Tuna carpaccio, eggplant Parmesan, and other coastal Mediterranean dishes will soon be served at Espelette, a new fine-dining hotel restaurant taking over the closed Jean-Georges space at the lobby level of the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills. Helmed by culinary director and chef Steve Benjamin (previously at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas), who has been with the Waldorf Astoria team since 2017, the European-focused Espelette will open on May 12.
Benjamin says that intentional simplicity is key at Espelette, where seasonal produce is put on center stage. The restaurant’s namesake is the espelette pepper from southwest France, characterized by its subtle heat and bright red coloring that transforms a dish once it’s dried and ground. In France, the pepper is often used as a flavor enhancer, rather than a blowout vehicle for spice on meat and seafood.
That subtle simplicity is mirrored broadly in Espelette’s entrees, pastas, and wood-grilled proteins. Benjamin is pushing a hotel-friendly menu that leans into European influences by way of Italy, Spain, and Greece, plus fancier dishes like caviar scrambled eggs with Bordier butter, chives, espelette peppers, and creme fraiche. The menu features ingredients that are sourced locally, including seasonal vegetables from California farmers and fruit from Harry’s Berries, which chef Benjamin says will be featured in a strawberry tart.
There are also some select, specialty ingredients that are sourced from afar. Highlights include Tête de Moine, a semi-hard, unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland that is believed to have first been produced over eight centuries ago by monks from Moutier. Drinks will revolve around craft cocktails that draw from flavors and aromas tied to the European coast, as well as an extensive wine list with selections from Spain and France. The full menu can be seen below.
Through this new arrival and beyond, the Rooftop by JG remains open with a new menu featuring lighter, seasonal California fare by acclaimed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. While chef Vongerichten will still remain a part of the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, the switch marks yet another recent change in Beverly Hills, LA’s sudden dining epicenter where Funke opened just last week not far from the redone Dolce Vita, and where Marea is coming in early 2024.
Espelette opens May 12 at 9850 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. The restaurant will be open daily for breakfast from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., and for dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.