A Decadent Valentine’s Day Dinner at the Shangri-La Hotel
I was privileged to sup at The Dining Room at the Shangri-La Hotel on Valentine’s Day, a place that’s becoming a favorite spot of mine. I have put in my time working in hotels in my youth, and can’t say I care much for them at this point in my life, but the Shangri-La is not your typical hotel. When you enter, there’s no big lobby or front desk area. There’s the wonderful dark, clubby Dining Room on the one hand, and only a very small, equally inviting lounge area on the other. Somewhere in between the two, there’s an unobtrusive desk, so someone is ready to help direct you, if you need it. And then there’s that beautiful luxurious courtyard, a perfect spot for escaping the craziness of So Cal just outside.
Ah- but back to dinner. I was intrigued by the announcement that Chef Dakota Weiss was creating a menu with as she put it “the decadence of 18th century icons such as Marquis De Sade and King Louis XV” as inspiration to “entice and excite the public.” Hmm- last time I checked the Marquis de Sade doesn’t exactly conjure up a positive image in the public psyche. On the other hand, I am a New Orleanian, and hence, do have a healthy streak of hedonism, so I’m down with being enticed by a bit of decadence.
When my guest and I arrived, we were greeted by a “masqued” hostess (the servers were all “masqued”, too). Okay, it was also Mardi Gras weekend, so I immediately felt a kinship. The room was punctuated (but not overwhelmed- a good sign, I thought) with dark red column candles, and blood red roses.
Before we knew it, our server was placing the first of three platters of tasty treats to share before us- little nibbles of all sorts of things we could eat with our fingers- grilled asparagus spears with a luscious truffle mayonnaise, tiny little oysters prepared three ways, bright red lipstick peppers filled with creamy brandade, juicy, ripe strawberries for dipping in honey, chocolate and citrus sugar. Your LA2LA Chef perfectly agrees with, and encourages this style of eating on Valentine’s Day. (You can click here to check out a brief article written by yours truly a couple of years back on the subject.)
I had the chance to ask Dakota Weiss some questions after dinner- you know- about the Marquis de Sade and all. Here’s what she had to say…