I have a secret to share. I found the ideal al fresco summer dining spot in downtown Los Angeles. Not only does this outdoor venue serve an upscale, a la carte, Asian-inspired menu and seasonal cocktails, it’s now open for the first time to the public.
Last Friday, we handed our keys to the valet at the architecturally-pleasing Ritz-Carlton at L.A. LIVE before riding the elevator to the 24th floor. After we checked in at the WP24 (Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant) reception stand, a host escorted us to another elevator for a ride to the 26th floor. The doors opened to a large outdoor bar with glass punchbowls filled with white and red fruity sangria. Beyond the bar was a pool, luxury lounge area and chef’s herb garden cultivated for dishes served at WP24.
When a three-piece band played Paramore’s hit song, “Ain’t it Fun”, I knew it was going to be a great night. There is something wonderful about good live music, fresh air, sensational views, colorful cocktails and the scent of a sizzling grill. The outdoor dining lounge offers breathtaking views of the moon, city lights and passenger jets flying overhead.
General manager John-Andre Wielenberg said the area had been under-utilized during the evening. During the day, guests and residents of the Ritz-Carlton enjoy sunbathing, swimming and cocktails from the bar, yet this prime space was quiet during the evening, as guests explored the dining options inside the hotel or at LA LIVE.
When Wielenberg brought WP24 chef de cuisine John Lechleidner to the space, they brainstormed about making good use of the area and decided to offer an inviting ambiance with upscale small bites and table service.
They created an outdoor kitchen for their talented WP24 chefs to grill large prawns, mini sliders and Kurobuta pork. They hired bands to enhance the surroundings with live jazz and pop music.
We sat at a reserved table and ordered a glass of white fruit sangria and a tall mai tai. They also offer mojitos in kiwi, raspberry, mango, coconut, strawberry, peach and traditional mint flavors, and creative cocktails like a champagne float. A selection of beer and wine is available to accompany Lechleidner’s creative small plates. His dishes include fresh albacore ceviche with chilies, chopped Thai basil, cilantro and a splash of citrus.
The Kurobuta pork belly is served in a gem lettuce wrap. It was a little too fatty for me, yet very flavorful with gochujang — a savory, spicy and pungent fermented Korean condiment made from red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt. The lettuce balanced the heat of the dish.
We ordered a cold glass of Lucky Buddha beer that paired nicely with three American wagyu beef sliders served on freshly baked buns and sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds. They were topped with roasted tomatoes and melted Vermont cheddar cheese.
A glass of oaky Inception chardonnay from Santa Barbara paired nicely with the chef’s take on Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, which he serves on French baguettes. Tender roasted Kurobuta pork with tart pickled vegetables, earthy cilantro and chilies give the dish a zing. The chef also serves confit pork belly sliders with grilled cipollini onions, arugula and apricot mustard.
The prettiest dish of the evening was the red curry large grilled spot prawns served on coconut sticky rice with pickled vegetables.
The new pastry chef Megan Potthoff is an expert at creative French pastries. She offers a fresh take on Asian-inspired desserts and makes whimsical treats like the hazelnut praline ice cream pops with a chocolate glaze. We enjoyed the tropical flavors of the coconut tapioca parfait with fresh mango and pineapple shaved ice. Her most creative dessert was s’mores with graham crackers, chocolate squares and house-made passion fruit marshmallows.
Dining is by reservation only. The restaurant is open Friday and Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m., through Sept. 5. $$ 900 W. Olympic Blvd, 26th Floor. (213)743-8824.