Dining at the historic Guild on Sunset

Restauranteur Diego Leporini recently opened The Guild in the former Constance Bennett Building. It was the previous home to Al Bacio, which closed in 2015. Back in the 1930s, it was the Screen Actors Guild headquarters. To honor its celebrity cachet, Leporine thought naming his newest restaurant “The Guild” was fitting.

A delicious salad of mission figs, arugula, radishes, prosciutto and whipped ricotta is beautifully presented on black slate. Photo by Jill Weinlein
A delicious salad of mission figs, arugula, radishes, prosciutto and whipped ricotta is beautifully presented on black slate. Photo by Jill Weinlein

The walls are painted in a soothing blue tone with distressed high wainscoting and concrete floors. Casual Edison bulb lights hang from a beautiful copper ceiling with an elegant design.

The dining room seats 60 comfortably. We sat at a table for two looking over the front dining patio offering views of the lively and colorful Sunset Strip.

We ordered a variety of small plates that were presented on black slate with velvet backing to prevent scratching on the rustic wood tables. Other dishes are served on wood planks about one inch thick. Large plates include the “Game of Thrones” rack of lamb (served either as a full rack for two, or a half rack for one) and half of a roasted pig’s head served with pickled veggies and a green salad.

Next to the restaurant is The Guild Wine and Cheese shop. It’s an ideal party venue with a boutique wine store with racks of international and domestic wines. In addition to owning The Guild, Leporini is also the Director of Specialty Cellars, a wine import and export company. He represents wineries from Argentina, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain and the US. He discovers exceptional quality and value artisan wines that include small, hard-to-find boutique producers. His list includes a blend of Garnacha Blanca, Albariño, and Moscatel de Alejandría from Catalonia, Spain, as well as a selection of great wines from Napa, California.

A generous selection of charcuterie and specialty cheeses like Spanish manchego, French Roquefort, camembert and cambozola are available at the shop. Meats include Italian mortadella, Spanish speck and Pamplona chorizo.

Order one of the innovative jars - Photo by Jill Weinlein
Order one of the innovative jars – Photo by Jill Weinlein

Back at the restaurant, my husband and I started with the salmon tartare jar layered with chopped red beets, dill creme fraiche, pickled cornishons and little pearl onions. It was served with slices of crusty baguette. Other jars include hummus with pita bread; pates that range from pork rillette with jam and toast, to a mousse made with foie gras, chicken liver, and fig jam.

I really enjoyed the flavors of the earthy wild mushroom toast that includes oyster, crimini and shiitake sautéed in butter, garlic, herbs and white wine.

The best salad here is enhanced with black mission figs that are halved and served with arugula, a little prosciutto and small spheres of whipped ricotta, before drizzled with aged balsamic.

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

My husband ordered the duck confit special with risotto and a blueberry gastric, while I enjoyed a plate of buttermilk fried chicken. It arrived with kohlrabi fennel slaw, cornbread, and dots of honey mustard. The chicken was crispy on the outside, and extremely moist and tender inside. The slaw offered a crunchy and cooling profile on the palate and the cast iron cornbread offers an essence of bacon with a jalapeño honey butter.

We saved room for three fresh out-of-the-oven dark chocolate cookies sprinkled with a touch of sea salt and served with a bowl of milk sorbet and mixed berries. Also a blueberry cobbler with a sprig of mint. Both were heavenly.

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

I thoroughly enjoyed dining at this iconic spot on the Sunset Strip. Brunch is served on weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Guests can build their own customized four, six or eight item cheese and charcuterie board. Hearty brunch fare includes chilaquiles with pork belly, chicken and waffles, lobster Benedict and steak with eggs. Sweet treats include Hawaiian bread French toast. For an additional $16, guests may enjoy bottomless mimosas to pair with their fare.

Dinner service is on Monday through Thursday from 5 to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday dinner service is from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. Sunday the restaurant is open until 10 a.m. 8741 W. Sunset Blvd. $$ (424)279-9601.

This article was featured in the October 6, 2016 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News.

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