It’s important to remember that before Lisa Vanderpump became a reality show icon (Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Vanderpump Rules) her original fame came as an impresario of restaurants in L.A. — 26 of them in all, most notably Villa Blanca in Beverly Hills and SUR in West Hollywood.
Her latest, PUMP Restaurant & Bar, proves once again Vanderpump knows how to woo an audience.
The location is by all accounts a no-brainer for business, but the same spot on the corner of Robertson Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood is known in real estate circles as the Vortex, one of those mysterious coordinates on the map where every entity that tries to survive there quickly dies and shrivels, despite the seemingly perfect confluence of WeHo nightlight within a stone’s throw, including the revered WeHo institution, the Abbey.
For once, the quagmire site may not swallow up an establishment, as it has at least half a dozen times in the past decade.
PUMP is going as strong and bold as its name.
If its recently launched Huge Gay Brunch on Sundays is any indication, this new see-and-be-seen eatery is set to keep growing.
It may be sacrilege to say it, but side-by-side with PUMP’s neighbor, the Abbey feels washed up, partly owing to it needing a washing up. In comparison, the dark, almost Goth look of the hottest WeHo bar for over a decade seems dingy and old. PUMP is bright, cheery, classy and full of light and energy.
Inside, the shabby chic baby pink velvet padded wooden chairs and distressed bleached birch tables create a feeling of a princess’s lair. In an amazing transformation of the space, Vanderpump craned in nine old-growth olive trees into a former adjacent parking lot to create an enchanting patio garden.
While the eatery and bar is in the heart of West Hollywood, attracting the expected continent of neighborhood denizens (read mostly gay men), the Vanderpump name and the menu bring in an eclectic crowd from everywhere and every walk in LA.
As for the brunch menu, curated by Food Network Star Chef Penny Davidi, it features Contemporary Mediterranean style cuisine that keeps with the French inspired garden feeling of the restaurant. Standouts included the crispy calmari served with a spicy tomato sauce; and heirloom tomatoes with creamy burrito drizzled with olive oil, balsamic reduction and ribbons of basil.
For Entrees, a favorite is the chicken Milanese, consisting of a pounded and lightly breaded breast pan fried with lemon and served with an arugula salad with pine nuts and tomatoes; the Spring Vegetable Omelet with bell peppers, asparagus, shallots, heirloom tomatoes, arugula and mozzarella; the Hamptons Seafood Roll, consisting of shrimp and crab, tossed in a homemade aioli with paprika and diced tomatoes, served on a toasted Brioche bun, served with thick cut fries; and the Grilled Skirt Steak and Eggs, a delicious standard of a hearty brunch.
Other menu items include The Pinky Pump Burger and a delicious Pound Cake with Greek Yogurt and Fresh Fruit among others. Refreshing brunch drinks like the LVP Sangria, Mimosa and Mojito are offered by the pitcher or by the glass.
PUMP serves brunch every Sunday from 12 pm to 5 pm. For reservations and more information visit www.pumprestaurant.com.