The Grill On The Alley --Beverly Hills
Ignore the hoards of tourists wearing fanny packs, flip flops and shorts strolling along Rodeo Drive. Avoid them as they walk catatonically toward the bottom of the hill to Wilshire and heap themselves at the faux-Euro mini mall amid the high priced stores and chain restaurants. Instead, take a detour. Walk right on Dayton, and take refuge in The Grill on The Alley.
The Grill is very "old Hollywood." It's not the same mustiness of other historied eateries, but has a refined and fresh ambiance infused with the gentleness but not the brass of the tony Beverly Hills surroundings. When the white-jacketed waiter inquires if you’d like to start the dinner off with a cocktail, you say yes, because it seems natural to do so. And indeed, if you happen to show up without a reservation and there aren’t any tables, a meal at the bar is like eating with your new oldest friends –from the maitre’d and the wait staff, you are thrust in the middle of a musical by Moss Hart, or a movie by Sandro Berman. Like the proverbial Vaudeville trunk, it's a near-given that everyone who works here was born in the back. It’s not hard to imagine that they are progeny of parents who met there, made their careers and have bathed their children in the warm and friendly (but always correct) manners that are extended to all guests. Given the number of hugs we saw given by the staff to regulars, and in the end received ourselves, this is a place where everyone goes to cocoon.
It would be wrong to say that The Grill is all about going there to see and be seen. The Grill has very good food. The offerings are those that are inimitably American with a California twist. The appetizer selections remind you of an earlier era: steak tartare, gravlaaks, oysters on the half shell. The entreés are simple and unfettered. They explain themselves –quality without tiresome menu prose. Grilled or pan fried fish and steaks, potpie, calves liver, creamed spinach, meat loaf, braised short ribs, peppered filet medallions. The food is perfectly cooked –neither over or underdone, and the helpings generous, though they don’t inundate you with too many meaningless side dishes. Here, you choose what you want. (I recommend the creamed spinach, which maintains its crispness though it’s swaddled in cream).
The Grill is like a beloved and much worn suit. It feels perfect the moment you step inside.
Dress: Resist the urge to show up in the aforementioned sloppy clothes. It’s an older, moneyed crowd with a natural elegance: ties not necessary for the men and sports jackets or a cashmere Mister Rogers sweater are fine. For the women, neat clothing and please keep your cleavage in check --this isn’t a place where a set of 6k implants should be clunked on the table. Children --this is definitely a place where kids dress up, and use their best 'restaurant' manners. We've seen several families there.
Reservations recommended, tables more easily available at 5 p.m. for dinner.
Price: Entreés in the high twenty to mid thirty dollar range. Cocktails, side dishes and all other selections are in line with those prices. Dinner for two, with cocktails and tip $100.
in my dating days, whenever my date would ask me to select the restaurant, i'd select the grill.
it was always safe--
the food was always well prepared
the ingredients were always top-flight
the menu was straightforward
the service was impeccable
the reservation was always honored
the drinks were always properly prepared.
Isn't it fun? Just grand. Sometimes I feel like the prices are out of line (usually when I'm in a peckish mood), but it's Beverly Hills. I really like that it's possible to have a conversation there and not have to SHOUT.
You'd probably also love The Derby over in Arcadia by Santa Anita.