Seafood. Eat It: Delphine Debuts New Menu
You remember the joke about the "See Food" Diet, right? As in, when you see food, you eat it. Apologies if this brings back school cafeteria memories of your friend opening wide to show you their chewed up mouthful; the pun is irresistible. At Delphine, the restaurant at the W Hotel & Residences in Hollywood, a newly revamped menu of bistro fare has, thankfully, held on to the best of the previous menu, where the standouts are the seafood. Seafood. Eat it.
Soon after Delphine opened, the restaurant's Mediterranean indulgence proved seductive, but the space struggled to balance inconsistent food and service with its elegant setting. Though part of the Innovative Dining Group collective, Chef Sascha Lyon has been able to put his own stamp on the menu, and the restaurant has just debuted a slimmed down selection, new cocktails, and daily specials that may better please L.A.'s finicky palates.
We were invited to check out some items on the new menu recently. The stand out items of the evening were all oceanic in origin. An appetizer of Grilled Octopus, on the Daily Specials menu, was delicate and plump and perfectly charred, paired with a lively salsa verde that did not overshadow the mild flavors of the octopus, and emboldened the potato and frisee on the plate. A Beef Tartare is served in a lidded jar topped with foamed egg, and is fun to spoon onto crostini and seasoned well, though the texture is just a shade too much on the creamy end of the spectrum for the classic dish.
The showstopper is the raw bar seafood tower, over which we oohed and ahhed fittingly, and then promptly devoured. Featuring crab legs and "joints," oysters, mussels, shrimp, and cevice, this two-decker "petite" sampler platter is a straight-up crowd pleaser, and a great way to show off on a date or with some friends and not completely break the bank (the small platter is $58). Even if this were the only thing you got at Delphine, split two to even six ways, you will find yourself full on briny oysters and succulent crab.
Of the bistro fare on the entree list, the regular menu items, like the steak frites and the grilled fish dishes, are serviceable, and, admittedly, after an opening act like the seafood platter and the appetizers, less emboldened to steal the show. A special of the evening, the milk braised pork shoulder, was, dazzling, thanks to its near-melting strands of meat coated in the sticky richness of yolk courtesy the cheery poached egg that tops the dish. Light fare, though, this is not, and as the dish was passed around the table appreciative "mmmms" gave way to exclamations of satisfaction after just a couple of bites.
Dessert, like the entrees, is pleasant, but not mold-breaking. Cocktails give a nod to the trend of seasonality and infused spirits, and incorporate liquors that are currently popular, like St. Germain and Luxardo, though the improvisational whimsy that happens at other Hollywood bars (The Roosevelt's Spare Room and Library Bar, for example) isn't happening here, where you'll still find a drink like the Katana Fusion, named for another IDG restaurant and made with the stomach-churning combo of Skyy Raspberry Vodka, Watermelon Pucker, Pineapple, Triple Sec, Watermelon, Honeydew, Cantaloupe, Pineapple and Cranberry Juice. Don't despair, though--you will find something for the "grown-up" drinkers, though, on the cocktail menu. A favorite is the Monaco Breeze, made wiht Bombay Saphire, St. Germain, Orange Bitters, Grapes, and Lemon Juice.
Hollywood is evolving into a powerhouse destination for smart bar-goers and discerning diners, and Delphine is on a piece of prime real estate (if you plan your visit right, you can stumble immediately down the stairs into the Hollywood & vine Red Line station, whether you're drunk on Katana Fusions or crab legs). Though you may have once joked in the schoolyard that you love "see food," when at Delphine, when you see sea food, that's what you should be eating.