The Gilded Bellini at Estrella
If you're a fan of Joni Mitchell and are captivated by the music revolution of the 1970s, the next spot you need to hit is Estrella. It’s hidden amongst the chaos on the Sunset Strip. Once you find it, you certainly won’t ever be able to forget it.
I discovered Estrella and was fascinated at the restaurant’s very unique concept – it is inspired by the famed Laurel Canyon Bungalows of 70s music icons Joni Mitchell and Mama Cass Elliott. The name Estrella actually was named after the circus girl character in Joni Mitchell’s classic song “Ladies of The Canyon.”
Side note: In Joni Mitchell’s song, she pronounces “Estrella” like “Estreya.” The restaurant, however pronounces it just the way it looks.
The restaurant is a combination of indoor and outdoor spaces that exude a whimsical and artistic vibe, while still modern with a hippie-chic stylishness. It’s inevitable to feel while sitting down as if you’re in the age of Woodstock, and a part of the time in history that defined a social revolution.
As a history buff, I was on cloud nine just being able to be in a space that replicated such an iconic time in the past in such a beautiful way.
The space is very cozy, with dark wooden tables placed amongst tons of plants, flowers, hanging topiaries, colorful glass pendants. Industrial-inspired windowpanes separated the indoor portion of the restaurant from the outdoor one. Lots of Earth-tone pillows were generously placed at several seats.
While I sat at a wooden table on one side of the outdoor terrace, the most gorgeous area is just around the bend of the restaurant. Many sofas with floral and paisley patterns served as seating areas for tables. The rustic, antique details were endless with copper accents, a fireplace, a piano, and a carefully placed guitar towards the back for a full 1970s-inspired experience. Estrella is so intricately designed, and you could clearly tell that lots of research and hard work was put into designing the entire space to honor the age of the hippies in Los Angeles.
I could go on and on about the décor, but now… on to the food and drinks!
Every drink on the cocktail menu looks outstanding. The names are so creative and also serve as an ode to the past, with some being called “Ruffle Your Feathers,” “Laurel Canyon,” “Joni Mitchell” and “Moulin Rouge.” While every drink looked ridiculously tempting, I went with “Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘N’ Roll.” It was a smoky tequila cocktail with hints of ginger and rosemary that was nothing less than exquisite… and also very strong! (I’ll be posting more info about this cocktail in Cocktail Spotlight soon, so I won’t give too much away right now ;) )
The food on this menu is absolutely phenomenal and is so charmingly presented. Between my mom Candy, my friend Amy, my brother Steven, and me, we ordered the Baked Short Rib Mac and Cheese, the Ahi Poke “Nicoise” Salad, the Cornmeal Griddle Cakes, and the Scrambled Egg White Wrap.
It’s honestly hard to describe how delectable everything was. My two favorites were definitely the Cornmeal Griddle Cakes and the Scrambled Egg White Wrap!
The Cornmeal Griddle Cakes consisted of cinnamon pecan praline, tarragon, crème fraiche, and smoked salt. It was a sophisticated take on comfort food – the combination of the warm griddle cakes and the cinnamon pecan praline was sweet and aromatic. The Scrambled Egg White Wrap was probably the best I’ve ever had: sautéed spinach, red quinoa, salsa verde, and avocado in a wheat wrap. I was really surprised that a meal like this didn’t have cheese in it (and happy considering I am dairy free!) and each ingredient created a savory marriage of flavors that was just right. All together, the dish was satisfying without having any greasiness and guilt.
Estrella offers a brunch experience that is much more than just great food and drinks. Estrella is the gorgeous, local WeHo hippie sanctuary that truly presents an ode to the female culture and perspectives of Joni Mitchell and Mama Cass Elliott in a fresh and enchanting way. It gives guests a chance to shut out the pandemonium of the sleepless Sunset Strip, and enter into a world that takes you back to a time that Hollywood was home to musicians that sang the dreamy, poetic tunes we still love today.
Here's a really great article I found that Vanity Fair did on Joni Mitchell and the fellow musicians she collaborated with in the bungalows of Laurel Canyon:
8800 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069