Category Archives: Brentwood

How To Fall (and Stay) In Love with Los Angeles – Volume 2

Ilene Wendy Silk

West LA resident and expert/lover of Los Angeles!
http://www.thedblogger.com/

Latest posts by Ilene Wendy Silk (see all)

Relationships take work.  Love affairs are dynamic relationships that challenge us more than, let’s say, friendships.  Best sung by Motown’s Four Tops, one of my favorite old-school songs titled “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” concludes with this refrain:

Los Angeles At Night“If we can try with every day to make it better as it goes
With any luck then I suppose
The music never ends.”

The love affair I began with Los Angeles in 1991 has gotten better because of will, effort and intention.  I’m committed to my relationship and I believe that Los Angeles loves me back. It is my hope that even if you’ve begun your LA divorce proceedings, you can reconsider and rekindle the fire!

In Volume 1, I sent you west on Sunset Boulevard as far as the road can go.  It’s a cheap trick – that drive to the ocean at sunset is fail-safe.  Who wouldn’t, who couldn’t fall in love with that breathtaking crescendo?  Admittedly, it’s been a bit trickier to navigate that ride since road construction has threatened our “marriage” but if you stay the course and keep going west, the payoff is worth it.

Here are some other detours, chosen ones, that can lead you to more of LA’s charms.  They offer good reasons to veer off the road even if there are no roadblocks.  On a day when a schedule is not harrowing and you have the time to breathe (oh, that’s key in all of this love affair stuff – breathing), explore in and around Sunset Boulevard as you’re heading west.  Some of these divergences are as free as the ride; others will call upon your wallet.  You’ll know which is the right diversion for your particular exploration.  Keep in mind that the goal is to revive your love affair with Los Angeles or begin a new one.

Beverly Hills Hotel 1989

Beverly Hills Hotel 1989

The first stop, should you choose, is The Beverly Hills Hotel, affectionately called the Pink Palace.  I’ve done this stop many ways.  Try one on for size.  I’ve pulled up to Valet Parking bidding my friendliest greetings to the valets and doorman (I wouldn’t suggest shorts and flip flops for this version) explaining I’m meeting a friend.   And then I just wander – and sometimes just sit in the lobby.  It’s a small lobby, not particularly inviting but I just sit and breathe.  On one stop, I saw a very young, very awkward, regal sort sitting there bemused.  I began light casual conversation with him to ease his way.  Little did he know, I had no business there at all.  Long story short, he turned out to be a prince in Norway (and no jokes about the Prince of Bel Air).  No, really, a royal prince!  I’ve since seen him on the news.  His entourage and his grand limousine (let’s just say this one is not in uber’s fleet!) were at the ready to have me join him for a tour of the area.  We spoke for hours though his “people” stayed near.   He was so hungry for a person with a life in the real world with whom to communicate.  Despite his eagerness to have our friendship continue on another day, my work at my detour had ended.  Los Angeles was magical again.  “Only in LA,” it’s said. Being friendly in a royal hotel costs nothing.

Beverly Hills Hotel Pool Area

Beverly Hills Hotel Pool

I’ve also been enchanted at the Beverly Hills Hotel with lunch or snacks there on my own. (Remember these are mostly unplanned detours!) Not at the Polo Lounge where the bill will set you back some serious change.  No, the way we locals do it is to head directly to their pool and sit at the Cabana Café.  Surprisingly, you do not have to be a guest to sit in this gorgeous, albeit exclusive-feeling setting.  And lunch can be whatever you want it to be – including a cup of tea and a bagel.  And the other locals’ secret is to go downstairs from the lobby to the Fountain Coffee Shop.  Get a milkshake – or have breakfast – at the counter.  It’s an authentic old-school diner, except that it’s in the basement of a palace.  Then back to Sunset the boulevard or the rose-colored one in the sky.  By the way, Options #2 and #3, the meal ones, don’t require valet parking.

