My LA Lifestyle - April 2012

Palm Restaurant

By Dorte Lambert

About once a month I have a meal with Peter Nelson, otherwise known as my father’s best friend. Peter knew me since before I was born and I am the daughter he never had.

This Friday afternoon Peter invited me to The Palm in West Hollywood, steeped in tradition, tried and true, warm and cozy, just like us.

The Palm opened in 1926. It is where the classic traditional steak house began and the standard was set. A quote from the well crafted and informative Palm website reads, “At The Palm, our philosophy is simple: Treat guests like family, serve great food, and always exceed expectations. That philosophy was born in 1926, when Pio Bozzi and John Ganzi opened the first Palm in New York City. From day one, Pio and John shared their commitment to quality and generosity of spirit with every guest who walked through their doors. What began as a restaurant became a legend – a place to not only enjoy an excellent meal but also to catch up with old friends, meet new ones, close business deals, and celebrate family milestones.

Still owned and operated by members of the Bozzi and Ganzi families, The Palm continues to serve as a second home for countless patrons, thanks to the exceptional standard of hospitality established by our founders.” There are now 32 Palm locations in the United States.

For many years Peter and his family have celebrated milestones at The Palm. This day Peter wanted to share with me his favorite Palm meal. We started with a glass of Prosecco (my idea) and a plate of crispy, warm and extremely addicting fried onions and homemade potato chips, known as the half and half.

The most famous dish on the menu is known as Gigi Salad, green beans, tomatoes, onion, bacon and shrimp in a light vinaigrette. The Gigi is named after Gigi Delmaestro, West Hollywood Palm general manager for 27 yrs. This is where is gets tricky, regulars know to only say “Gigi “ and only the true insiders know that when you say West Coast Gigi it comes with hard boiled egg and avocado.

Of course you can’t help from noticing that the walls are covered in caricatures and cartoons. This tradition started when the restaurant opened and the partners had no money to decorate. They commissioned cartoonists who worked nearby to draw on the walls in exchange for their meals. The flagship Palm located on 2nd Avenue in New York City is considered a living museum . The tradition continues today and before a new restaurant opens, 200 to 300 local notables likenesses are placed on the walls and new ones added regularly.

For our main course we had double cut lamb chops and they were out of this world. Just the right amount of everything: taste, cooked to perfection and a little bit of crispy fat left on the bone! So delicious. Along with our chops we ordered asparagus and garlic which came to the table hot as can be, still crunchy and the garlic caramelized.

Dessert was a “hot bag of doughnuts” . These are brought to the table in a bag, poured out onto a white platter and served with a side of fresh whipped cream as well as two sauces: chocolate and raspberry. I challenge my fellow diners to try and eat these without licking your lips. It’s impossible.

It is highly unusual for a restaurant to have it’s doors open for over 85 years. On that day Peter and I ate better then we had in a while, enjoyed sharing our new events and going over the old. We experienced fantastic, caring and warm service from a gentleman named Kenny and I can understand why this establishment has worked for as long as it has. You just feel good being there.

Thank you Palm and Peter for a lovely late Friday lunch.

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