Friday, March 6, 2009

Bette Davis Eyes: Thursday in L.A., the "hotel." My cab driver pulled up to this building:

Bear in mind that this establishment was surrounded by fast food restaurants and dry cleaning stores on LaBrea Avenue between Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards. Not exactly the nicest neighborhood ever. The lobby was full of fake flowers and Tuscan-looking furniture, the building itself was more of a Spanish-style stucco kind of thing, and all of the public areas reeked of incense. They told me that I had to walk through the pool area and take the stairway up to our room (no elevator)--again, I felt like I was in Spain. Here's the pool area:

I was pleasantly surprised by the room, which was far larger than the room at the Wilshire and also quite clean.

The one problem with this room (besides the gigantic arrangement of fake flowers on top of the TV) was the toilet. This thing was pretty scary. It had very little flushing power and wobbled a lot on the tile floor. Right off the bat, we had to call the front desk to ask for a plunger. Leah-Fallon made this phone call and it went something like this:

Muhammad (the front desk guy): Front desk.
Leah: Hello. The toilet in our room, 219, is not flushing properly and appears to be clogged.
Muhammad: Well, you need a plunger.
Leah: Yes, that would be helpful.
Muhammad: Hmmm.... (long pause)
Leah: Do you have a plunger?
Muhammad: Hmmm... Yes, you can come down and get it.
Leah: Ok-ay. One of us will be down in a minute.

Because someone had just gotten out of the shower, I ended up having to go down to get the plunger. When I arrived in the lobby, Muhammad was looking around in all of the cabinets and closets for the plunger. After about ten minutes, he finally found one.

This is the Toilet of Doom and the plunger (in the black bag on the floor). We left the plunger in the bathroom to see if housekeeping would pick it up the next day--they did.

Another fun activity for Thursday was a dining experience at an L.A. institution: El Pollo Loco. Leah was hungry when she arrived and wanted to eat at the closest place, which happened to be this fine dining establishment:

Thankfully, we had plans to dine at the Sunset Marquis that evening, so we weren't dependent on El Pollo Loco for an entire meal. Yuck.

It was restaurant week in L.A. (actually, this started in January, but they extended it until the end of February), so we decided that Thursday night, it would be fun to get dressed up and go to a nice restaurant for dinner. We made reservations at the Sunset Marquis, which turned out to be a good choice.

After calling a cab to take us to West Hollywood and enduring a wild ride, we arrived at the beautiful Sunset Marquis hotel, which is nestled in the hills and separated from the rest of the city by lots of trees, shrubs, and plants. The atmosphere is quiet and calm and we were able to stroll through the grounds before dinner. We didn't want to take too many pictures with flash that would disturb the ambiance, but here are a few.

The path to the restaurant:

You can see the outdoor dining area in the center of this photo:

There were really pretty flowers everywhere, which made us happy since we haven't seen colors like this in a while:

We dressed fashionably for the occasion, Leah in a lovely J. Crew ensemble:

And me in a Michael Kors dress:

They seated us in the outdoor terrace next to a heater and it was really nice to eat outside at night without being incredibly hot or dealing with bugs. The air was fresh (for L.A., anyway) and we were surrounded by vegetation, so it was a nice change for two girls who have been confined to their houses for months of the cold east coast winter.

After ordering glasses of wine, we perused the restaurant week menu. This is the
regular menu, but everything that we ate is listed here. They first brought us small appetizers of avocado, peas, and onions dressed with balsamic vinegar--it sounds strange, but it was very good. The avocado was perfectly ripe, the peas were fresh, and the balsamic vinegar was a nice balance to the other flavors.

Next, they brought us bread with small dishes of butter, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and olive tapenade--all three were wonderful and I am planning to do something similar when Father and Mother of Ken come to visit next week.

For the first course, Leah had the Caprese salad with burrata mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes and I had the French onion soup with Gruyere puff pastry on top. Both were delicious.

We both had the Black Angus filet mignon for an entree and they were both perfectly cooked (and you know that this Kansas girl knows how a filet should be prepared) and they came with these really cool medallions of thinly sliced potatoes arranged in a circle and then fried. It is difficult to describe, but it was a nice, light side to go with the beef.

Finally, for dessert, Leah had the sticky toffee pudding and I had the molten chocolate cake. The waiter recommended the sticky toffee pudding, so Leah ordered it and wasn't sure if she would like it, but it really was quite good. The chocolate cake was cooked just a little more than it should have been, so it wasn't as molten as I like, but it was still pretty good. Here is the
regular dessert menu, for anyone who is interested.

We had all of this for $34 because we ordered from the restaurant week menu, so it was a great deal on some delicious food. The service was wonderful and the surroundings were beautiful. We really enjoyed the evening, so thanks to the staff at the Sunset Marquis for making our first dinner together in L.A. so memorable. If you're ever there, please try this restaurant--you won't be disappointed.

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