Upon my first taste of avocado toast with pickled garlic and thinly sliced red onions, I immediately knew my lunch at Mardi was going to be a pleasing experience. Located at the Palihouse West Hollywood boutique hotel, Kris Tominaga, formerly of Cadet and Hart and the Hunter, is group executive chef of the Paligroup. He named the restaurant Mardi after the French word for Tuesday – hence Mardi Gras. “Mardi is a pretty word, and kind of an underdog day of the week,” he said.
Entering Palihouse from the street, I walked down a stairway to the lobby lounge, with beautiful Moroccan tile flooring, distressed leather sofas and upholstered chairs giving the room a hip, Bohemian flair. Beyond is the restaurant, a European inspired courtyard brasserie under a large skylight allowing in natural light.
Kale salad is brightened up with slices of persimmon and shaved sheep’s milk cheese and tossed with a light walnut oil vinaigrette.
Even though it was a cloudy day, Tominaga transformed the al fresco dining space into a garden party.
We started our lunch with slices of ricotta toast with sliced chives and jars filled with delicious walnut butter spread and fruit jam. The bread is heavenly at Mardi, and comes from the east side bakery Bub & Grandma’s. The thick slices are light as air with holes for the ricotta to fill. It’s a rustic style of bread with a crunchy crust.
The wine list was carefully curated by Tominaga’s friends at nearby Wally’s Wine. We ordered a bottle of Italian Pieropan Soave Classico 2014. With a sip and swirl, this elegant wine offers a bouquet of floral notes with a little apple, pear and lemon verbena. It was a delicious choice with the earthy avocado toast dazzled with a sprinkling of chili and sesame seeds.
Next, we moved on to a more rustic and savory sandwich layered with slices of salty prosciutto, creamy brie and a drizzle of honey. The crunchy baguette slices were too thick for me to eat as a sandwich, so I opened it and enjoyed the two halves open faced. A mixed- leaf salad glazed with a simple yet elegant vinaigrette accompanied the sandwich.
Tominaga’s salad dressings are made with nut oils. When we ordered the colorful kale with thinly sliced persimmon and apple salad, it was dressed with smooth walnut oil mixed with sherry vinegar. Spiced pecans, dried cherries and shaved sheep’s milk cheese were artfully arranged on top. We all enjoyed the balance of sweet and savory flavors with this dish.
Another pleasing salad was the perfectly grilled salmon filet on a bed of wild rice with sliced red peppers, radish, fennel and watercress. This was dressed with a subtle pistachio oil vinaigrette.
Dessert was a chocolate mousse that looked like a budino with a crown of sweet whipped cream – delightful ending to a wonderful lunch at a restaurant with a pretty name.
Palihouse West Hollywood offers 37 studio, one- and two-bedroom guest suites with fully equipped kitchens and a few loft-style residences above Mardi.
Chef Tominaga prepares an all day menu starting at 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. The lunch menu is offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner service is Tuesday through Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to closing. Bring the family to the weekend brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. $$ 8465 Holloway Drive, (323)656-4100. mardirestaurant.com.
This article was featured in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News on March 2, 2017.