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One of the most romantic dining spots in Los Angeles is in a cozy bungalow with a roaring fireplace. Perfect for pre-theatre dining, the Larchmont Grill on Melrose offers four distinct dining areas in a 1930s Hollywood Craftsman home.
A bar with several stools creates an inviting scene upon entering. I imagine neighbors strolling to the local restaurant for a glass of wine and to meet friends. The dining room is housed in the original living room of the home, where diners warm to the crackling fire. Adjacent, is the covered patio with twinkling lights and heaters, an attractive, temperature controlled setting. Upstairs, the Terrace room features indoor and outdoor dining, and can be booked for private parties.
Sean Bates, one of the owners, greeted the three of us and sat us near the fireplace. The affable Bates is quick to laugh and suggested a few items from the menu to start: the dueling tartare of ahi tuna and salmon; and the Chesapeake Bay crab cakes. The tartare was very fresh, with the tuna tossed with lime soy vinaigrette and avocado and the salmon with a lemon shallot dressing. I love to eat tartare with crunchy sesame crackers, and that is exactly how it was served.
We enjoyed a great bottle of chardonnay with our starters, a Cru Chardonnay from Monterrey County. It’s buttery and crisp, and paired well with the appetizers and the two fish entrées we ordered. The special fish that evening was tilapia verde, a superbly grilled filet with a caper cilantro sauce. The pan roasted trout from the regular menu is one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes, so we ordered that as well. The lemon caper sauce is divine, and I would order this dish again. Sean suggested the braised short ribs over mashed potatoes as well, just to add a meat to our “tasting menu”. The roasted garlic in the potatoes enhanced the flavor of the ribs, which were tender enough to cut with a fork. Just to make sure we tasted almost everything, a little side dish a mac n’ cheese and a plate of the orecchiette pasta were brought to our table. The sinfully delicious mac n’ cheese is “just like mama used to make” with toasted bread crumbs on top. (They use a secret ingredient – Velveeta!) The orecchiette – or “little ears” pasta with broccoli rabe, ground Italian sausage, Parmesan cheese and roasted garlic in an extra virgin olive oil white wine reduction is my favorite type of pasta – lots of noodles, light wine sauce, and a zing of fresh vegetables. I seriously could have just eaten that all night long, it is that good.
For Valentine’s Day, Larchmont Grill is spicing things up a bit, offering a special three course prix fixe menu on Monday for $65 per person. For wine pairings with each course, the cost is $85 per person. Choose from starts such as the grilled rosemary shrimp or an apple cider glazed short rib. For the entrée course, stuffed filet mignon, coriander and cumin crusted lamb chops and a wild mushroom verde risotto are just a few items to tantalize your taste buds. The dessert course features strawberry, pear, and apple dishes and of course a decadent chocolate lovers for two.
Sean and co-owner Mark Donofrio have created a warm and inviting dining experience. The staff is friendly, the food is delicious, and you feel at home in their home-turned-restaurant. It is casual enough for neighbors to stroll in for a weeknight dinner, yet subtly upscale, making it a wonderful destination for Saturday date night.
With this year’s exciting Pantages schedule showing “Spring Awakening” this week, followed by “Rock of Ages” and “Beauty and The Beast”, Larchmont Grill makes it the perfect evening for the pre-theatre crowd. Call for reservations. (323)464-4277. 5750 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles.