In 2021, a handful of ambitious and impressive restaurants opened in Hollywood’s central core. From historic stretches on Sunset Boulevard to the Cahuenga Corridor, dining rooms feel reimagined (and slightly less touristy) with newcomers like the incredibly popular Horses, forthcoming Mes Amis from chef Lincoln Carson, and Superba Food + Bread’s revamped Cat & Fiddle/Hearth & Hound space. Joining those ranks this Thursday is the three-story Grandmaster Recorders, the newest and grandest project from the team behind E.P. & L.P. and Strings Of Life, the Botanical Hospitality Group.
Grandmaster Recorders resides in a 15,000-square-foot space, sitting across the street from the former Amoeba Music and directly behind the former Jack In The Box on Sunset, with entrances on both Ivar and Cahuenga. Inside is a restaurant, lounge, and rooftop bar with some stunning views of the Hollywood Hills and Capitol Records Building. And, as the name implies, the building holds significant history as a former recording studio. It’s all something to behold, especially the Cahuenga-side entry, lined with glam and gold-filled tributes to the history behind the building, complete with commemorative albums from artists who recorded there.
Those sitting in the adjoining 71 Studio Bar can revel in the thought that the world’s biggest recording artists created masterpieces in this space. David Bowie recorded here, Stevie Wonder rehearsed his classic album Songs In The Key Of Life in the same room, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers secured their early work within these walls. So too did Kanye West, who in 2005 created his second album Late Registration on the same property.
Botanical owners David Combes and Grant Smillie took over the space four years ago and envisioned something huge. The Australian-born partners hoped to find a chef that could match the energy of the building. The self-described “elevated coastal Italian and Australian-inspired restaurant” is what’s for dinner. To understand this direction, one has to meet chef Monty Kulodrovic or at the very least, taste his food.
Kulodrovic is a fairly recent transplant to the United States after Smillie recruited him from Australia to serve as culinary director for Botanical Hospitality Group. (He landed just before the pandemic began.) Kulodrovic brought his wife and pastry chef Jaci and their two sons to Los Angeles, only to go on lockdown with the rest of the world in 2020. While getting his bearings in a new city, Kulodrovic took time and his extensive experience to develop the Grandmaster Recorders menu, along with West Hollywood’s E.P. and Strings Of Life.
Grandmaster Recorders’ menu is 100 percent rock and roll. Like the restaurant, the music genre had roots in the U.S. and evolved into different and new techniques by taking inspiration from everywhere and boldly producing its own flavors and style. Kulodrovic’s got a passion for crudo, with a raw bar menu that’ll rotate fresh seafood like the Baja tuna insalata with a pickled persimmon, radish, caviar, and crunchy sourdough croutons covered in schmaltz. Also on deck are the sea urchin with orange, chives, a Japanese kosho flavor and seaweed crisps. For those who feel especially indulgent, caviar service is also available.
The secondi menu touts two cavatellis, one made with handmade sourdough and the other with squid ink pasta. Mains include a butterflied chicken piccata, a Queensland-raised wagyu, and the Maine lobster stew with fish, mussels, clams, seasonal vegetables, and lobster knuckle grits. A note about Jaci Kulodrovic’s desserts: the passionfruit sorbetto is refreshing and a gorgeous presentation, but her Weiss chocolate tiramisu in the shape of a mini-album is sure to be a hot seller, Instagrammed far and wide.
Cocktails are by Milosz Cieslak, who has a penchant for European-style gin and tonics. A martini paired with a caviar “bump” is best showcased here, among the walls that hosted likely plenty of rock and roll shenanigans. Maude and Republique veteran sommelier — more recently assistant wine director at Bicyclette — Devon Darcangelo curated the nearly 2,000 bottle wine list in the two temperature-controlled rooms.
Beyond the restaurant, Grandmasters can and will satisfy any group of cocktail-seekers at the 71 Studio Bar while staring at the massive disco ball. Then there’s the 4,000-square-foot rooftop deck for drinks and bites like the 48-hour fermented dough wood-fired pizzas that are absconded to the roof within 30 seconds by a dumbwaiter.
Grandmaster Recorders is particularly personal for Grant Smillie. The restaurant owner is also an accomplished house music producer and DJ from Melbourne who personally oversaw the detailed playlists and sound systems for each room. Grandmaster Recorders restaurant is open daily from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., while the 71 Studio Bar operates from 7 p.m. until 2 a.m. From Monday through Friday, the rooftop welcomes drinkers from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from noon until 2 a.m. Best to nab a reservation on Resy, but they’ll accept walk-ins only for the rooftop and 71 Studio Bar.