If you grew up in Los Angeles, and depending on your parents' penchant for swanky hotel restaurants, you may have spent a considerable amount of time at the Belvedere, the fine-dining restaurant at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. This is where you counted the number of pretty flowers printed on the dining room carpet and munched on tea sandwiches on the patio.
When the restaurant reopens Jan. 19, after closing last September for a complete revamp (the restaurant has been open for 21 years), you may not recognize it. Sleek, glossy hardwood floors have replaced the carpet. And instead of those unforgettable green booths, there's a plush, tufted banquette in royal blue. Underneath the white tablecloths -- printed French toile.
The food is different too. David Codney, who was previously the executive sous chef at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Fla., has been the executive chef since 2013. Making the most of his rooftop garden, and drawing inspiration from his recent travels to Greece, Codney has designed the new menu to be his take on approachable Mediterranean food.
The salt cod croquettes resemble hush puppies; the fatoush salad features parsley grown in the rooftop garden, plenty of sumac and feta cheese.
"I don't want the food to be something that took 15 hours to cook," Codney said. "It's meant to be rustic and identifiable -- it's not food that's been broken down so much that you don't know what it is."
Menu highlights include a grass-fed lamb tagine with golden raisin couscous and cumin yogurt; taramasalata, the classic Greek dip made with salted and cured fish roe; and a monkfish osso bucco with charred Spanish octopus and confit potatoes.
Michael Ploetz, director of food and beverage for the hotel, designed the wine and cocktail programs. There are more than 50 wines available by the glass, and Ploetz prides himself on finding unique wines from lesser known wine regions such as Croatia. He said he's also digging into the corners of the hotel's wine cellar and promised to offer some rare vintages by the glass as well.
As for the cocktails, expect seasonal gin and tonics based around what's growing upstairs. Right now, there's a fennel gin and tonic featuring the vegetable three ways. Ploetz said the idea is to put a spin on classic cocktails, meant to complement the food. The bar is also making its own alcohol-free sodas, with a house ginger beer for the Moscow Mules.
While you dine, you'll notice that the dining room doubles as an art gallery, with an impressive collection of modern art by Alex Katz, Sean Scully, Fabienne Verdier, Tsuyoshi Maekawa, Josef Albers and Yayoi Kusam.
The terrace and an additional private dining room are still under construction; both are scheduled to open sometime in February.
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