No Empty Tables at Wolfgang’s

Ryan Seacrest and Larry King  dined at Wolfgang’s Steakhouse last week.  It’s a great place for steaks and cocktails.

Wolfgang’s Steakhouse was 100% full at 8pm on a Friday night. It’s not Puck’s, it’s another lively place on N. Canon Drive in Beverly Hills.  People come from all over Los Angeles to order the Porterhouse for Two.  It’s a filet mignon on one side and a porterhouse steak on the other.  It large enough for two, three of four people to share.

While looking over the menu, we listened to the lively piano music played by the talented Aldolfo Alexi, while sipping on refreshing mojitios.  We started with a Jumbo lump crabmeat cocktail.  It arrived in an iceberg lettuce bowl with cocktail sauce on the side, and a plate with spicy horseradish, saltines and Tabasco sauce.  Wolfgang’s salad was also in an iceberg lettuce cup with diced tomatoes, green beans, red peppers, shrimp, Canadian bacon and large chunks of onions.  If you love onions, you will enjoy this salad.  The salad is tossed in a very light vinaigrette to reveal the true flavors of the fresh vegetables, shrimp and bacon. 

If you love steaks and chops, this is a great destination.  The steaks are U.S.D.A. Prime Dry Aged in their own aging box.  They offer a 16 and 8 oz. filet mignon, Prime NY Sirloin steak cooked and sliced to perfection, a Rib eye steak, lamb and veal chop. But what if you don’t like red meat?  Wolfgang’s serves a delicious grilled Chilean seabass, Alaskan wild salmon and Yellow fin tuna.  All arrive in large portions without heavy sauces to hide or blanket their true taste.  It’s simple and high quality food.

Some of the enjoyable signature side dishes are the German potatoes or “hash browns,” the creamed spinach, sautéed mushrooms and onions, giant potato chips and creamed corn.  All can be shared by two or more people.

For dessert we had to try the apple strudel with house made “mit schlag” (whipped cream) and vanilla ice cream.

As I excused myself to visit the ladies room I was pleasantly surprised when I entered. Finally, European-style state of the art commodes in America.  Not only are the seats heated, but also there is a push button control panel with buttons to cleanse with warm water and to dry.

With locations in Park Avenue, Tribeca, Waikiki Beach, South Beach and Mexico City, we are lucky to have a Wolfgang’s in Beverly Hills. It’s high quality food prepared to provide the most natural flavors.  As we left at 10pm, the restaurant was still 100% full.  In today’s economy, that is rare to see.

445 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills – (310)385-0640.

Sensational SimonLA

Trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, chef Andrew Vaughan was working at the luxury Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans when hurricane Katrina hit.  In just a matter of hours, Andrew’s home, life, and job as a chef vanished.  His family lost everything and Andrew moved into the convention center.  A few days later, FEMA offered to give him a plane ticket to any city in the United States.  He chose Los Angeles, where he could explore the culinary world on the West Coast and avoid hurricanes.

SimonLA takes s’mores to a new level. And it tastes as good as it looks! (photo by Jill Weinlein) SimonLA takes s’mores to a new level. And it tastes as good as it looks! (photo by Jill Weinlein) 

A friend offered him a place to live while he volunteered at the award-winning Lucques on Melrose.  Owner/Chef Suzanne Goin introduced him to our city.  Months later he landed a job to help open the new SimonLA at the Sofitel across the street from the iconic Beverly Center. His talent was immediately noticed by the executive chef for whom the restaurant is named, Kerry Simon, and within a month Andrew became the Sous-Chef. Today, he is the Executive Sous-Chef and prepares an innovative menu that leaves patrons smiling and wanting more.

You can often tell a lot about a restaurant by its bread basket.  At SimonLA, diners receive a basket filled with blue cheese crackers, herb and Parmesan cheese cracker bread, corn bread, pretzel bread, and buttermilk biscuits, very creative and tasty.  I could hear my mother saying “Don’t fill up on the bread,” as I took a bite from each one.

We started with a gorgeous Farmer’s Market apricot salad with sweet gem lettuce (blend of romaine and bib), caramelized walnuts, bright orange sunburst tomatoes, and sweet apricots dressed with homemade Point Reyes blue cheese dressing. Next arrived a deeply delicious sushi-grade, blue fin tuna dynamite roll with lump of crab.

For an entrée, our waitress, Christy, recommended the bamboo steamed fish with lemon grass, ginger, kaffir lime and bok choy.  I opted for the grilled swordfish with little roasted heirloom potatoes, Chinese broccoli, cashews, and a kumquat sambal. My husband selected the tender filet mignon with toasted garlic, rapini (similar to a broccoli) and fragrant olive oil poached tomatoes.

The two sides we selected were the cauliflower gratin and truffled macaroni and cheese.  This is not a kid’s mac-n-cheese. Instead it’s a sophisticated adult version with loads of garlic.

For dessert, Christy brought out the cutest homemade s’more. The delicious chocolate ice cream bon-bon was the face of this dessert, with a burnt-to-perfection marshmallow hat and a thin graham cracker wafer as the brim.

Next, she brought a plate of freshly spun, pink cotton candy. I had to grab a handful to reminisce about summer evenings at the county fair. I declined the junk food platter that was delivered to guests in the next booth. It was filled with freshly made snowballs, ding dongs, caramel popcorn, rice crispy treats, cotton candy, and ice cream. We will save that for another time when we visit with a larger group. SimonLA, at the Hotel Sofitel, 8555 Beverly Blvd. (310)358-3979. http://www.simonlarestaurant

Auntie Em’s in Eagle Rock

Auntie Em's
Auntie Em's

This is my daughter’s and my favorite breakfast and lunch spot. Not only is food prepared from scratch daily, they cook by the season and use organic whenever possible. 

For Breakfast I adore the Bagels and Eggs – seeded bagel topped with Gruyere, grilled tomatoes and scrambled eggs, served with a delicious homemade salsa. The French Toast is super thick and the Homemade Granola with Strauss Dairy Organic Yogurt arrives with bananas and fresh berries.
For lunch instead of a BLT, they offer a BLAST – Applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, sprouts and mayo on a soft rosemary foccacia. Another favorite is the French Country Sandwich with Cypress Grove’s Humbolt Fog Goat Cheese, cucumber, baby greens, walnuts, honey on homemade wheat bread with pumpkin and poppyseed.

Save room for one of their 4 cupcakes: dark chocolate, red velvet, carrot cake and coconut. Auntie Em’s is at 4616 Eagle Rock Blvd. Los Angeles, (323) 255-0800.