Alain Gayot, the restaurant, hotel and epicurean guru whose name is as synonymous with guidebooks as, say, Fodors — but with a French twist — weighs in on what he considers the primo power lunch spots in L.A. Some constitute the usual suspects, while others range from the perennially classic to the terminally hip.
Hipper than thou
Barney Greengrass Barneys New York, 9570 Wilshire Blvd., Bev Hills (310/777-5877)
People don’t come to Barney’s to shop necessarily. The top floor features this evergreen delicatessen with killer views and lunchers munching on smoked salmon, sturgeon, bagels with chopped liver and other New York deli classics. Be sure to dress for the occasion.
Chaya Brasserie 8741 Alden Dr., L.A. (310/859-8833)
From the days of La Petite Chaya to this stable location just down the street from New Line and the more conspicuous Ivy, Chaya Brasserie — with its creative Japanese French cuisine — still draws an attractively glam crowd even as it enjoys its 20th anniversary this month. It does get loud but there’s a reason for its perennial hipness — Chaya rocks.
Gardens The Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, 300 S. Doheny Dr., L.A. (310/273-2222)
Formidably orchestrated service fawns over you while you discuss the biz over ahi tartare poolside; the patio is not bad either. Chef Conny Andersson plays the California card to the max and loves his faithful clientele of A-listers.
Mr. Chow 344 N. Camden Dr., Bev Hills (310/278-9911)
Everyone who’s anyone has eaten here. It’s a paradox: a place where industry players feel utterly comfortable (enjoying crispy duck and fried rice for lunch) while at the same time plenty of patrons, even celebs themselves, just like to watch — at least surreptitiously.
Bastide 8475 Melrose Pl., W. Hollywood (323/651-5950)
Chef Alain Giraud is a fortunate man. His unrestricted budget allows him access to the choicest ingredients as well as an outstanding team of professionals coordinated by the experienced maitre d’ Donato Poto and flanked by a very French sommelier. Table 20 on the patio (or 25 if that one’s taken) is quickly becoming the favorite spot with the cognoscenti.
Juliano’s Raw 609 Broadway, Santa Monica (310/587-1552)
Demi Moore swears by it and Donna Karan got newly slim with a macrobiotic diet; no wonder raw food is fast replacing the protein craze in Hollywood — and Juliano’s is fast becoming the raw food guru with his “gourmet living cuisine” in Santa Monica. Try the Rawvioli or the Tijuana Taco.
Sona 401 N. La Cienega Blvd., W. Hollywood (310/659-7708)
David Meyers and his wife have become L.A. culinary sweethearts. Deliciously creative dishes will please your palates and leave you craving a return engagement. Industry folks have been quick to pick up on the talent here.
Tama Sushi 11920 Ventura Blvd., Studio City (818-760-4585)
Why does sushi play such a huge role in L.A.? We French cannot figure it out. But if you crave raw (or live) fish, the valley’s shrine to the “deliciousness of fish” is a must-do. Respect the chef fully, and let him put together an omakase menu for you.
The Grill on the Alley 9560 Dayton Way, Bev Hills (310/276-0615)
The home of the L.A. power lunch makes one feel instantly dignified with its classic look, excellent service and yesteryear flair. Sink into one of the dark-wood booths and order the steaks or sautéed soft-shell crabs.
Polo Lounge, The Beverly Hills Hotel, 9641 Sunset Blvd., B.H. (310/281-5702)
This venerable institution oozes authentic old Hollywood charm. Great people watching combines with dealmaking over steak tartare on the sunny patio. Once they know your face you might just get your favorite table without asking. Life in So Cal hardly gets better.