Sometimes all it takes to be successful is to perceive a need and to fill it. The owners of Delmonico's Seafood Grille were astute enough to perceive this need 10 years ago recognizing the long standing hunger for fish starved Angelenos and set about creating L.A.'s finest seafood house, earning a reputation that definitely is well deserved. Featuring the freshest highest quality fish with over 41 types of seafood dishes offered, Delmonico's has a way with seafood few restaurants can match. From appetizers to sparkling salads to best loved entrees, all of the choices are brilliantly conceived and impeccably prepared. And although Delmonico's specializes "in everything that swims," it also boasts the best 18 oz. rib eye in town plus superb dry aged New York Steaks, succulent roast garlic crusted rack of lamb, roast duck with brandied peach sauce, and even that doesn't begin to tell the whole story. There are over a half dozen side dishes to enjoy with dinner including a not-to-be missed potato and garlic pie, which my companion is still reminiscing about. Portions are very large so you'll find it a struggle to plow through but I can assure you it's definitely worth the effort.
You might choose to start with the crab cakes complemented by an invigorating lemon mustard seed sauce or the oysters Rockefeller which come ensconced in a pool of creamed spinach with a crusty cheese top. Judging from the size of the exuberant menu, there may be some difficulty choosing, but trust me, it's literally impossible to err. Plump oysters, shucked to order, top the appetizer list along with elegant jumbo shrimp and a delicate lobster bisque that definitely has more lobster than bisque.
Seafood entrees come either grilled or pan sautéed and all are imaginatively presented. Take for instance the grilled Pacific swordfish, glazed with rum resting on delicate crab pancake - then pile high with a dazzling mound of crispy fried onions. The contrasting flavors work just beautifully together. Fresh halibut wrapped in a savory pecan crust is served on a bed of julienned vegetables and innovatively paired with an elegant vermouth sauce light enough to enhance the moist flavor of the fish rather than overpower it. Red and green grapes help fill a plate that was clearly arranged to please the eye. Other interesting choices include grilled scallops in a crispy potato basked, seared ahi tuna in three peppercorn sauce and of course two and three pound Maine lobsters. The Zuppa Alla Pescatore (a profusion of delectable shellfish) in a light tomato saffron broth) is just too delicious to ignore. And if all that weren't enough, the ambiance is equally delightful, upbeat and very appealing. The handsome high ceilinged dining room images the classic 1920's grill look. The main dining room is dotted with tables and cushioned booths to accommodate large families and the high walled wooden private cubicles lining its perimeter are perfect for clandestine business meetings or romantic encounters. But above all Delmonico's is one happy place filled with a bunch of very contented people. Executives in 3-piece suits power thru lunch on weekdays. Dinnertime the place really comes alive bursting with activity with almost every seat in the house taken. At times the noise level may seem high, but the sophisticated clientele doesn't seem to mind one bit.
As expected there are no shortage of desserts, and among the made-from-scratch selections are a classic creme brulee, a comforting bread pudding with a yummy caramel sauce, a 4-layer chocolate mousse cake and you can absolutely count on the fresh apple tart with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to send you home smiling. A fine selection of liquors, ports, grappas, cognacs and brandies add a finishing touch to a very perfect evening.
Tel: (310) 550-7737.
Open for lunch and dinner.
Dinner for two $40-60 excluding wine.
Carole Valentine, December 1999