Quietly and with little fanfare, the W Hollywood on Jan. 28 unofficially opened its French brasserie, Delphine, and its two bars, Station Hollywood and The Living Room. (The hotel's long-delayed nightclub, Drai's, still has no official opening date.) Pass through Delphine's white brick arch and you'll find yourself in the W's living room or rather, its Living Room, where the decor pays homage to old school Hollywood glamor while referencing mid-century Southern California cool. Already impressive with a tiered, 18-foot fiber optic and glass chandelier, a circular stairway and a 1950s-esque brick wall, the room's size is accentuated by a floor-to-ceiling glass wall that leads out to Station Hollywood, the hotel's outdoor bar.
Backed up against the MTA's Hollywood and Vine station, which in the night looks like a glowing portal to freedom, it was designed by Sharilyn Olson Rigdon of designstudio ltd, who has filled it with low sonokeling wood tables, woven resin chairs, silver alligator-skin ottomans and hurricane lanterns. A slightly raised wood deck with angular, gray couches and reserved tables serves as a VIP area. A Panasonic HD projector, a surround-sound stereo system and a 20' retractable screen make it a likely destination for premiere parties and movie events.
Station Hollywood and The Living Room each have their own bar, but they share a cocktail menu that seems determined to get you girl-drink drunk. Muddled raspberries, cucumbers, strawberries and basil all show up on the ingredients list along with gin-infused cucumber slices and house-infused cherries (let's hope that house is made of spun sugar not brick). But for my money, it's all about the Reverse Billini. (Sic: fortunately, or unfortunately, it's not a combo between a Bellini and a blini. Now, that would be an innovative cocktail.) Instead of a fizzy pink concoction in a champagne flute, you get a martini glass of sparkling wine and peach schnapps topped with a foam that's molecular, gastronomic and thoroughly peachy yet not too sweet. It couldn't go down easier if you mainlined it, which is tempting. The California-heavy wine list offers nearly a dozen whites, nearly two dozen reds and eight sparkling wines.
The non-liquid portion of the menu offers dishes from Delphine -- Nicoise salad ($14), Monte Cristo sandwich ($10), crispy risotto balls with wild mushroom and sage ($7) -- as well as a few bar food standards: four-cheese pizza ($13), fritto misto ($12) and cheeseburger ($13). Chef Sascha Lyon is proud of the size-to-price ratio, and at $15, the hearty steak sandwich topped with gruyere and caramelized onions and served with a substantial mound of fries backs him up.
It's clear all the way around that Innovative Dining Group, which oversaw Delphine and Station Hollywood while collaborating with the W on The Living Room, isn't only targeting hapless out-of-towners. They're making a serious play for Angelenos, who have other options, many of them within stumbling distance of Hollywood and Vine.
"Tourists and hotel guests are great, but we're known for taking care of people," says Lee Maen, one of the co-founders of IDG. "What will differentiate us is that once you get in, we will take care of people without the attitude. A great night would be a guy in a tuxedo who just left an Oscar party standing next to a girl who lives in Silver Lake." Officially, the joint opens to the public this Friday.
W Hollywood: 6250 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 798-1355, www.whotels.com
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