(EXPERIENCE MAGAZINE) — West Hollywood, CA — SUR Restaurant and Lounge was the location for our luncheon meeting with celebrated Chef Nico. November is World Vegan Month which is a great time to check out a plant based diet. Chef Nico brought out a sampling of food that shows off his talent to combine subtle flavors.
SUR, made famous in the reality TV show Vanderpump Rules, was the location of our vegan feast with Chef Nico. SUR stands for Sexy Unique Restaurant. It’s famous to some fans for being in the reality TV show Vanderpump Rules. But it’s also one of the top food destinations in the city. Vanderpump Rules started in 2013 on the Bravo Network and has recently gone viral because of the hi-jinx of the characters. Some of the shows famous moments occurred in SUR. There are literally people snapping iPhone photos every few minuets around the restaurant.
Actor and entrepreneur, Guillermo Zapata, greeted us and welcomed to the luxurious dining room. Guillermo’s story is incredible and inspiring. He came to Los Angeles from Buenos Aries, Argentina in 1992. He was just on a visit and he wound up staying permanently. He started as a dishwasher and worked hard to become a manager and then owner of his first restaurant. He told me that he started with ten tables right here in the dining room. Guillermo is the CEO of Lou Lou Production Films. He looks like a Hollywood actor. One of Guillermo’s quotes is, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” He met Lisa Vanderpump and they became partners in SUR.
Lisa Vanderpump has developed or co owned over 30 restaurants. Three of her restaurants are in West Hollywood and are featured in Vanderpump Rules. They are SUR, Pulse and Tom Tom. Lisa redecorated the restaurant and lounge and included her personal touches like lots of cut flowers. She has Indonesian and Moroccan touches throughout. It feels like a movie set or what the Coconut Grove must have been like.
Chef Nico Medina is the Executive Chef at SUR. He’s such a nice guy. He’s a hard worker and it shows in his appearance and presentation. He lives a healthy lifestyle and spends his free time outdoors. He started as a dishwasher. He rose through the ranks to become a chef at Muse in the Miracle Mile neighborhood. Muse was known for delicious food and great atmosphere. SUR has both. Nico also worked at Cynthia’s and the Four Seasons. These are luxurious places with great reputations for gourmet dinning. Eventually, Nico would get a call from Guillermo and become the Chef at SUR. The food that Chef Nico prepares is like art. Experiencing SUR happens on many different levels. Chef Nico loves what he does. He loves getting feedback from people. He is very modest. He says he likes to make everything from scratch. He says, “I want to know what’s in it!”
Chef Nico said that he used to be a chef for Room Service and people had all kinds of dietary restrictions. He says that he liked the vegan diet and it made him feel better. He says his recovery is faster when running a long distance like a marathon. Some people come to take selfies or get a pic with Chef Nico and Guillermo. SUR is very instagramable. But the food is what really keeps people coming in. When we dinned at SUR the other night, people were coming in as fast as they could get through the door. People took pics, but they were really here to eat really amazing food in the heart of West Hollywood. It was so much fun dinning at SUR. Just an amazing experience that I’ll never forget. I cant wait to go back.
We started out our private afternoon luncheon in one of the dramatically set dinning rooms. First we had the Beetroot Millefeuille. This dish blew me away. This is a thinly sliced beet that is then dipped into a golden beet powder. It was all masterfully prepared like sushi. Oh so good. Like a piece of art. Chef Nico says he begins by cooking the golden beet for an hour. He then dehydrates it. It’s like nothing I’ve ever had before. It was truly a unique dinning experience.
Next up was the Farmers Market Roasted Baby Squash. Unbelievable taste and a subtle smoky taste. There were little “pepitas” or pumpkin seeds that gave the dish a great crunch. This was served with an El Salvadoran cup of coffee that was just a little accent note on this jazz ensemble of flavor.
Green Falafel with heirloom carrots hummus was the “main ” event and holy cow was it good. It looks like art!
The multi Grain Salad was really an incredible dish. How do you brag about salad? This tasty salad has a bit of quinoa. There were persimmons, pomegranate seeds and some delicious smoked eggplant puree. All tossed together with an apple cider vinaigrette. So good. This was a special experience.
For dessert, we had the Chocolate Mousse Spheres. This was another dish that looks like art and tastes like heaven. A small wall of cacao nibs crisp with hazelnut cream and Farmers Market Semi Dried plums. A perfect ending to our lunch.
What an amazing experience with Chef Nico at SUR. If you’re in the area, stop by and see Chef Nico and the legendary SUR Restaurant and Lounge in West Hollywood.
Sur Restaurant, 606 N. Robertson Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069, (310) 289-2824 //(www.Surrestaurant.com)