Epicurean Gem – Dining with David Tanis at Lulu Restaurant

My recent foray to Beverly Hills included a delightful, delicious lunch at Lulu at the Hammer Museum in Westwood. The museum exhibition was ho-hum, our leisurely déjeuner in the open-air courtyard was superb! A new exhibition based on Joan Didion opens October 11, scurry to LA for the perfect recipe of delectable dining and museum afternoon! I may have to make a return trip. Or ignore the museum altogether and just enjoy dining in a very special location.

Not far from downtown Beverly Hills, the newish Lulu’s is a collaboration between famed chef, New York Times writer and prolific cookbook author David Tanis and the Bay Area’s Alice Waters of Chez Panisse. David, who is well-known for his New York Times cooking column, worked at Chez Panisse, on and off for nearly 25 years. They are old chums, enjoying decades of friendship and a mutual love of cooking and sustainability. When approached by UCLA to open the restaurant, David was Alices’ only choice as a partner.

Lulu is committed to prioritizing sustainability through local, regenerative food and design. If you follow David on Instagram, his Farmers Market selections provide inspiration for the daily menu. Lulu’s mission focuses on procuring food directly from small, nearby farms practicing regenerative organic agriculture, which results in wholesome, delicious food grown using methods that combat the climate crisis. The Lulu website lists numerous small farms who supply chef and kitchen team with seasonal fruit and vegetables. And of course, there is a lovely wine and cocktail menu.

The restaurant is named after a wise Provencal cook, Lulu Peyraud, whose cooking and hospitality at Domaine Tempier in Bandol, France has always inspired David and Alice.

At lunch, Lulu offers a popular three-course $45 prix fixe menu as well as an à la carte selection of salads, soups, sandwiches, light lunch fare, coffee, tea, and desserts. For supper, Lulu offers an à la carte selection of small bites, appetizers, entrées, and desserts curated around the produce in season. Staying true to their ethos of “market cooking,” the menus change daily depending on what is the very best available from local farms.

The outdoor setting under a canopy of umbrellas and dangling paper lanterns is perfect. Massive raw salvaged wood planks are stacked with bowls of gorgeous fresh apples and persimmons, whatever is seasonal. Simple and clean, the message is abundantly clear in the design and decor. Dating the menu is symbolic of the narrative, it’s fresh from the market or farm.

The menu will change constantly. The a la carte menu may offer a combination of soups and salads and sandwiches; three-course prix fixe allows David to shape meals with a gastronomic narrative. Like all the recipes from David’s cookbooks, the dishes are designed to be straightforward and uncomplicated. One year, David personally signed his cookbooks as a gift to our clients.

Our meal choices were based on David’s recommendation and for me, trying an option from one of his cookbooks. I adored a starter of Jumbo Medjool Dates, his roasted rosemary almonds served with a jagged chunk of Parmesan cheese.. the perfect bite to peruse the menu. David transforms simple to glorious! My Chicken a la Milanese was scrumptious, as was a shared plate of farm ripened Caprese salad with black olive toast. We also shared a satisfying plate of Ricotta gnocchi with zucchini and squash blossoms. All yummy! Sticking with the seasonal menu for dessert, we scooped up every bite of the gooey Nectarine blackberry crumble.

Lulu serves lunch and supper Tuesday through Sunday – check website for hours and directions.

Highly Recommend Lulu and we can reserve the perfect Beverly Hills hotel, tell David you are dining – and perhaps you will enjoy a hello with Alice and a tour of the kitchen with David, as I did!

Thank you, dear David, for the special attention. Your follower and friend, Gwen

Hammer Museum upcoming Exhibit –  Joan Didion: What She Means