I wasn’t going to write about it. Sometimes, I like to simply enjoy a meal without fretting over my tireless documentation. That changed when Jon Voight walked in the door at the Grill. I quickly realized this was an experience worth documenting. The Grill on the Alley is a Los Angeles institution. It is a locale where the rich, famous, and powerful come to close deals, see, and be seen. It also happens to be three blocks from my office. Over the holidays, my family came down to have lunch, see my office, and spend an afternoon in Beverly Hills, where I spend so much of my time. In retrospect, I am overwhelmed by the gesture. My dad, aunt, and two uncles dressed up, drove to Beverly Hills from the valley, and showed up right on time to see my office and meet my boss. Everyone was on their best behavior, and I was touched by the effort to get a glimpse at my world.
Once we arrived at The Grill, I was ready to relax. The Grill serves simple dishes, made with high quality ingredients. It is not particularly creative, but it is classic and meticulous food. It seemed like a good meal to sit out as Psycho Cooker, and simply enjoy being an eater. As we were waiting for our table, my family sat at the bar, sipping celebratory vodka. That’s when it happened: Jon Voight walked by us at the bar, as the hostess lead him to his table. Even in the annual hush that quiets Los Angeles between Christmas and New Year’s, when Hollywood is essentially closed for business, Jon Voight has lunch at the Grill. I consider this a telling detail. I never think of myself as someone who becomes star-struck, but the Jon Voight sighting got my blood pumping. My family had apparently fulfilled their good behavior quota while meeting my boss, as they all completely lost their cool with Jon Voight. My uncle made eye contact; my aunt touched his arm as he walked by; my father actually initiated a conversation with him, and proceeded to tell Mr. Voight about the films that stuck with him the most.
When we had marginally recovered from the Jon Voight-induced madness, we were shown to our table, and proceeded to have a classic, American meal. Massive chicken pot pie with buttery pastry. Pan-fried John Dory with lemon butter sauce. Roasted whitefish with a parmesan-scallion crust. Cobb salad. Chopped steak. It was well-rounded steakhouse fare: delicious in its simplicity with lots of butter. In the high 50’s and drizzling, the weather was unseasonably cold in LA, and this meal delivered elegant comfort food. However, I was possibly the most comforted being flanked by my family while celebrating my first holiday season in Los Angeles. Call me sentimental, but if the holidays are time to take stock of our lives, I feel like my numbers and figures are coming out pretty secure. The whitefish and Jon Voight were just the icing on the cake.
January 14, 2015