Once the beating heart of WeHo chic, the Mondrian Los Angeles has been on a prolonged mission to regain its Sunset Strip mojo, starting with a 2009 redesign by Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz. Last year exalted chef Brian Malarkey’s breezy cool Herringbone restaurant moved into the old Asia de Cuba space, subsequently drawing celebs like David Boreanaz, Christina Milian, Chris Wood, and Peyton List. And, finally this year, the colorful tequila bar Sayulita opened poolside.
Now come the obligatory pop-ups.
Indeed, chef Octavio Olivas busily prepared dishes for opening night of his new pop-up supper club concept, The Ceviche Project, at the Mondrian’s perpetually sexy Skybar. The menu included five courses of petit yet delectable raw seafood and ceviche inventions, dessert and very easy-to-imbibe DeLeón Tequila cocktail pairings. First course: deliciously fresh oysters on the half shell and The White Unicorn (a drink, not a hallucination).
Olivas was kind enough to give us all a few notes before each dish. “Just pick it up and go for it,” he said of course number two, the Royal Hamachi, a tostada-like hors d’oeuvre topped with watermelon-yuzu sorbet. Heeding his advice, we tossed our forks aside and used our hands.
Fashionable Mondrian onlookers served as a pretty backdrop – sipping fancy cocktails and snapping “aren’t-I-beautiful?” selfies beside the glowing blue pool – as the night, and its guests, started to buzz with the introduction of course and cocktail number four, or was it three? Oh, who’s counting…
As for table favorites: the Indigo Montoya tipple was just the right amount of tart and spicy, and the Maine Lobster Salpicón, served in a shallow broth of fermented coconut milk, practically melted in your mouth.
Conversation drifted from Tinseltown to Tinder as glasses clinked and rocks rattled; but, alas, no one fulfilled the old Skybar tradition and actually ended the night in the pool. Maybe next time? There will be two more Ceviche Project dinners, held on September 24 and October 22. Swimsuits optional.
Ceviche Project tickets can be purchased at nightout.com.