Where the Industry Dines Privately
Want to throw an awards-season soiree? From a room with Ovitz's art collection to a scotch bar with no listed number, this is where the power brokers break bread.
The Emmy Season is off and running -- with the Oscar race not too far in the distance -- which makes for a deluge of parties, from intimate voter arm-twisting dinners to cast celebrations. Luckily, L.A. offers a slew of new and under-the-radar locales for each kind of affair, including a just-opened wine room straight out of Tuscany and a sexy tequila lounge serving some of the best Mexican food in town.
BEST PLACE FOR AN AFTER-AFTERPARTY
Ten Pound (£10) at theMontage Beverly Hills
225 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills | 310.860.7800 | montagebeverlyhills.com
To get access, you need to pass muster with its gatekeeper, the hotel's Mark Hester, who approves guests for this mezzanine-level bar/restaurant. Offering space for just 35 guests, the two-month-old spot with a luxe British men's-club look was created in partnership with Krug champagne and Macallan scotch (Macallan's distillery is on the Scottish 10-pound note, hence the name). There are rare old scotches that run up to 60 grand a bottle, but a very good one can be had for about 10 pounds (about $16) per drink. The ice cubes are even made from imported
Scottish highland water. Renting the space starts at $5,000.
BEST PLACE TO HAVE YOUR FRIENDS CONGRATULATE YOU ON YOUR NOMINATION
8360 Melrose Ave. | 323.651.5866 | mvink.com
Michael Voltaggio -- the tattooed Top Chef season six winner -- is opening his long-awaited restaurant Ink in September in Michael Ovitz's old Kumo sushi space on Melrose. The main room, with moody gray walls and vintage industrial lighting, gives way to an intimate wine room for six to eight people. It can be booked for a prix fixe menu only, which will highlight Voltaggio's molecular-gastronomy food wizardry. We hear select pieces from Ovitz's art collection (he's an investor) will be hung there. Price details for the private room aren't finalized, but the omakase menu at the bar will run $125.
BEST PLACE FOR A TRENDY YOUNG HOLLYWOOD DINNER
Fig & Olive
8490 Melrose Place | 310.360.9100 | figandolive.com
Since it opened in March, Fig & Olive has attracted the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Alex Pettyfer, Jerry Ferrara and all manner of stars looking for a good time. Despite its very decent Mediterranean food, it has turned into more of a party environment in which you also can have a meal. Women should not show up without a very short dress. There's a light-dappled patio terrace just off the dining room for up to 40 people, while upstairs there is a larger semi-private space with its own bar and a private side entrance (convenient for celebs) that seats 50 to 60. You can also buy out the whole restaurant, which holds up to 300 (an Emmy-night party is already booked). But beware of surly waiters -- they're good-looking and can get a little condescending. The restaurant, with dinner entrees ranging from $26 to $39, would not share the costs of renting the spaces.
BEST PLACE FOR AGENCY ASSISTANTS TO SNEAK AWAY FROM AWARDS-SEASON HELL
9575 W. Pico Blvd. | 310.277.0133 | piccaperu.com
Tucked away on Pico just blocks from the agencies, two-month-old Picca has just added a mezzanine space (bookable for private parties of 40 to 50) that's already luring a young crowd for after-work drinks and bites. Chef Ricardo Zarate -- a foodie star known for his Peruvian eatery Mo-Chica, located in a hard-to-find food court near USC -- creates Latin-American dishes with Japanese influences, such as sushi served on delicately flavored lemon-and-pepper potato. There is no set cost to rent out the mezzanine, but the small (some very small) plates, $6 to $15, add up quickly.
BEST PLACE TO GET DRUNK WHEN YOU KNOW YOU'RE NOT GOING TO WIN
8155 Melrose Ave. | 323.655.5009 | redorestaurant.com
At celebrity chef Rick Bayless' upscale Mexican restaurant, you have to walk through a glass-walled "tequila alley" -- with shelves lined with the 300 brands served here -- to get to the louche-looking lounge, which holds 25 to 40 people and costs $3,000-$6,000 to reserve. Casey Wasserman held his company's holiday party here last year, and DreamWorks hosted a small post-Oscar dinner in February. Bartender/mixologist (or "drink slinger," as he calls himself) Steve Calabro is an absolute fanatic for fresh ingredients, growing organic herbs for his mixed drinks in his home garden. Ask for one of his classic-style daiquiris.
