French Renaissance | Espelette Beverly Hills at the Waldorf Astoria, CA

By Sophie Gayot

Upscale Bisto Fare at Espelette Beverly Hills by Chef Steve Benjamin

Beverly Hills, CA, August 2023

GAYOT’s rating: 14/20
Cuisine: French / California / Bistro
Open: Breakfast daily 7 a.m.-noon, Dinner Tues.-Sat. 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m.
Espelette Beverly Hills is on GAYOT’s:
Best LA French Restaurants
Best LA Restaurants for Business Dining
Best LA Special Occasion Restaurants
Best LA New & Hip Restaurants
Best Beverly Hills Romantic Restaurants

Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills
9850 Wilshire Blvd. (Santa Monica Blvd.) Beverly Hills, CA 90210
310-860-6700 | View Website

The new restaurant at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills

As I was dining at Espelette Beverly Hills, I received the following message by someone in the very-know: “Let us know how it is. Big shoes to fill. But a beautiful room.” Good thinking, indeed! Directing the stoves right after chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten of the exact same dining room would be a challenge for any chef — Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is 2016 GAYOT’s Best Restaurateur. But French chef Steve Benjamin, who has actually been here since the former restaurant Jean-Georges Beverly Hills opened in 2017, has had enough training and experience to now be the chef in his own kitchen.

A new menu by Chef Steve Benjamin

The menu is his, combining French cuisine with Cali influences, with vibrant presentations. Start with the Tuna Tartar and its surprise (see the video below), or the Yellowtail Carpaccio. Don’t miss the Beef Tartar, which arrives all prepared with its petals of lotus chips. Should you order the Classic Baguette? Yes, and for two reasons: le pain is very, very good and the espelette Bordier butter to spread on it makes a “gourmand ” moment to remember. The Watermelon with feta cheese is refreshing but not that interesting, knowing what chef Benjamin can deliver. The Langoustines Papillote is an homage to chef Benjamin’s time with the Cuisinier du Siècle” Joël Robuchon (Chef of the Century). They are so sweet and perfectly fried.

The Rolling Cart

If you order in advance (and you should), the Pâté en Croûte will arrive table side on a rolling cart. The Dover Sole is flown in and is so fresh one would not think it came from that far. It is “simply” cooked with butter, olive oil, and some flour on both sides to bring crispiness. It is deboned in front of you (see video below). Note that this dish is for two, and that if you have ordered it you will have to come back for the Côte de Boeuf, also for two.

Other Dishes & Drinks

If you are ready to indulge in black pearls, there is an entire section of the menu devoted to caviar. More from the ocean are Steamed Mussels, wood grilled Branzino and Maine Lobster. You like it from land? There is Roasted Chicken served with a bell pepper piperade, Grilled Lamb Chops, and Wagyu F1 ranging from $55 to $265. On the lighter side, you can opt for the Eggplant Parmesan, Smashed Burger or Pappardelle Carbonara. Finish with chef Benjamin’s desserts, based on the season. The wine list is short and combines labels mainly from France, Italy. You may also opt for a craft cocktail.

Why “Espelette?”

Chef Benjamin is from Paris but loves to cook with this spice indigenous to the Basque region of France: “I practically put espelette in almost all my dishes.”

So far, the décor has not been changed, except for the booths that were along the windows and have been moved to the center. The dishware is new and more casual to fit with the bistro cuisine. But there are big projects on the books to completely redo the room at the beginning of 2024. I will be back!