I went to Gordon Ramsay at the London Hotel many years ago during DineLA but had not been back and then heard it closed over a year ago. I never heard if a new place opened but apparently Boxwood has been the restaurant at the London Hotel for over a year now.
I recently went with a friend for a media dinner and was intrigued with what we would experience. For years the Sunset Strip was not a foodie destination but with restaurants like Eveleigh and The Churchkey, I anticipated that anything new would aspire to be on the same level. The restaurant is opulent with views overlooking the lights of the Sunset Strip, textured white walls and leather banquettes. Unfortunately, Boxwood does not live up to the quality of food that those other restaurants offer.
The menu at Boxwood seems to have a little of everything, from sushi to pasta to chicken tikka masala to steak. Although there are Japanese, Indian, Italian, French and American dishes, the menu is not an international menu. The menu does not seem to have a purpose or direction. It seems more like a hotel restaurant that is trying to appeal to all but not necessarily pleasing anyone.
We started with a few cocktails. I would define the quality of drink not only by its balance but by it being finished. Sadly none of the drinks at our table were finished.
The Heir and the Spare (Peligrosso Cinnamon Tequila, Pimms, Ginger Beer, Orange Puree, Lemon Twist) is very hot and sweet and tastes like a cinnamon red hot candy. London Calling (Mezcal, St. Germain, Averna, Lemon Juice) has too much going on, from the smokiness of the mezcal, the sweetness of the St. Germain, the bitterness of the Averna and the citrus of the lemon juice. The Eye (Basil Haydens, Strawberry, Blueberry, Mint) is too light and the fruit adds sweetness but does not add depth or acidity.
As this was a media dinner, we were served almost every dish on the menu. We were off to a great start with the Bread and Sea Salt, served warm and fresh with a crispy crust.
With all of the amazing sushi available in Los Angeles, it is not worth serving anything less. The rice in the Spicy Big Eye Tuna Roll was dry and cold which affected the overall taste of this dish.
The Crab Toast was enjoyable with meaty chunks of crab and fresh green papaya salad and the siracha adds a little heat.
I liked the Mushroom Curry Custard but would have liked more curry custard. The Crisp Rice Cakes, which are crackers not cakes, are very tasty but not a good fit with the custard as the flavor was lost. A simple crostini would be a better pairing.
The Local Burrata with Castelvetrano Olives and White Truffle Cream is a bit disjointed. The burrata is on top of a flaky puff pastry that absorbs the liquid from the oil and cheese. When cutting a bite, the crust does not break up easily and most of it is left on the plate while the burrata is on the fork.
It is called Caesar Salad with Spiced Beef Tartare but there were only two pieces of hearts of romaine so a salad it is not. The beef tartare sat on a toasted bread cracker. There are two steak fries sitting on the plate as well that did not make a lot of sense to the dish.
The Steamed Mussels, Fennel Sausage unfortunately had a very ocean-y taste. They were not off but they just did not taste the way I like mussels to taste.
The Charcoal Roasted Carrots, Sunflower Tahini, Medjool Dates was a plate of large full-size carrots. It is an earthy dish but the plating is a bit off-putting.
The Tagliatelle Pasta was not cooked al dente and the Sonoma Duck Confit, which looked like meat loaf, was dry. Sadly this plate did not work.
The Spiced Pumpkin Gnocchi with Bellwether Ricotta and Roasted Pistachios also has large pieces of pumpkin and mushrooms and was one of the better dishes of the night.
I have trouble understanding why the menu says Lobster Risotto, Brussels Sprouts when there are only four brussels sprouts leaves in the dish. The lobster was tasty but the risotto was heavy and a bit overcooked.
Spaghetti with Clams, Guanciale, Pecorino is a dish I typically enjoy but the pasta again was not cooked al dente and more importantly, the pecorino was unnecessary and in fact wrong and sacrilegious. The understood Italian rule is to never, ever put cheese on a dish containing seafood.
Aside from not understanding how this Indian dish fits on the menu, the Roasted Chicken, Basmati Rice, Carrots, Tikka Masala disappointed because the chicken was dry and flavorless.
The Tai Snapper, Shiitake, Yellow Thai Curry, Coconut Broth adds a little Thai flavor to the menu and this was a pretty tasty dish, although the fish could have been a little more tender.
The Black Angus Filet Mignon, Bone Marrow, Herb Crusted was the best dish on the menu. Full of flavor, the meat was perfectly cooked medium rare.
The Cheeseburger, Taleggio, Herbed Mayo, Pumpkin Seed Bun also includes a roasted portabella mushroom and is another highlight on the menu.
After tasting almost all of the dishes on the menu, it was time to go through the desserts. The pumpkin éclair was dry, the Apple tarte tatin too sweet and the fennel ice cream did compliment, the Hazelnut crunch comes with chocolate sorbet that was bitter and sour and the Orange panna cotta was not smooth but rather has a weird chunky texture. The Sticky toffee pudding, which I believe is a continuation from Gordon Ramsey’s menu is the classic rich, sweet dessert.
Not all dining experiences please the palate. From time to time we try restaurants that while they are not horrible, they are not very interesting or exciting either. The goal of Please The Palate is to be honest and share our experiences. It is not that you will have a bad experience at Boxwood but with all of the wonderful restaurants nearby, this will not be a palate pleasing experience and there are many other restaurants that would be better worth the expense.