The French Laundry (Yountville, CA) [2]

The French Laundry
6640 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599
Dining date: 5/24/15

EXTERIOR

I’ve been lucky enough to visit The French Laundry a handful of times. It’s always a memorable experience with delicious food, precise execution, and warm service. This most recent visit was thanks to a reservation I was able to obtain when the restaurant’s reservation books opened up following their closure since the holidays. The kitchen has been completely torn down in preparation to build a much larger state-of-the-art version; it’s currently replaced with four temporary shipping container kitchens (they’re much, much nicer than it seems).

A visit to The French Laundry isn’t complete without a stroll through the gardens across the street.

GARDEN2

GARDEN3

The famous blue door.

DOOR1

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Oyster Bar (Las Vegas, NV)

Oyster Bar
Palace Station Hotel & Casino
2411 W Sahara Ave
Las Vegas, NV 89102
Dining date: 5/7/15

oyster bar

The Oyster Bar at Palace Station is slightly off the beaten path, albeit a fairly well-known spot for great seafood off-strip. It’s open 24 hours a day, frequently with a long line that stretches through the slot machines.

There’s plenty of fresh seafood simply prepared (raw oysters and clams, crab and shrimp cocktail) as well as in a gumbo, pan-roast, chowder, jambalaya, bouillabaisse, etouffée, or pastas. All the food is cooked to order in steam kettles in front of diners.

steamers2

This was my second trip to the restaurant and first for my parents.

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Oenotri (Napa, CA)

Oenotri
1425 1st St
Napa, CA 94559
Dining date: 5/23/15

exterior

Oenotri has been a popular spot for Italian food in Napa since opening in 2010. The restaurant combines the flavors of southern Italy and with local Napa Valley produce for a unique Cal-Italian blend. Much of its produce is sourced from its own garden, breads are made in-house every day, and the restaurant maintains an on-site salumi program. Typically the signs of a great restaurant. I’ve heard plenty of good things about the restaurant over the years and stopped in for dinner while in Napa over Memorial Day weekend.

interior

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Bazaar Meat (Las Vegas, NV) [2]

Bazaar Meat by José Andrés
SLS Las Vegas
2535 S Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Dining date: 5/7/15

exterior

My first visit to Bazaar Meats was just a few weeks prior, but my family and I returned two weeks later primarily to try the suckling pig. On our previous visit, it was highly recommended by our server, but the dish ran out just before we could order it. While in town for Vegas Uncork’d, we stopped in again to try this suckling pig along with a couple of new dishes.

grill display

pigs

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Yardbird Southern Table & Bar (Las Vegas, NV)

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar
The Venetian
3355 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Dining date: 5/8/15

exterior

Yardbird opened the first of the year, one of the newest entrants to The Venetian’s lineup of restaurants (and right next to one-year-old DB Brasserie). It’s the second location for the restaurant based in Miami, which was a semi-finalist for a James Beard Award (Best New Restaurant South) and was one of Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants in 2012.

True to its name, the restaurant’s claim to fame is its 27-hour brined fried chicken but it serves a host of other southern classics as well. We stopped by for a ‘Friday brunch’ ordering this chicken with waffles along with a couple other dishes.

interior

dining room + kitchen

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Twist by Pierre Gagnaire (Las Vegas, NV)

Twist by Pierre Gagnaire
Mandarin Oriental
3752 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89158
Dining date: 5/8/15

interior

I first dined at a Pierre Gagnaire restaurant in Tokyo a few years ago and enjoyed it. Gagnaire’s restaurant in Vegas has been open since 2009 (the only one in America), but it took me a full 6 years to visit. Part of it was my parents’ less-than-stellar impression of the restaurant during their first visit, but they were game to give the restaurant a second try.

The restaurant’s located on the 23rd floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. It’s a beautiful restaurant providing beautiful views for any table next to a window. The grand tasting menu offers four courses for $135 and five for $155. However, ‘courses’ is used very conservatively; our five course meal could easily have been called twelve with all of the extras. Even more approachable is a four course vegetarian tasting at $70 (five for $85), which presumably also includes a bunch of additional plates. A very reasonable way to try a Pierre Gagnaire restaurant.

view

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