114 E 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dining date: 9/2/15
I’ve been to Redbird a few times; I consider it to be the best ‘new American’ restaurant in the downtown area. It seems to have a little bit of something for everyone and it helps that it’s such close proximity to my home and office. On this occasion, I introduced an out-of-town coworker to the restaurant.
It was a great time to take advantage of the open roof on a warm summer evening. It had a little bit of the al fresco dining feel yet still had the elements of a beautiful, modern dining room.
1600 Atlas Peak Rd
Napa, CA 94558
Dining date: 8/30/15
When The French Laundry closed this past winter for a remodel, Thomas Keller partnered with Napa’s Silverado Resort to open up a temporary restaurant on the grounds. The primary reason was to keep the TFL team employed while the restaurant was closed, which was only supposed to be about 3-4 months. The French Laundry did reopen in April, but Ad Lib’s run has been extended through October when the resort will host a PGA Tour event.
While I am a huge Thomas Keller fan, I was a little apprehensive about trying Ad Lib. The restaurant had received somewhat mixed reviews and The French Laundry staff had already departed in April back to their home restaurant. Furthermore, one of the most popular dishes from the original run, a short rib beef wellington, was no longer on the menu. However, I figured I might as well give the restaurant a try during its limited run.
Temporarily situated inside the resort’s Royal Oak restaurant, Ad Lib was one of the dimmest restaurants in recent memory. The focus of the decor was primarily on the large windows peering out onto the resort grounds and its golf course. While it was dark by the time of our reservation, we observed a striking moonrise over the mountains.
6476 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599
Dining date: 5/25/15
Addendum opened in 2011 behind Ad Hoc serving picnic favorites on Thursdays through Saturdays for lunch (Spring/Summer only). It’s easily the most approachable way to try some of Thomas Keller’s food in Yountville since it doesn’t require making a reservation and is very family-friendly. Food is ordered from a little shack in the back and eaten throughout picnic benches or even on the lush grassy areas.
Ad Hoc’s most famous dish has to be its herb-brined fried chicken served every other Monday night. But here at Addendum, the chicken is always on the lunch menu (along with BBQ pork ribs or pulled pork and a couple of rotating side dishes).
I’ve had the fried chicken at Ad Hoc before (and again at Bouchon Beverly Hills, even cooking it once at home), but it’s been a while since I’ve had it. Following our dinner at The French Laundry, we came here for a quick meal before leaving town. We picked up a bucket of fried chicken and an order of pork ribs to eat on the picnic tables. It was a beautiful day to be outside with a bucket of fried chicken.
Yardbird Southern Table & Bar
3355 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Dining date: 5/8/15
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.
Barrel & Ashes
11801 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604
Dining date: 4/19/15
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.
ARIA Resort & Casino
3732 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Dining date: 4/25/15
Shawn McClain made a name for himself cooking in Chicago at the venerable Trio restaurant before opening his own restaurants Spring and Green Zebra. Winner of James Beard’s Best Chef Midwest in 2006, he was lured to Las Vegas in 2008 to open Sage at CityCenter’s Aria. It’s been a very popular restaurant ever since, though this was my first time dining here.
Menu options include a la carte, a 4-course signature menu ($89; multiple choices for each course), and an 8-course chef’s tasting ($150; no choices). We went with the signature menu with optional wine pairing ($44 for 4 pours).