The complaint I often hear about Westwood is that if you’re not there to visit UCLA or the grave of Jack Lemmon, there’s not a lot happening. Well there’s a new kid in the neighborhood that warrants your undivided attention.
BVLD 16 is located in the Hotel Palomar making for a strong pairing. The light is low, like a lounge and the mood and pace are in accord. The staff was attentive and warm, but very relaxed and cool. I must tip my hat to restaurant staff that can absorb the stress and chaos of a kitchen and never bring a trace of it to my table. I was met by my good pal Dr. Jason Gentile, another great LA find for me.
We started off with a round of drinks. I opted for the Sunset, a house specialty that took muddled pineapple along for the ride with the traditional mint in a mojito. The apparent effort involved in was drink is enough to make you feel guilty, if it weren’t so wonderful. The glistening pineapple and mint afforded generous amounts of rum to go down as easy as a Shirley Temple.
Our waiter Antonio was solid, knew his menu and specials and spoke candidly about his favorites. His conviction for the beet salad made a difficult decision a no-brainer. The roasted beets were joined by arugula, pistachios, mint and subtle citrus vinaigrette. The combination of flavors was mesmerizing. If I’d walked out after the salad, I would have felt like a dinner was a victory.
Lucky for me, victory would be sustained. We ordered a series of appetizers, having wanted them all, these were not easy decisions. The first I tried was the sweet corn ravioli in a rich crème will lobster. Just typing that again sends me into a near catatonic state as I recall how the lobster reverberated between the sweet corn and rich sauce. I had to be revived by Jason who told me that the tuna rolls were something that needed my immediate attention. Maybe he was trying to get at the raviolis I thought, as he should. I pushed the plate his way and reached out for the tuna roll. Not really a roll in the traditional sense, but sushi inspired, the sushi-grade tuna was wrapped around sea beans crab and pickled jalapenos with a touch of sharp citrus. This put even my favorite sushi chefs to shame; each bite was as difficult to believe as the one before it. The last of our trio was asparagus grits, which almost had the deck stacked against them with these two prior plates looming large (and largely empty) in the background. The consistency was right and the grits seemed to have been boiled down or pureed to a consistency a bit softer than the grits. This dish was certainly low key in comparison to the others, but a well done adaptation to an old Southern staple.
At this point I had gathered many compliments and questions, a fitting time to get a visit from the chef, Simon Dolinky. Simon was a well traveled fellow who’d worked in New Orleans, explaining the grits and San Diego, explaining the abundant use of locally grown produce. We talked at length about his menu, methods and culinary tour of duty. From what I’d seen so far, Simon had every right to fan his feathers. However, he was very humble and grateful that we were so impressed. I would have been comfortable and not at all surprised if he’d just pulled up a chair and had a drink with us. A thoughtful and resourceful chef who breaks down that barrier of staff and patron is a real and rare asset.
Entrees arrived and I knew that I could expect the unreasonable and not be let down. Jason ordered the pot roast; I had the crispy skin Scottish salmon. The size of the salmon made me think the recession was over. Yet, that generous gesture was not the lone one in front of me. The salmon was plated with a homemade shrimp and scallop sausage, lima beans and soy beans. The sausage was almost too good to be paired with the salmon, BLVD 16, you are too kind to me. Jason’s pot roast was a shimmering slab of jealousy inducing goodness. As if picking up my interest telepathically, he cut me off a piece. This pot roast has a reputation about the hotel, now I understood why. If this cut of meat had a touch more tenderness, it would have been gravy.
BLVD 16 brought great labor, consideration and care to making me feel like a life affirming dinner was a simple favor. I admired how the heavy use of local meats and produce created so many dishes with a multitude of ingredients that came together with such grace. With the vast majority of their menu uncharted, I shall return soon to see what I have been missing.
10740 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90024-4493