170 North Church Lane, Penthouse Level
Los Angeles, CA 90049
How is it possible the 17-story circular modern-era landmark building located at the crossroads of Sunset and the 405, was not on our radar until now?
Maybe it’s because we associate that location with the misery that has become the 405. Well, finally there is a beacon of light as we make our way home. Hotel Angeleno began its metamorphosis from generic Holiday Inn to chic boutique hotel in 2005, and that is where our adventure begins.
As my dining companion Carolyn and I cut across several lanes of traffic to make the turn into the entrance, we had no idea of the indulgences awaiting us on the 17th floor where West is located.
As we took our perch in the penthouse, we laid empathetic eyes on the red and white ribbons of commuter traffic below. Our server Lauren introduced us to Chef Laura Scollan who suggested her tasting menu with wine pairing. Five courses ensured a long night of grazing and belt loosening.
The Chef’s Tasting Menu is a blind tasting, but with seasonal ingredients like cranberry, apple, sage and fig punctuating the menu, we knew we were in for a treat.
As we took in the scene—a mixture of locals and hotel guests relaxing in a softly lit sophisticated space—we were served round one.
A ramekin of Kabocha Bisque provided a pitch-perfect note to commence the extravaganza. A crab fritter topped with micro greens floated atop rich soup flavored with sage and crème fraiche—so sinfully rich we were grateful for the small serving. A crisp and fruit-forward Napa Sauvignon Blanc was the ideal companion. The team works closely with boutique wineries and local growers to ensure the highest quality and it really shows.
Before we knew it, out came a thinly sliced grilled calamari steak splayed across a fragrant salsa of Persian cucumbers, red and green cherry tomatoes and red peppers, topped with a chef’s mix of micro greens and edible flower petals. This was not even on the menu, but it should be. The calamari was so tender there would be no need for chewing were it not for the crunchy veggies. It had just the right amount of acidity and paired perfectly with the floral and oaky notes of the Russian River Pinot Gris. We were only two courses in when Carolyn proclaimed she would “come back in a heartbeat.”
Next up was one bowl with three interpretations of duck. The Duck Trio includes slices of roasted breast, braised leg and my favorite—duck bacon. Served with Brussels sprouts and a sausage made of root vegetables, we felt we were eating a well-balanced meal. The earthiness and black fruit of the Laetitia Pinot Noir was a wonderful enhancement.
We were lightly sated after the duck but continued grazing. Seared Mahi-Mahi—another item not listed on the seasonal menu—rested on a perfectly creamy squid ink risotto. It might have benefited from a tad more mango salsa. A buttery Santa Barbara Chardonnay could not have been a more ideal mate.
Our final savory course was a braised Sonoma Lamb Shank served off the bone. A puddle of creamy goat cheese polenta mingled with a uniquely flavored smoked tomato stew. Intrigued, we inquired with our server Lauren, as this was also off the regular menu.
She explained we were tasting “ras el hanout,”a North African spice mix that was paired with a spicy Bianchi Zinfandel.
Lastly came panna cotta topped with a thin layer of berry gelatin. We were grateful for the lightness of the dessert and generous serving of fresh berries. The late harvest Moscato wine with its aromas of stone fruit capped off a memorable meal.
Our experience at West was a richly flavored treat.
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