At Kinara, spa food for real appetites

Times Staff Writer

Christine SPLICHAL grew up in a pastry shop and now, of all things, she’s running a spa with skin-care expert Olga Lorencin-Northrup. Her husband, Joachim Splichal, designed the menu for Kinara Spa’s cafe (he has been slipping in spa dishes at Patina and the various Pinots for years).

The cafe is small, just a half dozen tables, so it feels almost like a private club. The crowd mixes ladies indulging in a jour de beaute with foodies looking for a light lunch in West Hollywood. One woman happily slurps her chilled pea soup while wrapped in a robe and scanning the latest Atkins Diet text.

Two others are finishing breakfast as my friends and I unfurl our napkins. By the time we’re leaving, they’re back, still in their robes, for lunch. I guess all that body-wrapping and pummeling makes a girl hungry.


Kinara Cafe entices diners with a menu of visually interesting and delicious food. Chilled green tea comes in flared hand-painted glasses. A rich organic coffee is served in ceramic cups the color of burnt coffee beans on sap-green saucers. You can start with that chilled pea soup garnished with a swirl of cream and a chiffonnade of fragrant mint or a warm, saffron-colored kabocha squash soup dotted with roasted pumpkin seeds. Magenta beets and yellow ones streaked with cherry red make a lovely salad with arugula, Humboldt Fog goat cheese and fresh walnuts.

Instead of sandwiches, chef Elizabeth Mendez, who trained under Splichal, turns out tartines: open-face sandwiches of thinly sliced toast heaped with either soft goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes or satiny smoked salmon, accompanied by pretty arrays of vegetables and greens. There’s also a three-course menu. That day, it added wild Scottish salmon on couscous, dotted with diced veggies and perfumed with lemon.

The desserts are real -- a frothy pink pomegranate sorbet, vanilla-scented panna cotta heaped with mixed berries in a stemmed glass or a plate of “addictive” cookies: madeleines, fragile butter cookies, biscotti, chocolate chip cookies, marvelous chocolate truffles.

Once exclusively for spa guests, Kinara Cafe is now open to everyone, whether or not you sign up for a Thirsty Skin Quencher facial and Turkish salt glow scrub or not. But that may be the only way you’re going to get to wear one of those cool bathrobes.


Kinara Cafe

Where: 656 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood.

When: Breakfast, 8 to 11 a.m., Tuesday-Saturday. Lunch and dinner, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday. Valet parking.

Cost: Appetizers, $6 to $13; main courses, $10 to $15; desserts, $6-$7.

Info: (310) 657-9188; fax, (310) 657-9184;