155 W 51st St
New York, NY 10019
Dining date: 9/26/16
I’ve been to Le Bernardin once, dining on the chefs tasting menu in the main dining room. This time, I came to try more of Eric Ripert’s seafood-centric cuisine in the bar/lounge area.
The restaurant serves the full menu in the lounge, as well as a ‘City Harvest menu’ for lunch. This fixed menu offers three courses (two options for each) for $49, with $5 of that going to a local organization called City Harvest (which helps feed the city’s underprivileged). Given that $49 could be the price of just one entree in the main dining room, this seemed like a great price point to drop in for lunch on a few courses.
10 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019
Dining date: 9/25/16
I’ve dined in Per Se’s dining room once, but this was my first time dining at the restaurant’s lounge, called the Salon. In the Salon, right outside the main dining room, the restaurant offers an a la carte version of that day’s tasting menu. Desserts are also offered a la carte, as well as a dessert tasting menu priced at $70 for 5 courses. I picked out a few items from the evening’s menu – one appetizer, a fish, a meat and a dessert.
The Salon offers the same view as the main dining room.
9 W 53rd St
New York, NY 10019
Dining date: 9/24/16
This was my first time dining at The Modern, which just re-opened a day prior after a full kitchen remodel. The restaurant’s been abuzz in the last year, as one of the most prominent NYC restaurants to move away from tipping (they call it “hospitality-included”), a pricing model that many others are contemplating. The restaurant also garnered two Michelin stars in the 2016 guide, an elevation from its previous one-star status over the past few years.
The current dining room menu offers four courses for $158 and a $208 eight-course tasting (the bar serves a more casual a la carte menu). I went with the four-courser after having a late lunch at Xi’an Famous Foods earlier in the day.
9669 S Santa Monica Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Dining date: 8/6/16
Yazawa is a chain of restaurants based in Japan specializing in Japanese wagyu beef. The restaurant group has locations in Singapore and Milan in addition to Japan, but this is their first in America. As the server described it to us, what differentiates Yazawa is that they are also a distributor of wagyu cattle; they butcher their own beef in-house and are not required to freeze their meat before serving.
As a result, Yazawa serves the largest variety of wagyu I have seen in America. They have some domestic beef varieties too, as well as some chicken and pork cuts all grilled up at the table. A handful of appetizers and side dishes, many of them featuring wagyu, are available too.
You can order a la carte, but there are a few levels of omakase available between $100 and $160. We went with the second tier omakase ($120), adding a few a la carte dishes to round out the meal.
408 S Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Dining date: 9/6/16
Baco Mercat has been open for almost five years now and still seems to be going pretty strong. It’s been over three years since my last visit; a friend visiting from out of town wanted to dine here, leading to this latest meal.
111 N Los Robles Ave
Pasadena, CA 91101
Dining date: 8/28/16 and 9/1/16
Alexander’s Steakhouse opened in Pasadena last year, the first SoCal location for the Bay Area-based chain. It’s a highly regarded steakhouse; the original Cupertino location garnered a Michelin star for three years (2011-2013). I’ve been to the San Francisco location once to celebrate a birthday, but this would be my first two visits to the Pasadena location.
The concept is a traditional steakhouse with a lot of Japanese influences. There’s plenty of beef options, domestic and international, with a full suite of appetizers, side dishes and other steak accompaniments. Dishes like an uni tamago and udon mac and cheese really show off the Japanese flair.