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Jewish Journal

A kosher steakhouse for BH? Well done!

by Roberto Loiederman

November 30, 2006 | 7:00 pm

Photo by Roberto Loiderman

Photo by Roberto Loiderman

New York's upscale The Prime Grill, coming to Beverly Hills this week, isn't your father's glatt kosher restaurant.

For one thing, it's a high-end steak house that also specializes in sushi. For another, the management expects it to become a destination for high-powered meetings and high-profile celebrities.

They go so far as to claim that the opening here means Los Angeles is finally catching up to New York in the Jewish culinary big leagues.

Located deep inside Rodeo Collection, an upscale mall, you get to the restaurant by going down a winding, sculptural flight of stairs -- designed and built for the restaurant.

"The idea was to create an oasis," Prime Grill publicist Josh Altman says, "so that you feel isolated from the street. We want every meal to be a special experience. We want it to be the opposite of stress."

And, indeed, the waiting lounge/bar feels serene. There are touches of copper with greenish patina, woods of different shades and shapes, marble, leather, bamboo, stucco, in geometrical forms arrayed symmetrically.

"The design," Altman says, "is intended to promote a sense of well-being."

The main dining area seats 70. With the patio and other seating areas, the restaurant can accommodate 220 customers. Altman points to design elements that "pick up the food motifs. Just as the menu has steak and sushi, so the décor has classical steak house elements -- dark woods -- as well as traditional Japanese materials, like bamboo. Look at the ceiling," he says. "It's shaped in an origami pattern."

The ceiling does have an unusual configuration, but it's hard to make out what kind of creature is depicted -- either a cow or fish would make sense, given the menu.

Prime Grill gives off an air of hip and luxurious, cutting edge and classical. At the same time, it's strictly kosher. Atom Hovhanesyan, the sommelier, says that the wines are mevushal, meaning they go through flash pasteurization that permits them to be handled by anyone and still retain their kosher status.

The restaurant will follow "strict kashrut supervision," assures Joey Allaham, owner of The Prime Grill. "But we don't want people to think of us as a kosher restaurant that happens to be superb. We want them to think of us as a superb restaurant that happens to be kosher. We want to reach out to all of L.A. interested in the finest food, not just a Jewish clientele."

"There's never been a kosher restaurant like this in Southern California," claims Samuel Franco, the restaurant's director of operations. "New York has always been ahead of L.A. in certain ways. With the Prime Grill's opening, L.A. now catches up."

Owners of SoCal's other high-end kosher restaurants, like Tierra Sur, Pat's and Shiloh might beg to differ.

But Altman points to the sheer curtain on the booths.

"At the Prime Grill in New York," he says, "we get celebrities and politicians: Madonna, Mayor Bloomberg, Rudy Giuliani. The curtain provides some privacy for people like that to wine and dine without being gawked at."

During Chanukah the restaurant will offer a prix-fixe meal for $125 per person. It includes such delicacies as smoked sable, plum-glazed short ribs and latkes with truffle peel.

The Prime Grill is located at Rodeo Collection, 421 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills. For more information, call 310-860-1233.

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