PUMP IN WEST HOLLYWOOD-IS IT AS GOOD AS THE HYPE
By Michael Hepworth
Pump in West Hollywood has now been open since May, 2014, and initially reservations were impossible to get due to the anticipation of the opening, and the celebrity of reality television star Lisa Vanderpump. Now things have settled down and you can now get in to the classy restaurant, although reservations are a must on weekends and for a Gay Sunday brunch. I was told that Vanderpump shows up regularly to dine at Pump, but not that night unfortunately. One of the major things that makes Pump unique even for Los Angeles is the interior, which is dominated by nine large Olive trees imported at great cost from Northern California. They even had to install a underground irrigation system for the trees and bring in an expert on a regular basis to check for mold and other tree related diseases.
Since I arrived at Pump fairly early on a weekday night the chef Penny Davidi was able to sit down with me for the course of the dinner which rarely happens since they are normally so busy. However she has her eight person brigade well organized enough that she was able to explain every dish, most of which were extremely original. She also has her waiting staff running a tight ship-all handsome well buffed and good looking young male would be actors, who no doubt love to interplay with the Hollywood directors and producers who hang out at Pump. Hardly surprisingly the women servers at Pump seemed to be relegated to the bar area at the rear of the restaurant.
Enough about the place, what is the food like ? Without even bothering to check out what Yelp has to say, Pump gets the thumbs up since it tasted just as good next day. Start out with her signature dish, Fresh Papaya w/shrimp & crab ($18), a rather unique combination that is also tossed with chives and heirloom tomatoes in a light aioli and dusted w/Spanish paprika and pistachios. The papaya is cut in half and the seafood nestles comfortably in the middle. The chef told me that it was her creation, but the web site states it was Vanderpump’s idea. Let’s assume that they worked on it jointly.
The Mediterranean Board ($18) is a delicious and substantial dish of Hummus topped with pine nuts and a host of other goodies like pesto hummus, olive tapenade, creamy feta cheese, peppers, olives and artisan bread. There are a few other salads that look mighty appealing especially the Roasted Beets & Goat Cheese Napoleon and Tiger Prawn & Farro salad. Speaking of Farro, this chef is a big fan and used it as a base for the Pan Seared Pacific Sole ($26) which is a departure from the usual of haricots verts and baby rosemary potatoes. Sticking with the fish theme I had to try the Vanderpump Fish & Chips ($25) served with malt vinegar and ketchup on the side. Fish was excellent, lightly battered and the thick cut country fries were nice and crisp, just as they should be.
Pump is a restaurant that caters of course to the gay and lesbian crowd, who do appear to have plenty of spare cash to pay the prices that are slightly above the norm for this area. However it is a must see experience, and yes you might even go back.
Address: 8948 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
Hours: Everyday from 6 PM-2 AM
Happy Hour: Monday-Friday (5 PM-6.30 PM)