111 N Los Robles Ave
Pasadena, CA 91101
Dining date: 8/28/16 and 9/1/16
Alexander’s Steakhouse opened in Pasadena last year, the first SoCal location for the Bay Area-based chain. It’s a highly regarded steakhouse; the original Cupertino location garnered a Michelin star for three years (2011-2013). I’ve been to the San Francisco location once to celebrate a birthday, but this would be my first two visits to the Pasadena location.
The concept is a traditional steakhouse with a lot of Japanese influences. There’s plenty of beef options, domestic and international, with a full suite of appetizers, side dishes and other steak accompaniments. Dishes like an uni tamago and udon mac and cheese really show off the Japanese flair.
9200 Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Dining date: 7/11/16
Boa Steakhouse is part of the Innovative Dining Group, the Socal-based group that includes concepts like Sushi Roku and Katana. There’s three locations of Boa including this one in West Hollywood, Santa Monica and, of all places, Abu Dhabi. I’ve been to this location of Boa once before for a birthday party and had a good meal. Since it was a large party during that visit, everyone had to order off a set menu. This time, we had free reign to order whatever we wanted off the full menu.
Most of the restaurant’s seating is out on its beautiful and expansive patio. It’s a really nice setting on warm evening.
5722 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Dining date: 7/6/16
Chef Kevin Meehan has been in the Los Angeles dining scene for quite a while, most recently at Patina, Cafe Pinot, and his roving underground dining concept Kali Dining. After developing his version of Californian cuisine for a few years, Kali Restaurant opened last year. Here, Meehan partners up with friend Drew Langley, who came over from Providence where he was wine director.
6476 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599
Dining date: 7/2/16
There’s plenty of good restaurants in the Napa Valley, but for me a trip just doesn’t feel complete without a stop at a Thomas Keller establishment. There would be no French Laundry on this brief trip, but a stop here at the more casual Ad Hoc was in order. The restaurant serves a 4-course fixed menu for $52, although there’s regularly a supplemental dish offered as well. Since the menu isn’t published until the morning of the meal, it’s a little bit of a crapshoot depending on what you’re looking for. We lucked out this time as this evening’s menu featured steak – a ribeye to be exact.
Montage Beverly Hills
225 N Canon Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Dining date: 6/11/16
Georgie opened just a couple of weeks ago, a brand new concept at the Montage Beverly Hills. It takes the place of Scarpetta, and they’ve swapped one TV chef out for another in bringing Geoffrey Zakarian to prepare his modern American cuisine. This is Zakarian’s first west coast venture after opening up several restaurants in the northeast.
Most of the front and back of house Scarpetta staff has stayed on, as has executive chef Freddy Vargas. The restaurant is dinner-only right now, but will be expanding to all day service soon.
Juniper & Ivy
2228 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
Dining date: 1/1/16
I’ve been following Richard Blais since seeing him on the fourth season of Top Chef. Given he was based in Atlanta, I figured I wasn’t going to be able to try his food anytime soon. Lo and behold, he moved to San Diego and opened this restaurant in 2014 – Juniper & Ivy. The restaurant’s been highly acclaimed since opening and has been atop my list of restaurants to try in SD. I was finally able to try the restaurant during a quick weekend trip on the first of the year.
I lucked out and got seats at the kitchen counter. Seated right in front of the dessert station and cold appetizers, I had a front row view of the action.