1104 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Dining date: 1/24/14
Melisse, like the restaurant of my last post Providence, is oft-considered one of the best restaurants in the city for its French-Californian cuisine. It’s truly one of the few refined fine dining destinations that has survived through all the food trends Los Angeles has seen since it’s opening in 1999. Like Providence, Melisse garnered 2 Michelin stars in the last guide; while I have been familiar with Providence ever since it opened, my first visit to Melisse didn’t come until a relatively late 2010. I’ve now had a few meals here (including a very memorable Farewell to Foie last year) and have thoroughly enjoyed them.
The impetus for this dinner was the restaurant’s participation in dineLA’s new $85 price level, an opportune time for 4 friends’ first visit. As with many dineLA options I wondered – what type of meal would Melisse provide at this lower price point? Would it still reflect a ‘regular’ Melisse experience? I was pleasantly surprised on both counts.
5955 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Dining date: 1/16/14
I’ve generally considered Providence one of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles since it opened in 2005. I first had chef Michael Cimarusti’s food at downtown’s Water Grill in college and followed him here. This was my fifth visit overall, but my first in about 3.5 years. I’m not totally sure what took me so long to return, but part of it was the fact that my last two visits didn’t live up to the high expectations created by the first two. Providence is consistently in the conversation of top special occasion fine dining restaurants in the city, so it’s a place I like to stop in every so often.
Cimarusti has been a busy man since my last visit and has presumably spent progressively less time in this kitchen, especially with the opening of Connie & Ted’s last year.
A number of menu options are available. A three course a la carte is $95, while 5-course and 9-course market tasting menus are $105 and $140, respectively. At the highest end, a chef’s tasting menu is available at $195 per person. We stuck to middle ground, ordering the 9 course market menu.
1956 N Tustin St
Orange, CA 92865
Dining date: 12/21/13
Ohshima is one of Orange County’s notable and more popular sushi shops. I’ve had very limited forays into the OC sushi scene, but what I’ve found is some high quality sushi at some very reasonable prices. This was my second visit to Ohshima’s unassuming location in an Orange strip mall.
The menu setup is a little unique. Bar seats come with a mandatory eight-piece omakase; the rest of the meal is supplemented by a wide a la carte menu. Sushi, separated between ‘Japan-originated’ and ‘Other’ is available as well as a selection of hot and cold plates. Diners can customize the meal to be sushi-only or feature a little bit of everything. We went for a meal that was primarily sushi but added a few hot bites. I definitely dig the flexibility.
Woodhouse Fish Co.
1914 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115
Dining date: 12/27/13
Known for its fresh seafood, Woodhouse Fish Co. has been a long-time popular option in San Francisco. Two locations exist, in the Castro and in Pacific Heights; I’ve passed by the Pacific Heights location numerous times to see some good-sized crowds waiting for a table at the walk-in-only restaurant. Sometimes you just want to scarf down some fried seafood and a lobster roll, right? I knew that Woodhouse Fish Co. would come in handy exactly for that craving. Coincidentally, it happened on my last evening in San Francisco during this recent holiday trip.
The menu is pretty simple and straightforward, resembling a New England seafood shack mixed with California influences. Three types of clam chowder, fried clams, crabcakes, crab and lobster rolls, fish & chips, fish tacos and cioppino are some of the options. Prices are reasonable, particularly for San Francisco standards. Getting there around 5:45, our wait for a table of four on this Friday evening was about 45 minutes.
2121 7th Pl.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Dining date: 8/17/13, 11/8/13, 1/3/14
Bestia has quickly become one of my favorite restaurants in the city with its delicious Italian food. I’m not the only one that’s visited regularly as the restaurant seems to be packed night-in and night-out for those stopping in for Ori Menashe’s food, wife Genevieve’s desserts, or Julian Cox’s cocktails. Maybe even all three.
I’ve dined at Bestia every couple of months; my first post covered my first three meals while this one recaps my last three visits. Each time, we’ve ordered a mix of ‘old’ favorites and new ones, slowly making our way through the ever-changing seasonal menu.
560 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94117
Dining date: 12/26/13
Nopa opened almost eight years ago but continues to be one of the more popular restaurants in San Francisco. That was never more evident than in my last visit; attemps to get a reservation weeks in advance weren’t successful and we ended up waiting just about 3.5 hours for a walk-in table of 6 (5:30pm-9pm).
The occasion for this dinner was a birthday meal for grandma; my cousins and I took her out. My one previous meal here was with this same group, a late night meal two years ago after a dinner at Marlowe. We overstuffed ourselves that night and weren’t able to fully appreciate the second-dinner; this return visit was in the works for a while.
Nopa’s most notable dish has to be its pork chop; in-line with that, all six of us ordered that as our entree. However, we still diversified things a bit with additional appetizers and desserts.