Fenix at the Argyle is no longer the bastion of French cuisine it was under Ken Frank, who left recently to try to open his own place in the Napa Valley. Well, yes, you can still find a few French-inspired dishes, such as shredded duck confit salad or Frank's signature rosti potatoes (occasionally offered as a special), but the menu has gone south for the main part. Specifically to New Orleans, where Fenix's new chef Brandon Boudet cooked with Big Easy biggies Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse. Boudet's turning out some tasty food--for a hotel dining room.
There's a good duck confit salad on wilted greens strewn with roasted pecans, plump pan-fried crab cakes and a quite delicious fried oyster salad made with baby spinach tossed in a cream and Pernod dressing. You'll find all the buzz words--chipotle, truffle oil, jus, and nage--on Boudet's menu. Fortunately, the guy can cook. His food is generous in spirit enough to give this dining room some warmth.
Prices have been lowered somewhat, too, which makes dining here all the more appealing. Under new management, but with several of the waiters staying on, the service seems as civilized as ever, at least from my experience on a recent visit. Add in the view of L.A. and the choice tables outdoors on the terrace, just in front of the pool, and Fenix may be the address to pull out of the hat when parents or business acquaintances are in town.
Fenix at the Argyle, 8358 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (213) 848-6677. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Major credit cards accepted. Valet parking. Dinner appetizers $6 to $11; entrees $15 to $25.