Brunch begins at 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 8948 Santa Monica Blvd. (310)657-7867.
A portion of this article was featured in the Beverly Press and Park La Brea News – Aug. 21, 2014