First Impression: Beachwood Cafe
Into the heart of Hollywoodland, straight up Beachwood Canyon, right at the spot where the locals start to get angry at visitors who stop to gawk at the famous sign just above, the Village Coffee Shop was working Hollywood's neighborhood restaurant, with the kind of country wood interior you see in Iowa gift shops and a menu of pancakes, omelets and salisbury steaks that you could think of as charmingly retro when you weren't contemplating some better food all the way down the hill. It was where the neighborhood posted babysitter-wanted notices and lost-dog flyers. It was where you might see a grande dame in full makeup at 8 in the morning, because you never knew who might drop by.
So when the coffee shop was taken over by Patty Peck (formerly of Millie's and the Edendale Grill), the neighborhood mandate seemed to be simultaneously "don't touch it'' and "please, Lord, make it good.'' And when design goddess Barbara Bestor was brought in to chop and channel the place, the newly renamed Beachwood Cafe did indeed look exactly the way it had, and yet thoroughly up to date, with snazzy Moroccan-looking tile, art-star wallpaper and a service counter like something out of Dwell. The new chef, Minh Phan, smartened up the menu –- you can get kale salad with your lunchtime burger, for example, and it actually tastes better than the fries –- while keeping it fairly Hollywood-traditional during daylight hours: You will not do without your quinoa bowls, tofu scrambles or dairy-free grilled cheese.
But the Beachwood also serves dinner now, possibly for the first time in this space. And alongside the beef and potatoes are things like seared scallops with house-pickled taro stems, pineapple and black rice simmered in coconut milk; little bowls of corn cooked with orzo pasta and lots of bacon; and delicately bitter pots de crème flavored with the wild anise that grows everywhere in these hills. It's still a fledgling place –- I wouldn't plan on seeing 12-course Dames d'Escoffier dinners here anytime soon -- but worth a try.
2695 N. Beachwood Dr., Hollywood, (323) 871-1717.
-- Jonathan Gold
Photo credit: Jonathan Gold