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Soaring up the elevator to the 35th floor of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites was a thrilling start to an anticipated meal at the award-winning signature restaurant, LA Prime. As the doors opened, we marveled at the stunning views from the 1970s iconic post-modern design hotel.
Following the hostess to a cozy booth framed by privacy curtains, we admired the white linen tables set for two or more guests celebrating an evening out or special occasion in a relaxed atmosphere with refined service, and multi-million dollar views of downtown Los Angeles and beyond.
The Chef de Cuisine Jeffery Williams at LA Prime is known for his innovative and creative fare. Williams is a graduate of Baltimore International College and has worked in various restaurants in the hotel industry, including The Willard Intercontinental in Washington D.C., and the W in San Diego, where he redesigned the menus to have an Asian influence, while using classic French techniques. During his stint at the W in San Diego, Williams was nominated for a James Beard award.
Scanning the cocktail and wine menu, we noticed an impressive array of martinis and specialty drinks. We selected two appetizers – the baked Bluepoint oysters Rockefeller and a bowl of warm winter squash bisque with roasted chestnuts crumbled on top.
The half-shell oysters were topped with a luscious butter sauce, herbs and a sprinkling of breadcrumbs before being baked golden brown. They were rich and had an essence of the sea flavor.
A bread basket was delivered with a varied selection of baked items that included sweet fruit and nut sliced bread, cheese, pretzel and ciabatta bread and crisp lavash. It was served with a tapenade of chopped olives, red peppers, olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
Chef Williams visited our table with a decadent amuse bouche of King crab with Yuzu broth and tiny red and yellow heirloom tomatoes topped with extra virgin olive oil.
Our very professional and friendly server Vicky recommended we try at least one of the Chicago Stockyard steaks. The restaurant’s signature is the 22 oz. Delmonico bone-in Rib Eye. It’s the most flavorful due to its fat and marbling. The restaurant also uses Brandt beef, a ranch located in Southern California. Brandt’s cattle are raised without hormones and are fed a vegetarian corn-based diet for more than 300 days without the use of antibiotics.
My husband also inquired about the 14 oz. New York, and center cut petite filet. Each steak entrée is served with a variety of housemade sauces: au poivre, creamy horseradish, béarnaise, chimichurri sauce, and L.A Prime aromatic sauce made of vinegar and Worcester sauce.
You may enhance your steak with black summer truffles, jumbo Maryland crab cakes, a cold-water Australian lobster tail or four pieces of brown butter shrimp scampi. The guests near us topped their steak Oscar style with Maryland lump crab, asparagus and hollandaise. These extras are for an additional cost between $14 to $32.
In addition to beef, LA Prime offers beautiful lamb and veal chops, chicken, risotto, fresh fish and shellfish.
My husband ordered the rib eye and I decided to have one of the newest additions to the menu, Chilean sea bass with lime scented shallot, confit toast, and foam of ginger carrot with a splash of chili oil. The flesh of the bass was delicate and offered a light zing from the chili oil. Chef Williams makes the foam by reducing fresh carrot juice and mixed with ginger, butter and cream. He doesn’t use any additive or fillers, just a Co2 canister.
The General Manager Duke Newtran recommended a bottle of Hartford Court 2011 Pinot Noir from the Russian River to pair with both of our dishes. It offered a bite of spice with an earthy, yet peppery flavor, and light tannin for an easy and smooth finish.
For dessert we couldn’t decide if we wanted the cheesecake in a jar, deconstructed s’mores or a sour cream cake. We ordered one of the latter and enjoyed the tender and moist cream laden cake.
As we rode the elevator down to the parking garage, we marveled at the view and remarked that although LA Prime would be the ideal spot for a marriage proposal, job promotion or special birthday, we enjoyed it as a enchanting destination for a Friday night date.
LA Prime is offering a special Christmas Day menu that includes a four-course meal from 2 to 9 p.m. at $65 per person. The bakery basket includes pumpkin Madeleines, walnut raisin bread, cheese sage biscuit, orange butter and brandied house made eggnog. An individual relish trio offers house toasted smoked almonds, dried autumn fruits, and Mediterranean olive tapenade. Guests choose from either blue crab bisque or sweet pea soup, crème fraiche with micro mint. For those who prefer a salad there are three varieties. Entrées for this festive meal include a grilled double bone in pork chop; seared John Dory with potato confit; roasted Muscovy duck breast; or Colorado rack of lamb wrapped in apple wood bacon. Finish with a dessert of a miniature Yule of Valhrona chocolate mousse, grand Marnier cake, peppermint eggnog crème anglaise hazelnut crème brulée, gingerbread tuille and cinnamon cream.
LA Prime has all that downtown Los Angeles offers in an elegant culinary experience. Open for dinner from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. On Friday and Saturday evenings the restaurant stays open until 11 p.m. $$$ 404 South Figueroa St., (213)624-1000.