9400 W. Olympic Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
By MICHAEL AUSHENKER | Contributing Writer
Call it a hidden gem or under the radar, but in fact, Viviane, located within the long-running Beverly Hills boutique hotel Avalon, has already cultivated a reputation among Hollywood’s elite, as the cozy, poolside spot is no stranger to power lunches featuring the entertainment industry’s top brokers and celebrities.
The daring and dazzling menu is courtesy of emerging chef Michael Reed, who told the Palisadian-Post that he has obstinately stuck to his guns in choosing a course when implementing his seasonally fluctuating menu once he came aboard the revamped hotel a few years back. His steadfastness has won over local eaters in the process.
Raised in Oxnard, Reed cultivated “a profound respect for organic produce and sustainable farming methods.” He has since embroidered his skills at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, where he also worked at The Modern.
Upon graduation, Reed accepted a position at Michelin-rated Sona in Los Angeles, where he honed his French technique. He has also worked at the legendary Nancy Silverton flagship restaurant Osteria Mozza, on the West Hollywood/Hollywood frontier, during which time he began cultivating his upscale catering company Root of All Food.
The starters at Viviane here are not to be missed. Visually, the Grilled Octopus looks like a hot mess; its expertly charred tentacles peeking out through a small mound of soft herb salad drizzled with piquillo pepper sauce and potato crackling. And yet, the results are sumptuous, the crisscrossing flavors and textures of the garnish nicely balancing out the flavorful, tender cephalopod morsels.
Smoked Trout Rillette offers a soft fish dip of sorts with russet potato chips alongside avocado mash, capers, chili and herbs, and it hits the spot, as does the kitchen’s solid, smoky Brussels Sprouts, which may be an LA cliché by now, but is very well made and presented here.
However, perhaps most satisfying is Reed’s Charcuterie Board, a smorgasbord of fresh seasonal accouterments that included a variety of prosciutto and French cheese with the house’s excellent rustic sourdough to accompany it.
Touching on popular Italian fare, Viviane offers a quartet of house-made pasta dishes, including a Linguine with Manila clams and Spinach Cavatelli, topped with wild mushrooms, asparagus, ricotta salata and cured egg yolk.
However, we kept it simple with an order of the classic Cacio e Pepe, a wonderfully cheesy extravaganza in a bowl with spaghetti intertwined with melted pecorino Romano, an Italian variety of sheep’s cheese and black pepper. The resulting order was a fresh-tasting fireworks display for the palate—if a restaurant can nail the Cacio e Pepe, it bodes very well for the other Italian dishes on the menu.
For the main course, we indulged in a mix of well-done familiar faces and honest surprises. In the latter category, Chicken Schnitzel is something you don’t experience too often in an LA restaurant, and Reed kills it here, with a generous portion of breaded chicken breast alive with shaved beets, bitter greens, mustard seeds, chicken jus and blueberry compote.
Pan Seared Scottish Salmon is another terrific way to go, the succulent salmon here dressed up with an array of asparagus, baby patty pan squash, peppers, cherry tomatoes, sugar snaps, herbs and sweet corn sauce.
Finally, even though Prime Bavette Steak exuded promise and the idea of a Grilled Whole Branzino sounded amazing, we couldn’t help but try the 8 oz. Grass-Fed Burger, a solid gourmet hamburger oozing with white cheddar and caramelized onions and topped with bacon, arugula, pickle and duck fat aioli under the roof of a brioche bun and accompanies by thin frites.
Finally, do not skip dessert, as the house-made treats here are worth the calories. It was a struggle whether to order the Earl Grey Crème Brulee, which comes lemon verbena whipped cream and a seasonal berry compote, or Espresso Chocolate Mousse, with its alluring mix of chocolate crumble, salted caramel and chocolate sauce.
Ultimately, it was the precision-tasting mousse that seduced us; its pinch of sea salt beautifully offsetting the dessert’s inherent sweetness. Despite coming off of a formidable meal, we enjoyed this bowl thoroughly and without impunity.
Mixologist Jordan Ross complements the Reed delicacies with her cocktail program. Traces of Amber is her excellent answer to the classic Old Fashioned and goes down smooth and warm. The libation infuses its bourbon with honey and Jelenik Amaro, along with some fresh lemon and bitters.
The Ginger Rogers expertly blends tequila, pomegranate, ginger, lime, soda and orange zest while the Angeleno Fizz offers the perfect gin drink thanks to such winning elements as Amaro Angeleno, Ramazotti Aperitivo, lemon and egg white.
Dining at the Avalon’s restaurant may not be an obvious choice for most Palisadians, but consider it, as the Reed-Ross combo offers a one-two punch that must be experienced. Note: the ambiance is particularly nice at night; a romantic evening illuminated by the neon-teal glow of the swimming pool.