house of prime rib
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House of Prime Rib (San Francisco)

I’m not sure when I visited House of Prime Rib last, but it’s probably been close to two decades (!). Opened in 1950, the restaurant was already an old standby when I grew up, but has certainly solidified its status as an SF institution at this point.

I’d largely been getting my fill of prime rib from Lawry’s in Beverly Hills. The restaurants are very similar in their old English aesthetic; in fact, for a long time, I thought Lawry’s was a copycat of this place (I subsequently learned that Lawry’s predates this place by over 10 years).

sushi ondo
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Sushi Ondo (San Francisco, CA)

Sushi Ondo is part of a wave of San Francisco restaurants doing more reasonably-priced omakase meals (~$100). While I haven’t found anything quite like Sugarfish around here, I have been interested in what kind of quality / value these restaurants can offer. Sushi Ondo opened in 2019 and is part of a group of restaurants that includes Sushi Hon, Barnzu, Sushi Hakko and Izakaya Hon.

Florilege Tokyo
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Florilege (Tokyo, Japan)

On this most recent trip to Japan, Florilege was the choice for our lone fine dining meal in the country. The Michelin two-star restaurant, ranked 59th best in the world, was opened in 2009 by Hiroyasu Kawate after cooking at well-known Quintessance.

One of the unique aspects of the restaurant is that the vast majority of the seats surround an open kitchen. Diners are able to watch all of the action, and dishes are served directly by the cooks.

chili egg nest @ Gaggan
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Gaggan (Bangkok, Thailand)

I wasn’t sure I wanted to try Gaggan. Despite it being ranked the “fifth best restaurant in the world” and garnering two Michelin stars, I felt uneasy about dining at an Indian restaurant in Thailand. It just seemed very counter-intuitive. Further, its 6,500 THB/$200 price tag is downright expensive compared to almost any other fine dining restaurant in the city. Regardless, I made the plunge and settled in for 25 courses of Gaggan Anand’s unique interpretation of Indian cuisine.

Dessert @ Twist, Las Vegas
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Twist by Pierre Gagnaire (Las Vegas, NV) [2]

I’ve dined at Pierre Gagnaire’s Twist once before and have been meaning to return. Recently, the hotel housing the restaurant (Mandarin Oriental) was sold to the Hilton group and it’s been unclear how long Twist will be be around. I figured it would be a good chance to try the restaurant one more time.

The restaurant offers a number of tasting menus (5, 6, 7 courses), in addition to a la carte options. For this meal, we went with the six-course ($185). Some of the best view of The Strip are included – we were lucky enough to get a window table.

black cod @ SingleThread
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SingleThread (Healdsburg, CA)

SingleThread is one of the up-and-coming fine dining restaurants in the greater Bay Area. Opened at the end of 2016, it has garnered two Michelin stars, 4 stars from the SF Chronicle and was recently named a ‘One to Watch’ by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants team. Chef Kyle Connaughton and wife Katina run this restaurant, which is part of the inn and farm that they also operate. The cuisine here is a blend of Japanese and Californian; tickets were $295 each, gratuity-inclusive.

duck hummus @ Bavel
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Bavel (Los Angeles, CA)

Bavel is Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis’ follow-up restaurant to the wildly successful Bestia. Located just a few blocks away from Bestia, the restaurant provides another option for downtown Arts District diners. The food here is Middle Eastern, reflecting Menashe’s heritage. I haven’t had a ton of exposure to the cuisine, but figured I was in great hands given my love of the food at Bestia.

steak @ Carnevino
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Carnevino (Las Vegas, NV) [2]

Carnevino has been a steakhouse favorite in Las Vegas since opening over ten years ago. Along with Bazaar Meat, I’ve regarded these two steakhouses as some of the best I’ve been to. This was my third visit to the restaurant, and second for my parents.

Subsequent to this meal, it was announced that Carnevino (and Batali & Bastianich’s two other restaurants in Las Vegas) would be closing at the end of July. While the restaurant tried to distance itself from Mario Batali, it couldn’t escape the fact that he was one its primary co-creators/co-owners. As such, this ended up likely being my last meal here.

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