There are a growing number of attractive public spaces in downtown Los Angeles. But every time I eat at Stepps or the Mandarin Cove, I am struck by the calm beauty of the large airy atrium lobby through which you reach them. It's a plant-filled, glass-enclosed space, a sharp contrast to the sleek urban landscape in which it sits. As I wandered through last week, I suddenly noticed something new: It was now filled with people sitting happily at little tables and eating delicious-looking food.
The new Fountain Court, at 330 Hope St., (213) 621-2155, is one of the nicest new eating options downtown. The menu is simple and service is swift: The food, which is prepared in the Stepps kitchen, includes only soups, salads, sandwiches and cold dishes--nothing, in fact, that needs to be cooked. But there is a great tuna sandwich, made of fresh grilled tuna mixed with pickles and mayonnaise and served on sesame bread. It comes with a cucumber salad and costs $5.95. The steak sandwich is topped with peppers and served on a roll--a large one. You can have a bowl of chili, salads of chicken or shrimp, a plate of fruit and cheese or, if you're feeling elegant, cold poached salmon.
Even if you're not in the mood for a meal, when you're downtown and feeling frazzled (or perhaps on jury duty), you might stop in for a cup of cappuccino and something sweet. Just sitting here makes life seem more sensible.