The Lyder Side of Westwood
By Bekah Wright
Published Apr 1, 2013 8:00 AM
Taking to the streets of Westwood on a Saturday night recently was a merry group from UCLA's School of Nursing. The ringmaster, in fact, was Nursing School Dean Courtney Lyder.
The charismatic Lyder has become a "regular" in Westwood restaurants, so much so that several have cocktails or dishes named for him on their menus. A proponent of holistic health, the dean describes his menu monikers as "pep, swagger, ooo!"
But while fun and food were certainly on the agenda this night, there was a serious purpose as well—to raise funds for the UCLA School of Nursing Alumni Association's pin program. Graduates from UCLA's nursing program are welcomed into the profession through these pins and many of the Saturday dinner crew had been pinned themselves.
First stop is the Hotel Angeleno on Sunset Boulevard, where West Restaurant and Lounge offers 200-degree views of Westwood. "We all need spice in our lives," Lyder pronounces, raising a glass. In said glass—the Black Dean, a jalapeño martini typical of the dean's fondness for spicier selections.
Next is Wilshire Boulevard and Hotel Palomar's Blvd 16. Not only does the dean have a cocktail on the menu called Doctor's Daiquiri, but his infamous French bulldog does as well with Layla's Treat.
The group then sets out for the Napa Valley Grille on Glendon Avenue. Reserved at a private table was a seat pre-set with a cocktail glass with a CL. Yes, the restaurant has glasses reserved just for the dean. Bartender Kellen Porter explained that the Dean Lyder cocktail is "a twist on the perfect Manhattan. The ingredients are rare and hard to find and create something with a big, bold character, just like the dean's. The addition of orange bitters and zest is a nod toward Trinidad and Tobago, where Courtney's from."
A short trek up the street is the night's final stop—Glendon Bar & Kitchen and The Courtney, a pizza with spicy chicken, cheeses, basil and avocado. "He conned me into putting The Courtney on the menu," admits Executive Chef Nick Jacobs. "He got everyone on the staff here to eat it, then started sending UCLA faculty over to order it."