The Muse at the Montage hotel in Beverly Hills offers one of the best formal dining experiences in Los Angeles. If there is one restaurant in Los Angeles that could inspire young chef’s to want to strive for culinary excellence then this restaurant would have to be it. Executive chef John Cuevas, known for his culinary artistry and formerly chef de cuisine at The Loft at Montage in Laguna Beach puts a focus on the freshest of ingredients with candid yet creative preparation. A grand winding staircase will lead you up to the Mezzanine level of the Montage right above above Parq restaurant. You might accuse the Muse of being stuffy in terms of its appearance. It is true, perhaps, that the decor might seem as if it’s screaming out “uptight establishement”, but it nevertheless pulls it off with class. The dining room is decorated in rich mahogany against bright white linen tablecloths, and walls with works of museum style art. The lighting may be dim, but you can see everything in the room, especially the gorgeously-presented food.
Sommeliers happily talk customers through possibilities from the wine tome which features over 500 selections, with a bull’s eye on exclusive boutique wineries. The menu is of moderate size, with an emphasis on quality rather than vast choice, and both a la carte and set menus available to suit your needs. For starters (described as “introduction” on the menu), the Poached Organic Ranch Egg (with creamed leek, crispy pork belly and parmesan) is especially delicious, light but still packed full of flavor. After the “introduction” plate, you can have a “transition” dish such as the Main diver sea scallops with roast corn and braised bacon or the Roasted la Belle Foie Gras with creamed onion soup and gruyere cheese. The Roasted la Belle Foie Gras is brought down to earth with its sidekick of onion soup and could only be described as high-end comfort food –in a really good way. Mains (described as “Principals”) consist of offerings like Pan Seared Wild Tubot with celery and summer truffles or a delicate medallion of Sonoma lamb, served with osso bucco agnolotti and feta, gremolata. Desserts focus on mostly fruit-based plates, with some fantastic ice creams, mousses and tarts to choose from.
Each dish is produced in the Montage’s original open kitchen by arguably, some of the finest troop of chefs producing this type of food in Los Angeles and served by a well choreographed group of servers with impeccable manners. This justifies the prices and is what sets the Muse into a category of its own. High quality wine and excellent food, how can anyone honestly complain?
Muse at the Montage
225 N. Canon Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Interview with Chef John Cuevas:
Q: What are the differences/similarities between the menu you created for Montage Laguna Beach and Montage Beverly Hills?
A: There are a lot of similarities – great ingredients that are peak of the season, as well as sustainable and highest quality. Also I apply the same thought process in my creations by understanding who our clientele is. The only real difference is that Montage Beverly Hills is a city hotel in the heart of Beverly Hills where they know what they want and they want it quick with great service. Montage Laguna Beach is oceanfront and people seem to be more at ease and willing to venture out and try something new so it’s a lot easier to be more playful.
Q: What is one of your favorite items on the Montage Beverly Hills menu?
A: I’m a fan of all the menus but right now it would have to be Watermelon Salad, green beans and marinated feta, anchovies. I love the layers and different textures and its staple sweet and savory, which I’m known for.
Q: How do you keep your very large staff inspired?
A: I’d like to think it’s me but we all work for a great company, Montage Hotels & Resorts, which has great values at its core so I think being inspired is easy. It’s easy to be inspired when you’re having fun and doing what you love to do.
Q: If you could be another chef, any chef (real or fictional) for a day, who would it be?
A: Pierre Gagnaire, his thought process, the way he is consumed by his craft, his techniques and free spirit to push the envelope. I can relate to that, it’s something which I strive for.
Q: Any experiences that have influenced your cooking?
A: I love everything about food and I love people. That’s what motivates and influences me!
Q: What city or region in the world do you most enjoy eating in?
A: I’m a California kid and absolutely love the ocean. In this area there is something for everybody and the food scene is on the up- turn. I will travel to Asia and Spain someday soon. Both areas really intrigue me… their simplicity, but at the same time the complexity; two very fascinating regions I hope to enjoy.