Approaching its centennial in 2024, the nationally landmarked flatiron-style Culver Hotel – built by the city’s founder Harry Culver – has seen its share of drunken munchkins and disrepair. The 46-room hotel was carefully restored in 2007 and opened a new bistro and garden this month. Lillie’s, named in homage to Culver’s wife Lillian, takes shape across three spaces within the property – the grand lobby, a romantic European-style dining room and an outdoor garden.
Ground zero of downtown Culver City, Lillie’s is a blend of French and Californian cuisine that includes an expansive raw bar program, classic and specialty cocktails and a focus on natural and biodynamic wines. For a sweet start to the evening, indulge in a Ruby Slipper from the bar: vodka, dry curaçao, market berry compote and Chambord. The martinis are perfectly shaken and chilled.
The menu mixes classics like steak tartare, French onion soup, poached shrimp and steamed mussels with saffron aioli and chicken dinner for two. In addition to a delightful butter lettuce salad with cucumbers, crème fraiche and olive dressing, Executive Culinary Director Ned Elliott and Executive Chef Diana Khngikyan have curated a friendly French menu that also includes a 12-oz veal au poivre, classic ratatouille and a wagyu Le Burger with cheese. Finish off the evening with a little bit of drama, the lime sherbet with mint with prosecco poured tableside.
The cozy dining room and bar are punctuated with a glowing fireplace and the return of live music and the outdoor garden is in the hub of downtown Culver City’s pedestrian district. The mezzanine Velvet Lounge speakeasy is open for private parties at the moment with plans to open to the public in the near future.
The Renaissance Revival style historic landmark was known as the “City’s First Skyscraper” and originally had 150 apartments. Owners over the years have included Charlie Chaplin and John Wayne (who eventually donated it to the YMCA) with guests like Joan Crawford, Clark Gable while he was filming Gone With The Wind and was home to drunk munchkins during the filming of The Wizard of Oz.
Lillie’s will be offering a $75 Thanksgiving prix fixe dinner with rosemary parker rolls and whipped cranberry butter, with a choice of kale salad or butternut squash soup. Main course selections include roasted turkey breast and thigh, New York strip loin or sweet potato gnocchi. Family-style sides include Brussels sprouts, roasted carrots and potato puree with gravy. The chef’s seasonal pie with vanilla ice cream is for dessert.
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