Breakfast. Some say it's the meal of champions, while others say it's the most important meal of the day. I say it shouldn't be limited to the a.m. hours, because in our house having breakfast for dinner -- think egg and cheese sandwiches, poached eggs on peanut butter toast, yummy omelets and even whole grain pancakes with warm, gooey maple syrup -- is a common occurrence. Outside of our house, finding a restaurant that serves breakfast all day, every day (or at least until 3pm) gets extra points in my book. Sometimes I just want eggs for dinner. Is that so wrong?
Breakfast in Beverly Hills: Enjoy a complimentary night and free breakfast every morning at participating hotels
Turns out I'm not alone in my love for the a.m. turned p.m. breakfast. Last week, I was invited by the Beverly Hills Convention & Visitors' Bureau to preview what might be considered the ultimate breakfast for dinner: a stop to five of Beverly Hills' most luxurious hotels to experience "Breakfast in Beverly Hills," a limited-time program promoting a complimentary* night's stay and breakfast for two at nine participating Beverly Hotels from March 1 through June 30, 2011. These aren't just any hotels, either. They happen to be the crème de la crème of Beverly Hills hospitality, including The Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows, the Beverly Hilton, The Montage, L'Ermitage, The Peninsula Hotel, The Thompson Beverly Hills, The Avalon Hotel, Mosaic Hotel, and Luxe Hotel Rodeo Drive.
To showcase the promotion, BHCVB had a fabulous idea: get a bunch of local journalists together on a Beverly Hills trolley and drive them from hotel to hotel to taste each of the chefs' exclusive "Breakfast in Beverly Hills" menu items. There was mixing, mingling, notes- and photo-taking, and lots of poached eggs.
Our Chariot Awaits!
We started at the tucked away Avalon Hotel where Milan-trained Executive Chef Mirko Paderno and his staff greeted us with a champagne cocktail and seats in the hotel's urban oasis cabanas. It's no secret that Oliverio, The Avalon Hotel's restaurant, is one of my local favorites for pretty much any meal, but it was fun to watch other journalists explore the space and remark at Oliverio's "hidden gem quality." For his contribution to the Breakfast in Beverly Hills program, Chef Mirko presented us with an ostrich egg frittata topped with brie cheese and procini mushrooms, alongside a tiny spoonful of bruléed French toast. The frittata was light yet richly flavored, and the French toast surprised our palates with a tart tang of passion fruit. Fun fact: the contents of ONE ostrich egg fed all 20 of us.
Avalon Hotels' Breakfast in BH Specials
Next stop, the Beverly Hilton. Executive Chef Suki Sugiura, who recently prepared a spread meant for the mouths of Hollywood royalty at February's Golden Globe Awards, took us around the world in six frittatas inspired by Dr. Suess's Green Eggs & Ham (the hotel opened on the same day as the whimsical author's book release). Chef says he develops Hilton's cuisine by "learning from other cultures and putting it into California style." His mission was evident in each of the six frittatas, clearly inspired by six distinct parts of the worlds and subsequently infused with a California fresh slant. An Italian frittata was filled with pork smoked and cured in-house; a California veggie frittata was loaded with locally-grown asparagus and onion and Southern California-pressed extra virgin olive oil; a crab meat, scallion and water chestnut frittata was topped with a Cantonese-inspired sweet and sour sauce; the richness of chef's Lebonese Shwarma chicken frittata was balanced with chunks of fresh tomato, green beans and tahini; and my favorite, the house soft-cured Pacific salmon and dill frittata was brimming with fingerling potatoes and came with a house-made grainy mustard inspired by Chef Sugiura's 3+ years of studying in Scandinavia. As if that wasn't enough, the Beverly Hilton's staff composed a mock breakfast buffet service, complete with pastry station, french-pressed Rwandan Silverback Coffee, and fruit smoothies topped off with your choice of pomegranate or blood orange vodka. My choice? Both.
Chef Suki Sugiura's International Frittata Buffet at The Beverly Hilton
Maybe it was the relaxed outdoor ambiance of the recently revamped Trader Vic's or perhaps it was pure excitement on my part, but I may or may not have made a mistake in overindulging in the Beverly Hilton's fabulous frittatas. It could have been a strategic error, but my appetite was re-energized after a brief trolley ride dropped us at a private dining room inside the Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows, where waiters greeted our arrival with champagne and four tray-passed appetizers. I realized I wasn't so much full but getting a little "egg'd" out, so Executive Chef Alex Chen's decision to serve an array of miniature short rib grilled cheeses, spoonfuls of delicately-layered beet and goat cheese, lamb bites, and crab crisps gave my palate a happy break. I know, sweet and salty irony. It was only then that I could truly give Chef Chen's fabulous breakfast dish its due. He served what was arguably the most sophisticated and beautifully presentated dish of the evening: a poached egg atop a crisp potato cake, layered with smoked sablefish and a refreshing fennel and onion salad. A dollop of whipped goat cheese accented by chopped dill and a tiny spoonful caviar completed the dish. One word: divine.
Beverly Hills Hotel's Poached Egg + Sablefish "Benedict"
Sad to leave, but knowing we had to stay the course, the trolley took us to the Luxe Hotel on Rodeo Drive. The hotel is tucked away on Rodeo Drive among the legions of couture boutiques and cafes. Upon entering the dimly-lit Bar 360 we met Chef James Chang, who recently left Patina's catering group to head up Luxe's kitchen. He excitedly shared his "Breakfast in Beverly Hills" creation, a poached egg perched on a potato pancake with classic hollandaise sauce. His personal touch? A dash of Tabasco and paprika to make the sauce really sing.
The Luxe Hotel's "Eggs Rodeo"
Our evening was drawing to a close and the BHCVB couldn't have ended it with a more perfect venue: the rooftop pool and cabanas at The Montage Beverly Hills, complete with a twinkling view of the Hollywood Hills. Chef Gabriel Ask, who honed his chops at Thomas Keller's famed French Laundry, Alain Ducasse and Joel Robuchon, served a short rib hash with roasted cherry tomatoes (harvested earlier that afternoon) and a perfectly poached egg. After tasting nine egg dishes throughout the evening, the contrast of flavors in this dish made it one of my favorites. While the velvety egg yolk oozed over sumptuous chunks of short rib and potato, the roasted tomatoes lent the dish a sweetness and light acidity that cut the richness. It was well-balanced in each of its few bites and a dish I will certainly return to have on another day. I just need a short hiatus from eggs first. :)
The Montage Hotel's Bloody Caesar & Short Rib Hash
Thank you to Kimberli at the Beverly Hill Convention and Visitors Bureau for hosting the evening. If you want more info on the Breakfast in Beverly Hills promotion, visit the BVCVB website.
*Receive a complimentary extra-night's stay and breakfast for two with the purchase of one-, two-, or three-nights stay at any participating hotel.