From the corner of the bar at Delphine at the W Hollywood, I can see the subway stop. The idea that you can be sipping a Manhattan or a glass of Prosecco one minute and slipping down the stairs to the underground the next is a delicious surprise -- nothing special in other cities, but thrilling here.
Delphine is the lead restaurant at the new W Hollywood hotel on Hollywood Boulevard just east of Vine. But with its own street entrance, it feels more like a free-standing restaurant, and a smart French one at that.
The freshly minted bistro comes to us via Innovative Dining Group, the folks behind Sushi Roku, Katana and Boa Steakhouse, all of which are more scene than substance. Will Delphine be any different?
Maybe. At least this time, IDG has made the effort to rope in an accomplished chef in Sascha Lyon, who has cooked at Daniel, Balthazar and Pastis in New York. His menu of mostly straight-ahead French bistro and Mediterranean classics stands out on this stretch of the boulevard.
Now, when you're catching a show at the Pantages or the Palladium or any other nearby venue, you can reserve at Delphine. That's no small advantage.
The room is bright and lovely, with vaulted ceilings, posh banquettes and tables widely spaced. Dramatic long-armed fans overhead stir the air. Wicker armchairs are deep and comfy, crisp in white against the blue and white patterned floor. When the weather warms up, you can opt for a table outside on the patio.
The eats? Oysters and plenty of them to start, along with foie gras and chicken liver mousse and delicious garlicky brandade (salt cod and potato puree). Pizzas are not the same old same-old: Check out the pissaladière version topped with caramelized onions, anchovies and olives inspired by the Niçoise flatbread. Tuna three ways and fritto misto (mixed fry) of squid, shrimp, mussels and clam and lemon slices both make terrific appetizers to share. At lunch and dinner, les sandwiches appear, notably croque-monsieur (or madame, basically a monsieur topped with a fried egg) and, of course, a burger. But for sheer gutsy pleasure, go for the pan-roasted garlic chicken with smashed potatoes and olives. Braised lamb shoulder with sweet peppers on creamy polenta gets the nod too. Order a carafe of Chapoutier rosé -- bon appétit!
I don't know, I have a feeling this could turn into a beautiful friendship.
Delphine Eatery & Bar at the W Hollywood Where: 6250 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles.
When: Open for breakfast from 6:30 to 11 a.m., for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and for dinner from 5 to 10:30 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays and 5 p.m. to midnight Thursdays through Saturdays.
Price: Dinner antipasti, $6 to $16; hors d'oeuvres, $7 to $14; pizzas, $12 to $15; sandwiches and salads, $12 to $15; main courses, $17 to $36; cheese plate, $15; desserts, $9.
Contact: (323) 798-1355; www.restaurantdelphine.