Sheraton Universal's Fresh Face & Fall Food

Pumpkin Sage Ravioli at Californias

Pumpkin Sage Ravioli at Californias

Sheraton Universal celebrates her 40th birthday with a makeover, refurbishing their Californias restaurant and In the Mix lounge. The new look is a classic Tinsletown: celebrity pictures on the walls, fabric-draped cabanas, banquettes overlooking the pool, and an art deco-inspired lounge with bursts of day-glo color.

When you visit, you’ll understand why the renovation reflects the vibe of Hollywood─which is just two freeway exits away. And unlike glitzy Hollywood icons like the Chateau or the Roosevelt, this place isn’t about discriminating, don’t-touch perfection. You don’t have to sashay in wearing Louboutins to cross its threshold: Uggs or Vans will do just fine. The Sheraton also eschews L.A. attitude for warm, friendly service by a seasoned good-natured staff.

In the Mix lounge may offer 18 wines by the glass, but it’s their slew of infused and macerated Silver Screen vodka martinis, that make the bar a Hollywood mainstay. Maybe that’s why, on any given night, you might spot A-listers like the Governator, Jennifer Aniston, or Matthew McConaughey kicking back in the retro leather chairs at the backlit elliptical bar. Try a Dean Martini, in honor of James Dean with Roberto Cavalli vodka, a fresh olive and even a throwback  Lucky cigarette and book of matches. Additionally, the bar offers 100-percent agave tequilas, bourbons, single-malt scotches, and dessert wines. If you’ve still got credit on that Amex, splurge on “The Ultimate Popcorn,” seasoned with truffle oil and served with a bottle of Dom Perignon for $350! The bar is open daily from 12 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Once you’ve imbibed a few exotic cocktails, secure a table downstairs in one of the comfy booths at the Californias restaurant.  The color palette features bursts of day-glo lime green and banana yellow against clean neutral tones. Talented Executive Chef Urs Balmer (previously with Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel) designed the new menu, focusing on seasonal, market-driven cuisine. At breakfast, you’ll find options like the decadent banana-stuffed French toast with seasonal berries and maple syrup. Lunch features six gourmet burgers including Black Angus beef, American Kobe beef, Colorado lamb, free-range turkey, veggie and surf and turf.

Osso Bucco at Californias

Osso Bucco at Californias

But it’s the dinner that’s super sharp. The luscious “Out of Your Gourd” pumpkin-inspired menu is a decadent dining experience, which will satiate even the heartiest appetite. The butternut squash bisque with crème fraiche and warm, doughy homemade breads is suitable autumnal on a rainy night. A spectacular pan-fried northern halibut with Fume Blanc and shallots, all crisp and succulent, is a welcome comfort food after the light nouvelle cuisine of hot Los Angeles summers. Vegetarians can enjoy exquisite pumpkin ravioli with sage brown butter and yellow squash ratatouille, which offers a cornucopia of autumn flavors and textures. Save room for the heavenly signature bread pudding served with a refreshing scoop of creamy, rich, pumpkin ice cream.  It’s worth noting that this bountiful dinner here is just $35 including tax & gratuity.  Californias is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and from 7 a.m. to10 p.m. on weekends.

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