Scaffolding at the junction of Wilshire, Camden and Dayton in Beverly Hills has kept us in suspense, over what would fill the 11,000 square feet vacated by El Torito Grill. Thursday night’s benefit for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles pulled the curtain back on Ocean Prime, an alluring, 350-seat supper club, set to open October 28, and to be an instant draw.
The eleventh of its type in the burgeoning Cameron Mitchell Restaurants group, Ocean Prime is the Ohio-based company’s first foray into California. Its mission is to be the ultimate hybrid of seafood and steakhouses–a steep challenge considering the neighbors are well-established meat temples (CUT, Fleming’s, Mastro’s, Ruth Chris), who also offer substantial fish options.
Boding well for success, executive chef, Matt Briggs, has been recruited from Mastro’s Ocean Club, praised for equal deftness with surf and turf. A rare honor bestowed by fellow chefs, he was named Best Chefs America in 2013.
Briggs’ menu has the expected prime steaks, cooked at a sizzling 1200 degrees. He’s also created a “features program”, that will “…utilize local farmers markets, as well as the seasonal fish that is sourced directly from the California coast.” Seared ahi tuna with roasted marble potatoes, fava beans, mushrooms and truffle jus, and roasted halibut with lobster gnocchi, English peas and tomato fondue are just two examples.
Designed by ICRAVE, the space is a knockout wood, glass, steel and leather-trimmed ode to modern elegance. A walkway divides the restaurant in half. To the left are a dramatic reception area. Beyond are a warmly lit, teak-paneled lounge, the main dining room, complete with sushi bar. To the right are another bar and outdoor seating. Walking back and forth between the two sides will make for superb people watching.
An immense patio fitted with white leather booths overlooks Wilshire Boulevard. A nod to the town we live in, one can choose to power lunch here in broad view, or to enter from a rear entrance and dine in anonymity in one of three private rooms.
Assistant general manager, Jonathan Mitchell, a certified sommelier, directs the beverage program. With over a decade’s experience in steakhouses (Morton’s of Chicago, Sterling Steakhouses and The Palm), the man knows how to create a wine list for meat. Stints at Locanda del Lago and West at Hotel Angeleno, honed his Old World wine and mixology chops.
In a rush of enthusiasm, he swept me to the bar, and qvelled, “You have to taste all our signature cocktails. They’re original, handcrafted drinks, using freshly squeezed juices and chef-made syrups–nothing from a bottle or can.”
At first Berries and Bubbles seemed like a gimmick, emitting its dry ice-induced fog. But the mix of Belvedere citrus vodka, marinated blackberry purée, house-made sour and Domaine Chandon, went down like silk and packed a wallop.
Describing the wine list, Mitchell said, “It’s brought to the table on iPads and features 50 wines by the glass from all wine regions of the world, as well as another 200 wines by the bottle. Ranging in price from $30.00 to $6,500.00, there is something for everyone on this list, especially if you like pinot noir!”
A confessed “New World kinda guy”, his “Captain’s List” is weighted toward bigger, bolder wines, with a strong emphasis on Napa. Old World lovers need not despair, though. There are some interesting choices among the Italian reds, for instance, Mastroberardino’s Taurasi, a classic aglianico from Campania and Kurni’s beautiful montepulciano, Oasi degli Angeli, from the Marche. Chardonnays and pinot noirs are broken out into “new and old world”, so diners can enjoy a range of styles–from a round, Russian River Emeritus pinot noir, to a more austere Joseph Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny.
Reserve your table online, or call 310-859-4818.
9595 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Monday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Friday 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.
Saturday 5 p.m.-10:30 p.m.
Sunday 5 p.m.-10:30 p.m.