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A RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW: DIAGHILEV FOR ELEGANT FRANCO-RUSSIAN FOOD

 

 

 

By Albert Hayashi

This retrospective  review will be updated in the future and replaced with the new exciting restaurant being created by the world famous chef Gordon Ramsey. Prior to the remodeling of the hotel, a Franco-Russian restaurant called Diaghilev was available to the public and guests of the Bel Age Hotel (now called the London West Hollywood).  Those with a susceptibility for Russian Romanticism and a preference for the dignity that comes with great luxury felt pampered and at peace in the glamorous world of Diaghilev. Tucked away inside the hotel, Diaghilev was named for Russian impresario Serge Pavolitch, who founded Ballet Russe in 1909. It recalled the rich and glamorous days of Europe at the turn of the century, when the Russian aristocracy flocked to Paris for uncompromising luxury and elegant Franco-Russian cuisine. These were the people who knew the importance of heavy silver and fine crystal, who could appreciate the salty burst of fine caviar and felt the necessity to dine among formal gilt-framed paintings, dazzling floral displays and artful lighting that made everyone look interesting and rich.

The Diaghilev succeeded in recapturing the glory of those days. Entering the room, you felt a hint of intoxication from the soothing sounds of acclaimed Russian pianist Natalya Koren along with harpist Margarita Maslennikova from the Bolshovik Theater in Moscow . Together their melodious sounds serenaded you all evening long. And as you sunk into plush, velvet tapestry brocade love seats soaking up the warmth and intimacy of this lovely room, you knew you were in one of the most sumptuous dining rooms in the city. Everything about the seductive setting spells romance, from the formal tables adorned with long stemmed roses that bloomed so gracefully from crystal bud vases to the soft pearl-gray hues that soothe the soul and created a timeless quality of pleasure. And while the tariff was by no means inexpensive, you couldn’t help but feel you'd gladly give up two dinners in a lesser restaurant for the pleasure of dining here just once.

Reflective of the Russian theme, two Cossack-shirted waiters descended on the table with silver thongs in hand and offered wonderful crusty black Russian walnut and sun dried tomato breads. Another waiter later set five iced-crystal decanters of infused vodkas on our table - a Diaghilev trademark - lime, strawberry, vanilla, orange and peppercorn. Still others appeared, watchful, attentive to our every need, gliding almost silently through their duties, their superb service synchronized by award-winning maitre d' Dimitri Dimitrov who knows all too well the essentials of delivering "perfect service." In fact at the Diaghilev everything was done with the pleasures of the table in mind and was in the hands of this city's highest regarded maitre d'. And like the quiet beauty of the setting, Dimitri's gentle sincere manner was especially refreshing.

To begin in the proper vein, guests often tried the soul-stirring borscht made with short ribs. An alternative was the cold yellow-beet borscht with a splash of lemon. Duck foie gras beautifully fanned on a plate and a warm lobster salad were along the appetizer specials.  A sample of the traditional Zakuski, a tasty sampler platter of many Russian favorites; among them cabbage rolls set in a pool of deep red tomato coulis, Pelmieny, delicate ravioli-like dumplings surrounding a filling of sumptuous veal and duck in a saffron light emulsion, a traditional potato salad, a perky endive salad and smoked Norwegian salmon were often tried.  Entree specialties included a tender Chicken Kiev sliced and stuffed with morels and truffles dressed in a light port wine sauce, Kulibiaka, the renowned Russian salmon, wrapped in a light pastry with sturgeon mousse, tender duck breast in a light honey calvados jus, filet mignon with green peppercorn and Armenian brandy, and braised veal chop with cepes mushrooms and raspberry vinegar sauce. And all the sophisticated Franco-Russian flavors were tempered for the California palate. While luxuriating in the delicious afterglow, the senses were awakened once again with some marvelous dessert choices. Guests always had to remember to save room for the traditional Russian Pashka, a dessert that was as much savored in the era commemorated as it is here today at the Diaghilev.   Again, as an update to this article, the renowned and famous chef Gordon Ramsey is bringing his talents and skills to the London West Hollywood chic and elegant guests.  Rich Journey will be reviewing the new restaurant when it opens.

Fact Sheet

The London West Hollywood

1020 San Vicente Boulevard

West Hollywood , CA

90069

Phone: 310-358-7780


http://www.belagehotel.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
© Rich Journey  Inc.
287 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills, California, 90211