When I had my unexpected and last minute trip to the USA, I had a 24-hour stopover on the way home in LA. Em asked me what I would like to do on my one-day stopover and I couldn’t think of how I could fit LA into 12 hours so we threw our hands up in the air and just went to lunch.
Driving around LA it became obvious that there is little that is similar between New York and Los Angeles. Given the challenges of getting around, I think many people living in LA, if given the choice would prefer to live in New York. However, my sister and her husband are part of a large group whose work keeps them living in Los Angeles. Another consideration is that if you are regularly returning to Australia to visit family, it’s a much shorter flight from LA than it is from New York.
It was a day of around 100F (37C) and there were clear blue skies over the city which my sister said is standard. We drove along ugly multi-lane roads that were choked with cars and behind the wheel were drivers who refuse to let you in and if you show courtesy to them they never give you the wave. It’s brutal and ruthless on LA roads.
Pulling off the ugly road and arriving in Beverly Grove was like finding an oasis. Beverly Grove is a small neighbourhood in the central part of LA close to Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. There’s a smart shopping centre where chauffeurs illegally double-park while their celebrity employers rush in to luxury shops to pick up the next must-have.
Fred Segal is an iconic and upmarket smaller-scaled department store selling designer clothes, handbags and cosmetics. Part of Fred Segal is Mauro Cafe that serves Italian cuisine and is trendy, upmarket, elegant and known for its celebrity sightings. A bonus feature is that there’s a private parking lot taking away the stress of struggling to find a park.
On this beautiful summer’s day a lot of diners were preferring to sit at the outdoor tables but we were hot enough and went for a table inside. The cafe is buzzing and with the paved brick flooring, it’s noisy yet not so noisy Em and I have to scream at each other. The waiters look smart and are casually dressed in jeans and very efficient.
We were offered the wine list and ordered two glasses of Cotes de Provence, Whispering Angel. Whispering Angel is made by Brad and Angelina at their winery in France. The wine is a rose in the palest hue of pink that’s clean and crisp and served very chilled, is a perfect summer’s wine.
A variety of complimentary breads arrived in a yellow bowl along with a small dish of olives. We enjoyed these while looking over the menu. It was refreshing to see that a lot of the produce sourced by the cafe is organic or free-range and the beef is farm-raised. We shared an entree of Bresaola Carparccio & Arugula (rocket). The serving was generous and the bresaola paper-thin and enhanced by the shaved parmesan. This was a great start to our meal.
We couldn’t take our eyes off the pasta section where the menu advises that gluten-free and wholewheat pastas are available. Em ordered Spaghetti Aglio Olio with fresh garlic, parsley and chilli pepper flakes swirled in extra virgin olive oil. Her pasta was very light with a great kick of chilli.
I ordered the Penne Con Porcini which was porcini mushrooms with a sherry wine cream sauce. This was beautifully rich, very glossy and with strong cheese and porcini mushroom flavours. It was a struggle to finish but I managed it.
We asked to have a look at the dessert menu and rather than having it presented in word form, the actual choices are presented on a platter in front of you. There were a lot of temptations but after my rich pasta I opted for the homemade Oreo cookie while Em chose a couple of macarons.
The Oreo cookie was very dark and rich with a strong cocoa flavour while the icing was mild and smooth without being sickly-sweet. The macarons were quickly devoured and just a little tempting sweetness to finish off the meal. They went especially well with a coffee.
Then the check arrived and I loved how it came with a few little treats. These were peppermints and I scooped them into my handbag to enjoy on my flight home.
Fred Segal Mauro Cafe is in Beverly Grove which is a very beautiful part of LA set back from the ugly main roads. It is an upmarket and trendy cafe offering clean, fresh Italian cuisine that uses well-sourced produce. As well as a great dining experience, this is a great place to people-watch.
Verdict: An oasis
Fred Segal Mauro Cafe: 8112 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90046