About steve

Steve Alcorn is the CEO of Alcorn McBride Inc., a company that designs products used in nearly all of the world’s theme parks. He is the author of many books, including historical fiction, romance, young adult novels, and many non-fiction books including How to Fix Your Novel, Building a Better Mouse and Theme Park Design. During the past decade he has helped more than 30,000 aspiring authors structure their novels through the online learning programs of 2000 colleges and universities worldwide. Learn more at writingacademy.com

The Grill On The Alley

Crab shrimp and lobster louie

Tuna sashimi

Caesar salad

Exterior

Interior

*** (3 stars)

If you like old-school places, you’ll probably like The Grill on the Alley. It’s pretty much unchanged since it opened in the 80s, and it was designed to be retro even back then. It’s a bit like more recent retro steakhouse concepts such as the Palm or Mortons, but somehow lacks the upscale feeling of those.

I didn’t find much that was remarkable on our visit. The best thing I had was a shrimp, crab and lobster Louie salad, which was very generous in its seafood portion, as it should have been for almost $50.

The service was–and I’m being charitable here-uneven, to say the least. We seemed to be handed off through a succession of at least four servers, and the people delivering the plates and bussing the table were all in rotation, too, so it wasn’t exactly conducive to feeling like a guest–more like part of an assembly line.

The clientele here is even older than the restaurant — by about forty years, I’d guess, and seems to be devoted, so perhaps they see something in it that I didn’t.

The Grill On The Alley
9560 Dayton Way
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 276-0615
https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-grill-on-the-alley-beverly-hills

El Cholo

Interior

***** (5 stars)

I’ve been going to El Cholo on Western since I was a child, and it defines Mexican food for me, even if their idea isn’t perfectly aligned with what has come to be known as Tex-Mex, and even if it’s not all authentic Mexican either. I love it.

This location is just as good, if lacking a bit of the small house ambiance. Have a number 1 and original nachos. You won’t be sorry.

El Cholo
1025 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 899-1106
https://www.yelp.com/biz/el-cholo-santa-monica-2

Lawry’s The Prime Rib – Beverly Hills

End cut

English cut

Bar

Interior

***** (5 stars)

I’ve been going to Lawry’s for almost 50 years, and aside from moving across the street a few decades ago, nothing has changed.

Perfectly cooked prime rib is still served, cut to your liking, from 70-year-old table-side carts. The creamed spinach is still the best anywhere, as is the gravy poured into the divot in your mashed potatoes.

Service is proper but not prim, and wine pricing is reasonable.

Lawry’s The Prime Rib – Beverly Hills
100 N La Cienega Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(310) 652-2827
https://www.yelp.com/biz/lawrys-the-prime-rib-beverly-hills-beverly-hills

Burger Lounge

Shake

Exterior

Interior

Half and half fries, lounge burger

**** (4 stars)

I have fond memories of backyard type burgers being served at small grills from my youth, and the burger prepared at Burger Lounge is just like those. It has all the ingredients I regard is essential and a hamburger: a slice of tomato slice of onion and lettuce on the bottom that holds together.

I also tried a 50-50 mix of onion rings and fries. Although the fries were nothing special, the onion rings were perfectly crisp and delicious. I also had a root beer float, which was just like I used to make for myself.

As others have noted, for a counter serve place the service here is terrific. Several people checked on me outside while I was eating and brought me condiments on request. An excellent dining experience.

Burger Lounge
281 S Beverly Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
(310) 385-0898
https://www.yelp.com/biz/burger-lounge-beverly-hills

Harajuku Crepe

Egg spinach cheese tomato

Interior

Menu

Exterior

**** (4 stars)

This small counter service crepe place makes tasty dessert and savory crepes. You can customize everything about your crepe, including batter type, contents, and sauces. I had an egg, cheese, spinach and tomato crepe, with Tabasco, and really liked it.

The crepes are folded into an ice cream cone shape and placed in a paper wrapper, which makes it easy to eat them on the go, which you’re going to want to do, because the sun beating into the place through the glass windows makes it hot as an oven!

Harajuku Crepe
9405 S Santa Monica Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 285-3946
https://www.yelp.com/biz/harajuku-crepe-beverly-hills

Bouchon

Steak frites

Mussels

Interior

Pate

**** (4 stars)

There are three Bouchons at this location and Google maps, for one, is very confused about that. The Bouchon Bakery is a counter serve and Bar Bouchon offers downstairs patio seating on the park. But the real Bouchon is upstairs, and offers a brasserie-like atmosphere plus outdoor balcony seating.

The menu is similar to Las Vegas, but not to Santa Barbara. A bouchon is a cafe typical in Lyon that focuses on meat-based dishes, and that is the case here. The French classics are all exceptionally well prepared, from mussels to onion soup, pate to salade Lyonnaise.

As is typical in France, the meal begins with bread served on the paper table covering. Be sure to order something to use the wonderful pot of mustard on; there’s nothing like pate and genuine Dijon on fresh crusty French bread.

Service is professional yet friendly.

