Friday, April 24, 2009


West Hollywood is certainly known for being an interesting place. It's kind of that 'middle ground' between gritty Hollywood and the more relaxed Westside, making it a perfect place for clubs, lounges, bars and restaurants. It is home to the Sunset Strip, as well as La Cienega Boulevard's Restaurant Row. You'll find cool dives like Barney's Beanery (the original), and uber chic spots like Bar 1200 at the Sunset Marquis Hotel. It's also home to some of Los Angeles' infamous nightlife: Area, Sky Bar, Bar Marmont to name a few. And it also boasts super-hot restaurants like Koi, Asia de Cuba, and NYC-transplants STK and BLT Steak.

Smack dab in the middle of where Santa Monica Boulevard meets La Cienega is a nice little "getaway" called Palihouse. It proudly refers to itself as a place that offers the best of a boutique hotel and a luxury residence. Their main draw is their huge lounge area, whose theme is a well-mixed concoction of bohemian-chic and Euro-hipster zip. Unlike other Hollywood and WeHo spots, the Palihouse doesn't give off any hints of pretentiousness. While the clientele is an obvious fusion of folks from nearby Beverly Hills and the hipster WeHo crowd, there seems to be nothing but smiles and good times happening here. The staff is attentive and friendly, the hosts --with their heavy French accents-- are welcoming and hospitable, and the vibe of the place is chill, yet substantial. Kitschy photographs line parts of the walls, while sexy couches and chairs of all shapes and sizes are scattered around the dimly lit room. And there are even turntables at an old-school desk-turned-swank-DJ-stand. (Oh, and there's an oyster bar, too... Score!)

While the lounge earns kudos, their restaurant is the real star. The Hall Courtyard Brasserie is situated in the middle of the property's quad. It boasts an open ceiling, with sweeping views of the condotel's upper floor windows and terraces. Heat-lamps (which are a must for most L.A. evenings) help to warm the area on cooler nights, but ladies are also offered woolen throws to wrap around to keep toasty. Stringed lights swash across the air, giving off the feeling that you're dining in a Mediterranean courtyard.

What drew me here was the menu; a delicate offering of "traditional bistro cuisine" with a "market-driven modern edge." Chef Brendan Collins, whose experience has seen him through London's Cafe Royale and Pied-A-Terre, brings vibrancy, color and flavor to the impressive menu.

My friends, who are probably some of my favorite 'restaurant' people in L.A., and I tried plenty of things off the menu. We originally were feeling cheese and a charcuteri
e plate after having a few drinks. But our waitress advised that the cheese could leave us feeling "full," and she wanted us to really experience what The Hall had to offer. Noted.

We started off with a Braised Pork Shank Raviolo, which I can only describe as "prodigious." The pork filling was thick and oozing with flavor against a pommery mustard sheen. And to add to the sweetness of the dish was a caramelized apple slice. This was followed by a Yellowtail Crudo (with avocado, red grapefruit, and herb salad), which was fresh and just as flavorful; the citrus working as a nice palate cleanser. The third appetizer was a Roast Beet Salad made of goat cheese, blood oranges, walnuts and beet romesco; light and fresh.

A few swigs of beer and wine later, our main dishes made their w
ay to our table much to our delectation. Jess ordered the Black Cod with cuit a la viennoise and creamed spinach. The fish was delicately prepared, and imbued with gusto. Tracey ordered the Roast Halibut, with seafood ragout, spring veggies and basil; another amazingly prepared fish. Tracey's husband, Chris, ordered a special: Kansas City Fillet, which was definitely one of the most flavorful steaks I have ever tasted in these past few years in L.A. My dish: Moules et Frites - my all-time favorite. If I see this on the menu of a French or Belgian-esque restaurant, I will try it. This dish usually makes or breaks its respective restaurant in my eyes. The Palihouse's version, made with a saffron curry sauce, was light, yet savory... effortless, yet gratifying; a sure hit for me. Oh, and those truffle shoestring fries weren't so bad either... (!) The experience was topped-off with a Chocolate Muffin, which ended up not being an actual "muffin" at all, but a warm serving of chocolate with dulce de leche ice cream and caramelized bananas.

Jess' Black Cod

My Moules in saffron curry

Truffled Frites (how i love thee...)

Stuffed as we were, we continued the night back in the lounge for one more round of drinks. Conversation was endless, laughs were rampant... an ideal end to a nice night of fun, friends, and food. Oh-so-good food.

The Hall Courtyard Brasserie @ Palihouse Holloway, 8465 Holloway Drive, West Hollywood, CA 9006, 323.656.4020

1 comment:

BillD said...

Really, French along with "welcoming and hospitable" in the same sentence, come on now, really Wen!