BEST PLACE FOR HARVEY WEINSTEIN TO INFLUENCE TASTEMAKERS
235 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills | 310.271.9910 | bouchonbistro.com
With its high-wattage celebrity chef/owner (Thomas Keller), gorgeous private rooms overlooking gardens and top-flight wine list (ICM's Chris Silbermann gives wine dinners here), there are few places that can impress a group as well as Bouchon. For the right customer (read: no-limits bank account), Keller will personally take care of diners in the 24-seat Escoffier room or the smaller 12-seat Champagne Salon, which comes with a private balcony. The food-and-beverage minimum for the former is $1,500, $1,000 for the latter. Among the high-powered bashes here were CAA's Emmy party last year and Jeffrey Katzenberg's Motion Picture & Television Fund Night Before the Oscars event. Simon Fuller also has hired chef de cuisine Rory Herrmann to cater dinners at his house. The best thing, Fuller says, are "the morning leftovers!"
BEST PLACE FOR A FILMMAKER DINNER WHILE YOUR MOVIE IS PREMIERING IN HOLLYWOOD
6602 Melrose Ave. | 323.297.0100 | osteriamozza.com
During last year's AFI fest, the cast of Barney's Version (along with associated execs and agents) snuck away to Mozza's 23-person private room for a small dinner before heading to the official afterparty. What else are you gonna do when you've already seen the film a dozen times? This space -- many people don't even know it exists -- is off the restaurant's pizzeria doorway, and it shares a wall with the main restaurant's dining room. Event planners praise the versatile menu, which Mozza deftly reworks for special occasions. Ask chef Nancy Silverton to do a complete tasting of her mozzarella dishes. Minimum cost to reserve it on weekends is $2,000; weekdays start at $1,500.
BEST PLACE FOR SCORSESE TO FETE THE BOARDWALK EMPIRE CAST
8706 W. 3rd St. | 310.858.0020 | ilcovo.com
This new Italian restaurant's private dining room calls to mind a Tuscan wine cellar -- if it were on a second floor and had full-length doors that overlooked a patio garden. Owner Sean MacPherson (a creator of Swingers in L.A. and the Bowery Hotel in New York) took over and remodeled the old Orso space for his latest venture. Located at the top of an exterior staircase next to the restaurant's entrance, the still-under-the-radar private room is dominated by three farmhouse tables that can seat 40 with three- and four-course prix fixe menu options ($50 and $80). The restaurant specializes in Italian wines -- have a glass of the Fiano di Avellino to start, or spring for a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino.
BEST PLACE TO HAVE A CAMPAIGN DINNER THE ACADEMY WON'T HEAR ABOUT
SAAM at the Bazaar
465 S. La Cienega Blvd. | 310.246.5545 | thebazaar.com
Most people don't get far enough past the kitschy assault of Philippe Starck's designs for the SLS Hotel's Bazaar restaurant to find this gorgeous hidden room off the hallway leading to the bathrooms. The room, which seats 45 for dinner, has a masculine feel thanks to leather banquettes and amber lighting. Cutting-edge chef Jose Andres' tasting menus -- dishes include hot-and-cold foie gras soup and Iberian ham with caviar -- start at $120 a person, and the wine list is filled with rare Spanish and Hungarian offerings. Among the events here: Christina Aguilera's 30th birthday party with a Clockwork Orange theme, a private True Blood dinner and an NBC affair hosted by Bob Greenblatt during the Television Critics Association tour.
THE MAINSTAYS: Where the Industry Gets Comfortable
Soho House: Love the views, the beautiful-people watching and the clubby, living-room feel of the private rooms. The food is just so-so (on a good night), but for those who like to be seen, it doesn't matter.
Cecconi's: One of the prettiest rooms in town with its large Damien
Hirst "Butterfly" painting. And it's quiet: The noise from the restaurant doesn't bleed into the private dining room.
Spago: There's a reason for Spago's continued success: No event planner ever has been fired for choosing its private room. It might seem old-school, but the public loves the tuna cones and salmon pizzas.
Sunset Tower Hotel: With knockout views from its pool veranda, the hotel -- and its celeb-packed Tower Bar restaurant -- is the setting for the likes of Vanity Fair's Oscar-night party and CAA's Golden Globes postparty.
Chateau Marmont: You can't beat the cachet of the hotel's Room 64. The sixth-floor suite with its massive deck could use a remodel, but the history -- Jim Morrison allegedly hung from the handrails -- and view more than make up for it.
The London: The 10th-floor space is big (it holds 350) with a massive view that stretches from downtown to Catalina. There are not many places where you could have a rooftop BBQ at a wedding reception with Gordon Ramsay's crew overseeing the cooking.