Gwen Restaurant, by Chef Curtis Stone and Brother Luke Stone Officially Opens this week in Hollywood!
In one of the country’s most anticipated openings of 2016, Curtis Stone — the chef behind the fine dining sensation, Maude, in Beverly Hills — opened Gwen restaurant on July 12th with his brother Luke Stone. The launch of the restaurant follows the recent opening of Gwen’s world-class, European-style butcher shop. The restaurant’s five-course degustation menu created by Curtis and his executive chef Gareth Evans, showcases a mix of individually plated and shared dishes including charcuterie from the butcher shop; classic and innovative vegetable and pasta dishes; and beautiful meats prepared with primitive fire-cooking methods over the in-house fire pit and asador. Set in a 1920’s old Hollywood building, the elegant 80-seat restaurant pays homage to the original character of the space with one-of-a-kind furnishings by HOME STUDIOS. Table bookings for Gwen, located at 6600 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, CA 90028, are available online at www.GwenLA.com.
The opening of Gwen is a decade-long dream realized for Curtis and Luke. While both brothers had worked in butcher shops as their first jobs, it was while Curtis was working in London under famed British chef Marco Pierre White that he fell in love with the quality and craft of European butcher shops. The restaurant is inspired by Gwen’s namesake: their maternal grandmother who lived on a farm outside of Melbourne. It was on Gwen’s farm where the brothers were first exposed to livestock farming, which instilled in them great respect for the process of raising animals for food. Through Curtis’ cooking career, he has maintained an appreciation for primitive cooking methods and whole animal utilization, which are now celebrated throughout the culinary program at Gwen
Guests of Gwen enter the space through the butcher shop before stepping into its beautiful restaurant, which includes a grand dining room of lush banquettes and booths, a five-seat chef’s counter, and a hidden upper-level mezzanine wine room, in addition to two stately, pink marble-topped bars in both the main dining room and mezzanine. Separating the backcenter of the grand dining room from the kitchen is the hearth of Gwen: a glass-enclosed live fire pit with custom asador.
The five-course tasting menu begins with a wave of small plates, emphasizing housemade charcuterie from the butcher shop. At Gwen, a charcuterie starter can include anything from a dry-cured salami to a classic French-style terrine, rillettes, or marinated seafood, accompanied by prepared and pickled vegetables and other antipasti. For the opening menu, guests enjoy a piece of warm housemade Focaccia and sharing portions of Nduja and Duck Speck from the butcher shop, followed by Piperade, marinated and slowly cooked peppers, and Chewy Beets, a dish of roasted and dehydrated baby red beets and pickled baby yellow and baby candy stripe beets. The final starters to whet the appetite are a grilled sardine, served warm from the fire and topped with fennel gelée, and a pork and liver terrine made in the butcher shop
Next, a composed and individually plated salad arrives, currently featuring “burnt” cucumbers cooked over the kitchen’s brasero wood fire grill, summer squash blanched and compressed in basil oil, grilled squash blossoms, thinly sliced Hawaiian hearts of palm, fennel chips, and dots of buttermilk purée. A pasta course follows, presented and served tableside. Gwen’s Orecchiette is enrobed in tomato sauce, made from confit heirloom tomatoes, charred and pickled Fresno chiles, Calabrian chiles, and housemade pancetta, all topped with crispy breadcrumbs and pecorino.
The main event at Gwen, of course, is the meat. Each menu highlights one animal broken down and cooked in several ways, but, the presentation is more refined than what one might expect from traditional whole animal cooking. The opening menu’s Stemple Creek Ranch Lamb is served three ways: as ribs, brined for 24 hours, spiced, slow-roasted, and finished over fire; shoulder, slow-roasted and smoked over the fire pit, then pulled and finished in the Josper oven; and grilled merguez sausage. Accompanying the meat is a selection of seasonal sides including smoky eggplant caponata studded with capers, olives and raisins, topped with macadamia nuts and market flowers; decadent charred corn ‘creamed’ with corn stock and finished with cracked black pepper; and a plate of fresh yellow wax and haricot verts beans, marinated and topped with shaved radishes. Vegetarian options are available for each course of Gwen’s tasting menu.
