One of the newest dining spots in Los Angeles is also one of the most beautiful. Blue Velvet, an unlikely hideaway in Downtown L.A., is a treat, not only for the tummy, but for the eyes. If you can find it. It’s just west of Downtown, in a residential area accessible from a parking lot in which you can’t even park. You just have to follow the signs once you spot the address, and eventually you’ll locate the entrance. Once you do, you won’t regret it.
Blue Velvet is located off the pool-adjacent deck of the old flagship Holiday Inn, now an upscale residential development. The dining area and duo lounges are uniquely designed with contemporary lines, polished wood, one of a kind light fixtures and textile accents on the walls. The fireplace, DJ station and wine cellar are enclosed in glass with abstract wall sculptures creating an ultra-hip ambience.
The view “ain’t” bad either with unobstructed panoramas of the downtown skyline from either the interior or poolside garden which not only provides a zen-like experience for patrons but also produces herbs and veggies for the kitchen.
The perfect evening at Blue Velvet for me is to sip a Cucumber Martini (their signature concoction) by the outdoor fireplace, then move indoors to the lounge with its dropped floor featuring a long granite table and an equally long leather banquette where you can enjoy a Jalapeno Martini or White Sangria and munch on some pretty spectacular appetizers like Seared Albacore with Crispy Onion ($12).
The cold tuna sashimi is served under a fistful of crispy onions with a spicy ponzu dressing and sirachi (a Vietnamese spice).
Also quite unusual is the Filet Mignon Wrapped Asparagus ($9) composed of several tender bites of filet surrounding crispy steamed asparagus with a walnut ponzu reduction. Yes, you figured it out: the menu has a definite Asian touch, and that, coming from a Romanian-born chef!
You may be familiar with Chef Giulian Buzila from Koi in West Hollywood, where he honed his culinary skills. The next step: your move into the dining area where each table is set with a pair of chopsticks set atop a polished black stone.
The menu is far from extensive, but what’s on it represents the best of what Buzila has been experimenting with since taking over the kitchen. About eight options including at least one from the vegetarian category. This season it’s Tofu ($14) with sweet ginger curry and vegetable hash.
For meat eaters ya gotta try the Filet Mignon ($32) in bite size pieces that simply melt in your mouth. The filet is presented with a sauce of red wine béarnaise and thyme-infused butter. Need I say more?
The Rib Eye ($29) is also quite nice, served with a Japanese steak sauce and Yukon Gold fries that are the crispiest I’ve seen without turning into potato chips!
There’s a flavorful Filet of Salmon ($26) served on a bed of spinach with a truffle beurre blanc. It’s not overcooked and definitely not fishy. The portions, by the way, aren’t huge at Blue Velvet, but quite satisfying.
If you still have room for dessert, there’s a limited selection culled from a nearby bakery. The most amazing: the Dulce de Leche Pyramid ($9), made up of little pyramids of chocolate filled with caramel crème and perched on fresh berries. There’s also a variety of Mochi, those little rice cakes filled with ice cream.
Whether or not you have to “go,” you HAVE to go to the restroom at Blue Velvet. It’s unisex…one large room with spacious enclosed stalls off to the sides. In the center of the room is a lavish garden with sinks surrounding it that deliver the water via large tubular pipes extended from the ceiling. Ultra modern and very Cool! Blue Velvet is open Monday through Thursday from 5-10pm, Friday from 5pm to 2am and Saturday from 6pm to 2am.
So if you’re venturing into Downtown L.A. for an evening, and you’re adventuresome, pay a visit to Blue Velvet…….if you can find it!
750 Garland Ave. Ste. 102
Los Angeles CA 90017