521 W 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Dining date: 7/30/14
Q Sushi opened in November of last year, just off downtown’s corner of 7th & Grand, home to other popular spots Bottega Louie, Sugarfish and Mo-Chica. Its opening was right on the heels of the downtown location of Zo, creating a formidable twosome in downtown’s high-end sushi scene.
Q is known for its omakase-only menu (begins at $165) and edomae-style of sushi. Chef Hiroyuki Naruke maintained a sushi bar in Tokyo’s Roppongi district for years before moving to LA with the assistance (and persuasion) of some of his loyal customers, who also happened to be LA-based attorneys.
Americana at Brand
237 S Brand Blvd
Glendale, CA 91204
Dining date: 7/24/14
I first dined at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak in March during its opening. The meal was a unique one, hosted by Bon Appetit to promote the upcoming Vegas Uncork’d, where a custom tasting menu was served. I’ve been intending to return for a more ‘regular’ meal and to try more of the steaks; recently, I had the chance with a few coworkers.
The menu at Bourbon Steak centers on the beef, of course, with a number of options under Certified Angus, Certified Angus Prime, and American, Australian and Japanese Wagyu. A wide array of other appetizers and entrees, including Mina’s signature tuna tartare and lobster pot pie, really round out the menu. Between the six of us, we were able to sample quite a bit of it.
Manhattan Beach Post (M.B. Post)
1142 Manhattan Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Dining date: 7/19/14
I’ve visited chef David Lefevre’s M.B. Post a number of times since it opened three years ago. Along with sister restaurant Fishing with Dynamite, the restaurant has consistently served up a reliably good meal. While I dislike the drive, Manhattan Beach just feels like a completely different place compared to my downtown LA dwelling. My last visit was almost a year ago, so a return was definitely due.
While a few years old now, the restaurant still packs tables nightly. I’ve checked OpenTable for reservations a number of times over the past six months, but never felt enough desire to commit to a reservation far in advance. However, I stumbled upon a 7pm Saturday reservation just one day prior; someone’s cancellation was my gain!
3455 Overland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034
Dining date: 7/15/14
n/naka opened three years ago in a quiet corner of Palms on the westside. The restaurant and its modern take on the Japanese kaiseki meal, has focused on creating a very precise multi-course meal with seasonal ingredients. Many of those ingredients are grown by chef Niki Nakayama herself in her own garden. I still feel the restaurant is somewhat under the radar; sure, Jonathan Gold has continually mentioned the restaurant in high regard (it was #18 in his 2014 best restaurants list), but I don’t feel like it’s consistently being considered with other high-end restaurants in LA.
While common in Japan, n/naka’s kaiseki-based menu is pretty unique in LA. It’s a carefully-scripted tasting menu often featuring 10+ small plates. Seasonal ingredients (usually simply prepared) are highlighted, and service and plating/decor are as much a part of a meal as the food. The thirteen course menu weighs in at $165 ($150 vegetarian) making n/naka one of the most expensive restaurants in the city (there used to be a slimmed down chefs’ tasting for $110).
The Langham Huntington
1401 S Oak Knoll Ave
Pasadena, CA 91106
Dining date: 7/10/14
The Langham Pasadena’s main restaurant has gone through a number of changes since I first dined on Craig Strong’s food at The Dining Room. Since then, Michael Voltaggio and David Feau have taken the helm for relatively short-lived chef-driven concepts (Voltaggio left to start ink. and Feau’s The Royce struggled to grasp its regular clientele). Early last year, The Royce was reborn as a steakhouse, a more conservative concept perhaps more reflecting the tastes of its primary customer base.
The Royce boasts USDA Prime cuts, as well as some international wagyu selections, all grilled over a wood fire. A largely seafood-based selection of appetizers and some seasonal side dishes round out the menu. I felt no urgency to try the new steakhouse concept, but being a steak lover I figured a visit was in order at some point. That point was just this past week.
3325 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Dining date: 6/28/14
Many of the celebrity chefs with a presence in Las Vegas have a steakhouse (burger shops & pubs are also a common offshoot). Carnevino is the creation of Mario Batali & Joe Bastianich and one of their four LV restaurants (all within the Venetian/Palazzo complex). Always in the mood for a good steak, I’ve had an inkling to try Carnevino and finally had the chance during my last trip.
An Italian steakhouse, the focus at Carnevino is clearly on the beef. It’s very hard to differentiate oneself in this ‘upscale beef’ space, and Carnevino does it by partnering with meat man Adam Perry Lang who supposedly hand-selects the best USDA Prime cattle for the restaurant. It’s all aged in-house and simply prepared with sea salt, black pepper and rosemary. The Batali & Bastianich influence brings a host of Italian antipasti and pastas to round out a meal here.