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Garden Freshness Amid Understated Sophistication at Chadwick


The sweet cottage that was home to Chez Helene for so many years has a new lease on life--as Chadwick, a new Beverly Hills restaurant. Sweeping away every bit of cutesy or coy, designer Thomas Beeton has envisioned the Beverly Drive structure as an Arts and Crafts bungalow with Modernist leanings. Its new look is just as understated and sophisticated as owner-chef Ben Ford's menu.

Ford is the son of actor Harrison Ford. That said, it's inevitable that Chadwick will attract an element of young (and old) Hollywood. The younger Ford, however, garnered his own following when he was cooking at the Farm of Beverly Hills and he'll surely merit it here as well. Moreover, anyone who ever enjoyed a meal at the now-defunct Jackson's in West Hollywood will remember Ford's fellow chef Govind Armstrong's strong cooking there. The two have the makings of a solid team.

Both are passionate about great ingredients. Before opening the restaurant, Ford started growing his own organic produce for Chadwick. It's the least he could do, considering he named the place after Alan Chadwick, the late British-born organic gardener who inspired, among others, California's own Alice Waters.

At Chadwick, you can sit inside or at the handful of tables in the tiny garden in front. But even if you opt to sit in the dining room, the chefs bring the outdoors in with dishes that are like gardens on a plate. To start things off, Ford might send out a miniature corn crepe folded around a morsel of crab meat and garnished with a sheaf of milky baby corn. I loved the seppie (cuttlefish) with artichoke and transparent slices of purple potato laid out like a flower. There are delicious frogs' legs, too, and pintade (that's French for guinea hen) breast with soft ribbons of young Savoy cabbage, or an excellent beef tenderloin suffused with Roquefort and accompanied by marvelous chard and a confit of potatoes, cream and leeks.

Though vegetables are an emphasis, Chadwick is definitely not a vegetarian restaurant, more of a vegetable-lovers place. How can you not want to eat your vitamins when the sides include such imaginative choices as barley with wilted greens and prosciutto, sauteed Jerusalem artichokes with wild mushrooms, or harisa chickpea cake and grilled fig salsa? Enough said.

Please, don't everyone run out and rush this small, fledgling restaurant. Ford and Armstrong are wisely easing into things slowly, starting with just dinner now, to be followed by lunch at the very end of summer, and in the fall, afternoon tea. I'm looking forward to what they'll do with lunch and tea, and another season. And another.


Chadwick, 267 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 205-9424. Open for dinner only, Monday through Saturday; lunch begins late summer, and afternoon tea service sometime in the fall. Appetizers, $8 to $14; main courses, $18 to $30. Valet parking.

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