Review: Polite & Unoffensive
How do you feed the wealthiest, prettiest and oftentimes most famous faces in America? It’s a daunting question but one that the restaurant in the Beverly Hills Four Seasons cannot avoid. Culina bills itself as a “modern take on classic Italian” and the contemporary interior doesn’t say otherwise. The food sings a different tune and falls short of embracing the notion of the modern, save for the fancy breadsticks.
Culina is a beautiful restaurant filled with beautiful people. A dark limegreen and oak wood color scheme is current, clean and classy. There is track lighting and crystal everything everywhere. People feel comfortable here and where the lighting is dim, the old elite take pleasure in eating under the shadows. The new elite take the big tables, cover them in half-finished bottles of champagne and white wine and text on their blackberries. What’s for dinner? They don’t really care.
Piccoli Patti – $12
I do care. Navigating through Culina’s menu takes time. There are lots of choices, all sparsely described and all carrying tasty potential. I started with a three plate “piccoli piatti,” which is to say three small servings of my choice of cheese, vegetables or meat. I decided on crimini mushrooms with chianti vinaigrette, artichokes with rosemary and lemon and red beets with sicilian pistachio (?!). At this point you expect me to describe the flavors of the three vegetables. Sadly, there is little flavor to tell you about. The beets were beets, the artichokes were bland and the mushrooms were unappealing. There is nothing going on here. Look away.
Crudo Sampler – $23
I continued with a crudo sampler of salmon seasoned with caper salt and a blood orange, ahi tuna with ginger oil, coriander seed and lemon salt and yellowtail with star anise oil and orange sea salt. There is little to say about the ahi tuna but the salmon and yellowtail deserve blog space. The salmon was remarkably tender and fresh and worked well with the blood orange. Both the salmon and the orange came through at the right moments. The yellowtail is special because this was my first time trying orange salt. It is exactly that too, tasting like an orange and then like salt. The rapid switch from sweet to salty with the fish was refreshing.
Bucatini alla Carbonara – $20
Finished with pasta carbonara (pancetta, scallion, black pepper, egg ). The thick noodles, the yokey egg, and the black pepper embodied the spirit of carbonara. Too bad the dish was so heavily salted. Enjoyable but I needed several glasses of water to reach the bottom of the bowl.
So how do you feed pretty people? The answer is with spa food, polite food. Stuff that doesn’t get messy or ugly on or off the plate. Flavors are straightforward without being bold. There are no surprises at Culina, and that’s not a bad thing for a restaurant in a hotel, emphasis on the hotel.
Culina at Four Seasons Beverly Hills
300 S Doheny Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90048