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).
Son of a Gun
8370 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Dining date: 3/29/15
Son of a Gun’s been open just over 4 years; this is my third time visiting the restaurant, but really my first time having a full ‘regular’ meal here. My first trip in 2011 was a ‘second dinner’ after a Cafe Boulud pop-up meal at Animal, while my second visit in 2013 was for a Graham Elliot dinner. After quite some time, I was excited for a return to try some of the favorite menu mainstays as well as some new dishes.
The maritime decor reflects the fact that this is a seafood-focused restaurant, though its most famous dish has become its fried chicken sandwich.
220 E 4th St
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Dining date: 3/7/15
I don’t often come to Orange County too often to dine, but Playground has been on my radar for some time. It was probably the OC restaurant I’ve most wanted to try and I finally got the chance when it was chosen for a birthday dinner.
Jason Quinn, probably best known for being a member of The Great Food Truck Race winning The Lime Truck, helms Playground. It’s gotten rave reviews since opening, even leading to the opening of a bakery and a lunch spot just around the corner. The menu changes often, and there’s a sort of attitude about the place. The restaurant encourages trying new things and being adventurous, disclosing on the menu that they will not charge you if you don’t love it (in fact, I observed it in practice on a neighboring table). Perhaps this is the way they’ve been able to get more conservative OC palates to try some of their more forward-thinking creations?