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Now celebrating its thirtieth anniversary, The Grill on the Alley in Beverly Hills is still the quintessential spot for power players in town to “do lunch.” But it’s also one of a select group of restaurants in the country where you can enjoy a refined meal in a sophisticated setting featuring first-rate service and fantastic, comforting fare.

Originally opened in 1984 as homage to the great American grills of the past, The Grill’s menu features classic American cuisine—think prime steaks, fresh seafood, and beloved traditional dishes like chicken pot pie, as well as meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and homemade desserts. A throwback to Old Hollywood, The Grill regulars have included big wigs like David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Dick Wolf, and Brian Grazer, not to mention former CAA chief Michael Ovitz, and stars like Clint Eastwood, Anthony Hopkins and Amy Adams.

According to legend, founding partner Bob Spivak (who also opened the Daily Grill chain and the Public School gastropubs, including Public School 805) wanted the restaurant’s entrance to be from the alley, which the City of Beverly Hills was opposed to. After months of haggling, the restaurateur brilliantly hung a mailbox in the alley, mailed himself a letter and then had his way with the Planning Commission. The rest, as they say, is history.

“The idea of The Grill was to update and upgrade the traditional American grills—Musso & Frank in Hollywood, Tadich in San Francisco, Toots Shor's in New York—and to do it in an era when people were not used to straightforward and honest anymore,” says Spivak.
During our recent visit for dinner, we just had to start our night with a cocktail in this lovely setting. Now that dining stalwarts like The Brown Derby, and Chasen’s are long gone, this is one of the last bastions for a stiff drink, quality service and a welcome escape from the mundane. While the bar screams martini, I had to go with the Blackthorn, a lovely mix of Jameson Irish Whiskey, dry vermouth, orange bitters, Pernod Absinthe, and a twist of orange. Seeing as I’m a Jameson guy, this drink was right up my alley.

Another popular cocktail is The Grill Signature Margarita made with Jose Cuervo Especial, Cointreau, and freshly squeezed lime juice. I like that the ingredients are simple in this drink, which prevents it from being too sugary and weak. While this is a nice libation, I think you might be better off with a regular dry martini of the stiff Sidecar Martini made with Courvoisier VS, Cointreau, freshly squeezed lime juice and a sugar rim.

With drink in hand, we started with the famous Garlic Cheese Bread, which is truly addictive. Other Appetizers we opted to share included the Steak Tartare, a steakhouse staple, but may be an acquired taste for many, along with the lovely Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with Beurre Blanc Sauce, and the Caesar Salad, which sadly I found bland and dry, and not very Old School ala Dan Tana’s. The Grill is famous for its Cobb Salad and I regretted not going with the obvious selection, but I really do love a good Caesar.

Another mainstay at The Grill is the Chicken Pot Pie, which I’ve heard is about the size of a hubcap. While I do love chicken pot pie (it’s an absolute favorite of mine), I didn’t want to eat that much, which is when I was told a great little secret—you can order a small or child’s size Chicken Pot Pie. What a revelation! Now you can always order a mini pie when dining.

All entrees at The Grill are served with your choice of creamed spinach or grilled broccolini. We went with the Pan-Fried John Dory white fish from New Zealand, their most popular seafood dish. This fish has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and while it’s often a delicacy at fine-dining restaurants, it’s also often used to make fish and chips (go figure). This dish was light and fresh and so very tasty.

We also went with the 8oz Petite Filet Mignon. This USDA Prime beef is aged for 28 days and prepared over an oak wood fire. I like that there are smaller options instead of only oversized and overpriced menu items. This is a tender piece of meat that is hearty and savory and pairs deliciously with a nice glass of red wine.

If you’re game for dessert, there are lots of favorites, or so I’ve been told, including New York Cheesecake, Apple Pie, and The Rice Pudding sprinkled with large raisins (while I love raisins, I personally don’t like them in most things, including pudding). We went with the decadent Grill Fudge-Brownie Pie, an absolute treat of a dessert.

With newer locations in Hollywood (at Hollywood & Highland), Westlake Village, San Jose, not to mention Chicago and Dallas, there’s something about the original Beverly Hills location. It’s where The Grill on the Alley started and continues to be a mainstay in town.

The Grill on the Alley is located at 9560 Dayton Way in Beverly Hills. Open daily; Sunday only for dinner. Call 310-276-0615.

Story by Jose Martinez
Some photography courtesy of The Grill on the Alley



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