Beverly Hills: Classic French at Viviane
I was recently invited to check out the new Viviane Restaurant at the Avalon Hotel. Opened by the same team behind Terrine and Hanjip, Viviane is classic French and Continental cuisine and beautiful cocktails. I loved the colors and decor and settled in for a relaxed meal.
Being the psuedo-snobby imbiber I am, I would have passed up the Cosmo but everyone said I should at least try a sip. It’s not that insanely popular drink from the 90s but an elegant, updated version featuring a housemade cranberry cordial. When you have fresh ingredients, something you used to take for granted becomes elevated and even admired. And what a lovely shade of pink!
Cosmopolitan – Grey Goose vodka, cranberry cordial, lime
When you first walk into the Avalon, you would go to your left to Viviane. While I liked sitting indoors for dinner, you have to try the poolside for brunch. The Avalon is such a hidden gem. Although miles from the beach, it had a casual, Southern California beachy vibe.
Chef Michael Hung (formerly Faith and Flower) has put together a delicious menu of wholesome food. We enjoyed the Fuyu persimmon and corn salad to start.
We debated between the steak or yellowfin tuna tartar and ended up getting the yellowfin. It was delicious as only fresh fish can be but I suspect all those around us who had the steak tartar thought they had the better tartar. I’ll just have to go back to figure out which one I like more but for now I can safely say you can’t go wrong with the fish.
Years ago, I enjoyed a fantastic Manhattan flight at Canon in Seattle. Canon’s premise was using different vermouths. Viviane chose different spirits as well as different vermouths. I went to work and happily tasted all three mini-Manhattans. My favorite was the Cuban but most preferred the Rob Roy with its smoky bite.
Traditional Rye– rye, Cinzano sweet vermouth, bitters
Rob Roy – Scotch, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, Chinato, bitters
Cuban – Bacardi 8 Year rum, Hamilton Guyana rum, Cocchi Vermouth di Torrino, bitters
Ever since California lifted the ban on foie gras, I can’t help but order it everywhere I see it but particularly when it’s just a simple preparation like torchon style. This round of duck liver was dressed with walnuts, butternut squash and cider gelee. I really liked the squash which had the texture of dried apricots (which I love).
I love skate wing. I feel guilty about it but it’s so good. The pan roasted skate wing was perfect with braised Savoy cabbage. I had debated getting the shellfish boudin blanc but consoled myself there’ll be a next time.
One of my favorite dishes of the night was the handmade linguine with geoduck and clams. Clams on clams! The delicate geoduck and the chewy Manila clams provided great texture. By the way, if you haven’t ever watched how to skin a geoduck, I suggest you watch my video.
I also loved the bite of steak I snagged from a friend sitting at the next table. She was generous to share the Piedmontese ribeye. Ah, this list of what to get next time is growing longer and longer.
In the mood for rum? Try the Pineapple punch which is just magnificent for sipping poolside. It just needed a little paper umbrella though I much prefer the big fat wedge of juicy pineapple.
Pineapple Punch – Hamilton Guyana rum, pineapple, orgeat, Aromatique bitters
We also tried the seared duck breast and confit leg en croute. Lovingly seared medium rare, the duck was juicy and very tasty. I also really enjoyed the cannoli-like duck confit.
For dessert, we had the sweet potato pudding and milk chocolate cremieux.
I really liked how both desserts had a savory note to it. The sweet potato was almost curry like and I liked the bright herbaceous chocolate.
Check out Viviane for Christmas or New Year’s eve or what I think is the greatest idea- New Year’s Day Hangover brunch!
Christmas will feature a Chinese menu, Dinner at Chop Suey Palace, a playful dinner based on Ralphie’s meal in A Christmas Story. For New Year’s Eve, there will be a 6-course prix fixe menu. If it was anything like Thanksgiving which I enjoyed at Viviane, you’re in for a filling, warm treat. I’m eyeing the fried egg and ham porchetta hoagie for New Year’s Day Hungover brunch.
Viviane at the Avalon Hotel9400 West Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212 — (310) 407-7791 © The Minty 2015