New Chef Takes The Helm At Hotel Bel-Air

701 Stone Canyon Road, Los Angeles, CA 90077

Bel-Air Restaurant Lounge The fashionable and trendy Hotel Bel- Air has got a new chef, and the word is out after a lengthy search amongst the available chefs in town. Philip Reininger is the new man in charge, and he replaced the previous chef who had been there for almost eight years, but had to resign for health reasons. The French native began his career in Strasbourg, training at the three Michelin Star Restaurant Buerehiesal. Other early jobs in the career of the fourty-ish year old chef included Sous Chef at Restaurant de l'Orangerie, and the one Michelin Star restaurant Chateau des Fines Roches in Chateauneuf du Pape. Describing himself as calm with only the occasional outburst, Philip is especially proud of the "table menu", where for $115 plus wine, up to eight guests can dine at a special hand carved pine table within the confines of the spacious kitchen. A nine-foot picture window keeps the guests informed of the frenzied kitchen activities.

The nomadic chef then moved on as Chef de Partie at L'Oaisis in La Napoule under the instruction of Louis Outhier before moving to London and becoming Dining Room Chef at the Grosvenor House Hotel's 90 Park Lane Restaurant. He joined the Ritz-Carlton Group in 1990 working in Philadelphia, Boston, Florida, Barcelona and finally Rancho Mirage near Palm Springs.

Bel-Air Restaurant Nancy Reagan Clearly the type of customer he is used to cooking for all these years makes him a perfect fit for the Hotel Bel-Air, and judging by the packed house on a recent Tuesday night visit, the word has already got out. He has kept the old brigade of about 30 intact, and plans to make changes to the menu every three months, keeping only about 30% of the old items on the new menu. He considers his main signature dish to be a filet of beef stuffed with stilton cheese. Sounds interesting, but it was not on the taster menu the night I visited.

The taster menu for the evening costs $65 a person plus wine, and featured a Sautéed Foie Gras with leeks, rainbow greens and a truffle vinaigrette accompanied by a Michael Chignard, 'Fleurie, "les Moriers" from 1999. Pretty good start, but far more interesting were the Nantucket Scallops with fresh corn polenta sauce and black truffles. Bel-Air Restaurant With this I tried a Villa Mt.Eden Chardonnay 1998 from Santa Maria. Highlight of the evening for me however was the Duck Breast with thick Thai spices and cumin sautéed carrots. With this I tried another local wine, the 1998 Bridlewood Syrah from Santa Barbara. A superb Grand Marnier Soufflé rounded out the meal, and a nice Orange Muscat dessert wine from Andrew Quady complemented it all perfectly.

At the Bel-Air you are paying for the reputation and the atmosphere and of course the service, which is typically over the top, but to be expected from the type of clientele who come to this kind of place. Joseph Drown, a hotel entrepreneur from Texas, purchased the land in 1946 and started building the hotel that quickly became a hangout for the stars. Grace Kelly, Jackie Gleason, Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe were just a few of the stars who frequented in the early years, and the new millennium stars continue to visit. The last extensive modernization took place in 1982, and the hotel features 92 rooms, including 40 suites and sits in 11.5 acres of gardens and trees, some of them quite rare.

Tel: 310 472 1211
Fax: 310 476 5890

Dress: Casual Elegant
Reservations essential
Price: Dinner for two with wine, $150

Bel-Air on the web

Restaurant Hours:
Lunch7 days 11:00 a.m. - 2.00 p.m.
DinnerSunday - Thursday 5:00 p.m. - 10.00 p.m.
Friday - Saturday 5:00 p.m. - 11.00 p.m.
Mike Hepworth, April 2002

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