Melisse (Santa Monica, CA) [3]

Melisse
1104 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Dining date: 7/24/15

MelisseMy last time dining at Melisse was a year and a half ago when it participated in the dineLA Restaurant Week promotion. While Melisse didn’t technically participate this time, they offered a special 5-course 16th anniversary ‘Dine Melisse’ menu that happened to coincide with dineLA. Priced at $85 per person, it was a very attractive price point to revisit.

Dining Room

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Scarpetta (Beverly Hills, CA) [3]

Scarpetta
Montage Beverly Hills
225 North Canon Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Dining date: 7/7/15

Scarpetta

I’ve had some great meals at Scarpetta since it opened in 2010. It had been almost two years since I stopped in, so a return visit was long overdue. In my opinion, the restaurant’s best seats are the six at the kitchen counter; this would be my third time sitting here. We had a custom tasting menu built for the evening, picking a few old favorites and letting chef Freddy Vargas fill in the rest.

Kitchen

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Herbsaint (New Orleans, LA)

Herbsaint
701 St Charles Ave
New Orleans, LA 70130
Dining date: 6/12/15

HerbsaintHerbsaint is chef Donald Link’s flagship restaurant. Since opening the restaurant in 2000, Link has garnered considerable acclaim on the nationwide stage and is now one of the most notable chefs in the state. He opened the ever-popular Cochon in 2006, was awarded the James Beard award for Best Chef: South in 2007, opened up Cochon Butcher in 2009, and opened his latest restaurant Pêche Seafood Grill in 2013. Link was also nominated for the James Beard award of Outstanding Chef in 2012, 2013 and 2014. For these reasons, Herbsaint was a must-visit on this trip’s itinerary.

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CUT (Beverly Hills, CA) [2]

CUT
Beverly Wilshire Hotel
9500 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Dining date: 7/15/15

CutI haven’t been to CUT since 2011 but have generally regarded it as probably the best true steakhouse in the city. I recently put that to the test during a revisit for a birthday dinner.

CUT is Wolfgang Puck’s modern interpretation of an American steakhouse. Their steak offerings are top-notch in breadth and quality featuring multiple cuts of Japanese wagyu, American wagyu, and aged USDA Prime varieties (distinguished between corn and grass fed). 

Steaks

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Willie Mae’s Scotch House (New Orleans, LA)

Willie Mae’s Scotch House
2401 St Ann St
New Orleans, LA 70119
Dining date: 6/10/15 and 6/13/15

ExteriorWillie Mae’s fried chicken was probably the most highly anticipated bite of this whole trip for me. In fact, this might have topped the list of dishes I wanted to try in America. I’m a huge fan of fried chicken; Willie Mae’s is supposed to have some of the best in the country. Popularized countless times by the likes of the Food Network and Travel Channel, it kind of seems like the Peter Luger of fried chicken. Pretty much legendary status.

The menu at Willie Mae’s offers a host of southern specialties like a country fried pork chop, smothered veal, and fried catfish or shrimp. These items are supposedly good, but I’ll likely never know – we were here for fried chicken.

Interior

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Restaurant August (New Orleans, LA)

Restaurant August
301 Tchoupitoulas St
New Orleans, LA 70130
Dining date: 6/13/15

AugustRestaurant August was high on my list of places to try while in town. It’s John Besh’s flagship restaurant and consistently regarded as one of the top restaurants in the city. The food here combines Besh’s classical French training with the cuisine and ingredients of Louisiana. The decor is an upscale setting with old-world charm.

dining room

A few dining options were available – a la carte, a five course farmers market tasting ($72) and a five course degustation menu ($97). The restaurant allows each diner to choose which route they want to go; the tasting menu isn’t mandatory for the entire table. The flexibility allowed us to get one tasting menu and order a handful of a la carte dishes to create a custom tasting.

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