After finally updating the decor a couple of years ago at the Langham Huntington Hotel's fine-dining restaurant and bringing in Patina alum David Féau (after the departure of big name chef Michael Voltaggio), the Royce is doing a 180.
In late 2010 the hotel lined up Féau and ex-Patina sommelier Eric Espuny and spent a fortune dressing up the place with skirted chairs and little sofas, a chef's table and not one but two glamorous glassed-in wine rooms -- white and red. Féau planted an organic garden and reveled in cooking special dinners around truffles or regional French dishes.
"Keep the fat lady waiting in the wings. It's not over yet. Fine dining, I mean, and the new Royce at the Langham Huntington is proof," said a March 2011 review in The Times.
Now comes an announcement that the restaurant is temporarily closed and will reopen March 15 as The Royce/Wood-Fired Steakhouse "with an exciting new menu" and a new chef. The new restaurant will be "overseen" by chef Anthony Zappola, who has been chef de cuisine at Craft in Los Angeles and Dallas. Overseen?
The steakhouse will have what has become the new norm for a contemporary restaurant of this sort: American prime beef, Australian wagyu and Japanese kobe, along with seafood and vegetable sides.
The decor will remain the same. Given its girly look, that may not be the best fit for a steakhouse. The wine program will continue, with the two wine rooms now used for pre- and post-dinner drinks, wine tasting classes and other events.
What of Féau or Espuny? "Chef David Féau and Eric have both moved on," public relations manager Susan Williger says. "David is pursuing other projects and should have an announcement in the coming months."
To note: The original emailed release includes an advertisement of sorts for the Langham, touting the fact that the hotel was the "stunning backdrop of ABC's "The Bachelorette: Ashley and J.P.'s Wedding." Expect to be seated next to avid fans of "The Bachelorette" talking wedding plans as you tuck into your T-bone.
Meanwhile, Rao’s Restaurant Group -- as in Rao's the tiny Harlem Italian restaurant notorious for the difficulty with which one could come by a table -- announces that it will open a Hollywood location at 1006 Seward St., currently the Hollywood Canteen. The partners are planning for a late spring/early summer opening, a release says.
"We’ve had our eye on California for quite some time and think opening a Rao's in Hollywood is a natural progression for our family," said managing partner Frank Pellegrino Jr. -- whose father, Frank Pellegrino Sr., was known as Frankie No -- the nickname a reference to the answer he so often gave when people asked for a table.
Rao's opened a second location in Las Vegas in 2006 with executive chef Carla Pellegrino, a couple of 10-table rooms and some patio seating in Caesar's Palace. (It now also has a bocce bar outside where cocktails and bocce lessons are offered.)
Rao’s Restaurant Group says the Hollywood Rao's will serve dinner six days a week -- traditional Rao’s classics such as its meatballs and lemon chicken, along with contemporary dishes created for this location. There will be both indoor and outdoor seating, accommodating a total of 95 guests -- maybe Martin Scorsese among them?