The electric vibrations – that is the Vibrato Grill hit you the minute you step over the threshold. It’s the full-bodied music of whichever pick-up group is playing and the large crowd is either sitting at the bar, mingling or the even greater assemblage is at the dinner tables, licking their fingers, stomping their feet or, totally oblivious, conversing with each other, often in very loud voices. It’s been a very long time since we’ve been in such surroundings, but that’s why we decided to pay a visit to Vibrato Grill, Jazz, etc.
Vibrato’s owner, Herb Alpert of Tijuana Brass fame, has assembled a solid crew behind him: Executive Chef Marc Boussarie, Sous Chef Matthew Couser and General Manager Tuval Ipp, whose warmth and personable qualities help bring sunshine into the dimly lit room. All the front
desk staff, servers and busses, look to be movie stars-in-waiting. Fortunately, Tuval has seen to it that they know how to serve, as well.
Formerly known as Adriano’s, Mr. Alpert came in three years ago and created the restaurant as he wanted it to be: three levels, a huge bar area with the largest, most comfortable stools ever created, décor befitting a jazz musician’s dream and an undulating, soft feel which has the wait staff moving at an extremely fast clip to get from kitchen to table.
The large bread basket arrived at the same time as we did and the water was filled two seconds later. The menu reflects a most diversified compendium of original offerings: eight appetizers, five salads, seven different prime steak entrees and eight other fish, chicken, veal and lamb entrees; ten (overpriced) sides; and eight desserts. Why overpriced sides? The Baked Idaho Potato is six dollars; “loaded”, it’s nine. Oh well, there is no cover charge!
We began our feast with the Farmer’s Market Salad for my lady: mixed baby greens, Roquefort cheese, shaved almonds and garlic vinaigrette dressing which all added up to a large smile of appreciation. My Fingerling Potato Knish consisted of three round knishes, topped with a small slice of smoked salmon, a few champagne toasted mustard seeds with dollops of lemon dill crème fraiche on each side of the massive plate. Though only two bites per knish, they were absolutely delicious if a tad overpriced at thirteen dollars. Oh well, no cover charge!
The “Unnamed” band had just begun their set when we entered and, fortunately, we got a reprieve as our entrees arrived so that we could dine and talk and be heard during this part of our dinner. I selected the “Special” of the night: the prime Kansas City Bone-In and Fran chose the John Dory. Done to a turn, my twenty-ounce hunk of beef was everything a great steak could be: tender, juicy, and brimming with flavor. Their onion rings are simply marvelous and the oven roasted mushrooms are out of this world. Terrific!
Fran lifted two thumbs up at her first forkful of fish. It was surrounded by caramelized fennel, over dried tomatoes and Picholine olives and she remarked that the olives were a clever addition to the mix. Incidentally, you have a choice of any of four sauces with your steak and they are all good! No extra charge here for that.
We completed our dinner with the Empire Apple Tart and an individually prepared carrot cake, both of which were very nice. At ten dollars apiece…, oh well, you know, no cover charge!
Yes, Vibrato is a bit pricey. But they have decided to make it a restaurant first and a jazz place second. Their food is delicious and ample portions are presented. Though very quickly mentioned, their bread basket is a tempting treat, all by itself. No matter, when the mood for music hits you and you crave some solid American fare, Vibrato is your place to be. And, of course, make sure to tell ‘em Joseph sent you. Herb likes me!
Vibrato Grill, 2930 Beverly Glen Circle, Bel Air, CA 90077, Tel. (310) 474-9400
Dinner for two: Approximately $125 w/o alcohol