A Miracle on Melrose
“You can’t open a restaurant in LA without giving the kids something to Gram.”
Nice restaurants with rooftop bars within walking distance of one another . . . that sounds a lot like New York City. However, recent openings in West Hollywood have actually made this a West Coast reality. Now, E.P. & L.P., Catch Steak, and Melroseplace LA are all a hop, skip, and a jump away, located near the intersection of Melrose and La Cienega. Given the art deco furnishings and the rather girly accents (not to mention the menu), I was particularly drawn to Melroseplace and decided to give it a try on a Thursday evening, with plans to rooftop hop post-meal.
I pulled up to the valet and was ushered in through a mirrored hallway lit with stripes of turquoise, neon lights. Okay, so they knew what they were doing – you can’t open a restaurant in LA without giving the kids something to Gram. I could see the Geotag already, littered with ladies posing with arched backs amidst the somewhat psychedelic walkway. I loved it. I then followed the hostess up a flight of stairs into a lovely dining room, dressed in shades of beige. Round couches with midcentury-style feet adorned the room, grey velvet and gold accents added to the ambiance, and on one side, an open-air balcony with glistening firepits sprawled out into the night. I settled into a booth with turquoise cushions and breathed in the energy of the youthful, well-dressed crowd.
The cocktail menu is the perfect prologue to the dining experience, it sets the tone for the one-of-a-kind flavors that will follow. My friend and I chose the Toki-o’ Fashion, their play on the classic cocktail, made with Japanese whisky, Asian pear reduction, Japanese black sugar, and truffle salt. Not only did this drink have distinct balance – the strength of the liquor, the soft sweetness of the sugar and fruit, the decadence of the truffle – it illustrated the talents of the mixologists behind the bar. While mixing liquors in a single sitting is something I now see as dangerous, the elevated taste of my initial drink and my read of the cocktail menu left me curious to explore the other options. Noted for next time!
As for food, though my scan of the full menu left me thrilled and bewildered, wondering how I’d narrow things down, I instantly zoomed in on the Lobster Rolls as my must-try. One bite in, and they just-as-instantly became my recommended must-order. The lobster itself was cooked to perfection, coated in a light mayo sauce which added a touch of tang to the sweet meat, and then dropped into a butter-coated, melt-in-your-mouth roll that was truly out of this world. Now, since visiting Freeport and Portland Maine, I’ve been hesitant to try lobster in any other state, let alone in this signature dish. But, apart from Eventide, this was hands down the best lobster roll I’ve ever had. It was divine, delectable, and, dare I say, miraculous. It certainly takes first place for LA county.
Without at all knowing that I write restaurant reviews, the manager, Juan – who was as good looking as he was charming, cozied up to our table and sent out a series of appetizers so that we could better explore the menu. As dish after dish landed on our two-top, we sat wide-eyed and eager. The Braised Beats, which Juan explained were one of his favorite things on the menu even though he doesn’t care for beats, were a sensation. Though the dressing seemed light, it changed the flavor altogether, only allowing the earthy undertone to set in as a welcomed aftertaste. And, to my surprise, my favorite of the night was the Savoy Cabbage which came grilled and coated in miso hollandaise and sunflower seeds. This is a dish I would have never thought to order, instead of focusing on the crudos or meats, but it certainly stole the show. The salty hollandaise created a richness and depth of flavor that paired to perfection with the subtle bitterness of the cabbage itself, warm and roasted. I had to consciously remind myself to slow down so that I could have room for my Steak Frites. Now, as you may have noticed from my other pieces, I am prone to selecting Steak Frites, but never have I had them quite like this. The steak, which can often be a tougher cut for this particular dish, was an American Wagu so buttery it seemed to melt against my teeth. My friend chose the salmon and nearly cleaned her plate before I could ask her how it was, and beside us, I watched an order of Cacio e Pepe arrive, wafting sharp cheese and pepper scents our way. I silently reminded myself to try that next time.
At the close of our meal, and I must admit we didn’t make it to dessert this time, I knew I’d found a new favorite LA restaurant. And with a gorgeous rooftop atop, this venue gives you the fuel and the fun you need for a true night out on the town. I already have plans to return with my whole group of friends in mid-June, but before then, I certainly imagine sidling up to the bar for a craft cocktail and, you guessed it, another lobster roll.