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The Restaurant at the Getty Center

May 21, 2012

For a restaurant with such wonderful food and a fantastic atmosphere, it has a pretty plain jane name.  The Restaurant at the Getty Center.  How much more generic can you get than that?  But don’t let the name fool you.  My husband came up with the idea to take a trip to the Getty Center to see what all the hype was about.  After having lived here for 2+ years, he’d never been to The Getty Center.  The Getty Center, which is a campus for the J. Paul Getty Trust which runs the center, specializes in “pre 20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts; and 19th and 20th-century American and European photographs” also is well-known for its architecture, gardens, and expansive views of the Los Angeles basin including the Pacific Ocean to the west and Downtown LA and beyond to the East.  Though my husband has never been to The Getty Center, I’ve previously visited the museum twice since the time it opened to the public in 1997, and I can’t believe he and I had never been there together.  With almost 1.5 million visitors annually, the Museum see a lot of visitors and can get pretty busy, especially during times of good weather.

Since we were already going to be going to The Getty Center, I figured that I’d take a look at what dining options the museum had for visitors.  I didn’t really expect much, but at least it would be something new to try.  After searching through the website, I found out that The Getty Center has a restaurant that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and for brunch on Sundays.  After running the sample menu they had online by my husband, we decided to make reservations and give the place a try.  The menu looked good enough and the reviews online for the restaurant were pretty spectacular.  The restaurant is offset from the pavilions that make up The Getty Center and is located its own stand-alone building.  With floor to ceiling windows that span the entire restaurant and look out north and west towards the hills and the Pacific Ocean, there’s not a bad seat in the house.  Though, on our reservation, we specifically asked for a window table, which we got when we arrived to the restaurant.  During the summer months, the patio is also open for diners.

The interior of the restaurant is gorgeous with beautiful, but subdued murals on the wall.  With simplistic lines, and minimalist furniture, the view is the star of the show at the restaurant.  I’m sure that at night, or during sunset, the view must be even more spectacular.  On the day we had brunch there, the morning started off overcast and gray, but as we dined in the restaurant the sun came through and lit up the hills in vivid colors of green and gold it was beautiful and relaxing.

The brunch menu features a few classic breakfast items along with some heavier and heartier entrees for those seeking lunch.  There was also a generous selection of lighter fare appetizers that many people turned into their lunch selections.  The restaurant also has a fully stocked bar with various beers, wines and selected cocktails.  Everything on the menu sounded absolutely delicious.  My husband had to remind me that we were there for brunch, so I should stick to brunch items rather than going for a heavier meal when it wasn’t even noon yet.

Every table seated for brunch was brought out a plate of fresh-out-of-the-oven biscuits.  My husband and I theorized that this biscuit-like scone-type items must have contained honey as an ingredient because they were slightly sweet, but not sugar sweet.  The biscuits were served alongside some apple cinnamon butter.  It was a great combination to start off our meal.  We both remarked that it is very similar to what you get as a bread basket at Lucille’s Smokehouse.

As this was brunch, and it was still overcast, gray and chilly outside, I decided to indulge in a cup of hot chocolate.  What I got was a piping hot mug of real hot chocolate with steamed milk mixed with chocolate sauce as opposed to powered hot chocolate or hot chocolate out of a machine.  This was rich and luxurious but not overly sweet.  The nice dollop of whipped cream on top sealed the deal.  I’m a sucker for good hot chocolate.

When we finally had time to look over the menu, so many things looked amazing that we had a hard time narrowing down the choices.  In the end, we decided that we’d split part of our meals so that we would have a chance to try a couple of things.

We started off ordering the fuji apple salad to begin our meal.  The menu advertised the salad as being made with a mix organic greens with fuji apples, cucumbers, candied crumbled walnut, bleu cheese, and vanilla balsamic vinaigrette.  The salad was incredibly refreshing.  My husband said that the vanilla balsamic vinaigrette was really sweet as far as salad dressings go, but it was a perfect combination when blended with all of the other ingredients in the salad.  The dressing cut right through the bitter radicchio, and the candied crumbled walnuts provided a sweet and crunchy note to the soft and sweet fuji apple and the distinct taste of the bleu cheese.

