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Walking into the Grand Lux Café at the base of the Beverly Center, my daughter exclaimed, “I feel like I’m in Las Vegas.” The marble floors, rich jewel tones and gold accents reminded us of the Cheesecake Factory at the Caesar Forum. Our waiter explained that Grand Lux Café was a brainchild of David Overton, founder of The Cheesecake Factory. He was approached by the Venetian Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas to create an upscale, yet casual, restaurant for the resort. Overton was so excited about the opportunity that he traveled to Europe to study cafes, trattorias and bistros in Rome, Paris and Vienna. The trips inspired his design concept, menu and décor. Overton wanted Grand Lux Café to be a destination where anyone in the family or group could find a dish they like, so he offers food from around the globe. Recipes from Asia, America, Europe and even the Caribbean are featured throughout the menu of over 170 items. Since his Las Vegas flagship was a huge success, he has opened other Grand Lux Cafes in eight states.
While deciding what to order for lunch, I asked the waiter what dishes were popular. He replied, “The crispy calamari is the number one appetizer sold.” It arrived with a warm marinara sauce and was a tasty treat. Another top seller is their BBQ pork sliders topped with cole slaw. I opted for something healthier, so I requested the beet and ricotta salad with arugula, fresh oranges and hazelnuts. It was refreshing and zesty. Next we were curious about the fried pickles. How often does one see that on a menu? They arrived warm and crispy, yet were soft in the middle. Each pickle tasted heavenly with the luscious remoulade sauce. For an entrée, we ordered the mahi Mediterranean. A crusted fresh mahi-mahi fish arrived on a bed of mashed potatoes with roasted tomatoes, artichokes, capers, basil and topped with an olive oil and balsamic vinegar sauce. The portions are large and can easily be shared by two people. We were pleasantly surprised by the savory sauce. It had a hint of sweetness, yet was pleasant to our palates.
For dessert, they offer freshly baked molten chocolate cake, (order with your entrée, because they take up to 20 minutes to bake) warm New Orleans beignets served with three sauces for dipping, warm rustic apple pie a la mode, or my absolute favorite – homemade warm chocolate chip pecan cookies (served by the dozen) or a box of four freshly baked chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting. I wanted to try the beignets and the cookies, so I ordered both, ate one of each and took the rest home. Both were better than I expected.
Grand Lux Café serves lunch and dinner daily and offers a breakfast menu for Saturday and Sunday. For those who like to dine early, the Grand Happy Hour from 4 – 6:30 p.m. on Monday to Friday with selected well drinks and wines by the glass are $5. Draft beers are $4. The majority of the appetizers, tapas and mini bites on their Happy Hour menu are also under $5.
In today’s economy, the Grand Lux Café is a safe bet for a winning meal.
Located at the Beverly Center, 121 N. La Cienega Blvd. (310)855-1122. www.grandluxcafe.com.
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