Friday, April 22, 2011


Culina is the gorgeously revamped restaurant in the posh Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.  They did a much needed makeover because their previous restaurant, The Gardens, although nice, was getting a little dusty. With the hottest chefs leading the restaurant craze in the City of Angels, so many amazing new spots are springing up everywhere, and the Gardens couldn't compete.  Los Angelenos thank you, Four Seasons, for spending those millions on renovations.  I promise to frequent your restaurant more often now because I loved so many things about the new space:  The cuisine is modern Italian fare, and fancy at that because the bill didn't lie (I caught a glimpse of the total as my date signed his receipt).  The ambience is romantic and sexy with a dimly lit dining room and luxurious decor.  A great place for people watching, as the clientele is hip and beautiful.  

The story; I went on a date here recently.  He's a keeper since he dealt with my buzzkill picture taking every time the waiter brought a new dish.  After all, I am part Japanese, so I don't leave home without it (my camera).  And if that's the only real baggage I come with, he should be so lucky!  

My date and I were going to see a movie with friends at 7pm, but it was currently 3pm and dinner wasn't til 10pm.  We needed to eat something.  So we decided on drinks and a snack at the nearby Four Seasons.  It was a Saturday, and day drinking is permitted (and encouraged) on weekends and on holidays.  Mandatory on vacations.

His and Her martinis: Mine perfectly dirty and his with a twist.

View of the crudo bar area.  I was hoping for more people to be day drinking!

It seems I'm not the only one that loved their experience here.  Esquire Magazine named Culina as one of the nation's best new restaurants in 2010.  And one interesting feature about Culina that allows it to have a leg up on other venues; It houses LA's only crudo (means "raw" in Italian) bar. 

Fancy Snacks: Marinated Olives and delicious Breadsticks and Parmesan Crisps

Clockwise from left: Ahi Tuna with Ginger Oil, Coriander Seed & Lemon Salt, Hamachi with Orange and Star Anise, Uni with Truffle Oil and shaved Truffles, Salami with marinated Artichokes.  Not pictured: Parmesan Cheese plate.

The raw dishes, as well as the plating, are very simple and very pretty.  This "snack," along with our drinks, hit the spot.  But the bartender talked us into getting the Baby Octopus with Chickpeas in a Harissa Tomato Sauce.

So tender and smokey...mmm.  And you know I love me some chickpeas.

How would I rate the food, you ask?  Well, it was definitely satisfying and the blend of ingredients was fun and creative.  Would I go here just for the food?  Probably not.  But what Culina offers me is a whole experience.  Don't get me wrong, the food is great, but not mind-blowing.  Sometimes the best food can be found in a hole-in-the-wall mom and pop place, but with absolutely NO ambience.  

But I wouldn't blog about a mediocre establishment.  I stand behind Culina as a destination you must add to your list for a truly good time.  Chances are, if you go in the afternoon on a weekend, you'll see me at the crudo bar!  Come join me and I'll buy you a drink!  See, there are some perks to reading this blog.