Summer, for me, has always been sun-drenched drives to Malibu—windows down, hair whipping in the wind.  It’s always been picnics at the Hollywood cemetery screenings, drinking our coats in bottles of Malbec long after the night has settled in.  It’s the char in each poolside burger.  The cold smack of aloe on my sunburnt shoulders.   Cool plates of ceviche washed down with perspiring cans of Tecate.

In the winter I always find myself falling in love with someone.  But summer?  In the summer, I make my way back to being single, because I only have time to be in love with L.A.

On a recent afternoon, I sat down at an outdoor table at West Hollywood’s Petrossian, and summer, for me, became caviar and salmon.  L.A. breeds days like that one—where the sun rests on a balmy temperature and the breeze is just right—and it is only dishes like caviar topped blinis and toast draped with smoked salmon, that are worthy of the day’s perfection.

Petrossian has long been defined by its caviar and salmon, and chef Giselle Wellman does justice to the legacy.  A bloom of butter lettuce is studded with clusters of caviar and finished with a dust of chives; tender cuts of salmon are served three ways: smoked, marinated in dill, or spiced.  But Wellman, who is about as young and pretty as you can imagine, also brings a fresh approach to the current menu.  At lunch she serves a croque madam and a burger that can be dressed up with a fried egg.  Entrees such as squid ink fettuccini and jidori chicken make their way onto the dinner menu, at prices that are surprisingly reasonable for a restaurant of this caliber.

Set between the walkable street of Robertson Boulevard and the beautiful residences on Rosewood, Petrossian feels like your neighborhood café and market, graced with a comfortable elegance. As I dug into the generous serving of the classic transmontanus caviar that afternoon, under the sprawl of a sun-kissed umbrella, for a moment I felt like I was at a Parisian bistro.  But even better, I was at home in L.A., appreciating what my father calls fulfilling “champagne taste on a beer budget.”

For those who find caviar intimidating, and surely I’m one of those people, Wellman has found a few ways to make it more approachable.  She scoops it on to flatbread, where it’s easy to share, and also offers it in a 12g serving, as opposed to the traditional hockey puck portion of 30g, making it a wallet-friendly appetizer.  A caviar class series is available, with the first lesson priced at $35, and there’s a happy hour where you can get 30g of classic caviar and two glasses of champagne or vodka for $49.

If you ask me, this is the ideal place for a pre-sunset date, and there’s no better way to celebrate alfresco dining with friends.  And it’s likely you’ll find me there, too—tasting summer, and falling in love with L.A.

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Caviar   Salad

Salmon

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Soup  Ricottacheesecake

Petrossian, 321 N Robertson Blvd  West Hollywood, CA 90048; (310) 271-0576.

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