On the third day of my Los Angeles trip, Steph and I descended on Beverly Hills.
She had warned me in advance that Rodeo Drive was only a few blocks long, and sure enough, it all seemed less grandiose in person than what I'd conjured up in my mind over a lifetime of watching it depicted on TV and in the movies.
We parked the car and walked along the palm-lined streets; however, there's little to do if you're not there to go shopping.
And in terms of shopping, the streets were lined with luxury brand boutiques.
One funny moment occurred when one of LA's garish, red double-decker tourist bus came roaring down the street, interrupting the otherwise peaceful, low-key neighborhood.
We ate lunch at the Grill on the Alley, which is known as the entertainment industry's restaurant of choice for power lunches.
The entrance faces into an alley, albeit a clean one as we are in Beverly Hills, after all. We got there early; however, there were no stars to be seen.
In an attempt to make up for my early-in-the-trip indulgences, I ordered a $20 Caesar salad with chicken. The portion size was obscene (i.e. gigantic), and I only managed to finish half of it.
As we went to exit the restaurant, in walks Bill Rancic, the first winner of The Apprentice.
I recognized him immediately but wasn't starstruck enough to stop him from using the restroom.
Besides, as in New York City, you're not supposed to care when you see a celebrity walking around.
To give ourselves another shot at spotting a significant celebrity, we walked through Barney's New York and made our way to the rooftop restaurant, Barney Greengrass.
Upon walking up to the host's desk, I looked to my left and immediately noticed The Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, sitting at a corner table, facing out over the entire restaurant. He had a dark tan and a commanding presence.
We decided to wait for a table on the outdoor terrace, so Steph used the free time to introduce one of the Governor's security guards to Foursquare.
Meanwhile, I continued to casually peer at him from across the room.
When our table was ready outside, we got a sweet corner spot in the shade, which allowed me to stargaze a little longer through the window.
I ordered a glass of white wine, which seemed apropos for the environment, and a giant slice of “strawberry banana cream chocolate cake” that didn't quite live up to my expectations.
As with Grill on the Alley, I was surprised by the reasonable prices at the restaurant, given the location and stargazing potential.
The fish options are a popular main course, and they only ran about $20. My slice of cake was $7.50.
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