Yesterday was just one of those days. The day that starts out bad and just turns to shit. At least that was how it was headed until early evening when I met friend and photographer Timothy White at the restaurant bar at legendary West Hollywood hotel the Sunset Marquis for a well needed cocktail.
The Sunset Marquis, currently in the midst of updating some of its rooms, is also in the midst of turning its restaurant, RESTAURANT over to Top-Chef Master and James Beard Award winner Chef Michael Schlow for a redesign of the menu and the dining experience from bar snacks through dessert as it marks the hotels 50th Anniversary.
So imagine my surprise when Chef Schlow stops by to say hi to his longtime friend White, and asked us if we would like a bar snack. Who are we to turn down such an offer, and moments later a dish filled with Jalapeño Tater Tots with a side of Smoky Bernaise dip appear in front of us. That bad mood I referred to was long gone between having a great chat with Chef Schlow about where he’s been dining around LA (literally eating at a different restaurant every night to get a feel for food in this town) and his favorite oysters from Cape Cod, Wianno Oysters, surprisingly my favorite oysters as well.
Back to the tater tots. Just forget any idea you have about what a Jalapeño Tater Tot can taste like until you try one of Michael Schlow’s. Fried with a creamy green filling that melts in your mouth with just a hint of the spice you might expect to overpower, but doesn’t. Easily making these the best Tater Tots of any kind I’ve ever eater in my life.
And those are his handmade potato chips lurking in the background. They didn’t last very long.
Joined now by our friend Camie, manager of the Kiehl’s stores at The Grove and on Montana, Chef Schlow asked us what we wanted next. One of our favorite things at the Sunset Marquis is hanging at the Restaurant Bar, so we really didn’t want to sit down at a table and have a big meal. To our surprise and delight Chef Schlow quizzed us each about our food likes and dislikes and then excused himself for the kitchen. It’s important to point out that this menu is still being created and the current great menu is what greets diners, rock legends or mere mortals alike. But this James Beard Award Winning Chef just slipped away into the kitchen to prepare a meal for us to have at the bar. And before we knew it, 3 beautifully plated meals appeared in front of each of us, followed by the Chef who described what he had prepared – a slow cooked Steelhead Trout with fresh porcini mushrooms and roasted pearl onions. An absolutely perfect tasting plate that each of us left wiped clean and secretly wished we had the nerve to ask what this great Chef would come up with for dessert if we asked. Truth be told, that gives us a great excuse to do this all over again.
All I can say is that not only did this whole experience turn my day around completely, but Michael Schlow is not only an incredibly nice guy, but when this restaurant launches (maybe in January) at the Sunset Marquis, this iconic property is going to have a new jewel in its crown with the imprint of a true Top-Chef Master to kick off its next Fifty Years of well deserved fame as one of Los Angeles’s top dining and event hotels.