Entering Paley, a glamorous new restaurant named after 1950s CBS television mogul William S. Paley, feels like stepping back into the golden era of Hollywood.
The midcentury-inspired eatery is located inside Columbia Square, the recently revived complex at the corner of Sunset and Gower that once housed CBS' radio and television operations. The dining room itself occupies what was once the executive cafeteria, a space that's been transformed into a Mad Men–esque den that might remind you of the slick, stylized design at the Arthur J in Manhattan Beach.
Dark wood paneling and gold trim frame grand marble pillars, brown leather booths line the back wall, and light fixtures reminiscent of Alexander Calder mobiles dangle from the ceiling. There doesn't seem to be a bad seat in the house.
To further push the Gilded Age theme, a gold-trimmed bar wraps around the room. It's worth arriving early just to belly up to such decadence. The Minor Situation, a cocktail made with whiskey, house-made sour, blackberry and basil, is balanced and refreshing. William's Babe, cutely named after Paley’s wife, Babe, combines vodka, lavender and house sour.
In the kitchen, chef Greg Bernhardt — formerly of Church & State and LudoBites — serves food that suits the restaurant's elegance. The “snacks” section includes foie gras mousse with apricot, elderflower and pistachio; coal-roasted Wagyu beef; and a lush smoked chicken liver pâté served with curry-scented chicken skin. The black-vest–clad servers bring over warm baguette and butter, allowing you to not neglect a single smear of pâté.
An appetizer of hamachi crudo arrives plated on a bed of white soy and wasabi puree and scattered with sectioned blood oranges and citrus, shaved fennel, paper-thin hot pink radishes, jalapeño and dill. It sounds like a lot, but it all melds together, the spiciness of the horseradish and jalapeño mingling with the clean flavor of raw yellowtail. Main courses such as sea bass with radishes, turnips and yuzu cream nage are equally lovely.
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A young, well-dressed crowd start to trickle in as the night wears on. Nicolas Fanucci, director of operations for Plan Do See (the hospitality group behind Paley) and former general manager of the French Laundry, greets guests with a sophisticated air. Paley's association with adjacent Neue House, a hip, work-oriented, members-only club (à la Soho House) probably has something to do with the high-fashion crowd.
But just when you think Paley couldn't get any more over-the-top fabulous, dessert is served. Green tea-calamansi vacherin, citrus sorbet and matcha ice cream rest on a bed of condensed-milk whipped cream, and the whole thing is strewn with fresh citrus and shards of green tea meringue. It is at once sweet, tart, refreshing and creamy — enlightenment translated into a bowl.
By the end of the meal, it's obvious that Paley isn't merely peddling nostalgia for Old Hollywood's gold-encrusted glamour; it's hoping to launch a second wave — at least for those with the cash to spare.
Paley, 6115 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 544-9430, paleyhollywood.com.