Spelling Manor

Spelling Manor

If hotels and people watching are not your thing, another alternative route off of Sunset Boulevard is to explore Holmby Hills.  I discovered this quite by accident on one of my Sunset Boulevard meanderings in the mid-90’s.  I turned left on Beverly Glen and then noticed magnificent homes and landscapes tucked on some of the streets behind Beverly Glen.  I turned again onto Charing Cross Road, then onto Mapleton. Inching my car slowly, I remember getting quite an eyeful ogling properties on Mapleton.  I had no idea that I was heading to the Spelling mansion at the time, the penultimate eyeful. What’s key about this kind of exploration is that it not trigger resentment, animosity or worse, feeling bad about your own life.  These rides are supposed to feel like receiving a bouquet of flowers unexpectedly.  Don’t make up stories about the inequality of wealth at these times; it defeats the purpose.  There is a purity of aesthetics that your new eyes can bring to the vision.  Greenery, architecture, texture, color, and surprise light your mind as you take in new things each time you explore.  Years later, I took a New York friend to see the Spelling mansion.  It was a Sunday afternoon and we slowly pulled up.  Wait, what?!  How did I not know? Purely by accident, our car kept getting guided towards a Valet Parking umbrella in front of the compound. It was Tori’s wedding day, at home. They thought my friend and I were guests and we kept smiling, okay flirting, with each of the officers directing our car.  It was such an uproarious spectacle.  We laugh.  Only in LA.  Love.

Playboy Mansion

Playboy Mansion

By the way, Charing Cross Rd., on the other side, will lead you to the Playboy Mansion.  That is a horse (pardon the reference) of a different color.  And driving up and thinking about what has gone on and for how long may just amuse you. Or not.  It doesn’t pull my chain (pardon the reference).  Seriously, there is lore, not necessarily lure, and American history there and it’s right in our L.A. backyard.

Volume 2 ends there with two forks in the road – the right turn into the hotel or the left turn into Holmby Hills. When we continue, we will be turning right, into what look like private gates, the gates of Bel Air.  It’s an elegant twilight zone.  Can’t wait to continue…  til next time.

About Brentwood California

Ilene Wendy Silk

West LA resident and expert/lover of Los Angeles!
http://www.thedblogger.com/

Latest posts by Ilene Wendy Silk (see all)

WHERE is Brentwood?

Getty Center View

For our purposes, Brentwood, CA, is a prominent area in West Los Angeles not to be confused with Brentwood, CA in Northern California located in Contra Costa County.  The LA Brentwood district is located at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains directly west of the San Diego Freeway also known as “the 405.” Who could forget 2012’s Carmegeddon?! Wilshire Boulevard is at Brentwood’s southern end and both the city of Santa Monica and Topanga State Park are its western neighbors.  Brentwood is 14 miles from LAX and accordingly should make it a 22-minute drive most times of day – no, not at 6 PM.

WHAT characterizes Brentwood?

Brentwood today, and even then, is one of the most coveted neighborhoods in all of Los Angeles.  It is not so thickly populated allowing residents a feeling of privilege with their spaciousness.  Generally speaking, Brentwood is less diverse than many Los Angeles communities. According to Wikipedia, it is “84.2% white,” and considered to be the home of some of the highest incomes in Los Angeles.  Statistics report that the residents of Brentwood are more highly educated than all other Los Angeles neighborhoods, and nationally more educated than average communities in the U.S.  I guess it’s no wonder that Brentwood contains seven private schools and two public schools.

Brentwood Country Mart

Brentwood Country Mart

There is one main shopping district that runs through Brentwood, along San Vicente Boulevard.  The community’s meeting place would be the charming Country Mart, and it marks the dividing line between Brentwood and Santa Monica.  There are no highly commercialized malls in Brentwood; nevertheless there is no shortage of shopping options.  The Country Mart is a circular center of shops and foodstuffs.  Its architectural frame presents a feeling evocative of a time gone by, a period of penny candies and a town shoemaker.  Lately, however, the Country Mart has undergone a middle-aged facelift causing some traditionalists to grimace.  But there’s no denying that the chic new stores (e.g. James Pearse, Intermix, Jenni Kayne) and new eateries (e.g. Farmshop and the Sweet Rose Ice Creamery) have brought the Country Mart into its new day.  Die-hards will never let anybody push out Reddi Chick though! At the other end of San Vicente Blvd. is a modern strip mall where Sugarfish (Sushi) is a huge draw. Right in the middle of the San Vicente shopping district, you’ll find Brentwood Gardens but don’t expect much greenery unless you’re shopping for an emerald!  Filled with high-end stores and chain-like restaurants, the chic crowds flock to shop there.

