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Restaurant Reviews and Commentary from Karen Salkin

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"I’m combining my restaurant and entertainment reviews this week into one column because a couple of the events combine both. Hope you enjoy it this way."


I still remember the first time I attended a professional ballet performance with my second-grade class. We were taught proper audience behavior beforehand. I swear, I hark back to that experience almost every time I’m at the theatre, and marvel at how many of my fellow audience members must have been absent that day. I wish classes like that would be required for adults, before they’d be allowed to purchase tickets.

Adam Lambert
Adam Lambert
At least, there’s always hope for future generations. But I feel that not enough parents teach their children theatre appreciation nowadays, and even fewer can afford to go. To that end, the Valley Musical Theatre’s educational work program with the Los Angeles Unified School District presents free performances of their shows to students. To defray the costs, they hold a couple of outstanding benefit shows throughout the year.

One such event is coming up this Monday night, October 15 at the legendary Ford Theatre in Hollywood. It’s Broadway Unplugged, which is acoustic numbers (I’m assuming that in this case, that means piano accompaniment only), performed by many of the denizens of “Wicked,” with some other guests, as well.

While I’m sure that everyone is supremely talented, and can’t wait to hear them all, those who know me well know that I’m dressed and ready to go right now solely to hear the magical voice of Adam Lambert. He is truly my favorite singer, and I’ve had the good fortune to hear him live only three times in my life, the last of which was a religious experience. I even paid a return visit to the lamentable “Ten Commandments,” after seeing it on opening night, just to hear him sing “Is Anybody Listening.” So, how good is he???

For a list of entertainers and ticket info, check out the website below. And plan to bring oxygen for Adam’s performance because none of us are able to breathe during it!

Broadway Unplugged at the Ford on October 15 at 8PM
2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East
VIP tickets and post-show reception: 818-768-7974
Tickets and info: 323-461-3673


I love premieres that are held at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences building on Wilshire in Beverly Hills. I believe that the first time I attended one there, I was a teen-ager passing hors d’ouevres. (I was working for a caterer and not just handing out random food, though I see where you could think that about me. So, I felt the need to clarify.) I still get a thrill from walking in there. I never really feel like an invited guest, though, and sometimes get the urge to grab a tray and get to work.

Last week, I caught the premiere of Wes Anderson’s new film, “The Darjeeling Limited,” about three brothers taking a train trip in India after not seeing each other for a year, which I knew I wouldn’t love. And I was right! There’s a shock. I didn’t hate it as much as the rest of his films, but seeing it was a semi-waste of time. On the other hand, being at the whole fun event wasn’t.

The most exciting part was seeing Owen Wilson there, which was his first public outing since his recent depression episode. I thought that was pretty gutsy of him, and it showed his affection for the director, who hasn’t done a film without him. I love loyalty like that.

The other main cast members were there, as well: Adrien Brody, Anjelica Huston, Natalie Portman, and Jason Schwartzman. Outside of Natalie, (who wasn’t even really in the film; rather, in a relatively pointless short that’s shown beforehand, but should have just been the first scene of the main movie) was the only actor without a giant nose.

I can’t tell you how many times I haven’t been cast over the years because my proboscis (a word I learned long ago while playing the game Cootie, and am so thrilled that I finally got to use) is less than petite, while no one so much as raises an eyebrow when it comes to MALES with big noses getting work in the business! It’s amazing to me. (I know, I know--Anjelica’s female, but her dad was a major director and she was seeing Jack Nicholson. When she started out.) I just could never see fit to have someone take a hammer to my face, (which is what a nose job virtually is.)

Back to the premiere. There were other celebs in attendance. I sat four rows behind Peter Bogdanovich, and two behind Paul Rudd. (Now all we needed was a Mary.) At the after-party, held in the Grand Lobby (which is an apt appellation, btw), I got to tell the amazing Bud Cort that, at a recent screening of “Lars and the Real Girl” (which I reviewed last week; check my archives), Ryan Gosling said that “Harold and Maude” was one of his favorite movies. Bud then told me of his regard for Ryan’s talent. I love Mutual Admiration Societies.

Speaking of the party, it was an extravaganza of Indian delights, in keeping with the movie’s theme. Most of them weren’t even the usual dishes, which made the fare that much more interesting. Many of the workers were helpful, none more so than an adorable blond guy named Chris. He was fabulous and informative.

The caterer turned out to be Jackson Somerset, whom I had never heard of. When I called them for more information for this piece, I found out that he’s the chef who started Jackson’s Farm in BH. I was shocked because that was one of my most hated restaurants. The food was brutal. He sold the restaurant and opened this catering company. I guess you CAN teach an old dog new tricks because the food here was creative and mainly delicious. Good to know.

The décor was colorful and Indian, and there was a sitar player on a pedestal, in the center of the festivities. The only thing missing from the event was goodie bags. But after all, how many belly-button jewels does one need?


Back in my club-promoting days, at some point or other, my partner and I had a night at just about hip spot in town. I did have a favorite, though, and it was Beverly Club, next door to Nate ‘N Al’s in Beverly Hills. It had a “Joe sent me” feel to it. There was just a tiny outside door with one guy standing in front. When you gained admittance, you had to walk down a big staircase into a dungeon-like setting. I absolutely loved it!

aqua lounge
We had the best chef, too, whose name I always regret that I didn’t get. He was a small-framed, older, Latino man, who I don’t think even spoke English, but perked-up every time I entered the kitchen to compliment him on his evening’s tasty dishes.

When we left, it became a strip club, and I was embarrassed to tell anyone that I had been associated with it, lest they think I meant in that incarnation. Well, now it’s open again, this time as Aqualounge. I hadn’t heard much about it, so when I was invited to the opening night party of the La Femme Film Festival the other night, I was happy to head over there, even though I, shamefully, had to miss the actual film festival itself.

The venue looked pretty much the same s in my day, except for that it was made into one big room, whereas there had been a glass-enclosed VIP section right smack in the middle before. And there has to be a different chef because the buffet offerings at this event were unimaginative and tasteless. There was a lot of comfortable seating, though, and several big-screen TVs.

I couldn’t get a handle on if this is an actual restaurant, a club, or a “lounge,” which seems to be the hipper designation these days, but is really meant as a place without dancing, which this is not. My impression of it is that it’s still a great place to party. Just watch out for the harsh lighting in the bathrooms. It’s enough to sober you up instantly and make you realize that partying isn’t great for your looks, no matter where you’re doing it.

The best part was that the DJ was playing the same old (which, in this case, is a compliment) hip-hop, which made me remember just why, for so many years, I was willing to leave my precious Clarence and Mr. X to stay out till all hours in the first place.

Aqualounge 424 N. Beverly Drive BH 310-275-8511
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