WOLFGANG PUCK’S CLASSIC EATERY STILL SHINES
Wolfgang Puck’s Spago – the celebrity chef’s first heralded restaurant serving "California Cuisine" – opened in 1982 above the Sunset Strip. His Beverly Hills’ Spago opened in 1997 as a more upscale establishment and all these years later it still shines as a beacon of quality Los Angeles fine dining.
Spago became famous for serving designer pizzas and pasta, and among its eclectic menu items included Grilled Rare Tuna with Wasabi Potato Puree, Porcini-Crusted Sweetbreads with Spring Onion Relish and Roasted Bell Pepper Coulis, and Roasted Chicken Breast with Goat Cheese, Sautéed Mushrooms and Truffle Oil.
“I think it’s really amazing to think we’ve been open 30 years,” Wolfgang Pucks reflects. “When I look back now, to see the change of restaurants, what is now chic or hot and how it has changed over the years, what proves success is staying power. It’s easy to be married for a year or two, but it’s hard to be married for 20 years.”
When asked for the secret of his success, Puck is quick to answer, “You have to have quality, you have to serve good food and have good hospitality in a nice environment, and be consistent.”
And Spago Beverly Hills continues to set the standard for cuisine, service and style. Today’s menu includes Spago classics and a daily-changing selection of fish and produce of the season. Dining at Spago is heightened by the restaurant’s sophisticated, elegant and warm environment.
During a recent Friday afternoon visit for lunch, the restaurant was packed with regulars who often claim their same weekly favorite table. The dishes are pricey but the portions are extremely generous and hearty. A note to the wise, don’t fill up on the delicious bread (the walnut bread was our favorite) as you want to make sure to have amble room for what you’re paying for.
Starting with the Marinated Japanese Hamachi and Tuna Sashimi, prepared with sticky rice, wasabi, soy-yuzu sauce and pumpkin seed oil, was the way to go. It’s spicy, crunchy and flavorful, and paired to perfection with a nice, recommended glass of champagne.
Next was the House Smoked Salmon and Sturgeon with Lemon-herb Blinis, made with sweet onions, chives, dill Crème Fraîche and caviar. It proved light and zestful.
The Austrian Chicken Bouillon with herb crepes, bone marrow and Julienne vegetables tasted like upscale comfort food. Yummy, but small, you might want to choose another selection to get more bang for your buck.
The Pumpkin Agnolotti with Sage Butter and Reggiano is wholeheartedly recommended. It’s hearty and perfect for sharing. Its delectable butter sauce is probably bad for your heart but it tastes wonderful. The Caesar Salad is also impressive and makes for another perfect starter item to share.
The Friday lunch menu also includes the special Spaghetti and Veal Meatballs, which we didn’t try but it looked spectacular, as did the Grilled Prime Hamburger with smoked onion marmalade, garlic aioli and Vermont farmhouse cheddar. It looked enormous and delicious.
For our lunch entrée the Steamed Virginia Stripped Bass “Hong Kong” Style fit the bill. Prepared with garlic, chili oil, ginger, Bok Choy, baby carrots, water chestnuts, snap peas with your choice of Jasmine rice or brown rice, it was light and healthy, yet extremely flavorful.
For dessert, the kitchen recommended a savory fruit tart. Airy, it consisted of mixed berries, an ice-cold mango puree and a sweet tart puff. Delicious, and if you’re sharing it only brings with it half the guilt.
An L.A. dining staple, Spago needs to be experienced, and is perfect for a special occasion when you want to relax and be pampered.
Spago is located at 176 North Canon Drive (at Wilshire) in Beverly Hills. Lunch is served from 12 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Monday – Thursday, Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. – 2:15 p.m. Fridays. Dinner is served from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. Sunday – Friday, and 5:30 p.m. – 11 p.m. on Saturday. The restaurant is closed Sundays. Valet parking available Reservations are recommended. Click here to make a reservation.