Lifestyle

This West Hollywood Caviar Palace Is LA’s Most Exclusive New Dinner Destination

A caviar-topped baked potato that ranges from $120 for 30 grams of royal white sturgeon to $1,035 for 125 grams of top-tier oscietra. Angel hair pasta with cream and the option of adding caviar or shaved truffle or both. A grilled cheese sandwich, adorned with garlic flowers and, of course, covered in caviar. These are just a few of the over-the-top items at the new West Hollywood location of Caviar Kaspia, which also offers traditional caviar service, Cinco Jotas Ibérico ham, Wagyu tenderloin, lobster salad, king crab salad, Dover sole and caviar-topped crispy rice.

Walk-ins are welcome during lunch, but dinner is only available for friends and family and their guests. You can apply to be on the waitlist if Caviar Kaspia doesn’t already know you.

This LA outpost of Caviar Kaspia, which Sam Ben-Avraham and Rahav Zuta opened on Melrose Place in October, is about luxury on luxury. The restaurant has already hosted parties for elite brands like Giambattista Valli, Rolls-Royce, Cartier and Rodarte. The stylish celebrities who have popped by include Ciara, Winnie Harlow, Alessandra Ambrosio and Kiernan Shipka.

Ben-Avraham, a serial fashion entrepreneur (Atrium, Kith, Liberty Fairs) who’s making his first foray into the restaurant business, remembers many nights he spent at Caviar Kaspia in Paris. That’s where the brand started in 1927.

“I’ve been going to Paris for maybe 25 years, every time there’s Fashion Week, so at least twice a year,” Ben-Avraham says. “Sometimes, I would be there four times a year. And somehow during every visit, somebody is arranging a dinner at Kaspia. It’s one of those moments where everyone celebrates.”

So when it came time for Ben-Avraham and Zuta to figure out what to do with a space directly in front of the Maor jewelry store in West Hollywood, the idea of gems and caviar was compelling. It was so compelling, in fact, that the vision for Caviar Kaspia in Los Angeles jolted Ben-Avraham awake at 4 a.m. one day. Maor had been working on a hall that would house pearls and other precious stones. And suddenly, Ben-Avraham couldn’t get the idea of caviar pearls out of his head.

“The next day, we called the guys from Caviar Kaspia in Paris and said, ‘Hey, we have this crazy idea to open in LA,’” Ben-Avraham says. “‘We have a beautiful space.’ They came down here, saw it and liked it. That’s how we ended up doing it.”

There’s a rich Caviar Kaspia history to reflect in Los Angeles. But a lot of what executive chef Corey Burgan (who formerly cooked at Maude, the Beverly Wilshire hotel and 208 Rodeo) is doing in West Hollywood is about respectful reinterpretation and innovation. Caviar Kaspia is famous for its caviar baked potato in Paris, where it uses French Samba potatoes. In LA, after extensive research, Burgan decided to combine Russet and Yukon potatoes. With the starchiness of a Russet and the creaminess of a Yukon, he can have both the flavor and fluffiness he wants.

“You kind of get the best of both worlds,” Burgan says. “We roast off the Russets, and then we mix in 25 to 35 percent of the Yukon.”

Burgan’s caviar grilled cheese, meanwhile, was born in LA. It comes on potato bread, because Caviar Kaspia is known for potatoes and because Burgan realized that the low moisture of the bread means he gets more crispness on the outside of each sandwich. There’s a combination of mozzarella (for stretchiness) and Beemster cheese (for sharpness and saltiness).

“Like any other business, even in fashion when we open a store in a foreign market, we always try to adapt to the local customer and understand that not every concept is a copy-paste,” says Ben-Avraham, who adds that he worked with Burgan on a menu with salads, fish and vegetable dishes that “people can eat every day.”

To create a lobster salad, for example, Burgan experimented with different lettuces, fruits and dressings before nailing the combination of butter lettuce, hearts of palms, avocado, radish, sorrel, apples and a citrus vinaigrette. His creative high-end cooking at Caviar Kaspia is the culmination of a career in which he honed his fine-dining chops under Curtis Stone at Maude and then continued to cook for a well-heeled clientele while running big Beverly Hills kitchens.

Despite all the glamour at Caviar Kaspia in West Hollywood, there’s also a purposefully low-key element here. (On a recent afternoon, a reality-TV personality who was having lunch inquired about dinner. The staff briefly discussed how to handle putting him on the waitlist with no promise of a dinner reservation.) There’s a please-no-photos policy printed on the menu.

“We don’t let people take photos unless it’s a private event,” Ben-Avraham says. “I just don’t want my space to become one of those Instagram moments where everybody takes 10 minutes of photos on the staircase or something like that. I feel I’m very old-fashioned in a way. I get the new world and I understand the need for that, but I just don’t want to end up with a bunch of people using the space as staging for their own Instagram.”

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