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By Steven Li on 2005-10-23

October 22, 2005

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I was lucky enough to recieve an invite for a tour of the California Club’s art collection and lunch today. Having no idea what the heck the California Club is I searched through a friend’s Access to LA Guide and came across this description:
“For years LA was in effect run by members of this private club. The Renaissance-style brick building, desiged in 1930 by Robert Farquhar, is still a staid and elegant bastion of power and old money. Accept an invitation if you get so lucky; the food is surprisingly good.”
Oy, neato! Free lunch and art tour? I’m up for it! :) The building is located in downtown LA. It’s definitely a shortie admidst the tall financial buildings that dominate this area. As you can see it a very simple, unassuming, never-would-think-that-this-is-an-exclusive-club-building, maybe they did it on purpose? lol.

The art tour was nice but I was here to eat! Here is the entrance to the dining room. Another shot. The room had 6 tables of 10. There is a larger dining room next door that can seat 500 people. First course (notice I have improved my picture taking skills!): piping hot asparagus soup with a swirl of creme fraiche. It was so soothing with its thick and velvety texture. The fresh asparagus flavor clearly shown though and was appropriately highlighted with the creamy cool tang of creme fraiche. The main entree was a warm mushroom, spinach and arugula salad tossed in a lemon vinagrette. The salad was topped with a confetti of “homemade” shoestring fries. This was served alongside with tender slices of balsamic herb chicken. The salty and crunchy fries were a nice complement to the salad. However, I was sad to find only 3 thin slices of mushrooms, oh well, worse things have happened! I love pairing balsamic with just about anything, and thus appreciated the thick, mellow sweetness the vinegar provided to the chicken. Dessert was preceeded by a tray of assorted cookies. Clockwise from the top: coconut macaroons (wouldn’t it be just awesome if they were french macaraons instead:) ?), chocolate chip cookies, almond meringues, oatmeal raisin cookies, fudge brownie bites, soft, scone-like raisin cookies, and walnut rounds. I ate them all. I must have a million cavities. I liked the raisin ones the best, though they were more like scones than cookies with their soft, crumbly, biscuit-like texture. Desset was a trio of sorbets: coconut, mango and raspberry. The coconut was crazy good! It had little chunks (not shreds!) of fresh coconut. The texture was thick and creamy, just bursting with the taste of the fragrant coconut flavor. The mango was too sweet but I liked the silky smooth texture of the sorbet on my tongue, and the raspberry was bleh. It tasted like those articifical lollipops.

It was a lovely lunch though I fear my expectations were set a bit too high. The soup was my favorite part of the whole meal. Fall = soup season! Warm, soothing soups does wonders for your mood. Will I be back? haha. let’s see if I ever get extended another invitation! The tour and lunch was a wonderful experience to the “California Club” lifestyle. Now how about another bowl of soup?



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