Last Sunday, I discovered Michelin-starred chef John Fraser’s new playful brunch at Ardor restaurant inside The West Hollywood EDITION. The California chef and his team including chef de cuisine Christopher Ojales and pastry chef Mitzi Reyes, prepare a sit-down brunch experience, with a step up to dazzling dessert buffet offering over 20 bite-size whimsical desserts, elegant treats and jars of colorful macarons.
The handsome dining room is filled with potted green plants and trees, among soft vanilla hue crescent shaped leather booths, and chartreuse colored banquette with modern cane-backed chairs.
As we looked at the one-page menu, my husband and I discussed which of the seven “for the table” items we would order. There are so many intriguing sweet, savory and vegetarian choices. When our friendly server Lee approached our table, he explained that we didn’t need to choose, because we would be getting all of them. All we had to do was give him our drink order and the entree we desired.
I chose the Green Beauty from the fresh juice selections. It is made with kale, cucumber, parsley, green apple and lime with a touch of jalapeño. It wasn’t spicy from the hot pepper, but that did enhance the flavor profile. My husband selected the Life Flow made with heirloom carrots, ginger, beets and orange juice. Both were not pulpy or too sweet.
The first brunch fare to arrive was a pretty basket filled with four different pastry items. There was a delicious, buttery ham and cheese turnover, glazed cinnamon roll with lots of sweet white frosting, a small chocolate chip muffin and lovely fruit biscuit.
Next, a small loaf of Japanese-style milk bread arrived topped with thinly sliced Beefsteak tomatoes baked on top. This soft and fluffy bread was delicious and melted in our mouth.
Our eyes widened when a glass bowl filled with ice was topped with two large poached Baja shrimp, two small and flavorful Kusshi oysters, two large King crab legs, plus a mignonette sauce and chipotle cocktail sauce. Wedges of lime and lemon were ready to squeeze on top of this beautiful display of fruits de mer. The shellfish was so fresh that we could taste the essence of the sea.
A colorful crudités plate arrived with a creamy white bean Rancho Gordo Numbia bean dip. It had sliced purple carrots, red and white endive, carrot and celery curls, and a variety of radish artistically arranged on the plate.
A surprise was the vegetarian carrot gravlax tartine that looked like a salmon hors d’oeuvre at an elegant party. It was served on a circular flatbread topped with a dill cream cheese, capers and a sprinkle of Everything spice on top of carrot curls.
The final plate to arrive were two small crispy fried circular croquettes bites filled with 12-hour braised short rib beef on thinly shaved American prosciutto. It’s served on a wood circular tray with small gherkins, a bowl of olives, and a mustard and pleasing orange romesco dipping sauce.
There is also a decadent deviled egg filled with Santa Barbara uni mousse and topped with Osetra caviar that can be ordered for an additional $20 supplemental charge.
When the salmon Benedict arrived, I immediately noticed it was on a larger than most English muffin, instead of two regular size bread bases. Our server poured a small white carafe filled with thick yellow hollandaise sauce dotted with peach colored trout roe onto the poached egg and salmon slices. The roe adds a saltiness to the luscious sauce and elevates the steamed spinach under the salmon.
My husband’s pan seared branzino filet had crispy skin and tender white fish with a shaved fennel and watercress salad on top. A sprinkle of light caper vinaigrette heightens this dish.
Other entree items include two different omelets, a vegetarian forest mushroom filled with feta cheese served with crispy potatoes, and an exquisite brie and truffle omelet with spinach and sweet onions. There is also a waffle platter with a variety of toppings, and fried chicken and waffle served with cajun spiced syrup. The Ardor burger is on a potato bun and served with hand cut fries, and for a $20 supplemental charge, one can order the prime skirt steak served with hand cut frites, truffles and a pleasing aioli.
After our sit-down service, we walked up to the beautiful display of desserts and sweet treats. There were small espresso cups filled with tiramisu topped with powdered chocolate, white cream decorative frosting, gold leaf flakes and a chocolate covered coffee bean. Birthday confetti rice crispy squares were next to white chocolate lace lollipops. One of my favorites were the bite-size two-layer red velvet cakes with cream cheese frosting and edible flower pedals. My husband went back for another chocolate mousse and small lemon meringue tart, because this is an endless dessert table for guests to go back and try each exquisite item if you have any room left.
This fabulous new type of brunch is served only on Sundays. The restaurant is open for breakfast daily with a different menu from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. It closes for one hour on Sunday, so the culinary team can set up the dessert table and prepare to reopen at 12 to 3 p.m. Brunch is $85 per person. $$$ Reservations can be made on OpenTable. 9040 Sunset Blvd., (424)310-1572.
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