This is actually one of my favorite of Keller’s restaurants. I even like it better than Per Se. The only negative is that the room has no acoustic treatment at all, and even when half empty it is very loud.

Bouchon
235 N Canon Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 271-9910
https://www.yelp.com/biz/bouchon-beverly-hills-4

Jean-Georges Beverly Hills

Baked apple

Tenderloin

Black cod with green curry

Beets

Tuna tartare

Interior

Caviar

***** (5 stars)

Whenever we visit New York, our first stop is always at Jean Georges for lunch, probably the best deal in town. So we were interested to check out this new Beverly Hills location. The restaurants turned out to be fairly different, even though they look a bit similar.

Unlike in New York, the Beverly Hills restaurant isn’t divided into casual and formal areas. Instead, the entire space is used for hotel dining at breakfast and lunch, and then becomes a bit more elegant at dinner with the simple addition of white tablecloths. The dinner menu also offers dining suitable for a hotel restaurant, with pizzas and french fries.

But for those looking for the full Jean George experience, there is thankfully also a multi-course tasting menu. At a very reasonable $145, this is an even better deal than the New York offering.

There is a notable difference between this tasting menu and the New York version, with more California influence, and less in the way of sauces, allowing the fresh seasonal ingredients to show through. That’s not to say the dishes have simple flavors; the Ahi tuna tartare was the best I’ve ever tasted, with layers of flavor that evolved on your palate with each bite. Heirloom beets were also wonderful, with surprisingly potent celery and cilantro flavors.

We selected the wine pairing to accompany the tasting menu. At $115, it was also a great value, and one of the best groups of pairing wines I’ve had. A couple of the wines I’d normally shun, such as Gruner Veltliner and Riesling were real standouts, and perfectly matched their courses.

Service was flawless, down to the last detail. When our waiter heard my wife admiring the french fries that went to another table he added them to our meat course in the tasting menu at no charge (and they were really good!)

My only quibble relates to a couple of cutlery issues–that’s an indication of how perfect the meal was. Black cod was served in a bowl with crispy greens that couldn’t possibly have been cut with the dull fish knife. And the baked apple dessert was served with only a fork, making cutting the apple and scooping the melting honey ice cream a bit of a challenge. Life is hard.

Sommelier Michael Scribner did a wonderful job with the wine pairings, and had interesting comments about each selection. The wine list is also excellent, with some reasonably priced offerings and some pricey gems.

In short, Jean George Beverly Hills will become as regular a stop for us as the New York version, even while the restaurants are each doing their own thing.

Jean-Georges Beverly Hills
9850 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 860-6566
https://www.yelp.com/biz/jean-georges-beverly-hills-beverly-hills-2

Alfred Coffee Beverly Hills

Exterior

Breakfast burrito Rico Suave

Interior

**** (4 stars)

This is a nice little privately run coffee shop with all the usual offerings, plus they make a breakfast burrito, which is what drew me in.

My decaf latte with almond milk was excellent.

The breakfast burrito is made in a sandwich press, which imparts a crispy crust. There are a couple of options. I selected the Rico Suave with bacon. $10 seemed a bit steep, but on the other hand I could only finish half of it, so I guess that’s cheap for two meals. It came with two interesting sauces, although I would have liked something a bit spicier.

Service was friendly.

Alfred Coffee Beverly Hills
490 N Beverly Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(424) 335-0170
https://www.yelp.com/biz/alfred-coffee-beverly-hills-beverly-hills

Via Alloro

Tira misu

Ravioli with burrata

Exterior

Interior

Neapolitan pizza

Carpaccio

**** (4 stars)

This is a good neighborhood restaurant with a nice outdoor seating area. The pastas are light and fresh, and the sauces flavorful. Caesar salad was a good starter, and the dressing had a nice anchovy flavor. The pizzas have a nice thin, crispy crust. Tira misu was one of the fluffiest I’ve encountered.

The wine list is fairly extensive, with a lot of good selections at average prices. Service was good.

Via Alloro
301 N Canon Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 275-2900
https://www.yelp.com/biz/via-alloro-beverly-hills-2

Ladurée Beverly Hills

Breakfast

Interior

**** (4 stars)

I’ve never been a fan of macarons, so I was pleased to see that this Ladurée, which looks like a confectioner’s shop, serves the full range of authentic Ladurée croissants. I was also pleased to discover they are just as good as the ones in Paris. The plain is still the best, with the pain au chocolat and the rose coming in second and third.

What’s not as good as Paris is the coffee. It’s just typical American coffee. Perhaps a double espresso would be better, but I was hoping for authentic French coffee. No such luck.

If you’ve been to the Ladurée in Paris on the Champs Elysee, or the original one on the Place de la Madeleine, this one is a sort of cross between the two. It’s certainly much larger than the one at Harrod’s in London.

The service was fast and friendly, and with just enough of a French accent to whet the taste buds.

Ladurée serves hot items for breakfast, too, but of course the emphasis is on the baked goods. And the case of macarons.

Ladurée Beverly Hills
311 N Beverly Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 623-1100
https://www.yelp.com/biz/ladur%C3%A9e-beverly-hills-beverly-hills-2