Last Sunday I joined a press group for a preview of the New Year’s Day Hangover Brunch that will be served at Viviane, the lovely new poolside restaurant at the boutique hotel The Avalon Beverly Hills. I’d had only a single glass of red wine the night before but that didn’t keep me from enjoying the repast that was offered by the very talented executive chef Michael Hung, who most recently earned raves cooking at downtown LA’s Faith & Flower.
The cool hues and midcentury furnishings of the Viviane, which snakes around the hourglass-shaped pool with a few tables inside the hotel lobby, is the work of celebrated designer Kelly Wearstler. She’d originally revamped the mid-century property, the former Beverly Carlton Hotel, some 16 years ago. With her new update the space is even more inviting, especially the cabanas, several of which are outfitted with vintage lounge chairs and sofas. Our waitperson told us that some guests spend an entire day in a cabana, going from breakfast to lunch to cocktails and on to dinner. I can understand why. We had brunch in a cabana that held a rectangular oak table that sat ten, and it was one of the most convivial meals I enjoyed all year. We lingered for two hours and would have stayed longer if the pull of Christmas shopping and other commitments (an annual cookie party in Silver Lake for me) hadn’t tugged.
Our meal began with a drink special called “the San Francisco Rooster,” shots of freshly pressed wheatgrass, orange juice and tequila meant to be downed in quick succession. Next, the special New Year’s Day items were served family style: a fried egg and porchetta ham hoagie on puff pastry; hash browns with duck confit and foie gras mousse; bone marrow and trout caviar on top of a stack of whole wheat blinis and roasted mushroom bread pudding. As if that weren’t enough—and clearly it was—Chef Michael then sent out a half-dozen other items on the regular brunch menu, including a huge slab of brioche French toast stuffed with dark chocolate ganache; buttermilk-brined fried chicken; an arugula, persimmon and pomegranate salad and a salad of little gem lettuces, Spanish anchovies and pan-fried croutons, and, my favorite, lemon-ricotta pancakes.
I’m looking forward to more meals at Viviane in 2016. And keep it on your radar if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten path venue for an event. The Avalon is nestled in a residential neighborhood in the Beverly Hills flats and Viviane is available for buyouts.