Those in the Hollywood entertainment circle know that the areas south of Sunset have become the center of production and offices of LA’s massive streaming content boom, the somewhat forgotten, semi-industrial Hollywood Media District. Netflix is poised to open yet another office nearby while numerous other studios have used these flatlands, from the foothills to Paramount, as the facilities of on-screen fiction. In between, restaurants and cafes are opening up to cater to locals, from Tartine to Sightglass Coffee to more established Rao’s. And incoming next week on November 13 is Gigi’s, a stylish, throwback little find that comes from Alexander Wilmot and Samantha Ressler that hearkens both the midcentury panache of Musso & Frank and the vintage feel of New York City’s Bemelman’s Bar and Monkey Bar.
The striking illustrations come from young artist Andie Dinkin, whose arresting, colorful work on the dining room walls beckons one to linger over La Parisienne cocktail, a mixture of clementine vodka, vermouth rouge, pomegranate, grapefruit, balsamic, and dehydrated kalamata olive. A Gigi’s Old Fashioned, also conceived by bar director Courtney Rose (Petit Trois, Jon & Vinny’s), might also conjure modern Mad Men vibes with cognac, combier royal, chocolate chili bitters, and orange oil. The bar is clearly the main focus of the experience, though sadly it won’t accommodate imbibers until the pandemic diminishes significantly. Wine is another strength of Gigi’s, coming from Kristin Olszewski (Osteria Mozza, Husk Nashville), who showcases French and California bottles with emphasis on natural, biodynamic, and organic.
The food menu, which sticks to well-worn and beloved French dishes, comes from executive chef Matt Bollinger, who cooked at Jean-Georges and Trois Familia. More aspirational Regiis Ova caviar comes upon creme fraiche with potato chips, or a hand-chopped steak tartare sauced with gribiche and mustard seeds. A seafood tower of oysters, scallops, shrimp, and king crab helps blow past the expense account minimum while a roasted chicken with lemon-thyme jus and pomme anna makes the whole affair actually feel like supper. Before the pandemic, LA was certainly on the road to following New York City with its love of things French, what with Petit Trois, Lupiotte Kitchen, Bar Restaurant, Pasjoli, Republique, and Tesse coming online in recent years. Gigi’s extends upon the genre with country pate, Parisian gnocchi, and halibut beurre blanc like a small alley bistro, except with gobs of interior design to boot.
The overall look comes from the late architect Osvaldo Maiozzi, who died earlier this year but made Gigi’s his last work. Maiozzi put together iconic restaurants Otium, Bestia, Redbird, and Angelini Osteria, and his imprint on the LA dining scene will likely be felt for years. Andrew Cosbie designed the interior, looking at everything from the linens, textiles, and other tactile elements, like the reclaimed marble flooring, mohair booths, and vintage Italian light fixtures. In addition, interior architect Aejie Rhyu of ARA-la Studio handled details like brass shelving, wood paneling, and millwork. Altogether the look and feel makes it feel like an ageless hotel bar but placed street side amid the part of Tinseltown where actual movie and TV magic happen.
At the moment, the 60-seat dining room is unavailable to patrons due to the restrictions of the novel coronavirus pandemic, but the 40 outdoor seats, spilling out front and to the side alley, will be available for reservations beginning next Friday from 5 p.m. to midnight, Wednesday and Sunday, and until 2 a.m. Thursday to Saturday. Oh and that timeless moniker of Gigi’s? It’s from Ressler’s grandmother.
Gigi’s Hollywood. 904 N. Sycamore Ave. Los Angeles, CA