Go to Beso, You Might Just Get a Kiss on the Cheek From Eva, I Did!

FoodBuzz and Visa Signature hosted an evening of fine and fun dining at Beso (Spanish for kiss) in Hollywood. I was one of the few lucky Los Angeles area bloggers who snagged a seat at the table.

Beso is very Hollywood, very glam and uber-chic. It is co-owned by the ultra-fabulous, stunningly beautiful Eva Longoria Parker and Todd English (yep, that Todd English).

Being such an LA hotspot, it is (as you can imagine) pitch black dark in the place.

All the better for the celebrities to hide in the corners. But all this cavernous black space is made sparkly and ethereal through the use of appropriately placed lighting. Lighting in the form of the most beautiful, other worldly, chandaliers you have ever seen. These beauties have the effect of drawing your eyes up and away from all the glamorous people dining around you towards the twinkling lights set way above your head in the main dining room. Which is not a bad thing at all. In fact, it is sort of transporting.

beso restaurant menu sippitysup foodbuzzBut FoodBuzz obviously has some pull, because we were seated just outside the main dining area in a semi-private alcove that had it own semi-sheer curtain. We could pull that thing open and shut at our whim. Just in case you don’t want to have Paula Abdul watching your every move.

We met the rest of the FoodBuzz Publishers and Visa Signature cardholders, as well as FB big wigs Ryan (the girl) Stern and Dorian Asch, at the bar. Which was made of marble and I swear was floating about 6 inches off the ground.

I was not there 1 minute before being “recognized” by Dorian. This is Hollywood. It is very important to be “recognized” where ever you go. Dorian provided us with a tasty red sangria, which is a specialty of the house. Sip, sip. Yum, yum.

As hip as the bar was, the super elegant dining room was just begging us to come sit amongst its splendor. So we took our seats and introduced ourselves to the people sitting near us. I was seated next to Abby of Pleasure Palate and Barbara of Table Conversation. Across from me were Ryan and Dorian– you know, from FoodBuzz. The rest of the table included: Ken, Rico of The Culinary Image, Wendy of Pink Stripes, Esi of Dishing Up Delights, Michael of South Bay Foodies, Annalise, Adam of Viva La Foodies, Krissy of The Food Addicts, Daniel, and Nancy of Food Art LA. The conversation was easy and lively as this group of people had a love of food in common.

But I noted a huge lull in the conversation as soon as the duo of guacamole starters hit the table. The first was a super chunky, very familiar avocado version. It was a bit milder than I usually prefer, but this was the beginning of the meal and probably not the best time to overpower the palate with too much heat.

There was also an artichoke “guacamole” which was served with some artichoke leaves  and za’taar smeared pita triangles. This Mediterranean classic seemed very Todd English to me. In fact on another trip to Beso I was so impressed with this dip that I went home and invented my own version. You can find my recipe here.

The appetizers were beautifully presented “family style” and included 2 very pretty flatbreads, one with a smart combination of shrimp and chorizo. The other plain with  classic spicy Margarita sauce on the side. There was a selection of tacos too. I split one with another diner and snagged one of the plantains out of another. But while my attention was turned to the wine the rest of the taqueria took flight!

The wine that captured my attention was a Granache “Gran Feudo” Bodegas Julian Chivite. Pink wines always get my attention. This particular pink wine was a Spanish version and was a particularly racy shade of pink. My guess is that this one was produced by the saignee method. Which keeps the skins intact for a bit of the gravity “pressing” (which is not really a pressing at all). But this is just a guess. If anyone knows better please let me know.

This wine was very nice. It hit all the right notes with bright, acidic berry flavors. In fact it was everything you’d expect from a fruity rosé. But not particularly memorable.

The fish course (oh, a fish course is so civilized!) consisted of a perfectly cooked scallop. It was served with a savory and rich tasting bit of potato and a beet and fennel “salsa”. It was divine!

It came with an glass of Albariño, Don Olegario. Which impressed me, because after all, this is California. We did not choose our own wines. I expected to see a California wine at this stage. It’s an easy place to bring out a “crowd pleaser” But I never saw a wine list. Maybe there are no “crowd pleasers” on the list. That would be refreshing!

Instead we got a very smart wine choice. It had the tanginess of lemon with a very floral bouquet. This was no light white wine though. I’d say medium-bodied with (to borrow a fun phrase from my brother Sip!) a strong pressence of “wet gravel”. Making it a wonderful foil to the subdued texture and delicate flavor of the scallop. But at the same time this minerality was matched by the sweet earthiness of the beet combination. I thought it was a well done pairing, and the highlight of the meal.

foodbuzz at BesoAnd in case you were still hungry, there was meat. In the form of both beef and chicken. The meat dishes were very tasty and had Latin influenced chili rubs. To me the best part of these courses were the side dishes. I am always a sucker for the creative take on a classic and these panzanellas certainlly filled those shoes nicely. I particularly liked the “bread salad” that had tortillas standing in for the bread.

There was also paella! But my bloated belly barely remembers it!

We ended the evening with (of course) the super talked about (everywhere in Los Angeles at least), Beso Churros with sweet dipping sauce.

And speaking of sweet. The sweet lady that runs the place (Yep, Eva!) stopped by our table and planted the sweetest little kiss on  my cheek!

Beso, Eva– Beso!


Greg Henry