A few years back, I was a field correspondent on a live morning show hosted by the fabulous Steve Edwards. We worked really well together because he made such fun of me, but always in a kind, loving way. On one particularly chaotic blender drink-making segment, he turned to the camera and said, “The recipes, and translation in English, will be on our hotline.”
I think of that often as I’m rambling on on my television show, “Karen’s Restaurant Revue.” Well, now this website gives me that “translation” opportunity. I recently reviewed Chakra on “KRR” (times and dates listed at the end of this column), but now you get to see the print review, in case I talk too fast for you to catch it all on TV.
Chakra is a hot, new restaurant in a beautiful space on Doheny in BH. I had been to the opening in October, the night before I left for a month in NY, and the decor and lighting were so impressive that I knew it would be the next LA restaurant I’d review. (FYI-Openings and actual meals in an establishment are two totally different experiences, on every level.)
We were not disappointed in any way. The food was incredible, the presentations exquisite, and the service great, after a bit of a slow start, so have some patience in that category because it’s worth it. Even the cutlery is worth noting.
There are beautiful private cabanas up front, for no extra charge, but, being three females, we chose to sit in the main room. (I’ll save the privacy for a return visit with the hermit-esque Mr. X.) The lighting was just perfect, for the food and for the original chapter of the Femme Fatales. (That’s the name I’ve used for my various groups of girlfriends since back in the day.)
As Anthony, our accommodating and pleasant waiter, explained at the beginning, this isn’t an Indian restaurant; it’s an American restaurant with Indian food. I didn’t really get what he meant, at first, because the dishes are indeed Indian. But it’s not what you’d expect. It’s super-upscale cuisine, with sophisticated recipes and presentations worthy of royalty.
I can’t even single out one menu item because, seriously, there wasn’t a weakness in the bunch. We sampled six appetizers, and we all loved each one, which may be a first in my reviewing history. Our group favorite was the interesting cheese skewers, no fooling, called Paneer Shaklik, for you language sticklers.
Brian, the handsome manager, told us that if we want anything mild, to ask the waiter to really stress that to the chefs. I tasted what he meant, but even the dishes that I would have preferred less spicy were delicious just the way they were.
Some restaurants in this hip, pricey, semi-Asian category leave you hanging at the beginning of the meal because they don’t serve chips or bread. Or even crudités. Chakra has a creative solution, which saved my life because I was famished when I arrived and needed a lot of lead-time to take in the entire menu. A basket of delicious, crisp yet airy, chip-like nibbles arrived with a gorgeous dish of four colorful and very different sauces. I ate one whole basket by myself, with the mango sauce. They took the edge off my hunger, but didn’t ruin the rest of the meal, which happens way too often. To all of us, I’m sure.
I never eat desserts at Indian restaurants because they’re not worth it, but Chakra was different, which I knew by dessert time. Eadie and Bobbi loved the pistachio ice cream, which was like no other we’ve ever had. I loved the strange-sounding carrot pudding in filo dough. But since it was almost Bobbi’s birthday, we had their special birthday treat of a chocolate mousse pyramid, which was the most delicious.
All three of us took part of our meals home, and thought the food was equally, if not even more, delicious the next day, which is the true test of food for me.
When I reviewed it on my show, an audience member told me something after the taping about the fabulous Chakra potables. They have signature drinks, for the chakras of the body. I usually don’t imbibe, and I was surprised that the ladies didn’t want to that night, so now I feel like we missed out on the bar. Yet another reason for a return visit, which I plan to make soon. Maybe this time for lunch, which I heard is special, too. Or maybe for a virgin chakra and chips. Or even to throw a party in one of the private party rooms. The possibilities are endless.
Chakra 151 S. Doheny Drive Beverly Hills 310-246-3999 www.chakracuisine.com
And lastly, I wish everyone a Happy Channukah, Merry Christmas, and perfect holiday season, no matter what, how, or with whom you celebrate.
Karen’s Restaurant Revue airs on Friday, Dec. 22 at 7:30PM on Time-Warner Cable, Channels 98, 77 37, or 3. (Check your area listings.)