Friday, March 13, 2009

Croquer: A Class Act Brunch at Cecconi's

Upon approaching the recently opened West Hollywood outpost of legendary Venetian (by way of London) institution Cecconi's in the old Morton's location at Melrose and Robertson, the last thing you might expect is a sign reading "complimentary valet". Having strolled a few blocks from my street spot on Melrose, this was only the first of many unpretentious surprises Cecconi's had in store.
Once past the vine-sheered terraces flanking the host station and through the welcoming french doors into Cecconi's, it is impossible to resist the arresting chic color pallette of black/white marble and tourquoise velvet/leather upholstery throughout the room. All of the fixtures are imported relics of exquisite craftmanship, the chandeliers linked hand-blown glass.
Beyond the bar (filled by a family of suspended dried meats and sausages, as well as glassware), to the back of the restaurant is the screened-in exclusive Butterfly Room, impressively presided over by a striking Damien Hirst original.I saw one of my companions seated in a plush velvet corner banquet across the room and joined her, admiring the modest prime location with a view of the entire restaurant. Our extremely good-natured server appeared to fetch us drinks while we waited for our third.
Without needing to be told, I knew from first sip that my cappucino was LAMill espresso, which always scores big points in my book. The mimosa, though made from delicious fresh squeezed oranges, could have used a splash more sparkle. I did not taste my friend's bloody mary, but it looked spicy, thick and peppery, as I prefer mine.
What impressed me immediately upon viewing the menu was the accessibility and affordability of this high-end brunch fare. Starting from eggs any style & toast or an egg white omelette ($6) and delights such as waffle with mascarpone & raspberries or ricotta hotcakes with preserved blueberries ($8), who can really complain this is overpriced Westside dining? Because it's one of my favorite brunch dishes to prepare myself at home, I had to order the Panettone French toast with maple syrup ($9) and a side of applewood smoked bacon ($4). The custardy housemade panettone was thin but in no way flat, bursting with rich cream and dried citrus flavor. The chunky homemade orange marmalade was a perfect match. The bacon was also thinner than my liking, but lean and cooked to perfection; both chewy and crispy.One of my companions splurged on the scrambled eggs with shaved black truffle ($24), which was a divine luxury for the tastebuds.. The eggs were scrambled on the softer side, and the side order of mushrooms she ordered were simply butter and garlic sauteed; nothing special. An eclectic bread basket accompanied the meal, along with an array of other homemade jams, the strawberry which was my second favorite to the marmalade.
After a French toast breakfast, dessert was nowhere near my mind, but after truffles, my guest was ready to sample something on the sweet side. Of course it was no arm twist for me to agree to *try* whatever she ordered. It was unanimous that the blood orange cake with caramel & yoghurt ($9) was the best bet. And it was exquisite. The whipped yogurt was tart and light, a perfect foil for the tacky rich pool of caramel that footed the moist pudding-rich, orange-veined cake. A perfect way to finish off a top-notch afternoon nosh.
Yes, fair Cecconi's with your vast offerings from breakfast through afternoon "Chichetti" and into your Midnight menu, it is safe to bet I will be back - especially for your handmade pastas, which our server's eyes rolled back for a moment trying to put into words.
'Til we meet again..

1 comment: