Some restaurants we’ve taken a shine to are beloved favorites made more alluring with updated décor, seasonal market influences, and enterprising chefs adeptly making “New American”–style comfort food new again. The recently-opened establishments seduce us with welcoming ambiance and menus that balance hearty and homey with chic and imaginative.
300 S. Doheny Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90048
With so many of Los Angeles’ famously glamorous hotel restaurants offering high-concept wintertime fare and special menus for Valentine’s Day and winery dinners, what makes Culina the perfect choice for either a business dinner or an intimate evening out? For starters, there’s the location at The Four Seasons Hotel on the precipice of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. Getting to the substance inside the space, they’ve got Food Network-winning chef Mette Williams at the helm, melding time-honored Italian recipes with personal touches appealing to the palates and tastes of Culina’s diverse clientele. It also has working in its favor a spacious outdoor patio, LA’s only crudo bar, two lounges, a chic main dining room, and two private rooms for company gatherings.
Chef Williams is a master at creating a menu that’s all things to all people without compromising her natural gift for combining different textures and flavors. Her offerings run the gamut from salads and fish from the said crudo bar to simple-yet-indulgent main courses such as succulent pastas like her impeccable Pappardelle with braised lamb cheeks and main courses like the “Manzo” Neiman Ranch Steak and Lombatina Capricciosa (bone-in veal chop). There are also hand-crafted cocktails and impressive international wines to get the party started—or continue it.
Need the perfect wine pairing for your table to seal the deal, be it a contract or an engagement? The wine stewards will gladly oblige with rare and unusual wines you may not be able to find at your neighborhood wine shop (i.e. White Burgundy Pouilly Fuisse 2012 balances out their complex kale-based Rustica salad, and Planeta Syrah 2007 from Sicily enhances the steak). The dessert menu also offers a nice selection, with some of the most satisfying items being a mix of traditional gelato and vegan flavors crafted with coconut milk that are so rich one would swear it was loaded with heavy cream.
V’s restaurant + bar
22821 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265
While veteran Malibu restaurateurs Vassil Pertchinkov and Yassen Tonev had a good thing going with Guido’s, they intuited that changing both locations and culinary vision would provide Malibu dining a much-needed shot in the arm. Lucky for us, both changes were executed successfully. The space once occupied by Charlie’s has be revitalized into a fresh, airy social hub that’s the very personification of the Malibu diner—casual, but elegant and sophisticated but earthy.
Husband-and-wife team Chef Chris Bocchino (formerly of Terra) and Kristine Bocchino (pastry chef) give the “new-American/comfort food” genre a splash of Malibu color. Stellar starters include addictive Portobello Fries, Grilled Spanish Octopus, Flatbread with Smoked Bacon, and Tuscan Kale and Red Quinoa salad. Main courses such as Grilled Salmon, Pan Roasted Organic Chicken, Braised Beef Short Ribs and Roasted Sonoma County Duck are plated simply but come vibrantly to life through their flavors and aromas. They are also perfect foils for featured wines including Dolin Malibu Estate Vineyards.
2087 E. Thousand Oaks Boulevard
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
While savvy diners are familiar with the sublime all-American fare, industry wheeling-and-dealing, and romantic enclaves at Mastro’s in Beverly Hills, the venerable steakhouse has just set down roots in Thousand Oaks. The new location brings to the San Fernando Valley and Southern Ventura County everything that makes Mastro’s a destination elsewhere. Even with the fashionable crowd, the star of the show remains precision-crafted steaks and seafood such as the signature lobster dishes, shrimp cocktail, Australian Waygu Tomahawk Ribeye, the famous pretzel bread served with the meal, and the decadent Warm Butter Cake.
Just like its popular older sibling, the signature elegance of the main dining room rolls over into private dining spaces for corporate, social, or charitable events of up to 180 guests. On those occasions where image is everything, the entire steakhouse can be reserved exclusively for a private event, down to the fabled live music.
448 S. Hill Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Brunch 11am-4pm, Sa-Su
Perch literally takes the Los Angeles brunch experience to new heights. While the interiors of this 15th floor restaurant are “French country” inspired via antique-inspired furniture and detailed woodwork, panoramic views of Downtown L.A.’s ever-evolving skyline take center stage.
The hearty-yet-sophisticated fare created by Executive Chef Gerardo Benitez can be ordered for individual savoring or familial sharing. On Saturday, diners can fuel up with unique items such as the #13 Benedict (with Canadian bacon), the Crab Benedict (with two Maryland blue crab cakes and chive hollandaise), Smoked Salmon Benedict, or The Perch Burger, sitting atop a brioche bun with a fried egg and gruyère cheese nested on top. Seasonal oyster selections amp up the luxury factor on the Sunday brunch menu, while a selection of top tier champagnes (Perrier Jouet, Moet Imperial and Ruinart Rosé Brut) are available in situations where the sky really is the limit.