Beverly Hills’s South Beverly Drive, a block where parking meters expire at 9 p.m., is not the first place one would expect to find an ambitious Los Angeles fine-dining establishment. But here, across from a California Pizza Kitchen, behind nondescript frosted-glass windows, sits Maude, a 25-seat jewel box run by Australian chef-owner Curtis Stone (above). The restaurant wows, it dazzles, it’s event eating at its best.
Stone’s approach at Maude is literally one-of-a-kind: The nine-course tasting menu focuses on a singular ingredient per month—that might mean morels one month, berries the next, then corn, tomatoes and so on. “What ingredient fits into which month is driven by what the farmers are saying is best, so the main ingredient is an easy decision,” Stone says. “When we get to how we use it, it gets more complicated. Can we dehydrate it? Steam it? Boil it? Turn it into a gel? Juice it? Eat the leaves? Then we think about how it fits into a seasonal menu featuring the ocean and the land.”
The morels, for example, were the centerpiece of a progression of courses and intermezzos that included popcorn, risotto, soup, kampachi, scallops, duck egg, raviolo, pork belly, lamb, taleggio and chocolate. The showstopper was the kampachi, balanced by the acidity of pickled morels, fattiness of avocado and sweetness of a passion fruit granita.
The dining conceit might come across as a pretentious turnoff if it weren’t for the fact that Stone executes every aspect of the restaurant—the intricately presented food, the wine pairings, the charming vintage china (he bought it at a flea market in Long Beach), the service—with unquestionable excellence. “I get home at 1 a.m., and I think, Why are you doing this? What’s the matter with you?” says Stone, who runs the kitchen almost every night. “But I wanted to challenge myself. I get so much satisfaction from the constant creativity. The restaurant is as much for the chef as it is for the diner.”
From $85 for nine courses
212 S. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills