When I travel to Los Angeles, I love to get hefty doses of old-school Hollywood glamour and delicious SoCal cuisine. I recently found both of these in spades at the quietly chic Terrace restaurant at Sunset Tower (second picture), a deco-gem of a hotel on bustling Sunset Boulevard. The historic hotel – formerly The Argyle, whose residents included Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra – sits amid the music clubs, sex shops and omnipresent Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf emporiums of this slightly run-down neighbourhood, but it is an oasis of calm offering dazzling views of the LA skyline. And its shaded terrace and pool (first picture) catches the breeze as it skims the city.
I tend not to venture far from the seashore when I am on the West Coast (and those of you who understand the traffic issues that plague LA will understand my reluctance to navigate the 405 Freeway), but I made an exception during my recent visit and met a friend at The Terrace for lunch.
The place is a destination spot (let’s just say there isn’t a lot of foot traffic in this area) and something of a well-kept secret among entertainment-industry insiders, who value its muted tones and Hôtel du Cap vibe. And the food, too, is a pleasure – simple, hearty, imaginative and full of the freshest ingredients. Hotelier Jeff Klein conceived every part of this operation – from the elegant chaises longues by the pool to the signature ciabatta club sandwich ($16) with a filling of grilled chicken, crispy bacon, roasted tomatoes, rocket and onions.
I could have ordered most things on the menu – a selection of classic comfort food, including that most Californian of dishes, the Lobster Cobb salad ($28), as well as Le Hot Dog ($14), a kosher frankfurter with grilled onions and sauerkraut, and The Tower Burger ($22), complete with “secret sauce” on a brioche bun. However, the rather more reserved Grilled Shrimp & Quinoa salad ($24) and Ahi Niçoise salad ($26) with truffle vinaigrette were my choice for a light lunch.
I enjoyed a glass of rosé – Côtes de Provence Les Domaniers 2011 ($55 a bottle) – though a bit of me was tempted by one of the Terrace’s chocolate milkshakes ($12).