It is that time again: Oscar weekend in Los Angeles. It seems to be the one weekend out of the year when LA shines (although rain is in the forecast) and everyone comes out to play. The hotels are booked to capacity, restaurants are filled to the brim, and traffic is bumper to bumper.
It has also been the one time of the year when London's Soho House made an appearance -- but only for one week before the big Oscar ceremony. This year they finally have a permanent location at the top of an office building in West Hollywood with a fabulous 360 degree view of the city of angels and movie stars. Waldo Fenandez did an extraordinary job designing the club. It feels like a comfortable old English gentleman's club with a dash of the modern. An oxymoron, but it works. So super chic. I guess that is why it is the chosen location for some of Oscar weekend's most glamorous parties. Elton John hosted a party where Madonna mingled with Harvey Weinstein and other assorted music and movie stars.
I had a taste of the wonderful cocktails and cuisine to come at a trial run last night. Mind you, it was just a preview as the restaurant is not officially open, but everything was wonderful. I especially loved the pizza and all the home made breads, although you can find the same terrific pizza at Cecconi's, which is also owned by the Soho House Group. The Executive chef is Matt Armistead, who came over from London, where he cooked for six years at my favorite London restaurant, The River Cafe. (The restaurant has spawned some of England's great chefs -- Jamie Oliver and April Bloomfield, among others). The menu at the Soho House reflects the Mediterranean cuisine that the dearly beloved Rose Gray and her partner Ruth Rogers created.
My cocktail of choice last night was Garretts Club Punch. it was a refreshing blend of Bombay London dry gin, lemon juice, maraschino and champagne. It is heavenly! I can't wait to go back for another!
It is about time that Soho House found a permanent home. I look forward to eating there it as it grows and matures. I am sure this will become the destination spot for many years to come.
Another super star on this Oscar weekend is the Tower Hotel and Bar, which was the location for last year's and now, once again, this year's Vanity Fair Oscar party. I understand the choice because it has that same understated elegance and warmth once felt at Mortons restaurant where the party was held for 15 years. But... you don't have to be lucky enough to be invited to the VF party to experience the Tower's hospitality and star studded clientele. It is open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. On any given day or night you may see the likes of Robert De Niro, Jennifer Aniston, Gerard Butler, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Leonardo Di Caprio... all have been spotted on my various visits.
The bar in the restaurant is a lot of fun; it's situated right smack dab in the middle of the restaurant. Oh and those lethal cocktails.....careful, because they are large, and they don't skimp on the alcohol content. You can always order the wonderful chicken pot pie to soak up the alcohol, and it is worth every calorie! If you aren't that hungry, go for the truffled french fries or one of the flat bread pizzas.
Then there's the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Always the spot for peoplewatching (I think I have seen just about everybody over the years, including our Mayor Villariagosa and our Governor Schwarzzeneger, who is a frequent guest with his wife Maria). Now with the decor spruced up and the menu refreshed, it seems to have made a major comeback and is busier than ever. It is still one of my all time favorite places in LA. Whether you sit at the bar where Maria the head bartender and magic mixologist will take very good care of you, or you sit at one of the linen covered tables, you will always have a memorable time. Try the legendary tortilla soup, the Neil McCarthy salad (a cobb salad for all intents and purposes) or the grilled Russian sandwich, a grilled turkey, swiss, cole slaw and Russian dressing on rye bread. Their guacamole is perfect, and if you come for the cocktail hour, 5 to 7, they bring you a tray of the delicious dip along with homemade tortilla chips, on the house. It is going to be quite booked up this weekend because of all the out of town guests and the many Oscar events being held at the hotel, but hey, you can always do as I do, just go and hope that someone gives up their seat when you arrive.
Whoever wins this Sunday, you will always feel like a star when dining in one of these glamorous restaurants.