On the sweet side, a refreshing pre-dessert seasonal sorbet cleanses the palate, followed by a the dessert course. The opening menu at Gwen features Créme Fraîche Panna Cotta with lemon verbena meringues and tart apricot sorbet.
In addition to the tasting menu, Gwen’s six-seat dining room bar, six-seat upstairs mezzanine bar (set in the stunning wine room that can also serve as a secluded private dining area) and outdoor patio (opening soon after the restaurant) will all offer a separate à la carte “Butcher Scraps” menu that makes the most of odds and ends from the butcher case. Unlike what the name may suggest, dishes on this menu are elegantly composed and undeniably delicious, and include daily butchers’ terrines and the restaurant menu’s smoked lamb ribs, which are worthy of their own dedicated visit.
Ben Aviram, who has worked in wine at The French Laundry, Alinea and Maude, leads Gwen’s wine program. Gwen offers an international list of more than 300 selections, with a special focus on LA’s local wine country, Santa Barbara, with several winemakers selling direct to Gwen; featured local producers include Scar of the Seas and Whitcraft Winery. Additionally, Gwen’s cellar contains rare vertical tastings of Santa Barbara wines dating from the early 2000s. Because they pair with charcuterie, orange wines and rosés have a prominent place on the wine list throughout the entire year.
The cocktail program at Gwen keeps with Gwen’s philosophy of creating beautiful things to eat and drink with the most high quality and hyper-seasonal ingredients. Just as the butchers and chefs work together to utilize all parts of the animal, the bartenders work to utilize all parts of their chosen ingredients. Within the Gwen cocktail menu, ingredients are used multiple ways, multiple times; for example, raspberries are currently used as a syrup and a garnish on the Cup Styled, and will also be transformed into a compote that serves as the base for a shrub cocktail. Gwen’s cocktail menu will always have eight signature drinks, based on classic styles reimagined to align with the seasons. The list’s first three cocktails — Spritz In Nature (opening menu features a basil and apricot gin shrub), Cup Styled (an aperitif-based drink both floral and fruit forward, over crushed ice) and Martini Inspired (dry and herbaceous with peach-infused bianco vermouth, and pisco) — pair best with Gwen’s first course. To hold up to the meal’s main meat course, the cocktail menu offers more acidic drinks like the Sour Profile (cherry, spiked with mezcal) and Collins Family (melon, Suze, Chareau, and sparkling rosé, served up), in addition to a white spirits and cucumber Negroni Reflection (cucumber Genepi, Genever, dry vermouth). Recommended cocktails to round out the meal include interpretations of whiskey classics — Manhattan Schooled (aged rum, Amontillado sherry, sweet vermouth, vanilla and saffron syrups, peach-stuffed cherry) and Old Fashion Drink (Armagnac, rye, cherry, coffee). Cocktails are served stylishly in vintage glassware curated from the first half of the 20th century.
As another nod to the brothers’ Australian roots, Gwen is the only restaurant in the U.S. to serve St. ALi coffee, a cult-favorite roaster and shop out of Melbourne. Gwen serves St. ALi coffee drinks to-go from the butcher shop (full espresso service), plus St. ALi beans by the half pound, and offers a French press coffee service in the main dining room. Currently featured St. ALi coffees include Orthodox, a 40% Colombian / 60% Brazilian blend with butterscotch sweetness, rich chocolate fudge and and raisin notes, and Brazilian Natural Tomazini from Espírito Santo, Brazil, with papaya sweetness, and notes of ripe peach, bergamot, milk chocolate and candied lemon.
Set within the 1926 building formerly occupied by The Mercantile and Township restaurants, Gwen’s design— created by brothers Evan and Oliver Haslegrave of HOME STUDIOS — is a stunning space that channels old world Hollywood glamour with a modern, one-of-a-kind execution. The HOME brothers are known for their award-winning restaurant designs, including June, Sisters, Alameda and Tørst; Gwen is their first venture in Los Angeles, and their most ambitious yet.
