Had a small celebration dinner last Saturday at The Belvedere in the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. The Peninsula is a tucked away very upscale hotel on little Santa Monica just west of where Santa Monica and Wilshire cross. We wanted a nice, elegant dinner in a reasonably quiet place - we knew the locale and the likely cost going in, which was good.
In keeping with the environment and folk you'd expect to see at the Peninsula, a yellow Lamborghini went screaming out of the parking lot as we handed our car over to the valet. A fine welcome salute for us!
We started with drinks in the bar, excellent selection of Champagne by the glass, which was nice. And great olive, pistachio, chip tray which was kept going for us as we sat. No problem sitting at a table in the bar at 8PM on a Saturday.
For dinner, I was surprised to find the room completely full with many tables just starting at 8:45. A mix of small and large parties, some families, some business folks. I was told they had a lot of regulars when I made the reservation, it certainly appeared so.
We brought our own wine, but the list had a very good selection and actually a good range pricewise, also. There were a few decent deals alongside some very less than decent deals - maybe those are better termed "extravagant options". It was certainly in line with what you find at similarly priced places. Corkage was $25 per bottle, more than I'd like, sure, but in line with what you'd expect.
Onto the food already - food is pretty much new American, with some twists on comfort food but I wouldn't call it comfort food centric at all. Entrees included Asian spiced Peking Duck breast, lots of fish dishes, a Veal Chateaubriand, a "Beef 2 ways" and more.
The amuse was a little grilled cheese sandwich (very good), a little espresso cup of tomato bisque (good) and an odd little plate of spicy cucumber salad in a round julienne. I didn't get the logic in the pairing with that one, but liked the sandwich and bisque and presentation.
For apps we mostly went with the "little plates" and got the mac and cheese (very hyped as an exciting dish). I'd describe it mostly as a buttered, lightly truffled al dente macaroni with a parmesan crisp - quite bland if the crisp wasn't included in each bite. A bit more creaminess to cut the oil of the butter with would've helped, I think. Didn't work as well as I'd hoped it would. I enjoyed the Foie "Duck Liver" much more - small slice on white toast with a rubarb marmalade and small bits of candied rhubarb on the side. Great flavors (it's hard to not do well with seared liver, period) and worked mostly well - the only small nit was the toast didn't stand up to the Foie and jam and got a little soggy. Also fried calamari - fine and light, and the Clam Chowder - very good. The Caasar looked really interesting - with white anchovy filets rolled around it and a neat, deconstructed presentation. I didn't get a taste, it was gone so fast and I was busy in Foie land.
For mains, I had the Veal Chateubriand. A great quality piece of veal tenderloin with a creamy mushroom sauce spooned over after the plate was placed on the table. Lots of veal on the plate, and quite good overall but I would've liked a little more crust on the meat or something else to complement the sauce. One neat aspect were the crispy sweetbread bits (I believe) served around it - they were the great counterpart to the sauce I was craving. The other mains of Duck breast and Garlic Crusted Cod were very well received, and the cod was clearly great quality fish, and well prepared.
For dessert, we had chocolate truffle pops and shaved chocolate/gianduia as a pre-dessert amuse, and a really well presented and very tasty bannana/chocolate dessert that came on a brass monkey tray. It was a little dish of bannanas Foster, a Chocolate-Peanut Butter tart, and some bananna brulee. I really great, rich dish that worked. Since we had chocolate already before dessert, it was a good complement to finish the meal with.
The service was great, overall a great experience, every bit as pricey as we expected but it was perfect for what we wanted for the occasion. I'd say the food could've been a bit better to "wow" me, but the entire package certainly worked well.
Thanks again to those who responded to my query earlier in the week.
You can see the menu at the link below.