My husband ordered a flatbread topped with prosciutto, fig jam, brie cheese, pears and arugula salad.  The dish looked like a piece of culinary art and tasted like heaven.  My husband was in love with this after the first bite.  The crunch of the flatbread was a great pairing to the sweet fig jam, the creamy slightly melted brie cheese, the salty prosciutto and the crunchy pear.  Top the whole thing off with a lightly dressed arugula salad and some aged balsamic vinegar drizzled over the plate, this was a great appetizer to get the taste buds going.  It was a great combination of textures and flavors, slightly sweet, but with a peppery and salty bite.

For my brunch entree, I ordered the brioche french toast.  Thick and eggy, brioche bread cooked in a light batter, it was topped with grand marnier strawberries, topped with rice krispies and a chocolate hazelnut powder, maple syrup, served alongside a generous portion of banana cream.  When the dish was served at the table, it elicited a “wow” from me and looked so good I just wanted to dig in.  The dish tasted more amazing than it looked, and that’s hard to do.  The brioche was perfectly cooked, slightly crunchy on the outside and warm and rich on the inside.  A bite of the french toast with a bit of the strawberries and some of the banana cream and it was perfect.  Rich, creamy, sweety and slightly tangy.  There was some crunch from the rice krispies which I thought was a whimsical, but cute, idea.  The banana cream was luscious and perfect. and married well with the strawberries; after all any combination of strawberries and banana always turns into perfection.  I cleaned the whole plate!  It was really that good!

My husband ordered the crab cake benedict.  He didn’t even bother to look at the menu and see what was on the dish or how it was made, he saw crab cake and he was lost.  He knew right away that was what he wanted.  I was initially concerned because he had never had eggs benedict before and I thought that the dish would come out drowning in hollandaise sauce and I had no idea if he would like the hollandaise sauce or not, after all, he doesn’t like most sauces and dressings.  But I was surprised to see that the restaurant really made the crab cake the star of the dish and they didn’t hide it underneath mass amounts of hollandaise sauce, rather choosing to use a very light hollandaise sauce lightly drizzled on top.  Instead, when the dish was served at the table, it had that blow-y0u-away-wow-factor that had us both staring at the dish in wonder.  The crab cakes benedict was made with english muffins, nueske’s bacon, wild mushrooms, wilted spinach, crab cake, poached egg and light hollandaise sauce.  It would have been enough to get one crab cake benedict, but the dish actually came with 2 crab cake benedicts.  It looked amazing.  One bite of the dish and my husband immediately said that he would go back to The Getty Center just for brunch to have the crab cake benedict again.  He was blown away by how good the dish was.  He loved the combination of the english muffins with the spinach and mushrooms and the salty bacon.  The poached egg was perfectly cooked and sat right on top of the crab cake.  And of course, he was in love with the crab cake.  He couldn’t stop talking all day about how good his crab cake benedict was.

As if all of this food wasn’t enough, we figured it couldn’t hurt to take a look at the dessert menu when the waiter asked.  We weren’t really intending on ordering a dessert, but later said we might not come back to eat here again, so we might as well try something.  We went for the chocolate hazelnut crunch.  The dessert was a dark chocolate fudge cake layered with a hazelnut mousse and topped with a chocolate hazenut sauce.  The slice of cake was topped with 2 caramelized hazelnuts.  The dessert was huge, especially after we had just had our big meal.  The hazelnut mousse was really good and the chocolate hazelnut sauce really added to the dessert.  I thought that the dark chocolate fudge cake could have been a little bit more moist, and though it was dark chocolate, it wasn’t bitter enough.  The dessert was really sweet, but the hazelnut flavor really helped to cut through some of the sweetness.  Not sure I would order this dessert again, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good.

My husband told me again and again that we had to come back here to eat again, that he would come back here just for the crab cake benedict.  He really was blown away by it.  The ambience of the restaurant was really nice, the food delicious and the service superb.  This restaurant was like finding a hidden gem where you least expected it.  I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to going back there to eat again, especially after I eyed the braised beef short ribs on the menu!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 25, 2012 12:06 am

    I got so hungry reading your post, Alisa. I’d love to have this brunch now! ;-)

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