If you think slabs of rare raw meats, multi-course feasts, and specialty coffee are a peculiar combination, then fine dining wizards Luke and Curtis Stone may have you proved completely wrong.
Curtis Stone, Top Chef Masters host and owner of the wildly successful Beverly Hills establishment Maude, has brought on his brother and retail entrepreneur Luke (of Melbourne’s leading floral providers Strathmore Flowers) to open Gwen, a world-class dining experience that also features a full cocktail bar and a high-end butcher shop attached to a coffee bar.
“A more clear idea of the restaurant married well with a really classic European butcher shop concept, and I think the coffee bar also plays into that sort of old school European shop idea too,” explains Ben Aviram, the Australian brothers’ culinary partner in crime and restaurant operations manager for both spaces.
Operating out of a corner location on Sunset Boulevard and Seward Street, Gwen opened in Hollywood this past July with massive glass chandeliers, elegant stone tables, and a sleek interior. The self-proclaimed Art Deco culinary joint hopes to attract visitors of all sorts, whether they may be passersby, destination foodies, or neighborhood locals looking to grab a cup of coffee and a cut of meat.
“I think we want it to be twofold. We want to be a neighborhood place because we are in sort of an evolving part of Hollywood, an area that is expanding in culinary offerings, and a great local butcher shop to the customers that are in this neighborhood—a place that you could just come in and have a bite… a space that has two personalities. It’s sort of everything under one big roof,” Aviram says.
Unlike Maude, however, Gwen works with a much more focused coffee program that uses St. Ali, a science-heavy Melbourne roasting company that has chosen the restaurant to make its first U.S. landing. They keep the brew styles European too—the shop serves espresso exclusively until dinner service in the restaurant, at which time the menu then expands to include double-filtered French presses from an Espro. With every pretty coffee toy you can think of, from refractometers to Mahlkönig grinders and, of course, a classic La Marzocco FB80 espresso machine, the restaurant is fully equipped to serve the highest quality coffee.
A coffee bar is nothing, however, without the proper team behind that bar. Restaurant staff includes the brothers, Aviram, and their extensive coffee knowledge, combined with exceptionally experienced baristas like Matt Sala, three-year Intelligentsia Coffee barista and former retail educator for the chain’s Venice location. Additionally, the gang received help from World Latte Art Champion and former St. Ali brand ambassador Ben Morrow, who flew in from Melbourne to spend weeks training and educating them on the roasting company’s tips, tricks, and methods.
With so much more emphasis on a coffee program than most restaurants, you probably almost forgot that food is the initial focus of Gwen. If you’re not stopping in for coffee, you’re most likely there to take a peek at their ridiculously fresh and curated meats, some of which are the only offerings of their kind in the United States.
“It’s the only place in America that you can get Blackmore Wagyu beef [a rare Japanese beef cattle breed raised on Australian farms]. It’s an amazing product. I don’t know that I’ve ever had better Wagyu beef… We’re also, because of the restaurant, able to make wet-cured items like terrines of foie gras, and dried-cured items,” Aviram gushes.
If you want the whole shebang, you can also, with a reservation heavily recommended, enjoy a multi-course tasting menu feast of charcuterie, salads, handmade pastas, and a meat dish from the butcher shop that finishes off with dessert and coffee, of course. This fare comes out to $195 a person for a seat in the 52-person restaurant.
“It’s a sort of mix of really beautiful individually plated dishes and these heartier shared dishes within the restaurant,” Aviram gushes.
Don’t worry about cashing in on that $195 meal to grab the finish line coffee, though. Simply pop in during their daily hours of operation from 10am daily—which are, deliciously, the butcher shop’s hours as well.