More Is More | Dining | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
Loading...

More Is More 

Wednesday, Jan 16 2002
Comments

Before the opening of Hollywood and Highland, I did not think Los Angeles capable of erecting a structure as aesthetically confused as the Hotel Sofitel, a Riveria--meets--Holiday Inn monstrosity across the street from the Beverly Center. This quaint notion was forever dashed by the opening of the new Grand Lux Cafe, set into the mall‘s southeast corner -- a restaurant whose facade of marbles and mosaics and bronzed angels is one of jaw-dropping, head-scratching disorder. The first time I drove past, I wondered if I’d somehow veered into a cosmic wormhole and wound up in Las Vegas.

Which I sort of did, Grand Lux being the brainchild of the folks at the Cheesecake Factory, who three years ago launched their flagship Grand Lux at the Venetian. (Another is planned for Chicago.) Vegas‘ decadelong revamp into universal theme park, with Technicolor renditions of Paris and New York, the stratosphere and ancient Rome, has proved mesmerizing to a gazillion tourists; why mess with passports, the Euro and gravity when one can whiz through space and time in a weekend?

Grand Lux is testing the formula in Los Angeles, and from the looks of things at a recent lunch, it could score big. Past the exterior chaos, the entryway is turn-of-the-century French bistro suffused with present-day Hollywood: The ceilings are 22 feet high, the natty waitstaff communicate via headsets, and the inviting mirrored bar incorporates two TVs tuned to CNN. After being ushered through a hall aglow in golden light, one is seated in a dining room of almost baroque tackiness, with ceilings a la Versailles (a riot of mosaics and gilding), veined black marble tabletops, mauve-and-evergreen banquettes, and ornate colonnades stenciled with vaguely Egyptian whorls. The din in the room is incredible; every ting of a tine is discernible amid the voices of hundreds of customers, eating what the menu flaunts as “over 100 choices.”

Location Info

Related Stories

  • MonkeyParking Is Here 5

    You may remember a controversy a couple of months ago about MonkeyParking, an iPhone app that allows users to buy and sell street parking spaces. The concept was evidently too innovative even for San Francisco. The city attorney ordered the company to shut down on the grounds that auctioning public spaces is...
  • SoCal Meets Old World: Stone Brewing Co. and Green Flash Announce Plans to Brew in Europe

    This summer has been full of interesting expansion news from several California breweries, including Lagunitas in Petaluma — which recently opened a Chicago tasting room — and Sierra Nevada, which has an expansive North Carolina brewery that is already releasing product. But none of the announcements made in the last...
  • Alimento Opens 2

    Alimento, the new restaurant from chef Zack Pollack, opens tonight in Silver Lake.  Pollack is best known as one part of the two-man chef team behind Sotto  the Pico Blvd. Southern Italian restaurant that serves some of the city's best Italian food. Pollack and co-chef Steve Samson opened Sotto in 2011...
  • Das Cookbook

    Among the handful of Los Angeles chefs who have defined this town's restaurant scene, Hans Röckenwagner often seems to go under-appreciated. Maybe because he doesn't show up on flashy food television. Or maybe because he spends a disproportionate time baking pretzels and making his outstanding traditional German-style holiday cookies. Or...
  • The Best Free Concerts to See in L.A. in October 2

    Be sure to check out our constantly updated concert calendar! This summer's concert season was off the chain, but there's plenty going on this fall as well. The best part? Lots of the shows are free.  These are the best free concerts to see in Los Angeles this October. Thursday,...

You know what they are: 20 appetizers that nod to Asia (BBQ-duck potstickers), Latin America (stacked chicken quesadilla) and the Land of Fry, including crispy portobello mushrooms served with a garlic aioli that tastes like Hidden Valley ranch. A salad of endive, frisee and Gorgonzola, tossed with bacon and a few candied walnuts, is peppery and rich, the appetizer portion easily feeding two. There are eight pizzas, 15 sandwiches, 10 pastas and twice as many carnivorous selections from both “the oven and broiler” and “the pan and grill.” While trying to choose entrees, we spot a neighboring table’s fish-and-chips and California chopped salad, towering portions spilling over their 14-inch plates. Which is when one realizes one must simply give in, as deciding what to eat at Grand Lux is not about sustenance, but spectacle. When the waiter asks if we want to preorder dessert, we choose both the beignets with three dipping sauces and the molten-chocolate cake. And how about some cocktails?

While trying to get my jaw around a six-inch-high shrimp-and-bacon sandwich, which is overpowered by more of the ersatz aioli, I notice nine women moaning at me. Painted above each colonnade are choruses of vaguely Klimt-like maidens, their mouths dreamily agape. I stop a passing manager: Are those supposed to be the Muses?

“Why, yes,” he says, seeming delighted I‘ve asked. “The designers were told they could do anything they wanted, and were basically given a blank checkbook.”

Does he know how much they spent?

“Twelve million,” he says. “As you can see, the effect is eclectic.”

Yes.

My boyfriend gamely tries to finish a trencherman’s portion of spaghettini with dozens of tender baby clams in the shell, but it‘s too much food, and too little flavor in the simple parsley-and-olive-oil sauce. The 20 minutes we were told the desserts would take become 40, the lunch crowd leaves, and the mood becomes not one of having all this grandeur to oneself, but of overload. If you’re in the mood, and for a price, you can have it all; if you‘re not, the luxury appears a ruse to distract you from dishes you could get at . . . well, the Cheesecake Factory.

We eat half of the pretty good molten cake and a few of the dozen eggy beignets, pay the $78 check, and stumble onto the street, utterly exhausted. I look again at the bronzed angels; their faces are bland, modern, as if a showgirl’s head had been transplanted onto Winged Victory. Is eating too much food in a razzle-dazzle room beneath a shopping mall what people want? Do you have to ask?

121 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 855-1122. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Full bar. Parking in the Beverly Center. All major credit cards.

Related Content

Related Locations

Now Trending