Dear Mr. Gold:
Every year my boyfriend and I bet on the Oscar results ... loser takes the winner to the brunch of his or her choice. This year I won big and I want to choose a brunch with amazing food in a wonderful setting. Price is no object, naturally. Any ideas?
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My idea of a perfect brunch usually involves a 45-minute wait for dim sum, a bowl of goat stew or a drive through the mountains for chicken-fried steak at the Pines way out on Pearblossom Highway, none of which is probably going to do it here. If your idea of brunch involves hedonistic comfort, Belvedere at the Peninsula Beverly Hills or the Hotel Bel-Air provide it, although the morning-shift cooking isn't quite up to the luxe. Campanile certainly has a delicious brunch menu, Jar even more so, but it is the one meal at those places that tends to feel rushed. If your heart was set on Toast or BLD, you don't need me to tell you about them — or about any of the classic Venice brunch spots: You could probably slab a "brunch" sign on a tanning salon in Venice and get a line around the block. Comme Ca has a serious brunch. The extrathick bacon at Square One is worth a drive.
But my ultimate suggestion is a Saturday brunch at the Grill on the Alley, which has serene morning light, all the show-biz resonances you'd expect in a CEO's clubhouse, and the most delicious hash in the Western world. (They know from their potatoes, especially the well-done O'Briens.) They have the city's best version of a Joe's Special, of prime steak and eggs, and possibly of eggs Benedict, although I don't have wide enough experience with eggs Benedict to know for sure. Brunch will not be cheap, especially if you order the bottle of champagne that is certainly your due, but it will be supremely satisfying. And Saturday lunch is one of the few times you can actually get into the Grill if you don't happen to be on Nikki Finke's speed-dial. 9560 Dayton Way, Beverly Hills, (310) 276-0615.
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