Oenotri (Napa, CA)

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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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Raku (Las Vegas, NV) [3]

Raku
5030 Spring Mountain Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89146
Dining date: 5/6/15

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Raku used to be sort of an off-strip “hidden gem” that locals knew of in Chinatown. It’s grown considerably in exposure to become very well known with locals and tourists alike seeking a great dining experience outside of a hotel resort.

I’ve been to Raku twice and had excellent meals. However it’s been a little while and after three years, I finally returned with my dad. The menu is very much the same as I remembered with a large variety of small plates (hot and cold) and yakitori. A chalkboard displays a list of the day’s specials. Initially intending to order a chef’s choice omakase, we decided to go a la carte and choose exactly what we wanted to eat. We ended up ordering three of the daily specials (the first three dishes in this post) as well as a handful of small plates and skewers.

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Barrel & Ashes (Los Angeles, CA) [2]

Barrel & Ashes
11801 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604
Dining date: 4/19/15

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We first dined at Barrel & Ashes a few months ago and left impressed. Pedigreed fine dining chefs making BBQ may sound like an odd combination, but it really worked on our first visit. The recent Franklin/Perry Lang BBQ popup in LA got me craving some more BBQ, so a return visit here was in order.

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