9850 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Price range: $$$$
By MICHAEL AUSHENKER | Contributing Writer
After much anticipation, the revered luxury hotel chain Waldorf-Astoria has planted a flag in Los Angeles, rolling out the Waldorf-Astoria Beverly Hills in late June with much fanfare.
Attendant with that opening was the high-end hotel’s flagship restaurant: Jean-Georges Beverly Hills, the West Coast outpost of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Manhattan eatery at 1 Central Park West.
One of the world’s most celebrated chefs and restaurateurs, the Alsace-raised Vongerichten has traveled extensively throughout Asia. From his travels and training, the three-star Michelin chef has developed an epicurean style of applying light broths, vegetable juices, fruit essences and herbal vinaigrettes rather than meat stock, sauces and creams in preparing traditional French fare with Asian accents.
The first thing you’ll notice upon your arrival at Jean-Georges Beverly Hills is the stunning environment. It quickly becomes a struggle to decide whether to eat inside the elegant, expansive, chic and contemporary (without appearing overly opulent) restaurant or to sit outside on the lush, comfortable, Shutters on the Beach-esque, sunshine-kissed enclosed patio. We opted for the latter.
Running the kitchen at Jean-Georges Beverly Hills, Executive Chef Steve Benjamin effortlessly puts some of the most beautiful and delicious pieces of culinary architecture on every plate, in every bowl and in every cup. Just prior to joining the Jean-Georges crew, the good-humored Paris native worked for 12 years as executive chef at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
After a tasty round of the baked opening festivities—ciabatta, olive bread and rye—we started out with the Ahi Tuna Tartare, a colorful, stout salmon-and-avocado-colored cylinder topped with radish. Just a dollop of ginger dressing gave this plate its edge and rendered this appetizer scrumptious.
Grilled Octopus here, alive with small crunchy potatoes and lemon caper emulsion, must not be skipped. They create it perfectly: buttery, savory, tender (not chewy or rubbery) and visually colorful.
Of the salads, we went with Heirloom Tomatoes and Fresh Berries, a seasonal bowl topped with olive oil, black pepper and raspberries and blackberries. Rounds of Corn Gazpacho followed. These tiny vanilla-colored cups, with atoms of olive oil and vinegar riding on its surface, were cool and fresh on this warm summer’s day. (This was a seasonal off-menu selection; the official menu version is Tomato Gazpacho.)
All of our entrées were inscrutable. Roasted Wagyu Beef Tenderloin, an eloquent side of steak perfectly cooked sans saltiness, came accompanied by a piquant miso mustard and glazed carrots, tying the whole dish together. Black Sea Bass here is a masterful thin rod of peppered fish rubbed in a nut and seed crust and swimming in a bowl of heirloom tomatoes and Portofino mushrooms.
And then there was the signature dish, the picturesque Parmesan Chicken—two overlapping generous patties of poultry with fried cheese exterior, perched atop a bed of split artichokes wading in a pool of lemon butter and basil.
Another thing Jean-Georges does very well is deliver terrific alcoholic beverages. Among the restaurant’s signature cocktails we enjoyed the Vodka Thyme Lemonade, deceptively simple with Hangar One Citron, lemon, thyme and Fever Tree soda, delivering that deep-diving lemon-y taste you might associate with licking a glace au citron on the Cote d’Azur. It’s very sweet, very refreshing and borderline addictive.
Passion Chili Sour, a macho glass made of Maker’s Mark Whiskey, passion fruit and lemon with red Thai chili, contains a real kick and ends with a nice finish—more of a burn. On the lighter side, a Cucumber Martini, built upon Hendrick’s Gin with cucumber, mint and lemon, may be your more typical LA restaurant martini these days, but it’s perfect on a warm SoCal day.
Other signature cocktails include Lychee Raspberry Bellini, Ginger Margarita and Piña Colada.
If there was one low point for us, it was the much-hyped Avocado Carpaccio, Serrano Chili pizza, one of Jean-Georges Beverly Hills’ steadiest sellers. The crust was perfectly thin, crusty and nicely oven singed. However, it was also heavily topped with a large blooming flower of avocado slices, cilantro and lime and, ultimately, this pie was more MexiCali salad than pizza.
I chided myself for bypassing my instincts to go with the Black Truffle and Fontina Cheese, which sounded heavenly; like a divine Tuscan carpaccio in pizza form. That said, the Avocado Carpaccio, Serrano Chili was still tasty and diehard fans of the fruit should enjoy it—it just didn’t evoke enough “pizza” for my taste.
Nevertheless, Jean-Georges Beverly Hills is a welcome player to the local culinary scene. I’ve never dined at the original Jean-Georges, but I can’t imagine it tops our West Coast version’s chill setting and Pacific-adjacent climes, and at Jean-Georges, you will get your money’s worth.
Jean-Georges Beverly Hills is the seamless confluence of high-end cuisine, top-notch service and eye-catching environment, and every visit is more than just a meal here, it’s an experience.