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Karen Salkin Out to Lunch

         Restaurant Reviews and Commentary from Karen Salkin
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The invitation for the opening of X bar at Century City’s Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel said it was an “indoor/outdoor lounge.” I knew the words, but definitely didn’t come close to envisioning the beauty that was before me. I usually don’t care about the design of restaurants, and just look for cleanliness, good food, efficient service and a fun time. This was all those rolled into one. At least on Opening Night.

The Gensler-designed space is absolutely stunning. I didn’t know where to go first! It didn’t even hit me that there are so many different types of seating areas until I just sat down to write about it. And each one is unique and comfortable. Upon entering, we passed by the inviting backlit bar as we were drawn to the massive outside deck. I told my friend, Lila, that we should stay out there as long as possible because it was a gorgeous night and mainly because we fully expected that the anticipated disgusting cigarette smoke would drive us inside soon enough, just as it does everywhere in LA.


I have no idea how the architecture achieved it, but there was never a time that we got even a whiff of smoke out there! Either the Gensler folk are creative geniuses, which they do appear to be, or there was a large turn-out of non-smokers, which I have yet to witness anywhere. I really wanted to stay out there all night, which is a first.

There are three giant fire pits surrounded by cushioned banquettes, which are the best seats ever. They’re good for conversation, but I’d rather just watch the fire and veg-out. Off to the sides, there are cozy over-sized round tuffets that three people can sit on at the same time. (I just realized that this place needs so many superlatives that I better bust out my thesaurus!)

Classic black and white films ran all night on the open-air screening wall. It reminded me of Aspen in the summer, which is a great thing. This may just be the place for my next “Karen’s Restaurant Revue” party! But due to the true cinematic size of the wall, and of my vanity, we’ll be showing only the early episodes, if you get my drift.


On the way, Lila said she hoped the bar had a TV showing the UCLA game. (It was the night of the Sweet 16, for those of you in the know.) I was hoping not, because I was recording it and planned on watching when I got home. I don’t want anyone talking during my sports-viewing, which I take very seriously, and didn’t want to see snippets at a party. Guess which one of us got our wish? Lila, of course. There were about twenty giant plasma screens! They were pervasive, but not intrusive, and I was able to avoid watching, even when I was sitting right in front of them! How did the designers achieve that???

There were several lounge areas inside, and roomy, semi-private booths across from the bar, for table-dining. I loved it all. This would be the perfect place for an old-fashioned “salon.” If I were still a club promoter, I’d definitely have a night here. I hope that none of my successors do, and mess it up. X bar is way too classy now to have it ruined by the hoi polloi.

I loved the look of the lounge so much, that the edibles were secondary to me, which just might be another first. Here’s the skinny on them: The drinks looked gorgeous and creative. The passed small plates were flavorful and the presentations beautiful and practical, an example of which is that they served mini-enchiladas each on their own little dish. That was unique to me in all my years of attending cocktail parties. The tidbits were so much easier to eat that way.

ahi tuna

The trays that held the mini-Reuben sandwiches had little compartments for each one, which made it so much more attractive than the norm. And jumbo shrimp were served in individual glass cylinders with the sauce in the bottom. Brilliant! (Except for the unexpected toothpick sticking straight through each one, just begging for someone to chip a front tooth on, while biting into the shrimp, which almost happened to me.)

I’m going to savor my visions of X bar for about a month. And then I’ll return on a regular night and hope the magic is still there. I’ll let you know. (Or you can tell me your impressions on my message board, if you get there first.)

X bar Century Plaza Hotel 2025 Ave. of the Stars Century City

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