Fashionable Courtyard – A Great Date
West Hollywood, CA
The indoors area of the Courtyard is comparable to a designer's showroom, inventive and pleasing to the eye. An immediate focal point starts with a creative large suspended glass shelf hanging over sculpted dark Danish tables and chairs. There's also a jewel-like archway separating two indoor rooms lined in brick walls, and lots of glass in the form of French doors. It's very effective under intensity ceiling lights and candles, reflecting on huge abstract multi-colored paintings. The panorama is a combination of new-retro-deco, with aligned schoolroom hooks for garments, and other noticeables to enhance nostalgia. Many production companies have filmed on the premises. But when the weather is nice, everyone wants to be in the courtyard, a most charming place to dine, with lush foliage, twinky lights, a pond, and outdoor bar for cocktails to entice scores of dinner parties.
In addition, the menu has lots of unexpected treats fashioned by Chef and operating partner Albert Silvera. His culinary influences reach around the globe due to living in a multicultural family. He grew up in the kitchen with an Egyptian grandmother, Colombian mother, Italian uncle, and cousins from Spain, Mexico, and several countries in between. He also studied the fine art of Asian cuisine, learning to make sushi from Hiro Nishimora of Matsuhisa. Mama Gallo and Alto Palato restaurants started him off on his career, and now with his partners, James Welch, who never forgot his Cajun roots, and consulting Chef David Lazcano of Madrid, he opened The Courtyard.
This is a charmer that soaks up the local color, with a tempting menu of "small bites" inspired by the Mediterranean. The food is referred to as "Spanish Tapeo," and I was impressed with the new twists and various flavors. One of his signature dishes is snack sized baked bacon-wrapped dates, and after eating one, I dare anyone to stop. They were unmatched, and could have been appetizers or desserts. Another of his specialties includes generously "Stuffed Piquillos," (sweet red peppers filled with cumin-lime blended goat cheese and avocado). He also prepares them filled with sautéed vegetables and Spanish blue cheese sauce; great stuff. Under the fish items, my favorite was the "Cedar Plank Salmon," with lemon, capers, crushed olives and dill. For those looking for Chicken Paella, it's marvelously stuffed with saffron rice and vegetables, or Seafood Paella, with rice, shrimp, mussels and calamari. You're asked to allow 20-minutes for the preparation. Moreover, the assortment of wines and Spanish delicacies are a perfect complement to the West Hollywood scene, along with the big "A" in the window.
Some popular libations are Sangria Royale, made with red wine, fruit & spices; also Peach, Blueberry, Apple, and house White Sangria. You might try the Sake Bloody Mary. And I understand that they're famous for their champagne Watermelon Sangria and Cucumber Martini's.
I won't comment on each item because we truly enjoyed the entire meal. We shared several kinds of seafood and chicken Albondigas, (ground seasoned chicken meatballs simmered in tomato sauce). Some especially popular menu items are spicy North African lamb sausage with spinach and white bean olive tapenade; baby Spanish sausages sautéed with apple cider; also their daily variety of "croquetas" and the Basque Albacore soup. The small plates are adequate for two. Besides lamb chops that were mint crusted & grilled; the Pupusas, a hand made dough filled with black beans, cheese, and zucchini went well with everything. We sort of used it like bread. Their Arugula salad was made with shaved radicchio, candied walnuts, and goat cheese in a honey vinaigrette. Oh, lets not forget the sliced grilled steak on a bed of blue cheese, alongside onion potatoes. I believe you really must see the menu to appreciate its creativity and variety.
Small plates; $6-$13 for salads, soups, & appetizers, seafood & meats; large plates, $15-24. Vegetarians welcome. In addition, this is a great place for dating because it has all the ingredients to impress.
8543 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA; (310)358-0301. Major credit cards Accepted. Open from 4:30pm-7-days. Street parking & valet.
Special events; The restaurant will deliver a tailored menu to your office for $18 per person with a 24-hour notice. Martini Mondays are $5 all night; on Tuesdays, buy one tapa and the second one is 50% off; Wine Wednesdays are half off every bottle of wine. In addition there are two happy hours every day from 5:30pm-6:30pm, and 10:00pm until closing. Among their honors, they have been voted top 10 "Best Small Plates," and best outdoor dining for 2005 and 2006 by CitySearch.
PS: For those interested in The Courtyard's catering, inquire about their exceptional prices. Discounted rates are given to production companies and studios
For more information, visit www.dinecourtyard.com