Universal City has had its share of unusual restaurants—like the train depot at Victoria Station, Womhopper’s Wagon Works, and the comic book-inspired Marvel Mania. But once inside the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, your choices were pretty much limited to the realm of burgers and popcorn. Picnicking is strictly forbidden and you don’t want to be sent to theme park jail for stashing a baguette in your pocket.
So, it was a nice surprise to hear that the venerable studio and theme park has brought in executive chef Eric Kopelow to spice things up. Last week, I was invited to sample Kopelow’s slew of new dishes at the International Café, which was specially outfitted with a red carpet entry, gold chargers, and a harpist for the occasion. (I am sorry to report that when the public visits, the delights will be presented in a suite of fine plastic-ware.) Among the new offerings? A fine mozzarella and arugula salad and a trio of soups including the vegetarian-friendly roasted cauliflower and cheddar and corn bisque with chanterelles. All bread is now being baked daily at the park, including the French rolls that we sampled stuffed with roast beef and brie and a ramekin of house-cured olives and dill pickles. They’re even making barbecue-style kettle chips by hand.
Some 40,000 hungry visitors descend on the Universal lot every day. That’s more than the population of Beverly Hills. Best of luck to chef Kopelow and his army of artisans hand-painting delicious teeensy chocolate tuxedoes on strawberries.
Mmmm, new sandwiches