black cod @ SingleThread
|

SingleThread (Healdsburg, CA)

SingleThread is one of the up-and-coming fine dining restaurants in the greater Bay Area. Opened at the end of 2016, it has garnered two Michelin stars, 4 stars from the SF Chronicle and was recently named a ‘One to Watch’ by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants team. Chef Kyle Connaughton and wife Katina run this restaurant, which is part of the inn and farm that they also operate. The cuisine here is a blend of Japanese and Californian; tickets were $295 each, gratuity-inclusive.

baked Alaska @ Nomad
|

The NoMad Mezzanine (Los Angeles, CA)

The NoMad Hotel, located in the middle of downtown Los Angeles, opened in January. The hotel opening brought with it two imports from the NYC original – the highly-regarded NoMad Bar as well as NoMad Restaurant. The dining is overseen by Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park fame, whose NoMad in NYC has garnered one Michelin star. As such, this has been a highly anticipated restaurant ever since it was announced.

I’ve dined at NYC’s NoMad once, for lunch, and was very excited to try the Los Angeles restaurant for dinner. There are two concepts at the hotel – the Lobby for more casual all-day dining and the upstairs dinner-only Mezzanine for more formal dining.

sourdough dumpling tsar nicolai caviar, seaweeds
|

Lazy Bear (San Francisco, CA)

Lazy Bear is one of San Francisco’s most unique dining experiences. The restaurant began as an underground supper club in chef David Barzelay’s home; it was wildly successful and became one of the toughest seats in town. The success led to this brick-and-mortar location in 2014. Two Michelin stars later, the restaurant is still going strong.

The evening begins with cocktail hour on the second floor mezzanine. Guests are invited to mingle, sip on a cocktail, and enjoy a few small bites. After cocktail hour, dinner shifts downstairs where there are two large 40-seat communal tables. An open kitchen anchors one end of the tables, providing a close look at the food as it’s being prepared.

vernick pasta
|

Vernick Food & Drink (Philadelphia, PA)

Vernick Food & Drink is high on many lists of best restaurants in Philadelphia. It’s been one of the most highly regarded upscale restaurants since opening in 2012, from being named one of the best new restaurants in America by Bon Appetit to its chef, Gregory Vernick, being named ‘Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic’ this year by the James Beard Foundation. As expected, the restaurant is very popular but we were able to squeeze in on a late Friday seating.

tasty n alder
|

Tasty n Alder (Portland, OR)

Brunch is supposedly a big deal in Portland on the weekends. Meeting up with an old friend, he suggested having brunch at this place, one of the most popular spots in town. Tasty n Alder is part of John and Renee Gorham’s restaurant group that owns and operates a number of concepts in town (Toro Bravo, Tasty n Sons). Even though we thought we got to the restaurant relatively early (9:30), our party of four still waited 90 minutes for a table (Heart Coffee Roasters across the street was a great place to kill some time).

crab leg, innards jelly, almond milk meadowood
|

The Restaurant at Meadowood (St. Helena, CA)

I’ve been to the Restaurant at Meadowood once, seven years ago, and had a great meal. Since then, the restaurant has garned a third Michelin star (it had two at the time) and undergone a renovation, although Executive Chef Christopher Kostow is still at the helm. I’ve been wanting to return for some time and finally had a chance over the MLK Day holiday weekend.

Whereas an a la carte menu was available the last time I was here, the dining room menu is now tasting menu-only. $275 (before 20% service and tax) pays for about a dozen courses.

wagyu alexanders
|

Alexander’s Steakhouse (Pasadena, CA) [2]

I’ve been to Alexander’s Steakhouse in San Francisco and Pasadena a few times and have had a few good meals here. This latest visit was prompted by DineLA restaurant week, in which the restaurant was offering six courses for $115. One of those courses, the steak course, offered an option of an 18oz dry aged New York strip or 3oz of Kagoshima wagyu. This tasting menu provided quite a bit of value (compared to regular pricing) and an opportunity to try a little bit more of the menu here.

fried chicken wayfare tavern
|

Wayfare Tavern (San Francisco, CA)

Each year, my cousins, brother and I take our grandmother out for a birthday meal. The timing is convenient as her birthday is around Christmas, so everyone is typically in town (except for my brother this year). Due to timing and scheduling we weren’t able to do a dinner, but were able to have a lunch the day after Christmas. Options were a bit limited for lunch on the 26th, but luckily Wayfare Tavern had room for the five of us.

Tyler Florence’s financial district restaurant has been going strong since opening in 2010. I’ve been here once, for lunch, and still remember the fried chicken and salmon I had that meal. We ordered both of those dishes again, as well as a bunch of others, for this post-Christmas lunch.

1 2 3 8