Enter Petrossian West Hollywood, a legendary caviar empire that has its hippest incarnation not in the City of Love, but instead, the City of Angels.
With a brilliant new chef, this romantic little restaurant presents a date night opportunity that’ll really take you places.
I’ve been a caviar fan since I first tried it in my late twenties. Adam? Not so much. However, I’m a patient woman. When I met him in 1994, he didn’t like sushi, either — and that’s certainly changed.
Still, when I announced that we’d be having Valentine’s Day dinner at Petrossian West Hollywood, with caviar, traditional blinis and Champagne, I received only restrained excitement in return. That reaction would later blossom into full-blown happiness.
In the 1920s, the Armenian-expat Petrossian brothers brought the first caviar to Paris and changed the city’s cuisine forever. While still featuring many of the same caviar delights, the present Los Angeles restaurant is a more modern, streamlined version of the original Petrossian cafe in Paris’s 7th Arrondissment. It also offers the creative cuisine of chef Giselle Wellman, who’s only recently taken the helm after learning her craft at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Beverly Hills, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Jean-Georges and Mario Batali’s Del Posto.
The dining room here is quiet to the point of possible conversation, with splashes of color provided only by fresh flowers and vibrant cuisine. On Valentine’s Day, there was a special five-course menu and a soundtrack of hopeful ’80s love ballads from our semi-distant youth; for a while there, we were the kids in the room, until the well-heeled twenty-somethings started arriving, bringing more noise and laughter with them.
When a 30g tin of Transmontanus caviar was set before us, ringed by edible pansies, I thought I might swoon. Our waitress neatly illustrated how to use the pearl-handled spoons and small paddle implement on our table to scoop and spread caviar without it ever touching metal, which reportedly alters the delicate taste.
It was actually the blinis, though, each one hand-formed and perfectly fluffy, that sent me halfway over the edge. Once I added that first sip of Champagne? All the way over.
Adam was a sport, trying four whole spoonfuls of caviar and even professing to enjoy the fishy-salty pairing with the tiny pancakes and smooth crème fraîche. (That said, he still left the lion’s share to me…and I love him all the more for it.)
Just about every dish to follow was a standout: a truly stunning, peppery steak; the most perfectly prepared (if absolutely enormous) piece of trout almandine I’ve ever eaten; gently salted asparagus beneath an orb of soft-boiled egg; and the gorgeous “Package of Love,” a series of five pasta parcels filled with poached pear and Roquefort, resting on a small pool of red wine-and-cardamom sauce. One of Wellman’s regular customers tried in vain to describe just such a dish to her; with only a few sketchy words to go on, the chef managed to both puzzle it out and create small bites of art with her own fragrant spin.
Dessert rendered us speechless and starry-eyed, and not just because it was Valentine’s Day. A small bowl of white chocolate sauce was set between us, then paired with strawberries, red velvet cake and more for dipping. This gorgeousness was followed by a pure chocolate heart as big as a human hand, and our implied golf claps of approval.
Since every night’s not Valentine’s, it’s good to know that you can come here for lunch, Champagne and caviar brunches, and dinner. Gotta say, the dinner menu looks especially fabulous, so we’re going back for the cauliflower soup with beet chips and chive oil, the roasted Jidori chicken with butternut squash ravioli, the beef burger with cipollini jam, the pistachio crème brûlée…Oh, you’re picking up what I’m puttin’ down.
Petrossian West Hollywood is an ideal place for sharing and trying new foods. This is especially true at 7:30 pm on the first Monday of every month, when unique caviar tasting menus for two, guided by a resident Petrossian caviar expert, cost $100 per person. Helloooo, date night.
For reservations, call (310) 271-6300 or e-mail PetrossianWeHo@petrossian.com.
Petrossian West Hollywood can be found at:
321 North Robertson Boulevard (one block north of Beverly Boulevard),West Hollywood, CA 90048
I was the sponsored guest of Petrossian West Hollywood, but all opinions here are my own.