NINETHIRTY: Setting Seasonal Standard in Westwood Village [CLOSED]

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Hotel Sign Los Angeles

W is a boutique hotel with a UCLA adjacent branch that's date and parent friendly.

I always enjoyed my meals at South Pasadena’s Firefly Bistro, where Los Angeles native Monique King cooked with husband Paul Rosenbluh for years. He runs the entire Firefly kitchen since King decamped to NINETHIRTY. When the W’s publicist invited me to experience NINETHIRTY, I was interested to see how King would fare on her own. Her menu at NINETHIRTY is seasonal and certainly says all the right things, pledging support for “local farms, all-natural meat producers, ethically and sustainably fished seafood purveyors, and organic products.” That kind of assurance is increasingly popular these days, but unlike some other chefs, King ensured that the ethically raised animals didn’t die in vein.

The building debuted in the ’60s as UCLA student dorms and eventually switched to the Westwood Marquis Hotel, which was known as a preferred venue for visiting rock stars. A decade ago, the W took over. Initially, the hotel restaurant was called Mojo, which specialized in Latin cuisine.

When the powers-that-be at the W decided to switch to California cuisine, Yabu Pushelberg oversaw the redesign, populating the room with red velvet drapes, a high wood ceiling and similarly appointed tables and floor. A small but interesting stone bar features vine-like wood backing. Lighting is highlighted by modern stainless steel chandeliers with Saturn-like rings and a universe of bulbs with exposed filaments. Seating consists of banquettes, with four tops at either end and communal tables in the middle. The music is up tempo dance.

Bartender Stephanie Sanders created a seven-option cocktail list incorporating seasonally inspired ingredients, so we each started with a drink. Irish Sling featured Jameson Irish Whiskey and two of my favorite flavors: fresh pear and sage, which accentuated the whiskey to good effect.

Cocktail Los Angeles
A vivid Blackberry Mojito combined Cruzan rum with fresh lime, muddled blackberries and fresh mint leaves, some of which pressed against the sunlit glass.

Both drinks were fairly well balanced, but I have the same complaint about each one. The cocktails had short life spans since the ice melted quickly. If they upgrade the ice, they’ll have longer staying power.

They also had 6 beers that they consider the Usual Suspects, 10 more Unusual Suspects, plus Drinkable Sweets, 3 tiers of white wines by the glass, 4 tiers of red wines by the glass, all available by the 3 ounce sip, 6 ounce taste and bottomless.

Bread Los Angeles
I don’t normally take photos of the complimentary bread plate, but NINETHIRTY features an especially interesting version, with soft La Brea Bakery olive bread, a globe of maple-red chile butter and Kalamata olive tapenade that provided a hit of red pepper and herbs.

Vegetables Los Angeles
We split four different SMALL plates that typically cost $10.50 each. Caramelized Brussels Sprouts bordered on being burned, but the crisp, salty sprouts still packed plenty of flavor thanks to the addition of red pepper, parsley and toasted almonds.

Gnocchi Los Angeles
Dumpling-like Summer Corn Gnocchi were lavished with sweet fresh peas, long roasted cauliflower, basil and escarole that helped to balance the dish’s richness, all strewn with firm, fresh-torn ricotta salata.

Noodles Los Angeles
Sesame Soba Noodle Salad was a refreshing starter, with cool al dente noodles topped with a plump jumbo shrimp coated in sesame-tinged scallion puree, with clumps of minced tofu amped up with parsley and toasted garlic.

Panini Los Angeles
Aged Gouda Panini appeared on a wood plank with dried Mission fig-bittersweet chocolate compote, drizzles of Spanish orange syrup and bittersweet chocolate, with a cluster of orange segments serving as a garnish. The citrus and chocolate proved to be too sweet, even if the chocolate was technically “bittersweet.”

We skipped all of the deck oven pizzas and MEDIUM plates, even though the spicy Latin-influenced tuna tartare and rosemary grilled scallops with toasted pita salad sounded intriguing.

Pork Los Angeles
The juicy, char-grilled Pork Chop ($30) hosted a sweet tomato-molasses glaze and was a solid protein, but the accompaniments proved more compelling, especially a moist kernel-studded sage corn pudding that transported me back to my college days in Nashville. I also enjoyed the bundle of smoky bacon-wrapped asparagus. The only component I could have done without was the overly aggressive tarragon apple cole slaw.

Cake Los Angeles
Zesty Lemon Cake ($10) was kind of like a bundt, and in this case, a dry one. The dome was coated with icing and plated with a trio of sugared blackberries, tart lemon curd, crispy strips of candied lemon peel and whipped cream.

On an after dinner walk around Westwood Village, it became increasingly clear that the meal we just experienced was the best meal possible within walking distance of UCLA…by far. I’m not sure whether that’s an indictment of Westwood or a compliment to NINETHIRTY. I’m leaning toward the latter.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

i actually really enjoyed ninethirty when I was there many years ago but thought it was pricey (back when I wasn’t used to paying that much for food!) but excited to try this again cuz the food looks great!


There seems to be an unwritten surcharge associated with the W. The high valet fee says as much. Still, even if the prices are a little high, at least the portions are large and the flavor’s there.


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[…] Food GPS » NINETHIRTY – Los Angeles, CA – May 1, 2010 […]

Westwood Village is a deathtrap for businesses. I agree that the W suffers from visibility, but if it’s as good as you say it is, perhaps it can attract enough of a crowd on its own.


You’d certainly know about Westwood restaurants, being a former resident. NINETHIRTY is a solid restaurant, especially compared to nearby options, but probably doesn’t fall into the “destination” category. Then again, very few restaurants do.

Well, I know you can eat fairly well at Napa Valley Grille, and I don’t think any pork chop there will run $30!
The W/930 suffers from a poor location on out of the way Hilgard, keeping it out of the mindset of most villagers looking for a place to eat, unless of course they are staying at the W.

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jo Stougaard and foodgps, Vickie McCorkendale. Vickie McCorkendale said: I agree! Nice article! RT @foodgps: NINETHIRTY, the best restaurant in Westwood Village (@WLosAngeles) […]

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