Sept. 18, 2013
I have been to many events at the 4 Star W Hotel in Westwood, and have nibbled on small party bites, but never did the full grand tour of this marvelous restaurant. The W’s Nine Thirty lives up to its great name. I met Executive Chef Dakota at The Taste of LA, she was so sweet and stylish, and I just could not wait to come to her fantastic restaurant when she invited me!
Dakota, is a French Trained Executive Chef for Choice Hospitality and The W Los Angeles, she attended, A.O.S Culinary Arts, S.C.I. Born and raised in Lancaster California, she began cooking at a young age and credits her mother, suspense novelist Charmaine Coimbria, for introducing her to the kitchen. At a tender age, Dokota would gather fresh organic produce from her Mom’s garden and pickle them.
Moving to Santa Fe New Mexico when she was 12. Dakota would eventually attend New Mexico State University where she found her real passion in cooking. After graduating top of her class from Scottsdale Culinary Institute in1997 she went to work under Chef Jeff Drew at Coyote Café and spent three years there cultivating her talents.
After that, she worked at the Ritz-Carlton including the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta where she made a name for herself working closely with Chef Bruno Menard and returned to Los Angeles to work for Jer-ne Restaurant and Bar at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina Del Rey. Chef Dakota worked at Sunset Tower Hotel’s Tower Bar and moved to Philadelphia to help open Stephen Starr’s restaurant Parc.
Although she has lived and traveled all over the country, Chef Weiss will always consider Southern California home and worked at Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica before arriving at W Los Angeles. As the executive chef at W Los Angeles in Westwood, Chef Weiss oversees all kitchen operations for the hotel including renowned restaurants, NINETHIRTY and The Backyard. Having been on Bravo’s Top Chef season 9, and making it to top 16, has made Chef Dakota a celebrity.
Her culinary skills have received honors by some of Los Angeles’ toughest critics including Los Angeles Times, Gayot.com and other notable publications. While at Jer-ne, she was named “Best New Chef” by Angeleno magazine, and in 2013 Hot Chef from Eater LA. As Chef Weiss says, “If you don’t love what you do, then you might as well quit.” She believes in bold tastes, but is committed to unique, yet simple and light dishes.
My waiter for the evening was Derek Caldwell is an actor who was in the cult film hit, Sharknado. Originally from Nebraska, he got the job in the film from a producer customer that came into Nine Thirty. In the movie, he played an angry New Jersey driver. Previously, he worked at The Cheesecake Factory for 6 ½ years. Derek added some elegance and knowledge to my most incredible dinner.
The general manager Jason Zucker hails from Philadelphia and worked with Wolf Gang Puck for 1-½ years. Busboy Jacob’s uncle helped got him his job at Nine Thirty. His uncle is a very famous guy around here; he has worked for the W and its predecessor The Marquis for 35 years and now, he only works breakfast. I am hoping to come back and do a stay-cation in the near future.
Here’s what I tried:
Cousa Squash Carpaccio tempura shishito peppers, yuzu-pumpkin vinaigrette. This dish is for the health conscious calorie watcher, it is very tasty as well.
Local Fresh Shucked Oysters with shallots, vinegar, chile. The nice little fish eggs on the top give this dish an added hint of the ocean.
Char-Grilled Thick-Cut Hobbs Bacon with apple, habanero chimichurri, and the bacon has the grill marks still on it, really nice touch. The apple gives it a perfect sweet balance.
Grilled Abalone with charred leek, blackened, habanero vinaigrette. Little mini abalones adorn this beautiful presentation, with the mashed potatoes oozing out of the real abalone shell.
Roasted Eggplant with seared ricotta salatta, marinated anchovies. Very tangy and sour, with lots of olive and capers. If you like a more pungent eggplant dish then this one is for you.
White Corn Bisque smoked queso fresco, jalapeno pistou, so mouth watering; it is creamy with very complex charred corn flavors, the best corn soup ever.
Diver Scallops summer bean succotash, grill corn vinaigrette. It comes steaming hot, yet the scallops are perfectly cooked and not rubbery.
Beef Bourguignon with pappardelle noodles, roasted market vegetables in red wine sauce. This is so homey, like Mom’s pot-roast but very French. The mushrooms make it heavenly. Most of their meat is grass feed from Neiman Ranch in Montana
Ninethirty Cheeseburger with fiscalini aged white cheddar, malt vinegarailoi, fried pickles, pretzel bun, sweet potato fries. OMG, what a burger, oozing with juicy goodness. The fried pickles are so interesting; they are cut long and are a great addition. With all the burgers that I’ve tried I have never had fried pickles in my hamburger. The sweet potato waffle fries are cooked so perfect, they are huge and could be a meal in itself.
Roasted Rare Prime Rib twice baked potato, fresh shaved black truffles. The black truffles on the top are so tantalizing, and very decadent.
Potato Puff black truffle fondue, black honey, lardons, and chives. This dish is a showstopper. Not only delicious but also really great eye candy. I would order this one every time.
They served me 3 different desserts, all were a work of art and all delicious.
These are the wines I tried:
Masi Masianco, Pinot Grigio & Verduzzo Venezia, Italy 2011, this wine went great with the Cousa Squash Carpaccio. It is sweet and a little sparkling but matched very well.
Provenance, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley 2011, great flavors, rich and fruity but still nice and light. I would try this wine with the very fresh oysters; the wine takes away the fishy oyster essence.
Groth Chardonnay, Napa Valley, and 2009 Carmel vanilla, perfect, with everything you would want from a Chardonnay wine. I paired this with the lovely scallops.
Jordan Chardonnay Russian River 2010, fruity lots of peach, caramel, salty and oak. The corn bisque worked great with this wine; it doesn’t over power the smooth creamy rich goodness of the soup.
Orogeny, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley 2011, I would drink this wine with the eggplant dish, it matched the strength in the ricotta salatta cheese.
Catena, Malbec, Vista Flores, Argentina 2010, rich full bodied cherries, leather tobacco, great color and viscosity. This was velvety smooth, went great with the Beef Bourguignon.
Clos du Val, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2009, got to do this wine with the prime rib. This is a great full-bodied Cabernet, full of cherry, and other spicy scents.
The style here is fine dining but you can wear denim with a blazer. Fancy but cool and hip. Their music is understated new age type “Cowboy Junkies” and heaven-song Nouvelle Vague – Group.
The interior is very sleek with a gorgeous sunburst light fixture, very Jetsons 60’s feel. Dark wood tables set against Asian inspired coconut shells walls. Not so much your everyday ritzy hotel and restaurant interior, it manages to be very stylish and still speak to a foodie crowd. There is also a patio, which is an extension of the dining room, with dark velvet upholstered seating and exposed concrete walls. It has kind of like a 19th century schoolhouse feel. So if you like out door dining, you can sit under the stars in comfy sofas by a lush outdoor fireplace.
I am always so amazed by all the wonderful experiences in fine dining that I am exposed to through my website. I’m truly blessed. Still, I get so excited by the thought of really great food. I was not disappointed by this bold, enchanting cuisine. Classy, upscale Nine Thirty has it all with exceptionally delicious fare!