In 2016 when I dined at Belvedere at the Peninsula Beverly Hills, I met the creative executive chef David Codney while enjoying many of his signature dishes. In my Beverly Press review, I described the evening as an approachable fine dining experience, offering a distinctive flavor profile that lures guests to return for more.
With the global pandemic, the hotel had to close its beautiful interior fine dining room, yet Codney has stayed busy cultivating his “secret garden” on the rooftop of the hotel for outdoor dining venues.
On the fifth floor, where the 60-foot outdoor pool overlooks Beverly Hills and the Century City skyline, Codney planted his garden. He harvested an array of heirloom tomatoes and herbs to include in his innovative menus.
Codney has created three dining options – terrace dining, rooftop dining and outdoor tea. Le Petit Belvedere, located on the terrace, is a California-style brasserie concept. The menu offers favorites such as saffron risotto croquettes, moules frites, steak au poivre and a show stopping Grand Marnier souffle.
A selection of signature cocktails, beer, wine and Laurent Perrier Champagne are offered.
He also has created a seasonal menu at the Roof Garden, near his secret garden. My husband and I were eager to try his freshly picked garden-to-plate offerings.
Riding the elevator up to the Codney’s the Roof Garden, we stepped onto a beautiful al fresco setting with yellow and white striped umbrellas, a teak bar, tables set for two to four guests and a socially distanced lounge area with chairs arranged around a flickering fire pit. As the sun set, the lights of Beverly Hills and Century City high rise buildings illuminated the sky.
We started with a bright orange Aperol spritz while looking over the menu and noticed Codney puts an asterisk next to each dish that offers ingredients from his garden.
We enjoyed burrata with vibrant red and yellow heirloom tomatoes and sprigs of basil from his garden with a variety of bread from a basket. The creaminess of the burrata was nice on flat parmesan cracker bread and olive rolls sliced in half, especially when topped a tomato slice and basil. It was a perfect starter with our cocktails.
Other menu items showcasing Codney’s tomatoes include his Cobb salad and BBQ Mary’s Chicken Salad with crunchy dried Russian corn, black beans, an array of tomatoes, mixed greens and his special barbecue thousand island dressing.
A handful of Asian-influenced items include a Mandarin chicken salad and an udon bowl with fresh cilantro, miso dressing, white soy mushrooms, cashews for crunch and daikon radish for some heat. He also makes sesame tofu with broccoli rabe, chopped eggplant and a piquant, crispy chili garlic sauce.
My favorite was the cilantro shrimp pad Thai with a tamarind glaze. Five large grilled shrimp were tossed with sliced scallions, crunchy green papaya, crisp bean sprouts, diced peanuts and egg. Wedges of lime can be squeezed on top to offer a refreshing touch of citrus with each bite.
Codney posts photos of his garden vegetables on Instagram and in one of his posts he added this fun fact: “tomatoes are botanically a fruit but culinarily a vegetable… the Supreme Court had to rule this for tax reasons on imports. In 1883, the court declared it to be a vegetable, as it was generally served with dinner and not dessert. This ruling was only for the tariff and not reclassified for botanical purposes.”
The last entrée we ordered was a grilled swordfish steak that was cooked perfectly with secret garden fennel and an arugula salad mixed with dandelion greens and Belgian endive. They were lightly dressed with a preserved lemon dressing.
Other offerings on the menu include branzino with oven roasted tomatoes and Wild Local Seafood Company salmon from Santa Barbara, which was served with quinoa and a corn salsa with chili, almonds and sesame.
Codney makes a Roof Garden BBQ Burger with thick-cut slices of Nueskie bacon, smoked barbecue onions and aged white cheddar; and an Impossible burger layered with two smashed burger patties and garden tomatoes.
Be sure to save room for dessert. The whole-wheat butterscotch blondie is enhanced with ribbons of dulce de leche, chocolate sauce and a scoop of horchata ice cream with oven-roasted, cinnamon-sugar-covered nuts on top.
Codney is planting for the winter and soon will be changing his menu items to include his seasonal, fresh vegetables and herbs when they are ready to harvest.
Back by popular demand, Codney is now offering his elegant afternoon tea outdoors at Le Petit Belvedere. Guests can enjoy free flowing Champagne by Laurent Perrier, along with one-of-a-kind teas and a tower of sweet items that includes a lemon thyme eclair, tarragon Mandarin layer cake, scones and gluten-free zucchini loaf. Some of the savory sandwiches include his traditional cucumber and smoked salmon, a pastrami sandwich with horseradish cream, house-made pickles, pickled mustard seeds and micro parsley, and Maine lobster and caviar roll on brioche bread with herbs from his garden.
Enjoy a meal on the fifth floor Rooftop Garden daily from 7 a.m., to 9 p.m. Le Petite Belvedere is open for dinner on Wednesdays through Saturdays from 5 to 10 p.m., and Champagne and tea is now being served on Saturdays and Sundays at 11a.m. and 1:30 p.m. On Sundays, there is also a seating 4 p.m.
Takeout options are available with pickup at the valet for those who prefer to dine at home. 9882 S. Santa Monica Blvd., (310)551-2888 and (310)975-2736.
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