Caulfield’s is full of surprises. As the dining room in the Beverly Hills Thompson Hotel—-just a baguette’s throw from tony Rodeo Drive-- you might suppose the place would be stiff and formal with a kind of generic hotel dining room menu.
But the recently revitalized spot defies this expectation. The menu walks a razor-thin line between deliciously decadent (acorn-fed Spanish pork) and super healthy (kale salad with pine nuts and raisins).
Veteran restaurateurs Laurie Mulstay and Ron Marino salvaged an uninspired space and gave it an intimate retro clubby feel with dark woods, crisp white tablecloths and antiqued mirrors that lend a burnished glow.
They’ve brought in chef Stephen Kalt whose spectacularly original take on Cal-Mediterranean cooking has been honed since the days he worked beside Daniel Boulud at Le Cirque, New York and headed Corsa Cucina at the Wynn in Vegas.
Now word is getting around the neighborhood that the formerly nondescript dining room is a food-lovers destination and Caulfield’s is drawing a crowd that’s as eclectic L.A. itself.
On one evening a lone German traveler relaxing in one of the cozy leather booths beyond the bar orders the house-made charcuterie and artisan salumi patter. Kalt changes this selection frequently: presently it’s duck rilletts and rabbit terrine along with capicola and duck ham presented on a wooden board with thick crusty rustic bread and condiments.
Craft cocktails change with the seasons. A guy sitting with friends at the long marble table in front of the bar passes around his Rye-ality, a libation of fresh grapefruit juice spiked with rye whiskey and serrano pepper. If you’re not into such liquid adventures the bar is equally adept at mixing up quality classics.
Kalt has a fantastic way with farmers’ market veggies which seems to please a group of young women indulging in a girls’ night out. Shopping bags piled around their feet, they’re dipping meaty tempura-fried artichoke hearts into caper- anchovy aioli while perusing the vegetarian options intended for sharing. “Roasted beet salad with pumpkin seeds looks good,” one speculates. “The napoleon of spinach, Swiss chard and broccolini sounds pretty incredible,” offers another. Soon the table is a maze of dishes that include a grilled pizzette covered in pesto and burrata cheese along with several pastas.
Carnivores have definitely not been forgotten. Meats –including that acorn-fed Spanish pork-- are all grilled over Japanese-style hard oak bincho charcoal.
If you still have room after a butter-poached lobster sandwich with applewood smoked bacon on brioche toast or brined fried chicken with whipped potatoes and gravy, then by all means investigate the desserts.
The caramelized Fuji Apple layered over crunchy, buttery sbrisolona tart comes with spicy ginger gelato. And there are succulent bomboloni (round Italian doughnuts) filled with vanilla cream and served with house made jam.
But everything—including the small plates—is so generously served you may have to plan another trip for those.
9360 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. (310)388-6860