Brentwood Farmshop Dining Area

Brentwood Farmshop Dining Area

Between the Country Mart and the sidewalk shops on San Vicente Blvd. lies the venerable Brentwood Country Club whose manicured grounds face the boulevard, giving Brentwood’s flatlands a view of lux greenery. Along here, residents ride bikes, jog and walk from early morn through the dark of evening, often with dogs in tow. Such quiet suburban civility had previously led me to believe that Brentwood’s residences were all expensive condos and resplendent homes. As it turned out, when my niece moved to Los Angeles at 24 years old, her first rental apartment was in Brentwood and she loved it.  There is a vibrant section of rentals for the young and single, mostly southeast of the country club. However, my preconception was not far off the mark. The homes set above the club, and particularly north

Getty Center

Getty Center

of Sunset Boulevard are simply breathtaking! But the exteriors are only half of the story, which hopefully you’ll see if someone is kind enough to invite you inside!

However, no interior will take your breath away like the collection of art and antiquities living in splendor at the Getty Center.  And while all of Los Angeles would proudly claim this cultural mecca as its own, the zip code of the Getty Museum address, off of the 405 freeway is definitely 90049.  Only one neighborhood in Southern California has that zip code; yep it’s Brentwood!

WHO is in Brentwood?

When measuring the median age of its populace, Brentwood’s population seems to be more suburban than urban. This is a scary statistic (to me) based on the fact that it’s considered to have an “older” population because the average age is 35!  Yikes! As noted earlier, Brentwood had not developed its true potential for ethnic diversity as many Los Angeles neighborhoods have. The young singles of Brentwood have settled in the aforementioned apartments. But abundantly, Brentwood’s homes are filled with families who have room to grow. In fact, one of the reasons that the community is homogeneous is that parents who raise families in Brentwood stay there from the time that their children are babies until they’re long grown.  One friend has had her 20-something-year-old kids return after college to move back in!  Brentwood’s families, especially those in the single-family residences, represent a wide variety of industries, from the world of entertainment to businesses and professions of all kinds.

 

DINE AT THE TOP:

Divino
Katsuya
Tavern
Toscana
Vincenti Ristorante

DINE IN THE MID:

Amici Brentwood
Brentwood Bar and Grill
Farmshop
La Scala
Sugarfish

DINE ON A BUDGET:

Belwood Bakery
Chin Chin
Coral Tree Café
New York Bagel Co.
Sweet Rose Creamery

DRINK RESPONSIBLY AT:

Bar Food
Bar Toscana
Brentwood Lounge
Q’s Billiard Club
(I searched high and low and could not find another bar in Brentwood – many nearby but not IN Brentwood!  Guess it’s the family vibe!)

SHOP TIL YOU DROP:

(Divided by shopping areas not individual stores)
Brentwood Gardens
Brentwood Place Shopping Center
Brentwood Village
The Country Mart
San Vicente Blvd. shops

LIVE (and thrive) HERE:

Condos average $747,000

Single Family Residences average $2,345,000

A one-bedroom apartments average $2,540/month

Brentwood is a largely residential community with happy walkers. On a six-block stretch of San Vicente Boulevard, you can shop and dine to your heart’s content and find the conveniences of groceries, gas stations, doctors, dentists and pharmacies, all by leaving your car in one spot!  On Sundays at the sublime Brentwood Village Farmer’s Market, you may want to keep your eyes peeled for either Mark Peel or Arnold Schwarzenegger where both have been spotted!