Guests enter Gwen through the butcher shop, set off to the side of the restaurant’s dining room. The shop, with its hanging whole animals, handsome wood and copper butcher blocks, and reclaimed, century old tiles, sets the scene for the show that is Gwen. The main dining room reveals bold, visceral elements like a fire pit with lamb smoking and roasting, offset by soft, effeminate touches, communicated through HOME’s material selection and a color palette of warm woods, soft blues, coppers, greens, pinks. In the main space two rows of structural wood columns frame three distinct areas — butcher shop, dining room, and bar – with two rows of blue velvet booths alongside the outer perimeter of the dining room, running parallel to a center ‘aisle’ created by two intimate, high collared banquettes facing each other. The aisle leads through the dining room to the restaurant’s main altar: a glassenclosed fire pit, raging with hot orange flames, topped by a copper hood. In the clandestine, upper-level mezzanine dining room, guests get a rarefied opportunity to dine under an arched tile ceiling among the restaurant’s wine collection, housed in handmade stainedglass and mirror doors throughout. The entire front of Gwen is composed of floor-to-ceiling windows, with doors opening onto Sunset Boulevard. The soft light that swells in through the space in the late afternoon shows a more graceful color palette, while the night pulls back the curtain to an enveloping warm glow.
While the overall atmosphere at Gwen is trasportive, it is in the design details — the art, furniture, lighting and decor — where this restaurant is like none in its path. The chair known by HOME as the “stiletto” was carved in their studio to wrap around you; its legs are contrasted by a delicate looking structure and thick sea foam colored velvet seat. The “stiletto” was prototyped by HOME and fabricated by their friends at Maderas Village. The back bar has a custom light fixture carved from pink marble and solid brass centered between two stone and glass sculptures adorning bottles, further bookended by two triptychs, one of crystal and one of stone, all created and made by HOME.
Gwen’s light fixtures are bold and grandiose. Surrounding the space’s six wooden columns are custom HOME fixtures that drop down from the ceiling via brass poles, creating a floating effect. The linear lines are contrasted by cylindrical, hand-blown glass globes with brass hardware. Two dazzling chandeliers, each with 270 crystals, hang in the center of the space, sending flecks of glittery light throughout the restaurant. Each table is topped with a hand-blown pink glass votive candle holder. With the goal of reinventing the way a classic votive filters light up to a diner’s face, HOME’s votive refracts the light downward at a 45 degree angle, replacing harsh light with soft, warm, flattering light.
CHEF CURTIS STONE & LUKE STONE
Chef Curtis Stone got his start working up the ranks in fine dining, chef starred kitchens. He first started cooking at the Savoy Hotel’s five star restaurant in Melbourne, before leaving for London to follow his dream of working for the legendary Marco Pierre White. Eager and committed to joining one of the top restaurant groups, he started as a volunteer at The Grill Room at Café Royal and, after impressing there, worked his way up to become the sous chef at Mirabelle, where he stayed for two years before becoming the head chef at White’s flagship restaurant, Quo Vadis. In 2014, Chef Stone opened Maude, LA’s acclaimed fine dining destination, unanimously named by critics as one best new restaurants in LA that year.
Partnering with Chef Stone on the project is his brother Luke Stone, who serves as Gwen’s Managing Owner. For 15 years, Luke has owned and managed Strathmore Flowers, taking it from a small family-owned shop to one of the largest corporate florists in Melbourne.
When Curtis Stone opened his first restaurant Maude (a James Beard Foundation Best New Restaurant Semifinalist in 2015 and still one of LA’s most sought-after reservations) he boldly introduced a new level of fine dining to LA, offering a monthly changing tasting menu built entirely around one seasonal ingredient. Gwen similarly meets this same standard of fine dining, but with a completely different approach — one that fuses a world-class butcher shop and premier restaurant experience. Bringing together Curtis’ cooking experience at Michelin-starred restaurants, Luke’s business and hospitality acumen, and the talent from some of the most qualified butchers and restaurant professionals, Gwen is reimagining the butcher shop-restaurant concept.
HOURS & RESERVATIONS
Sunday and Monday: CLOSED
Tuesday through Saturday: reservations from 5:30pm – 9:30pm
Reservations available at gwenla.com
Gwen Butcher Shop
Monday: 10am – 7pm
Tuesday – Saturday: 10am – 10pm
Sunday: 10am – 4pm