He was born in Wisconsin, but Simon Dolinky has found a home in L.A. Never mind the Hollywood good looks that serve him well in this town. More importantly, this guy has the mad skills to survive in an environment known for its fickle diners. His resume would push some over the edge of confidence into arrogance, but there's something reticent, something so Wisconsin about his demeanor. Perhaps it's his respect for the earth and the people who cultivate it. He's now in the promised land and Dolinky is delirious with the bounty that makes California the envy of chefs everywhere. And he's embracing the best of it as the executive chef of Blvd. 16 in Westwood.
Everything he serves is from local, sustainable farms, fisheries and ranches. And he's got the good sense (call it confidence) to let the ingredients sing with minimal interference. This restraint is a hallmark of the star chefs he's worked with in Spain, New Orleans (John Besh and Susan Spicer) and Milwaukee (Sanford D'Amato).
Dolinky's contemporary American menu is dictated by what arrives at his door. During a recent visit there Hamachi with Asian pear, cilantro, ginger and walnut oil graced the raw food section. Crispy beef cheeks was among the starters, while wild mushrooms decorated a sublime orecchiette dish. Striped bass with orange-braised fennel and an earthy pot roast rounded out the entrees.
Dolinky has initiated an extensive program to ensure that restaurant operations are as earth-friendly as possible, and he recently created an on-site organic herb garden. Clearly, he's at home in California, and it's lucky to have him.