Private club restaurants
After reading a review on WG by woojink who offered, "One of the best meals outside of the private clubs (some, not all)" or some such, I of course wanted to know "What clubs?! Who's the chef? How much to get in??"
Any high rollers on CH (*cough-russkar-cough*) fill us mere mortals in?
There are at least three big private clubs in downtown LA that serve food and provide other amenities to members. The Jonathan Club (http://www.jc.org/ ), the California Club (http://www.californiaclub.org/ ) and the City Club (http://www.icityclub.com/ ). There used to be (and may still be for all I know) an LA Athletic Club and a University Club, but I don't really know anything about those.
Both the Jonathan Club and the California Club are old line businessmen's clubs; they have beautiful facilities (including gyms, several restaurants, private meeting rooms, and even some hotel facilities). They also both have really amazing collections of California plein aire paintings. The JC also has a facility at the beach in Santa Monica. The food at both is good, but not, in my judgment, in the same league as the Water Grill.
The City Club occupies the top floors of one of the downtown skyscrapers, and so has absolutely remarkable views of the city. No art collections, and no athletic facilities, I believe, but the food is, I think, the best of the three. Still not as good as the WG, in my opinion though. If I were going to host a big fancy wedding or some such, this place would be one of my top picks; the food is very good, and the views are TDF.
Joining any of these clubs is a somewhat involved process, generally involving interviews, referrals from existing members, and usually, a multi-thousand dollar buy in. They are not the type of club one would typically join just for the food.
Thinking woojink's reference may be to the City Club, Jonathon Club, California Club, etc. - have been to each at some point in my recent and distant past as a guest on the coattails of Someone Else's Membership and enjoying the benefits of Their Privileges. (Dad belongs to City Club @ top of the Well's Fargo (always changing names)? tower downtown ...so I get invited at least once a year). City Club food is excellent, view is spectacular - the bar faces due west so it's the perfect place to be to watch the sunset- ambiance is reserved, lots of style with impecable service...but actually, given a choice, I'd pick the Watergrill because of the mood and variety on the menu. California Club food has been okay, nothing brilliant nor approaching City Club....Jonathon C. has always been beach party buffet food or someone's wedding, so not really a fair comparison. Each club exhibits its own style and clientele...no surprise...
Been there once. It's a nice experience and the food was good but totally unmemorable - I have no memory of what I had. But it's a great experience to be there - the service is top-notch - and the view, of course, is spectacular.
What I loved the best was the cocktails before dinner - comfy chairs, high-quality glass and serving wear, expensive mixed nuts, a sense of entitlement being waited on by impeccably perfect waiters. Ah! perhaps it's only special if you experience it on rare occasions!
As a member of the California Club, I would not recommend it simply for the food. (In fact, there are times I would not recommend it for anything, but I digress ...)
Food is good, not great, but it is convenient and the dining room (as well as the patio) is very well suited for those times you need a little quiet and privacy. Service is always impeccable.
Members know that the real interest in clubs is their incredible wine cellars. Generally the clubs have terrific sommeliers who guide the appropriate committee to make annual and generous purchases of wine. Importantly, the wine is put aside until it's time to quaff. This is a very different practice that most wine cellars in most restaurants.
I'm supposed to go to one of these in BH at the end of April for a business meeting with my boss. It's one of these cigar-lover places where members smoke their small missiles during meals so I don't expect much from the food. I'll report here if it's superstellar.
As far as membership goes, I think you have to be sponsored by a member and I don't know how much it costs.
Not a high roller but I have been to the California Club on the coattails of my former bosses membership. The service was excellent, the presentation of the food was up to snuff as well but the food was only "pretty good".
Holy cow, I hope I'm not a 'high roller'... how about 'medium roller'? I'll hit (hopefully) 'high roller' status when I grow up someday.
Actually, I believe I said that outside of the private clubs the WG is one the best restaurants in downtown. From a pure food perspective, I would say that WG has better food, but from an overall restaurant perspective I would give a slight edge to the City Club on Bunker HIll. I am a member there and the food is in the Very Good category, and occasional beyond that. The service level and VIEWS put it slightly ahead. WG food is in the Excellent category.
Out of the three 'main' private clubs in downtown, I would rank the City Club as having the best food, followed by the Jonathan Club, with the California Club being third.
You know... I've asked russ if he wanted to go to the City Club sometime... but I don't think he's accepted yet... maybe he doesn't like the dress code? It's a jackets required type place. Views really are fab, and their specialy "sparkler" drinks aren't bad. We had a holiday luncheon there in December for some folks I work with in downtown LA.
Joining these clubs do take a multi thousand dollar initiation fee, application review process and multi hundred dollar monthly dues. Not unlike joining a golf/country club.
Several golf/country clubs also offer fantastic food. Some not so much. Almost all of them have special food/wine events fairly regularly that are quite nice. My home/primary golf club in the OC recently had a dinner prepared by one of the recent Exec Chefs from the White House... it was pretty good.
I had lunchat the Jonathan club in SM today. it was good but not exceptional or really distinctive in any way. they have a lunch Buffet at the downtown facility which is a pretty good buffet. You could have several years of lunches for the price of a membership, and the menu prices are not relly much of a bargain either.
I invited to take my host to Langers for a payback lunch. He will be getting the better end of the deal.
For some reason, people take me to clubs. I don't belong to any of them.
Some of the yacht clubs have good food. As I remember it, the California Yacht Club is a nice place for a cold beer with the salty dogs. It has reciprocity with the LA Athletic Club. The food there is nothing to warrant a trip, but if you're in the Marina some afternoon, it's a good way to finish the day.
There is also Club 33 at Disneyland, which has pretty good food for a buffet, and it's fun to go to a special place while at Disneyland.
The Regency Club in Westwood has good food.
As far as downtown clubs, my favorite is the California Club. Meals at the LA Athletic Club and the Jonathan Club (both downtown and in Santa Monica) were not memorable. The Downtown City Club is pretty good.
The Balboa Bay Club is frequently disappointing.
There is a special club at the Staples Center that has outstanding food. It's not the regular clubhouse, but a special restaurant way upstairs with a good wine selection and very good food.
I've never been to the Foundation Room at the House of Blues, but I can't imagine the food's too good based on the quality of the food downstairs.
The Athenaeum at CalTech has outstanding food.