Patina has a lock on cuisine with culture

LIKE its musical neighbor to the north, Walt Disney Concert Hall, the soon-to-open Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center will house a Patina Group restaurant for pre- and post-performance dining.

The restaurant opening expands the rampant Patina- ization of Southern California cultural institutions. Kendall’s, also at downtown’s Music Center, is a Patina establishment, as are Hollywood Bowl’s Rooftop Grill, Pentimento at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Tangata Restaurant at the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art in Santa Ana.

Disney Hall’s restaurant, the pricey Patina, moved to the concert hall from its previous location in Hollywood, bringing many of its signature menu items along with it. “With Patina, we had already had the menu in place, the caviar cart in place, the cheese cart in place, for many, many years,” chef Joachim Splichal, creator with wife Christine of the Patina Group, said the other day.

But Segerstrom Hall’s Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge, which will open Sept. 23, one week after the new hall’s inaugural concerts and festivities, is being baked from scratch, Splichal said.


While the new restaurant will fit the haute cuisine -- read “haute price” -- tradition of Patina, it will be up to Orange County to decide which menu items become “signature” dishes for the bistro.

“Maybe they will love the tuna tartare. Maybe they will love a vegetable dish, and that will develop into a signature dish for the restaurant,” Splichal said.

But he did offer that Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge will definitely represent a place to meat-and-greet.

“Our menu is geared more toward meat -- we will have more steaks on there, that’s the direction we go in right now,” he said.


That is not, Splichal insisted, because the O.C. has more meat-and-potatoes tastes than L.A. “They are very sophisticated dishes. This is not the steakhouse approach, where you get a steak and a side,” he sniffed.

The restaurant’s leathery name does not reflect its emphasis on beefy cuisine. It was named for a major performing arts center donor and one of his favorite East Coast restaurants. The late Ralph Leatherby, a longtime Orange County entrepreneur and philanthropist, spent his youth in Hedrick, Iowa. There he used to listen to live broadcasts of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, which performed in the original Cafe Rouge in Manhattan. In 2002, the Ralph and Eleanor Leatherby Family Foundation donated $5 million to the Orange County center’s capital campaign.


Diane Haithman