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W Hotel: Dining at Nine Thirty Restaurant

On a Saturday night my guest and I met at Nine Thirty Restaurant,  the trendy looking new restaurant at the W Hotel in Westwood, CA at address 930 Hilgard Avenue.  Their claim to fame in dining is  “modern American cuisine with global influences.”  Before our tongues are privy to tantalizing global influences, we find parking to be scant in the area so we opt  to valet park.  Then we proceed up the glowing neon green steps, bearing left to enter the dimly lit restaurant.  Expected for the restaurant review, we were warmly received and given great service throughout the night.  We took a long time to order because much like the Cheesecake factory, the menu is extensive.  The sections are divided into small plates, medium plates and large size meal options.  The small meal options are mainly vegetarian.  The menu item choices are an impressive cultural assortment.

Despite, no love for onion rings I taste the onion rings which my dining companion orders and find myself pleasantly surprised.  In a Los Angeles Examiner article, I devote a whole story to what I consider my best onion rings experience ever.  I encourage reading the article at http://www.examiner.com/x-9408-LA-Comfort–Soul-Food-Restaurant-Examiner~y2009m12d10-A-Best-Onion-Ring-Story-at-Nine-Thirty-Restaurant-at-the-W-Hotel .  They are simply amazing.

Executive Chef Monique King provides a delightful evening of creative cuisine. As for my first item ordered, I go for the butternut squash soup which is rich with multiple flavors.  Every ingredient makes its individual mark yet congeals into superb fluidity.  For dinner my dining companion has the lamb chops with chipotle mashed sweet potatoes.  The meat is tender and the mash sweet potatoes is not over-powered with spice.  My dish is the Barramundi(fish) with artichoke hush puppies.  There seems to be a running theme of Southwest meets the Mediterranean influence in the meals.  The Barramundi is cooked to perfection with a just enough crispy texture on the outside to compliment tender flakes of meat in the inside.

(Featured in Photo: Barramundi with artichoke hush puppies)

The evening ends on a sweet note.  Desserts would include chocolate ganache cake with a rum raisin ice cream, strawberry shortcake and chocolate s’more bread pudding.   Two out of three desserts are winners.  The chocolate ganache is beautifully presented and more importantly tasty.  However, I yearned for more from the flavor of the rum raisin ice cream.  As the ice cream melted the rum flavor grew in prominence.  I give the concept of the ice cream an “A” for originality.  The strawberry shortcake comes across as spring delight, strong in citrus flavor among the various berries.  The bread pudding is too dry for my taste.  Great concept but it needs to be more moist. 

Nine Thirty Restaurant is a great night on the town choice.

Pricing: Small Plates ($10), Medium Plates (Under $15) and Large (Under $30)

Website: http://www.ninethirtyw.com

(Photo Credit: Crystal A. Johnson- Executive Chef Monique King)

Review by Restaurant Critic Crystal Johnson, Los Angeles Comfort Food Examiner and the Valley Scene Magazine

When Fine Dining Meets Comfort

Fine dining restaurants are full service restaurants with specific dedicated meal courses. Décor of such restaurants feature higher quality materials with an eye towards the “atmosphere” desired by the restaurateur. The wait staff is usually highly trained and often wears more formal attire. Fine-dining restaurants are almost always small businesses, and are generally either single-location operations or have just a few locations.-(Wikepedia)

More and more, people are looking for the perks on fine dining in more casual but chic environments.  Patrons want good service, superb wine lists, creative presentation and splendid food.  Lamb chops followed by bread pudding dessert seems to find their way on the same menu more often.

(Photo Credit: MCCN at Nine Thirty Restaurant W Hotel)