I love big hotels. It's a place where people converge, convene, and interact. For an avid people watcher like me, it's perfect because it's a world full of strange and amusing characters.
The LA Live JW Marriott is a world class hotel and features a world class lobby and had it opened in a walking city like San Francisco or New York City, it'd be constantly filled with people, strolling in and out, using the hotel is a congregation point. Not so much the case here in LA. It has nothing to do with the hotel itself, but more the fact that it's in Downtown LA, which is still in its infancy as a people-centric city center. While the hotel does draw large crowds during conventions and Lakers games, it doesn't have the same foot traffic that you'd see in New York or San Francisco.
As an Angeleno though, I'm hopeful. It is a large and beautiful space and it gives downtown LA a "center," so to speak. Let's face it, it's much better than Nokia Plaza as a city center, which with all the sponsors, ads and lights, apparently was built to resemble our post-apocalyptic future.
Umm, bring sunglasses. It's like they took this right out of Fifth Element, Running Man, Total Recall, or the ship in Wall-E.
Between The Mixing Room (sports bar), gLAnce Lounge (wine bar), Ion Bar (pool bar), LA Market (by Kerry Simon), a Wolfgang Puck creation and Illy's Coffee both due in April, there is no shortage of food and drinks at the JW Marriott.
The lounges and restaurants all feature different specialty cocktails. Best thing though: all cocktails are $10. Score. While these cocktails aren't going to compare to the libations made two blocks down at Rivera by Julian Cox or Cedd Moses' new Cana, it's a passable scene considering the location.
So what about the food? There's LA Market, by Kerry Simon, while The Mixing Room and gLAnce Lounge offers various types of small plates to go along with your lounging and relaxing. One of the secrets of gLAnce Lounge is that you can order off the LA Market menu. Keep that in mind the next time you visit. Wolfgang Puck's restaurant should open in April 2010.
Well, let's get on with the food. Our first trip to the JW Marriott included stops at The Mixing Room and LA Market.
Smokey, vegetable goodness.
The truffle drizzle brought smiles to table.
Purists will throw their fists up in a fury, but this was good.
The fried calamari was supposedly made with the colonel's secret recipe. Don't ever put a fried chicken man in a tough situation. The fried calamari did not taste like KFC in any way, shape or form. I guess once you tell me it tastes like KFC, I expect exactly that. Sadly, this went unfinished.
The fish eaters thought their dishes were slightly oversalted. The ratatouille was fantastic.
The meatballs are the same as the meatloaf special, which I believe is some combination of beef, lamb and veal. Nothing on the level of Pizzeria Mozza, but good nonetheless.
I'm not normally a big fan of lamb, unless it's lamb chops, but this was a very flavorful dish.
While these dishes are not going to knock you off your feet, in my opinion, they are better than the dishes at most of the restaurants at LA Live. I realize that might not be saying much when you consider the competition at LA Live, but you gotta make some type of comparison. All in all, everyone enjoyed their meal.
Dessert was provided on the house by Kerry Simon. His famous junk food platter from Simon LA at the Sofitel can also be found here. Sometimes, this is just what you need to end the night.
But alas, we aren't done just yet.
On my next trip back to JW Marriott, we checked out gLAnce Lounge for happy hour. The small plates menu was pretty comprehensive and it was helpful that we could order from the LA Market menu.
The ladies went with various cocktails, which of course I didn't snap any good pics of. Fortunately, you can check out Minty's review and see what they had.
I wasn't a big fan of the hard taco shell.
The happy hour dishes were decent across the board. None of them stand out enough to justify making a specific trek out to try, as you might do for FOUR at Checkers DT, but they work well as complements to the cocktails and the happy hour scene. It is certainly a welcome change to the happy hour options at LA Live.
Will the JW Marriott ever reach the hustle and bustle that I envision such a grand lobby to have, I'm hopeful. It has all the right pieces for it to be successful, all we need now are the people.
JW Marriott Hotel Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE
900 West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90015 USA