Delphine opened almost ten years ago in what was then the brand new W Hotel in Hollywood. It brought some much-needed glamour to Hollywood Boulevard and welcome pre-theater dining for the Pantages. Since its opening, Delphine has gone through a few design changes and countless menu changes.
When we dined there last week at the restaurant’s invitation, the room was both elegant and relaxing, with circular booths and walls in warm yellows and shades of gray to compliment the gorgeous blue and white floor tiles. Although a number of diners were dressed for the theater, there is a distinct music industry vibe to the hotel, so Levis and leather jackets were just as common as cocktail attire. The dress code suggests “smart casual,” which seems to be as good of a description as any I could come up with.
The menu at Delphine, which focuses on organic, California-Provencal cuisine, is currently following Los Angeles’ slow slide into Autumn, with several new cocktails from international bar veteran Rodrigo Retamoza, and special dishes from the culinary team.
Besides favorites like Ahi Crudo and Caesar Salad, an exotic and warming dish of Bouchet Mussels with Lobster Coconut Broth, Uni Butter and Red Curry has been added to the starters. But since it was one of the warmer evenings this autumn, we tried the Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Salad. The tomatoes are still at peak ripeness, and the burrata was as cool and creamy as expected. A little bitter frisée and baby sorrel balanced the richness.
Another longtime favorite, Diver Scallops with truffled sweet corn nage, grilled oyster mushrooms, roasted corn and shredded pork belly was an incredibly well put-together dish. The fat and salt from the pork belly was the perfect foil for the huge, meaty scallops, and the earthy umami from the truffle and mushrooms went well with the sweetness of the scallops and corn. Diver scallops are also known as “day boat scallops,” which means the boat returns to shore the same day, resulting in fresher seafood than the frozen scallops you get from boats that stay out to sea for days at a time.
One new menu item we thoroughly enjoyed was a delicate and smooth Maine Lobster and house made Ricotta Ravioli with Fava Beans and Heirloom Tomatoes in a Bloody Mary Nage. A nage is the broth that the seafood is poached in reduced, then thickened with cream or butter.
For something really hearty, another recent addition, the Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with Pappardelle, was as comforting as anything mom ever made. Shaved asiago, micro greens and root vegetables enhanced but did not compete for attention with the generous hunk of meat that fell into juicy shreds at the touch of the fork.
With dinner we enjoyed a light, whimsical Sauvignon Blanc from their well-curated wine list, which featured a wide selection of both international and California wines. Station Hollywood, the hotel’s romantic patio replete with large seating areas and fire pits, has a more limited wine menu, but makes up for it with an extensive list of spirits and beers, and goes big with champagnes, with everything from a $22 glass of Moet & Chandon Brut to a baller bottle of Crystal for over a thousand dollars.
For a more casual evening, The Living Room bar area adjacent to the lobby is sophisticated but lends itself to informal group get-togethers and serious schmoozing. The open floor plan bar ,with various private tables and couches, shares a menu with Station Hollywood. While the grand spiral staircase and second-floor bridge make you feel fabulous, the bites are mostly down-home and fulfill most cravings.
At a recent record industry event at the W, we needed something fast and not too challenging. The fried chicken sandwiches from the Living Room fit the bill perfectly–delicious and flavorful, but easy to eat on the run. We couldn’t resist the Truffled Fries with Parmesan and fresh herbs, whose aroma caused more than one stranger to ask for a couple of fries. A lighter seasonal Roasted Mushroom Sandwich with Pickled Red Onion, Aged Gouda, and Black Truffle Aioli will also let you get your umami on expeditiously.
Prepare yourself for chilly weather with a cocktail called Penicillin, made with Dewar’s scotch, lemon, honey, and ginger. I was pleased with La Paloma, mixed with my favorite tequila–Don Julio blanco, grapefruit, lime, and lemon soda. It was as light as any summer cocktail, but with enough tequila to fortify you. These particular cocktails are exclusive to the Station Hollywood and Living Room Bar menus, but if you ask nicely, they will happily serve them to you at Delphine.
Dinner for two at Delphine with drinks and appetizers came in at under $150. Sandwiches, fries and cocktails at the Living Room bar were about half that, which leads me to believe that Delphine is the better deal. But Happy Hour at the Living Room and Station Hollywood can feed and water two people for under $50, with live bands inside and a DJ spinning on the patio. So whether you are in the mood for fine dining or a more casual evening, go ahead and live like a rock star for one night.