Friday, November 26, 2010

The Restaurant at L'Ermitage Beverly Hills - Best Thanksgiving Brunch Ever!

Fifteen years in L.A., and this is the first time I'd been to Thanksgiving Brunch at The Restaurant at L'Ermitage Beverly Hills - a splurge that occurred only because my brother and his wife were visiting from Canada - and now I can't believe I let all this time pass without discovering the amazing seafood extravanganza that is on offer!

At first glance, the $80 per head price looked like a lot.  However, you will definitely get your money's worth and more in some truly incredible seafood - it's all you can eat, and they really had me at 'Caviar Station'. 

The spread included the freshest west coast oysters I've had in recent years, and some amazing, tender and subtly sweet raw scallops on the half shell (which I haven't even seen served anywhere else) in a beautiful display.

Various sauces were on offer including cocktail, black pepper mignonette, chipotle mayo, and louie - but as a purist, I preferred the taste of deep ocean in the oyster, and to let its natural flavors shine through unobstructed - the oysters at L'Ermitage were simply perfect on their own. 

There was also a giant bowl piled high with jumbo shrimp, platters of smoked fish including salmon and trout, and shellfish including mussels and  crab legs & claws. 

The feast was served in a relaxed, casually chic space off to the side of the lobby of the boutique hotel.  Aside from the incredible raw offerings on the seafood table, there were also some cooked items including Poached Salmon and Salmon En Croute with Saffron Sauce. 

My favorite by far though, and where we truly got our money's worth, was at the Caviar Station - where a trio of caviars were served consisting of Sturgeon, Whitefish and Salmon along with Potato Blinis and traditional garnishes from chopped hard-boiled egg yolk to red onions. As you can get the Salmon Roe easily at any sushi joint ('Ikura'), we focused mainly on the Sturgeon and Whitefish varieties.  We were able to maintain some semblance of decorum by scooping just small spoonfuls onto our plates at a time, but shamelessly went back for seconds and thirds...and easily consumed $80 worth, each, in caviar alone.  So they were Black Pearl brand, not top of the line, but still great and amazing for AYCE service.

I do want to acknowledge the incredibly warm hospitality of the staff at the restaurant - unexpected for any venue in Beverly Hills, at least towards relatively young and obviously not independently wealthy foodies with a propensity to snap hundreds of photos of every dish from every angle.  Though initially weary of how we would be treated amongst tables of 'old money' customers in their forties and fifties, we were happy to find that we were made to feel like VIPs throughout the meal, and instead of frowning upon our excitement about the AYCE caviar etc., several of the waiters and even the manager were very freindly and took the time to let us know when the rapidly depleted jars of caviar had been replenished - and helped us pour and carry our drinks over to the table when our hands were full with plates.  For that I give the team top ratings for service!

Although our focus was clearly on the seafood, there were also highlights on the salad / fruit / cheeses table - my favorite of which was the Artichoke Flower with Goat Cheese & White Truffle Oil, very rich, creamy and infused with the fragrance of white truffle.

The hot foods section was overshadowed by the seafood table, but still offered some highlights including the flavorful Chestnut and Sage stuffing. The Roasted Breast and Leg of Tom Turkey was too dry in my opinion, as was the Cherry Glazed Ham.

In order to save room for the amazing scallops and oysters, we did not get to the Chef's Station, which offered traditional eggs benedict as well as Roasted Herb Lamb Leg with Au Jus.

To balance out the heavy gorging, we hit up the beverage station where there was a great variety of healthy, fresh juices on offer from Grapefruit to Strawberry Banana, to Watermelon.  Those who have the stomach for alcohol this early in the day can also order Mimosas or wine at the table. 

As we reluctantly gave in to our limited, and overextended stomach capacities, we were advised that there was a chocolate dessert and coffee / tea buffet to be had - out in the lounge area.  This is the Thanksgiving meal that keeps on giving!  We sank into the comfortable sofas in the lounge and braced ourselves for one last round. 

The chocolate dessert display was mouth-watering - with tall sticks of chocolate dipped, perfectly ripe strawberries, individual pumpkin tarts, chocolate and cocoa powder enrobed nuts, hazelnut chocolate confections, triple chocolate mini-layer cakes, and walnut-mousse in scalloped chocolate shell.  I loved everything on this table, except the chocolate dipped dried fruits which were a bit too tough - and the chocolate coconut balls (only because I personally do not like coconut flakes). 

The chocolate dipped strawberries and walnut mousse in chocolate shell were particularly amazing - and the pumpkin tart was quite good as well, light and at the perfect portion size. We were also able to choose from a variety of organic teas like Hibiscus Oolong, to help us digest, as well as imbibe as much as we wanted of Mulled Apple Cider, and Coffee. 

All-in-all, The Restaurant at L'Ermitage Beverly Hills definitely made this Thanksgiving a very happy one for me and the visiting fam.  Would definitely return for Thanksgiving Brunch next year - if just for the seafood and caviar alone (and the lovely space / personable service)!  It also doesn't hurt that the restaurant uses OpenTable, so reserving and dining at L'Ermitage counts towards OpenTable reward points redeemable for a gift certificate.   Merci beaucoup for an amazing Thanksgiving, L'Ermitage!

On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 6.5 bites
Presentation - 6 bites
Originality - 5.5 bites
Ambience - 6 stars
Service - 7 stars
Overall experience - 6.5 bites
Price - $$$ (3 bite marks)
Probability of return visit - 100%


The Restaurant at L'Ermitage Beverly Hills

Ph: 310 278 3344
9291 Burton Way, Beverly Hills, CA 90210, USA

OpenTable: Look for reservations

Raffles L'Ermitage on Urbanspoon

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