Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsEl Padrino

RESTAURANT NOTEBOOK

Hail And Farewell To Hernando's Hideaway

March 15, 1987|COLMAN ANDREWS

One of the most comfortable, and comforting, eating places in Los Angeles closed last Sunday evening. It was the Beverly Wilshire Hotel's El Padrino--a woody, equestrian-themed hideaway, with "21" Club tablecloths and grown-up service, founded in 1962 by the hotel's self-styled padrino ("godfather"), the late Hernando Courtright.

El Padrino was never, frankly, a restaurant you went to for great food--and, like most hotel dining rooms, it charged maybe 20 or 30% more for things than comparable free-standing places would have done. But--and I say this with the experience under my belt (quite literally, alas) of several years' worth of twice- or thrice-weekly lunches there at one point in my life--the fare was always solid, honest and dependable. Salads were generous and made to order; the ceviche and gazpacho were both spicier and more authentic than anybody had the right to expect; dishes like cold roast chicken, ground sirloin steak with sauteed onions and various simple preparations of fresh fish had an attractive old-fashioned purity about them, and there was always that pumpernickel cheese toast--and that formidable Beverly Wilshire wine list (which, though it has become considerably less formidable recently, still offers some real treasures at fair prices).

Beyond all that, though, El Padrino just felt right. It was just dark and convoluted enough to offer borderline anonymity when that was required, and just noisy enough to make you feel like you were out in society. The booths opposite the bar, in design and material both, were about as good as restaurant seating gets. Walking into the place was like coming home--not your own home, perhaps, but a home in which you were genuinely welcome. El Padrino meant a lot to me: I played office politics there, and made friends and life decisions. I mention this only because I suspect that virtually everybody who frequented it has strong, and probably good, memories of their own associated with El Padrino. It was that kind of place.

Regent International Hotels, which bought the Beverly Wilshire in 1985, plans to replace El Padrino with a new restaurant, to open in about a year. The format of the new place has not yet been decided.

FAITH AND BE QUIET: St. Patrick's Day on Tuesday means different things to different people. To me, it means that for several weeks beforehand my mailbox will be crowded with press releases announcing the commemoration of the holiday with green beer, funny hats and corned beef and cabbage. Having been named (so one version of the story goes) for St. Colman of Terryglass, one of the so-called "Irish apostles," I feel qualified to denounce this sort of thing as a load of preposterously un-Hibernian blar . . . er . . . nonsense--and I feel no compunction at all about neglecting to mention any further details of same.

On the other hand, Bouzy Rouge Cafe in Newport Beach is observing the holiday with a more truly Irish menu, including nettle broth, baked Irish salmon, periwinkles, Irish stew, soda bread and Guinness cake. And Santa Monica's own Irish/California/eclectic little bistro, Gilliland's, will serve a special Irish luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and a traditional Irish tea (with live Irish harp music) from 4 to 5 p.m., and will offer a number of real Irish dishes at dinner--among them "Dublin Lawyer", which is lobster in a sauce of cream and Irish whiskey. Scandia on the Sunset Strip offers a more conventional St. Patrick's Day prix-fixe dinner (for $19.75 per person), with live Irish music. (An official communique from the restaurant, incidentally, notes that one of the drinks being offered, besides the dreaded green beer, will be "Black Bush, an Irish Whiskey Cognac." Black Bush, in fact, is a premium Irish whiskey and of course has nothing whatever to do with cognac. This kind of inattention to detail, alas, is all too typical of the modern-day Scandia.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|