When in L.A., it’ll be worth your while to head over to BLVD 16 Restaurant and Lounge in Westwood, which is ensconced in the trendy and sophisticated Palomar Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard. Surrounded by a bevy of high-rise residences, BLVD 16 exudes that friendly and familiar neighborhood gathering place vibe that’s duly complimented by an urban chic atmosphere and uncompromised American California cuisine.
Recently re-launched in February of this year, BLVD 16 is part of the Kimpton family – a collection of boutique hotels and chef-driven eateries throughout the U.S. designed to provide intuitive and unscripted customer care, stylish ambiance, and a certain playfulness in its hospitality approach. This is achieved at BLVD 16, which offers a relaxed and unrushed respite in a contemporary and artful setting. Here, modern lines, warm wood accents, rich colors, soft lighting and eclectic music converge, making the separate, uber-cool bar and dining room spaces a feast for the senses.
For those that just want a drink and a nibble, BLVD 16 boasts a vibrant lounge and bar that feels like you are hanging out in a friend’s cozy living room – a really cool and classy friend that is. There’s everything from clubby, high-back leather chairs to suede couches and plush sofas. Most notably, in the lounge, is the shimmering and rather dramatic 25-foot bar, offering plenty of room and repose for the weary corporate exec or the energized group of friends ready to start their night off right. It’s an ideal place for getting away from the rat race, traffic, and the office while catching up with friends or colleagues – or that special someone for a romantic night out.
BLVD 16’s specialty cocktail menu has it all – from the classics and retro drinks to signature concoctions – that will ensure you find the perfect blend to help you unwind and enjoy. My choice – the Spring Fever ($14) – was a refreshing mixture of Kettle One Vodka, St. Germaine, and sparkling wine with muddled strawberries and kiwis served on the rocks. Also popular here is the New Old Fashioned ($14), which contains Jameson Irish Whiskey, Solerno blood orange liqueur, Luxardo Marischino liqueur and a dash of bitters served up straight or on ice. Of course, an impressive selection of wines by the bottle or glass and bottled beers are also available.
Along with the re-conceptualized and redesigned interior, new Executive Chef Richard Hodge is now commanding the culinary helm. Chef Hodge has revamped the menu into one that’s seasonally driven and often contingent on what he’s found on trips to the local farmer’s market.
Complementing the drink menu at BLVD 16 is a special menu of Bites, Share, and Small Plate items like Short Rib Sliders ($3 each) with Robbiola cheese and crispy onions, Artichoke Tart ($9), and Steak Tartare ($11). A crowd favorite is the Bourbon-Burger-Beer ($20) – a Rogue Dead Guy Ale, a pour of Bulliet Bourbon, and an organic beef burger with bourbon onions, smoked tomato, jack cheese and black pepper aioli served all together.
In the dining room, Chef Hodge has ensured there’s something for everyone as the menu’s main dishes are divided into key culinary categories: Pasta, Sea, and Land. On the night of my visit, I started with a taste of their Carlsbad Oysters ($3 each), which were as supple and fresh as a sea breeze. Then, I moved on to an equally fresh and flavorful Fish Taco ($4 each) comprised of pickled Habanero, shredded cabbage, and crème fraiche served on a corn tortilla. I also enjoyed the rich and amply portioned Flat Bread ($7), bursting with squash blossoms, nettle pesto, and silky Burrata cheese. The Carrot Soup ($9), pureed to perfection and seasoned with a touch of coriander oil, rounded out the stellar starters experience.
Next, I sampled the Steak Salad ($16), which was an unbelievably large portion of steak strips sautéed with sweet peppers and mushrooms and tossed with baby spinach and hardboiled egg in a robust warm tomato vinaigrette fitting of a steak dish. On the lighter side, I also sampled the Roasted Beet Salad ($11) – large chuck-sliced red and yellow beets dished up with upland cress, Pt. Reyes blue cheese, and grapes tossed in a walnut vinaigrette. Absolutely divine.
For the main course, while the Mushroom Fettuccine ($13/$24) with black truffle pasta and mushroom ragout in a herb broth and topped with pecorino was hard to resist, I opted for the Duck ($24) – a grilled breast and confit leg with creamy polenta and citrus. The duck, also generously portioned, was moist and flavorful, and the confit preparation was on point. Another in my party ordered the Scottish Salmon ($24) served with gorgeous dark lentils and seared cauliflower in a tomato bread sauce. As expected, the salmon was moist, fresh, and flaky, and the recipe on the whole was well-strategized with complimentary tastes and textures. On the side, I enjoyed the deep green Blue Lake Green Beans ($7), nearly al dente and served with caramelized shallots. The Mac n Cheese ($14), with a combination of manchego, smoked cheddar, and jack cheeses served with bacon bread crumbs, would be especially satisfying and was also in my sights for a return visit up ahead.
Dessert at BLVD 16 also did not disappoint. Amid a scintillating selection that included cheese boards, Galette, Semifreddo, Caramelized Banana Tarts and a Meyer Lemon Crème Brulee, I went with the Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate ($8) – a sinful chocolate cake with chocolate budino and chocolate ganache that would make the most hardened pastry chef proud. A dramatic end to an overall wonderful dining experience.
In all, BLVD 16 has infused some fresh energy in the Westside scene and will surely do its part to draw locals and travelers alike to partake in its special brand of food, frivolity, and fine customer service.
While I enjoyed the dinner experience, BLVD 16 also serves breakfast and lunch. The restaurant is located lobby-level inside the Hotel Palomar Los Angeles-Westwood, which is located at 10740 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA90024. Check them out online at www.blvd16.com.
***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***