Upon first returning to LA, I happened onto a meal at All’Angelo, one of the sadder closings of Summer ’09, and took this (lousy) pix:
That’s a restored 1921 Berkel manual meat slicer. The meal was rather simple, but tasty, and I wondered where All’Angelo’s chef, at that time Paderno, would bounce. Few weeks later, Avalon Hotel announced a restaurant redesign with chef Paderno leading the kitchen. And it was time to steer towards quainter parts of Beverly Hills.
One mustn’t think of Oliverio as a hotel restaurant. It is a hotel restaurant, but carries none of the hotel restaurant feel, as the Avalon is a bit of an urban oasis in a quasi-suburban section of Beverly Hills. To prove that status, one simply mozy up to the indoor (alas, there is an outdoor bar) bar and listen to the banter between the neighborly regulars who now can simply walk to the best happy hour deal in all of Beverly Hills.
There is happy hour Monday through Thursday, when a hefty 50% discount applies to the entire bar menu. And even the bar menu is chock full of seafood done the (new) Italian way: crudo, tartare, hold the cream sauce.
First up (below L): spicy yellow fin tuna crudo. This wasn’t sliced sashimi style, so it’s a tad steaky, but the zesty olive oil brought zing, while coarsely ground peppercorn brought a hint of spice to accompany the peppery arugula. It is nearly inconceivable better crudo can be had at this price range; it’s simple, and it’s not evocative of sushi.
The grilled octopus tentacles were masculine, unlike the more dainty ones found at O. Mozza. Here, the carbonization (let’s not call it caramelized; it’s not candy, and it’s not onions) grill broadcasts itself clearly upon first bite. Fleshy big bites yield cephalopod that’s not too chewy – some might say “tooty” but that’d just be goofy – and just tender enough to pass as “well-prepared”. The acidity from the tomato makes these plump legs sing a bit, and the soft lentils bring the entire song to a pleasant finish. Lovely stuff, especially at half off.
While the server may have explained the cheese plate and the charcuterie plate, it mattered not. Just look at the presentation of the salumi e peperoni plate. Perty meat. The pepperoni was zesty, and the salumi just a bit spicy. Both cuts shadowed the prosciutto-type cut that was also served.
What made the cheese plate pop that day was the floral honey. The honey sang of floral infusions even after it was confirmed to be just of a “plain” variety. 4 hulking chunks, inclusive of white cheddar, blue, brie, etc. were served, and it was more than enough to be shared by two.
Finally, we end with protein in the form of a patty. Behold the buffalo burger with fried zucchinis.
Buffalo is hard to cook well. There’s no scientific method coverage on how to cook buffalo patty into the perfect “burger”. So what we have, is heavily seasoned ground buffalo done medium rare, but tasting a bit medium plus, in a very substantial but not over bearing bun, topped with classic iceberg and polygonal tomato slices. It’s a really nice “buffalo” burger – not that I eat much buffalo burger – but the fried zucchinis make this a irresistible burger plate.
Want to thank Peter for the rose love we got that night, and to Nicole @avalonbh for hooking everyone up with the extended happy hour that random Wednesday. And the barkeep (Ian?) for hooking me up with the blue, and orange, cocktails (with house infused syrups, natch!)
AVALON BEVERLY HILLS
9400 West Olympic Boulevard
Beverly Hills, California 90212
310 277 5221