LA Confidential Review: Checkers Downtown

Checkers Downtown at the Checkers Hotel (now a Hilton) is a landmark Los Angeles restaurant that has been a hotspot since the Rat Pack hung out there in the '50s. A little known chef named Thomas Keller also made his name there...before going on to open The French Laundry, and the rest of his restaurant empire.

Meanwhile, the hotel that houses it was recently bought and renovated by Hilton, and the restaurant, too, received a long overdue makeover. I was invited to dinner there a few months ago to try the new menu courtesy of dynamic young chef (and San Diego native, like myself!) Todd Allison. Well, I had a great meal, so I wrote about this restaurant's renaissance for Los Angeles Confidential.

You can see what the spread looked like in the magazine below, or keep on reading for the full text of the article.

Checkers Downtown

After nearly two decades of obscurity since Thomas Keller departed as chef, both the restaurant and the hotel at Checkers Downtown are back on the scene. Hilton has renovated the hotel and redecorated the dining room in muted corporate tones of silver and gray, while it is Chef Todd Allison who has relit the kitchen fires of this Los Angeles landmark property.

Allison trained with Chef James Boyce (“who was like a second father” to him) at Montage Laguna’s Studio, and cooks with a sense of play that balances tradition and innovation.

The Dover sole meuniere with baby artichokes and crispy potatoes would satisfy both Julia Child and a modern downtown loft-dweller. The lobster bisque is creamy but light, and is enlivened by assorted wild mushrooms, pairing beautifully with a South African sparkling rosé.

Save room for the chocolate-banana bread pudding topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’s worth the extra gym time.

535 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90071, (213) 624-0000;