French Cuisine in the Heart of Century City | Lumière, Fairmont Century Plaza, Los Angeles, CA
Century City, LA, June 2023
• GAYOT’s Rating: 13/20
• Cuisine: French / Brasserie
• Open: Breakfast Sun.-Sat. 7 a.m.-10 a.m.; Lunch Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Dinner Sun.-Sat. 5 p.m.-10 p.m.; Pâtisserie Mon.-Fri. 7 a.m.-2 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 7 a.m.-12 p.m.
• Lumière is on GAYOT’s:
– Best LA French Restaurants
– Best Los Angeles Business Dining Restaurants
– Best Los Angeles Best Décor Restaurants
– Best West Los Angeles Breakfast Restaurants
– Best West Los Angeles Outdoor Dining Restaurants.
The Fairmont Hotels & Resorts group took over the famed Century Plaza Hotel and reopened it in September 2021 after a 2.5-billion-dollar renovation which included the brand-new Lumière restaurant. The property originally opened in 1966 on the former site of a 20th Century Studios backlot. To pay homage to this Hollywood legacy, the restaurant is named after the French Lumière brothers, Louis and Auguste, who were the inventors of motion pictures for the masses. Then the choice of the cuisine became obvious: it had to be French. And being in the heart of the modern American business-focused Century City, the owners wanted to bring in an intellectual flair to it. It was decided to create a décor of Paris in the ’20s — not the 2020s but the 1920s. It was at that time that Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein were in Paris writing and living a très Parisian life.
Tasteful designers went to Paris and the Côte d’Azur à la recherche (hunting) for unique pieces of furniture, fixtures and tiles — I wish I had gone with them. It is a must to take a tour of the restaurant to admire them; arrive during the daytime if possible if you are having dinner as the restaurant is bathed with lumière (light) through its floor-to-ceiling windows. The wooden doors of the restaurant come from an old château. The zinc bar was made in France by an atelier that worked at Versailles doing metal restoration. While at the bar, admire the majestic and impressive wrought iron rose bush chandelier.
Chef Ramon Bojorquez, a Top Chef Season 11 participant, is at the helm of the kitchen. He has composed a brasserie menu that pairs well with the leather banquettes, the elaborate tilework and the brass accents, markers of a brasserie décor.
Start with the chicken liver mousse — ah, no, sorry, as the French do, with bread (rustic loaf) and butter. You can opt for the steak tartare, but don’t bypass the cheesy Gruyère onion soup. The shrimp cocktail is an American import here in the Fruits de Mer section, where you will also find oysters and Petrossian caviar. The cheese selection is listed on the menu before the mains. But for the French, le fromage comes after, before dessert.
If you like it from the sea, there is a seared sea bass served with onions soubise and roasted salsify. The rest is for carnivores, with an 8 oz. Prime rib-eye filet steak frites, duck confit accompanied by cannellini beans and grilled cabbage (not a usual side for this dish), or 12 oz. bone-in pork chop. The roasted eggplant can be a treat for vegetarians. You may also try the späetzle, composed of sunchoke purée, black sesame, allium and crispy Comté.
End your French culinary journey with the tarte Tatin, the caramel apple galette or the mille-feuille. By the way, do you know why Tatin is always written with a capital T? It is the name of the sisters who invented it, actually by mistake. When making an apple tart, it fell, and they picked it up reversed.
There is a short wine list of mostly French labels. But when you see the bar, you want to get drinks for there…
> Scroll down the food photo gallery for the décor photos.