I join Levi and the photographers in the hotel’s Blvd Lounge where we have a couple of drinks before going out for dinner. Levi proudly tells us that he has reserved a table for us at the Hollywood’s most exclusive celebrity hangout, Levi remembers it to be  Rodeo, only a stone’s throw away from the hotel. Just like Hollywood’s Star Walk, the Bistro is a must, a pilgrimage if you may. I have been to L.A. several times by then and curiously enough have never even heard of the place. Then again, I had never heard of Beverly Wilshire either. Little did I know, fifteen years later I would end up in one of their larger rooms and would have a pleasure of being dwarfed and lost atop Beverly Wilshire’s California King bed. One of the Playboy preferred hotels when traveling to Los Angeles on business.

Levi tells us, the restaurant is frequented by all the top A-list stars such as Jack Nicolson and Candice Bergan, Sharon Stone, Michael Douglas and over the years, their cliental included luminaries of the years past. The stars of Hollywood’s golden era as well as the movers and shakers big producers and the directors – in short the crème de la crème of who’s who of the tinsel town. He also tells us how difficult it was to acquire a table. Instead of relying on the concierge, earlier he personally walked over to the restaurant and was told the place was fully booked and there was no chance of us getting a table that evening. He had to plead with the maître d’ to please give us a special consideration – especially because he was there all the way from Germany and even invoked the name of Playboy in vain. Mentioned big name German publications such as Der Spiegel and Stern. All of it went over maître d’s head until Levi decided to persuade him the old fashioned way, by peeling out ten dollar bill from his billfold.

‘Well, I don’t know. But let’s see what I can do. I can’t guarantee a good table, but we’ll try to somehow squeeze you guys in.’ Maître d’ tells him, smug and patronizing as can be.

We’re all excited and are looking forward to running into some of the big ones. So we stride over to the restaurant. Standing in front of us is the maître d, now dressed in his tail coat, middle aged and bald. Behind him the place is completely empty. Not even a stray bird fluttering.

‘You’re in luck. They haven’t showed up yet. Kind of early for the Hollywood set. I have blocked the best table for you.’ And he escorts us to a booth in what I would say a quite desirable spot with view to the entire restaurant and that of the front entrance. Deflated, Levi looks at the maître d’, who is apologetic but is sheepish in the way he looks back at him, as if saying: what d’ ya want? This is Hollywood! They exchange knowing looks and then we settle to a bottle of Mondavi Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon and turn the evening into our own private little party.

As I look around, the place is reminiscent of Chicago’s Gene & Georgetti’s – one of the city’s oldest steak houses and it boasts the patronage of Frank Sinatra, Lauren Bacall and Bob Hope. Not far from the Union Station, I was told during one of my earlier visits there that on their coast-to-coast – New York-Los Angeles-New York train rides, they would avail themselves of Gene & Georgetti’s hospitality and their exquisite steaks during the train’s longer stop over in Chicago. Mementos of their visits are visible on the walls all over the restaurant, mostly in the form of framed 8” x 10” (17.6 x 22 cms) prints. Similarly, the walls of The Bistro too are crowded with multitude of celebrities past and present, most of them living in their own backyard.

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