What a difference a remodel makes. The Belvedere Restaurant at the posh Peninsula Beverly Hills just reopened with a brighter, more contemporary, millennial-inspired décor that’s a feast for the eyes while the food is a veritable banquet for the taste buds (but then it always was). The room has blossomed with blues and grays and exceptional art pieces by acclaimed artists such as Yayoi Kusama, Sean Scully and Robert Indiana highlighted by a commissioned piece by Fabienne Verdier.
The food, which has also been exception, is now created under the guidance of executive chef David Codney who prepares seasonally-centric offerings and signature dishes such as salt cod croquettes and grass-fed lamb tagine. At Lunch today, Jan. 25, the room was filled with well-dressed ladies who lunch bunch, executives, celebs and locals. The wait staff was exceptional as was the meal which was shared by two friends who were catching up after a long absence.
Before going into details of the meal let’s talk about the new décor. It was designed by San Francisco-firm EDG who revitalized the room while maintaining the hotel’s signature French-country appearance. Deep-tufted booths and banquettes were added. Tables are now covered with Parisian-inspired blue and white Toile de Jouy skirts with and topped with a crisp white linen cloth. Floors are done in white oak which helps accentuate the multi-million art collection. Right now dining is indoors but around March the patio will be opened once again and the Peninsula’s world class buffet brunch will be served on Sundays with a new menu that will spotlight seafood.
Everything we tasted today was divine from a smoked salmon pizza to grass fed lamb-bulgur meatballs for starters to a most unusual and spectacular-tasting charred Caesar made up of a beguiling combo of crispy Brussel sprouts, kale, garlic croutons, and sprinkled with peppercorn white anchovy dressing. We also shared a whole Branzino was about as perfectly prepared as a fish can be, stewed tomatoes, asparagus and an organic quinoa tabbouleh. It pays to know the famous and talented James Overbaugh, who was once the chef of the restaurant and now hold the title of executive assistant manager food and beverage operations and send over several items for us to sample. The equally skilled sous chef Kelsi Armijo also stopped by with offerings, while the main man, Offer Nissenbaum, who runs the hotel as GM, also put in an appearance –it pays to be a journalist.
The prices at the Belvedere aren’t as high as you might imagine at least for lunch with soups for $12, salads $14, appetizers in the mid-teens, pastas $16 to $24. However if you go for the big guns entrees we’re talking $32 for a monkfish osso bucco, $42 for seared scallops and $60 for spiny lobster bouillabaisse—all aiming to please the palate. The Branzino costs $38 and was well worth it. There is a veal chop for $54 and a 2-day dry aged 20-ounce bone in rib dish for $78. Desserts, which we skipped due to lack of room, range from $14 to $20 the latter for what sounds amazing—a chestnut mousse with brandy, dark chocolate and cherry. While we might have opted for that one, the caramel tart with Kalamata olive, cashew and popcorn was also rather tempting (next time).
The Belvedere at the Peninsula is located at 9882 South Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills, 310-551-2888. Do make a reservation before going to lunch or dinner.