Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Panini Cafe

9601 Santa Monica Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Everyday 7AM-9PM (?)

Sometimes being the odd man out is a wonderful thing. I'm not talking about Panini Cafe when I say that. I'm talking about being in Beverly Hills, in a small cafe, surrounded by people who probably make more in a couple of months than what I make in a year. Case in point. We pop into this place, which may I say is a lovely little cafe, that sits where I believe the Air Steamer used to be in Beverly Hills (yes the expensive area in Beverly Hills). It's cute and has a lovely vibe (kind of elegant coffee shop with a bar vibe). Has enough seating to always be close to capacity on a casual night in Beverly Hills. They sit us at a table that seats 2 and is between 2 other tables so that they are right beside us on both sides. On the right of me is a gentleman with his wife, and the left is a daughter (no older than 14) with her mom and maybe aunt or Grandmother. The man on the right with his wife(distracted by her own concerns... eating slowly being one of them) appears to be on the verge of death by boredom. We look at the menu and decide on a Panini Kubideh plate and a grilled veggie panini. As soon as we're done ordering I break out my cards and start doing some magic for my wife, but it was more for the guy who's on the right of me who's on the edge of death by state of boredom. He smiles as I start doing some stuff, and then starts to turn into a kid by how fascinated he is. I don't acknowledge that he's spying on me, but just smile at Celeste who knew very well what I was doing. A job well done and a man was rescued from slitting his own wrists with a spoon.

On the other side of me was the girl plus her family and they're absurdly rich. How do I know this you ask? The conversation out of the little girls mouth was to say the least comical when I realized that people like this actually do exist. She was looking in the mirror at herself for long periods of time(which she did at least four times while I was there... it was the kind of intent gaze like "wow am I beautiful now that I've got this new nose"... but lets remember she's no more than 14). She mentioned to her mom about how they needed to pick up her Prada bag soon cause after 5pm it would go up to $600. Yeah... something wonderful about living in LA with pretentious spoiled people. I look at Celeste in shock, but only because of her age. What else can you do really? Just one of those weird things you notice when you decide to eat where the wealthier do.

The food shows up and it's great. Their menu consists of a European meets Middle Eastern mix of plates. The kubideh was basically an elegant version of what I get at Sultani quite often. The meat was very tender and tasted more of the meat and not so much of the seasoning that I usually associate with kubideh, it was wonderful and succulent. My salad that came with it was very fresh and crisp as well as the veggies that accompanied the meat. I was very impressed in general with my plate.

Celeste had the grilled veggie panini which was very good but as she approached the end the flavor was a bit tiring for her. It consisted of eggplant, grilled zucchini, yellow squash, roasted bell peppers and smoked mozzarella. I found it to be very flavorful and not mushy (which is a problem that seems to occur with many veggie plates for me). I'd give a 7 out of 10 for this plate.

For dessert we had the banana bread pudding which was balanced perfectly with a drizzle of strawberry sauce. It could have been a little less firm (just a tad too firm for my taste since I grew up with this kind of stuff) but was still very good in whole. The bread was just under sweet and the strawberry sauce put it right at the perfect sweet level amount that ended the meal wonderfully.

Chances are we'll be going back again as the dinner was great but when we looked at the breakfast menu we got really excited about sampling what they had to offer (check out the French Toast made with Italian sweet bread). The service was pleasant and we had a great time just being there as the environment was "sweet". I love getting a chance to view the upper class of LA when they eat. It reminds me that though they have more money, often they have more problems... I mean she had to get to the store for that Prada bag.

Free Drink Refills: Yes
Entree Price Range: $7 to $10 for breakfast and lunch and $7 to $11 for dinner (not to shabby at all when you think of Rodeo area dining)

PS. I'm at Coachella right now and having an amazing time. Food here is actually not too bad and the prices while a bit higher aren't feeling like they're picking my pockets. The weird highlight so far...Jesus and the Mary Chain playing together after all these years and during their set, Scarlett Johansson singing a song with them. Bjork is amazing and I'm ecstatic I finally got to see her. More on Monday!

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Anonymous Jackie Gifford said...

My husband and I were in Beverly Hills for a convention, and came across this cafe whie out walking Rodeo Drive. We went back 3 more times during our stay!!! The food is great, and not anywhere near expensive!! I wish we had somewhere like this in Florida!! I miss the Panini Cafe!
If you go there, there is a new salad that wasn't on the menu yet, it is Julie's (the bartender) favorite.... the date salad. Mixed greens, fresh berries, dates, and prawns, with a side of dressing for dipping!! Absolutely to DIE for!!

July 12, 2007 at 5:33 PM  
Blogger Aubrey said...

Thanks for the heads up. My wife loves fresh salads and that sounds right of her alley. So glad you enjoyed it while out here. It's such a breath of fresh air from the typical faire in the Beverly Hills shopping area.

July 13, 2007 at 10:42 AM  

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