“Crudo is raw fish enhanced with infused oils and specialty salts,” explained one of the servers at Culina in Beverly Hills. “Well, sounds delicious. Sign me up,” I replied. And so there began my happy hour experience at Four Season’s newly introduced “Crudo Hour,” where Monday through Friday, 6pm to 8pm in the lounge and bar area, you can order up specialty cocktails, wine and creative crudo plates for a little less than regular menu prices. Amen.
Culina in Beverly Hills serves up Italian fare with some serious crudo flare, and if you really want to experience the crudo creations in real time, then I suggest sitting at the bar area. John, a jolly man with a focused attention to fish detail, proudly plates his colorful slices of salmon, halibut, scallop and yellowtail and brings them to life on a nightly basis. What’s even better is the fact that these made-to-order palate pleasers are now on the happy hour menu at Culina for $6 a plate. Hand-shucked oysters are available for $2 each and assorted cicchetti (small snacks) will run you $5 - $9.
My foodie friend and I started with some wine ($7 for a half carafe glass) and the Il Carosello made with prosecco, gin, aperol and absinthe. I wondered if the curious combination of libations with work well together, but to my surprise, the spirits blended beautifully and for $7, I was very happy. For our first course, we nibbled on a assortment of the mixed crudo. My friend fancied the salmon with the spring pea vinaigrette, mint and pancetta powder while I drooled over the halibut with chili, strawberries, pickled shallots and frisee. The diver scallops with fava been puree, truffle and lemon were silky and packed the right amount of flavor.
Next, we continued with some of the cicchetti options including the always-fabulous arancini (I order them every time) truffle risotto croquettes and the wagyu meatball. The $5 wagyu meatball was hearty, bathed in tomato sauce and sprinkled with just enough parmigiano reggiano and basil. If you do decide to try the tasty prosciutto wrapped polenta with spicy tomato sugo, then I suggest appreciating them while they are piping hot.
After a filling final round of food, we finished off our last fifteen minutes of happy hour with the sexy Che Figata made with tequila, jalapeño agave, strawberries and fresh lime. This eye-candy cocktail was well balanced and surprisingly not too sweet. I could easily have ordered a second one of these except I had to try a glass of the $7 6oz Italian Gavi di Gavi wine before it was too late.
Culina’s Crudo Hour presents an elevated happy hour experience in the luxury of the beautiful Beverly Hills Four Seasons. Crudo Hour may be limited to the lounge and bar area, but that’s part of the fun. Watching the prosciutto being sliced, the oysters being shucked and my crudo being brushed with love was one of my favorite parts of the night. I will say, if you do stay past the happy hour, then splurge a little on the fois gras special – it’s well worth it. Ciao!