I distinctly remember the unseemly night when I changed course and started down the path toward becoming the boring, tea-drinking, wine-sipping domestic that I am today. I was precariously perched on the mini refrigerator (aka the beer fridge) in my kitchen, eating cold, leftover Pad Thai from the mediocre Thai place that used to occupy the Nakkara on Beverly space at 2 am in the morning, while I drunkenly mused to my then roommate, “I’m not even hungry.”
This realization did not, however, stop me from eating the rest of the leftovers.
Before collapsing into bed with “the spins.”
These days I get my dose of “the glamorous Hollywood life,” by watching re-runs of “the Hills.” Or at least I did before Lauren Conrad left the show and the final dredges of morality left with her.
Even so, there have been a few fleeting moments in my “new life” where I have felt a bit glamorous. Not because I was throwing back vodka cranberries (my cocktail of choice when I drank hard alcohol) and gorging on cold leftovers, but because I was at some place that was actually glamorous.
This past December, I was whisked up to the 24th floor of the Ritz-Carlton in Downtown LA for a media event in WP24’s swanky lounge that offers a stunning aerial view of the city. As I glided onto a leather banquette with a glass of sparkling Rosé, I experienced a momentary flash where I felt genuinely “cool.”
The clientele dotting the other booths and cocktail tables in the chicly dressed space looked sharp – well-groomed and neatly attired in their work suits and impeccably tailored dresses. In a way, WP24’s lounge feels like it could be the modern day watering-hole for the “Mad Men” set. If I squinted hard enough, the dark-haired bloke sharing a plate of tiny dumplings with a female companion could almost pass as Jon Hamm.
As an extension of Wolfgang Puck’s most recent restaurant venture, however, the WP24 lounge cannot be merely reduced to its physical setting. The main restaurant’s modern Asian cuisine receives a summary on the rather substantial lounge menu of small plates that includes tautly bound Spring Rolls fruitfully stuffed with Maine Lobster and prawns, stylized hand cut rolls decorated with ample garnishes, and Chinese Crystal Dumplings pocketing high-quality king crab, shrimp and kurobuta pork.
The refined Peking Duck Roll and the Baby Pork Belly “Bao Buns” struck the most memorable poses on my palate that evening. The crisp skin of the roll shattered to give way to the neat shreds of compact duck that were barely contained within the packaging. It’s a far meatier specimen than the more traditional preparations of Peking Duck that involve more skin than actual meat and are usually served on steamed buns. The pork belly baos, accessorized with a shimmer of honey-garlic glaze, packed a similarly satisfying bite.
When the final plates had disappeared from our set of tables, I took one last peak at the view before departing for the elevator that would bring me back down to my usual reality. LA looked different from up there – a glossier, statelier version of itself. I felt the same way. Chic, poised and maybe, just maybe, a teeny bit glamorous.
900 West Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90015