Cafe Pinot - Downtown Los Angeles Dining


Cafe Pinot

Cafe Pinot  700 West Fifth St.  Los Angeles, CA 90071  Call: (213) 239-6500


California Cuisine: Los Angeles, Calif.--On a recent outing to Los Angeles two friends hopped aboard the MetroRail Blue Line from Long Beach to escape the beach, if only for a day.  Beaches, we decided, had become as countless as the grains of sand under our feet. You wake up one day to realize you don't even notice the ocean waves. That's when it is time to add some spice to your experience pool.

If variety is the spice of life, we recommend you also travel inland on your California Beach Vacation to enjoy the best of the City of Los Angeles. In downtown L.A., you can see art, architecture, men wearing ties and women wearing panty hose and business clothes by the dozens. It is all so upscale and non-beach--not a single soul appears to have sand on their toess!


Getting there: You can drive into L.A., but another way to arrive without all the parking expense and hassle is the MetroRail. You can hop aboard the train in downtown Long Beach for a 50 minute ride. We stopped in Compton to see the famous Watts Tower. The restaurant is no more than a block or two from the MetroRail station.




We had been in L.A. for over 15 minutes, looking at the street signs, buildings and Los Angeles Public Library Freedom Bell and Fountains when we realized it was time to seek and drink what all good beach people live by, water. We stopped at The California Club where the Fallout Shelter inside can hold 665 people, according to the sign on the building. Several men in suits walked past the doormat and entered the red brick building, with the door closing quickly behind them. It almost seemed mysterious, but probably was fairly expensive to dine there or do whatever they did inside. And with no windows and no water views that we beach people desperately sought, we took a few steps further and stumbled into a golden opportunity, Cafe Pinot.


A few feet away, there was a cascading fountain, tables with yellow, shade umbrellas and a waiter carrying a sweating, silver pitcher full of water. At the beach you normally can grab a table and sit but here, we were instructed to go to the reception podium 30 feet inside the door and tell the two perfectly-coiffed women that we would like to dine at this fine establishment. One escorted us outside to the table we had previously eyed. Mary and I disagreed over which shaded table we would choose but she consented to the table with the better view.


Al, our waiter, was an incredibly charming, dark-haired, 20-something who smiled to let us know that he liked us just they way we were, salty and sandy.  Mary and I sat in the shade on a comfortable 76 degree day, enjoying a leisurely luncheon complete with trickling water from the nearby fountain. What a change from the sounds of the beach!

As we looked at towering buildings and immaculate library lawns, I thanked Mary for motivating me to make the trip into the big city. Finally, our meals arrived. I had a side salad and a hamburger covered in bleu cheese sauce and caramelized onions. Mary's vegetable plate was artistic.


I savored my burger. It was gourmet faire. My accompanying vegetables served as a substitute for french fries were perfectly cooked and retained their individual flavors with an added burst of sweetness captured in preparation. Mary didn't touch the centerpiece cantaloupe shape on her plate but commented more than once about the wonderful flavor of three capers.


Styled after French bistros, owners Joachim  and Christine Splichal of Patina Group restaurants hired top chefs to create French-California cuisine prepared with an element of surprise. The surprises are not overwhelming but are pleasant and pure utilizing natural juices and sugars.


We fought for the bill and Mary won out as Al handed it to her. I worried about the tip. Did Mary leave enough? I always make a mental note as to what things cost and am usually within $5.  I would guess that with our tip, the total came to $40. Finally, I thanked her and let my worries disappear as we stood up to explore the surroundings. 


90 minutes had passed since we arrived in Los Angeles. With three blocks and a meal under our belts, we were ready to get walking. I did not know that we were heading up the hill to visit a venue with another Patina Group restaurant, Walt Disney Concert Hall.


Where to Stay: Just a few blocks from the restaurant is the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, that beautiful high rise structure with columns of reflecting glass rising into the Los Angeles sky. While it's very much a period piece dating to 1976 and designed by famed hotel architect John Portman Millennium Biltmore dates back to a completely different era in which hotels were designed for ornate detail and grandeur. Either option is great, and you'll find around 10 hotels within blocks of these two. Downtown Los Angeles is a city center.


Pinot Restaurants owned and operated by the Splichals include Pinot Bistro, Cafe Pinot, Pinot Hollywood, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Brasserie and Pinot Provence.


Other Patina Group restaurants include Patina, Patina Privé, Nick & Stef's Steakhouse, Zucca Ristorante, Kendall's Brasserie and Bar, Pentolino, Catal Restaurant and Uva Bar in Downtown Disney, Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria, Napolini, Tortilla Jo's and C2 Cafe & Kitchen. They also own Music Center & Walt Disney Concert Hall Patina, Kendall's Brasserie, Concert Hall Café, The Fifth Floor, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Pinot Grill, Hollywood Bowl Rooftop Grill, The Marketplace by Patina and Dining at the Bowl. San Francisco War Memorial & Performing Arts Center, MOCA Patinette Cafe, LACMA

Pentimento Cafe, Tangata at Bowers Museum and Santolina Cafe at Descanso Gardens. COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts Julia's Kitchen at COPIA, American Market Cafe and Wine Spectator Tasting Table are part of their empire as well. Wow!

Lunch: Monday - Friday: 11:30am - 2:30pm;
Dinner: Monday - Wednesday: 5:00pm - 9:00pm, Thursday - Saturday: 5:00pm - 10:00pm, Sunday: 4:30pm - 9:00pm