by Michael Ventre | November 1, 2009 | Lifestyle
It’s tempting to call Beverly Hills the Rolls- Royce of neighborhoods, but that would be giving short shrift to the Bentleys, Maseratis, Aston Martins and other luxury chariots that also traverse its shimmering avenues.
Yet there isn’t another neighborhood in the nation that conjures images of adventure, romance, wealth, entertainment and style quite like Beverly Hills and its primary zip code— 90210. After all, how many other zip codes can boast that it inspired not simply one popular television show, but four spin-offs?
The 90210 zip—which encompasses most of Beverly Hills, but not all—ranks fifth on Forbes’ 2009 list of the most expensive zip codes in the country (with a median home price of a little more than $3.3 million) and contains some of the most eye-popping real estate offerings in the US,including the storied Pickfair estate, which can be had for a tidy $60 million. Beverly Hills boasts Beverly Hills High School, one of the finest public schools in the country, which counts such luminaries as Nicolas Cage, Nora Ephron and Lenny Kravitz among its alumni. For the younger kids, the area also has excellent centers for learning such as El Rodeo School and Beverly Vista School. And there are plenty of private schools in the area for Beverly Hills’ offspring, including Page Private School (annual tuition about $11,000), Good Shepherd Catholic School (around $6,000) and Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy (about $15,000).
In short, Beverly Hills is known for an abundance of riches, both of the monetary kind and of the type that has no price tag.
WHEN YOU'RE PINING FOR HOTEL DINING
Seeking a casual and healthy dining experience against an awe-inspiring backdrop? Look no further than The Conservatory Grill at the Montage Beverly Hills (225 N. Canon Dr., 310-860-7800; montagebeverlyhills.com), where the atmosphere is chic and the chow is top-drawer.
The Conservatory Grill sits right next to the swimming pool, so there’s always the option of putting on a suit and doing some laps after inhaling a few Angus-beef sliders.
Then there is Table Jaan (9291 Burton Way, 310-278-3344; viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/beverlyhills), where every vote counts and liberty of the palate is embraced. Table Jaan is the exclusive dining experience offered at Jaan restaurant at L’Ermitage Beverly Hills. Diners enjoy an elegant five-course feast after an in-depth powwow held in advance with the Table Jaan culinary coterie. The Table Jaan team will customize the menu for its clients, but it may also exercise its freedom-of-kitchen rights by tossing in a few surprises.
When the year 1912 is mentioned to most folks, the Titanic usually comes to mind. Definitely not a good year for luxury cruising. But in the Los Angeles area, it also happens to be when The Beverly Hills Hotel opened its doors. Bar Nineteen 12 (9641 Sunset Blvd., 310-273-1912; beverlyhillshotel.com) carries the flag with honor, dignity, comfort and vats’ worth of delicious cocktails such as prickly-pear margaritas or
virgin pomegranate-ginger mojitos. Dress is described as casual chic, which means if you show up in shorts, sandals, a baseball cap and a Lakers jersey, you have officially hit a fashion iceberg.
The Veranda at bar Nineteen 12
RESIDENTIAL THAT'S PRACTICALLY PRESIDENTIAL
Pickfair sits proudly atop the listings of real estate giants Hilton & Hyland (250 N. Canon Dr.,
310-278-3311; hiltonhyland.com), but that’s fitting, because the 25,243-square-foot, single-family estate has been at or near the pinnacle of Southern California properties since it was built in the 1920s for silver-screen legends Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Sr. If you have $60 million burning a hole through your Christophe Decarnins, you just might want to take a tour of the 17 bedrooms and 16 baths in this villa, nestled on a 94,500 squarefoot lot on Summit Drive in Beverly Hills.
If luxury apartment living is your preference, there’s BluÌˆ (8601 Wilshire Blvd., 310- 659-1258; blubeverlyhills.com). This swanky shade represents 37 leasable high-rise apartments, all with plenty of amenities and personal touches. Usually blue suggests melancholy, but without the “e” it’s a much happier experience.
As for temporary lodging with style, look no further than The Crescent Beverly Hills (155 N. Crescent Dr., 310-385-1924; thecrescent-beverlyhills.com), a homey gem located in the Beverly Hills Golden Triangle, right around the corner from the tony shops on Rodeo Drive. The rooms aren’t huge, but the best thing about The Crescent Beverly Hills is that when you avail yourself of everything else the hotel and the surrounding neighborhood have to offer, it suddenly starts to feel like you have a much larger room.
GOURMET THRILLS WITHOUT THE FRILLS
Since Urth Caffé (267 S. Beverly Dr., 310-205- 9311; urthcaffee.com) opened its doors in 1994 at its first Melrose location in West Hollywood, a steady stream of dedicated devotees lured by the aromas of organic coffees and teas have passed through its comfy quarters, looking for a refuge where the proprietors are committed to integrity and not just trendy-cool names for drinks. One of the great pastimes in all of LA—and especially Beverly Hills—is the fine art of people-watching. At Urth, the conditions are ideal to sip, snack and scope.
Transition from Urth to down-to-earth. The Brighton Coffee Shop (9600 Brighton Way, 310-276-7732) has been feeding the meat-and-potatoes crowd since 1930, making it the oldest coffee shop in town. It has bagels, hamburgers, pancakes, sandwiches, salads, scrambled eggs and French toast. OK, so it also has a grilled tofu plate on the menu, but that’s only to comply with unofficial city code.
The most notable feature of Mulberry Street Pizzeria (347 N. Canon Dr., 310-247-8998; mulberrypizza.com) is that you can get simple, or you can get complicated. Opt for the traditional New York-style thin-crust pizza with your basic old-neighborhood ingredients such as anchovies, olives or pepperoni, of which your Italian mamma (or your friend’s Italian mamma) would approve, or go a little “Hollywood creative” on everybody and bring home a fresh spinach white pizza or a pestosundried tomato pie.
Some European-style cafés that serve up breakfast, lunch, dinner, sunset wine-and-cheese parties, live music, espresso and pastries, afternoon teas, Champagne brunches and bridal-shower wine tastings are easier to pigeonhole than others. Suffice it to say Ingrid’s (9861 S. Santa Monica Blvd., 310-277-9377; ingridscafe.com) does a little bit of everything and does it with the flair of a seasoned international connoisseur.
Jimmy Choo on Rodeo Drive
A LITTLE LIGHT SHOPPING
Shopping devotees who want to test their prowess against the best in the world make the pilgrimage to Rodeo Drive. Armed with no more than a few gold credit cards tucked into an Italian leather wallet, they hunt for jewelry at such glittery outposts as Tiffany & Co. (210 N. Rodeo Dr., 310-273-8880; tiffany.com), Van Cleef & Arpels (300 N. Rodeo Dr., 310-276-1161; vancleef-arpels.com) or Cartier (370 N. Rodeo Drive, 310-275-4272; cartier.com); for men’s and women’s accessories from establishments such as Fendi(355 N. Rodeo Dr., 310-276-8888; fendi.com) and Gucci (347 N. Rodeo Dr., 310-278-3451; gucci.com) and for gift and specialty shopping at notable spots including Bang & Olufsen (369 N. Rodeo Dr., 310-247-7785; bang-olufsen.com), Eres (441 N. Rodeo Dr., 310-246-1008; eresparis.com) and Jimmy Choo (240 N. Rodeo Dr., 310-860-9045; jimmychoo.com).
The Conservatory Grill (TOP LEFT); Goodies from Urth Caffé (BOTTOM LEFT)