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Chef Eric Greenspan is known for his culinary creativity at The Foundry on Melrose. A friend excitedly told me about his new restaurant, The Roof, on the top of a newer hotel in our neighborhood, The Hotel Wilshire. When her friends and family members from out-of-town come to visit, she reserves a room for them there. “I like meeting them at The Roof for lunch or dinner. The food is really good,” she told me.
Two weeks ago, I was invited to see the new L.A. Skin & Ink exhibit at the innovative Craft & Folk Art Museum near LACMA. After learning about the 60-year-history of the tattoo renaissance from edgy to mainstream art, a group of us went to The Roof for cocktails and appetizers.
As I exited the elevator to the top floor of The Hotel Wilshire, I was immediately wowed. The views of the Wilshire corridor at dusk looks like chains of rubies and pearls.
It’s one of those quintessential Los Angeles hot-spots oozing coolness. Every direction offers an incredible panorama of our magnificent city.
As we sat in the intimate sunken firepit area, nibbling on Greenspan’s bite-size mushroom risotto rolls and burger sliders, I immediately understood why this is the new “it” restaurant.
The jovial Eric Greenspan came out to meet us. I instantly liked him. When I asked to take his photo, his personality shined. Right then, I knew I had to come back again to experience a full meal.
Last weekend, I brought my husband to The Roof for a romantic dinner.
Walking into the lobby of the 74-room boutique hotel, we learned it was once a medical office building. KNA designed the interior with brown and neutral warm colors. “It’s known as a favorite in the art world with its close proximity to LACMA and other museums. We also have many Cedars Sinai guests,” shared a staff member. “It’s a casual hotel with elegant amenities.”
Once up on The Roof, a hostess sat us in one of the cozy booths next to the white tiled pool. In one direction, we looked at the lights of Wilshire Blvd. Another glance, and we saw the Park La Brea towers. The Hollywood Hills and all of the twinkling West Hollywood lights were in full view.
Our waiter, Wilson, recommended we try one of the Mule cocktails, made with Blue Hawaiian ginger. I ordered the El Diablo, made with tequila, lime juice, ginger syrup, house-made ginger beer and a cassis float. It arrived in a chilled copper mug and tasted similar to a really good margarita.
My husband ordered a cool Cue Southside gin cocktail with cucumber, mint and lime.
Glancing at the three-page menu on a clipboard, the candles offer just enough light to read about Chef Greenspan’s interesting dishes. The nori nachos and lobster salad caught our eye.
The nachos are not your typical Mexican-style appetizer. This dish has an Asian twist and is served with tuna tartare. Chef Greenspan’s mound of tartare is topped with a spicy salmon roe and eel sauce. It’s served with his homemade rice and seaweed crackers flash fried to offer an airy crunch. We scooped up the tartare with the chips, roe, and sauce.
The decadent lobster salad had generous pieces of lobster with tomatillo, chives and avocado. Don’t picture a green leafy salad, but a stack of seafood salad next to four corn fritters. The fritters evoked Southern home cooking with every bite.
All of the entrées come with a choice of a side. We ordered the fresh grilled halibut on a bed of fried Brussels sprouts, sautéed with sweet and sour onions and savory bacon. We also ordered the chilled bean salad and a side of creamed corn elote, Spanish for corn on the cob. Greenspan’s corn elote tasted just like the wonderful corn on the cob one gets at a Farmers Market. It’s cut off the husk and mixed with chili watermelon juice and queso fresco, another dazzling dish.
The limited wine list is interesting with whites from Portugal, France, Italy and the California Central Coast. We ordered a glass of Copain “Tours Ensemble” Chardonnay from the Anderson Valley and a “Black and White” Cabernet from Topanga Vineyards in Napa to accompany our dishes.
All the beverages are served in fine plastic stemware to prevent breakage, due to the table’s proximity to the tile deck and swimming pool in the center of the restaurant.
By 8:15 p.m. there was not one empty table on The Roof. It should have been loud due to the number of people enjoying the warm night air. However without a ceiling, the noise level dissipates into the atmosphere. Heaters are strategically placed around the tables for evenings that become chilly.
Jay Perrin, the managing partner/owner strolled around throughout the night greeting guests. When he approached our table, he shared with us that he has been in the restaurant business since high school. When he was in 10th grade, he quit school to become a busboy at the old Nicky Blair’s. He then worked at La Cachette with chef-owner Jean-Francois Meteigner. After many years at Campanile on La Brea, Perrin met Eric Greenspan while working at Patina on Melrose. Years later, they reunited to combine their creative talents to open The Roof. Both have been enjoying its success.
“What I like about Eric Greenspan, is that he takes a dish that other restaurants serve and turns it into a genius level,” Perrin said. This has earned Greenspan critical acclaim at The Foundry on Melrose. He has been recognized as a finalist in the popular Food Network’s “The Next Iron Chef” and won first place in the Grilled Cheese Invitational.
At The Roof, Greenspan’s Wilshire Grilled Cheese is made with Gruyere cheese, roasted peppers and date marmalade grilled on sourdough bread.
Desserts were an assortment of ice cream, funnel cake with blueberry compote and a deconstructed Reese’s Peanut Butter cup – a slice of rich and gooey chocolate pound cake with peanut butter frosting and a scoop of chocolate ice cream.
Next time you have guests who need a “home away from home,” check out The Hotel on Wilshire. Then join your friends for a cocktail and dinner on The Roof. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. $$ 6317 Wilshire Blvd. (323)852-6002.
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