I believe that things happen for a reason, call it fate, or destiny, but things that may seem "bad" can actually lead to something good. I got a call today saying a reservation I had made for lunch at Tiger in Beverly Hills was canceled because they were preparing for a grand opening night. With about an hour to spare, I found a reservation at Il Grano.
Il Grano was recommended to me by a local hotel concierge as a good place to take my vegetarian friends, so I went today with my pescatarian (fish eating vegetarian) friend Cindy. With plenty of public parking directly behind the restaurant and quite literally only a few blocks from the freeway, this was an easy place to get to and find.
Walking into the light clean dining room was a harbinger of the light clean food on the menu. Many items are locally sourced or organic, and the chef is wise enough to allow the fresh flavors to speak for themselves.
The bread rolls were soft and tasty even without the olive oil offered.
I chose the prix fixe Sal's lunch because the fish special of Halibut with sauteed spinach, asparagus and capers in a buerre blanc sauce was to be my choice, and the prix fixe included either a salad or tartare of the day, fish or pasta of the day, and gelato for $19.
Cindy chose the daily special of yellow carrot soup ($8) with artichoke chips as her appetizer and offered me a taste; it was a creamy non dairy soup that was as satisfying and comforting as it looked.
I chose the salad as my first course of Sal's lunch and it came with a nice melange of heirloom beets, Fuji apples and Bronte pistachios on Coleman farm's baby lettuces.
Cindy's appetizer portion salad ($13) was a bigger more artfully designed version of my menu starter salad.
My main course was the wonderful halibut, seared and crusty on the outside and tenderly cooked on the inside. The beurre blanc was so good that I ate all the fish and green vegetables just to eat every drop of it. Cindy said she had not seen me clean a plate like that in a long time.
Dessert for me was a scoop of their homespun gelato, which was so creamy that even non chocolate lover Cindy liked it. Our expert waitress was kind enough to offer her a scoop of the vanilla since she was not sure if she wanted a dessert. Cindy liked it so much she finished her scoop even though she was "full".
Salvatore Marino, the chef and owner came by all the tables to personally say thank-you for coming for lunch and to ask what we thought of the food. It was with complete sincerity when we told him we loved everything and would be back. Wouldn't everyone want to come back to a restaurant which served food as light and fresh as the decor, with professional staff and a warm owner who personally checks in with his guests?