Design Dish: Gwen RestaurantAuthor:Abigail Stone
Los Angeles is a casual city and its jeans and a t-shirt style often extends to the design of its restaurants. There aren’t many places that feel like a special occasion, whose elegant decor suggests a chance to dress up or to make eating out feel like going out, not just having dinner. Gwen, from Chef Curtis Stone and his brother Luke Stone, is one of them. The decor is one part of the equation.
The restaurant, located on Sunset Boulevard in a 1920s era building, is named after the brothers’ maternal grandmother (their Beverly Hills restaurant Maude is named after their paternal grandmother). It was on her farm that the brothers were first exposed to livestock farming, which instilled in them great respect for the process of raising animals for food, a concept which underlines the eaterie’s menu. A butcher shop on the premises, whose opening preceded the restaurant and whose offerings could be the model for a Renaissance still life, reinforces the restaurant’s meat-centric tasting menu which highlights one animal broken down and cooked in several ways, accompanied by seasonal sides (they also offer a vegetarianoption).
A pale green and pink palette, a nod to the Art Deco stylings of the era which birthed the building, infuses the elegant 80-seat dining room with Old Hollywood glamor. The design team — brothers Evan and Oliver Haslegave of HOME STUDIOS, based out of Brooklyn — are behind a number of award-winning restaurants including June, Sisters, Alameda and Torst in Brooklyn. Gwen is their first foray on the West Coast.
A line of dazzling crystal chandeliers neatly divides the restaurant. Two rows of elegant plush pale sea foam banquettes with high backs march down the center of the large room. Their delicacy is in sharp contrast to the open kitchen and the primitive beauty of the blazing glass-enclosed open fire pit, capped by a shimmering copper hood. Hand-blown pink glass votives light the tables, while pink marble-topped bars encourage imbibing one of the restaurant’s seasonally re-invented cocktails, brightened with fresh produce. Order a round to pair with the a la carte “Butcher Scraps” menu, where odds and ends from the butcher case are transformed into terrines, hams and the not-to-be-missed smoked lamb ribs. Upstairs, a small dining room, with an arched tile ceiling, offers an intimate space for a large group. Whether upstairs or down, dinner at Gwen is an excuse to get dressed up.
Gwen, 6600 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028, (323) 946-7500
Additional photos by Clay Larsen