6 Things to Eat at Cavatina at the Sunset Marquis

By Lesley Balla  |  June 19, 2014

When Boston chef Michael Schlow told Zagat about his plans for Cavatina, the restaurant he opened at West Hollywood's Sunset Marquis hotel, he talked about keeping a West Coast sensibility to the menu, even if he is overseeing things from thousands of miles away. He might only be here once a month, but his executive chef Roger Eggleston is executing his vision beautifully at the lush hideaway. It's truly one of the best kept secrets of LA: the mostly outdoor space is surrounded by lush trees, some still with hanging fruit, twinkle lights and a small waterfall. Walking through the hotel lobby and past the pool, the walls lined with photos of rock stars and music legends, makes it feel even more exclusive and very LA. That connection to the music world doesn't end there; just about everyone looks like they are or could be in a band, or those that rep them.

The menu looks long but is fairly tight — there's a smattering of snacks and small plates, a handful of crudo dishes, and entrees, including seafood prepared in various ways and roasted and grilled meats. Schlow and Eggleston's take on LA cuisine is light and seasonal, with dishes that keep up trends without being too trendy. Yes, there is kale, but it's turned into ribbons of pasta topped with chunks of lobster and a kicky tomato sauce. And there's toast, here topped with a poached egg and guanciale vinaigrette, so you can have bacon and eggs for dinner. It's all definitely a step up from the pretty average hotel fare that was served here before the redo. Take a look for yourself. Here are six dishes on the menu now that you shouldn't miss.

  • Of course there are deviled eggs, but we're not complaining. These are fairly straightforward but prepared perfectly. The center is creamy and seasoned well, topped with bits of crunchy guanciale.

  • Grilled octopus is everywhere these days, too, but this is a standout version. The black chickpea puree might be a bit alarming to some, but it's delicious, a great pair with the nicely charred and tender octopus. The parsley, olives and Fresno chilies add a nice balance to the dish.

  • The steak tartare gets a swish of violet purple mustard on the plate. It's not just garnish: swipe a piece of bread through it, add a dollop of tartare and enjoy.

  • There are six different versions of crudo on the menu, which really speaks to Schlow's desire to keep things light and fresh for the West Coast. This beautiful vodka-marinated salmon didn't need much, but the dehydrated wasabi, beet juice and sea beans are a nice touch.

  • We enjoyed the cauliflower steak a tad more than the real steak (which was nice but the "butler's" cut, a flatiron, has a chewier texture than other cuts). The preserved truffle yogurt added just enough flavor to the grilled slab of cauliflower, and morels and favas burst with seasonal flavors.

  • Sweets are not an afterthought. You can go light with panna cotta with Harry's Berries consomme and macadamia nuts, or you can go big with the "loaded pot brownie," a nod to what might be going on behind the closed doors of the hotel, but really it's a big brownie sundae. Then there's somewhere in the middle, like this delicious toffee cheesecake on Oreo cookie crust.