114 E 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dining date: 1/15/15
Neal & Amy Fraser’s Grace seems like so long ago; it’s been 4.5 years since the doors closed for good (I was at their final night). Two restaurant concepts (Playa and Petty Cash) have since replaced Grace on Beverly Blvd while Fraser’s Redbird faced delay after delay after delay. I remember years ago when this concept at the Vibiana was first announced in the “up-and-coming” downtown restaurant scene. Since then, downtown has certainly arrived and I think Redbird will make a great addition to the neighborhood.
Redbird is serving new American cuisine in a beautiful space at the Vibiana. Large windows, a live tree, and an open-air “ceiling” make for a spot that almost feels outdoors; I think it’ll be particularly nice to dine here during summer evenings.
I stopped in the previous week after an Art Walk stroll to get some of Julian Cox’s cocktails and a couple of snacks from the menu (chicken pot pie!). However, a full meal was definitely in order on this evening.
1896 Hyde St
San Francisco, CA 94109
Dining date: 12/28/14
For the past number of years, my cousins and I have taken my grandma out for a birthday dinner over the Christmas holiday. This year, we decided on a restaurant in close proximity to my grandmother, Stone’s Throw in the Russian Hill neighborhood. The new American restaurant has been a hit since opening just over a year ago and it would be a new restaurant for all six of us (except for one cousin who had visited previously).
We ordered a number of small plates to share and each ordered a main course.
Faith & Flower
705 W 9th St
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Dining date: 12/31/14
Faith & Flower was one of my favorite restaurant openings in 2013 with its Asian-accented modern American cuisine and excellent cocktails. It’s conveniently (for me!) located downtown and has quickly become a go-to for me for a spontaneous spot for bites and drinks. While I’ve actually only had one full dinner in the dining room here, each of times I’ve dined in the bar/lounge area has been good as well.
When looking for a local dining experience on NYE, Faith & Flower was the choice. Special tasting menus were offered on this night with this one being $125pp inclusive of a champagne toast at midnight. All images on this post were taken with a point-and-shoot camera instead of my usual DSLR to stay mobile this evening.
3228 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
Dining date: 12/26/14
Nico opened in late 2013 quietly garnering a following as a sort of neighborhood restaurant nestled between Pacific Heights and Presidio Heights. SF Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer has been a fan since the restaurant opened; on Christmas Eve, he wrote a review calling it a “destination restaurant” and gave an impressive three-and-a-half stars (out of four). While looking for post-Christmas meals, my dad snagged a last minute reservation here for the family to try.
While Nico is tasting menu-only, it’s priced very reasonably especially for San Francisco standards. $45 buys three courses while $55 buys 5 courses with an optional wine pairing for $45. In a city where it seems fine dining restaurants continue to push the envelope with quickly-increasing prices, it was nice to find something a little more value-conscious here. We opted for the 5-course menu.
1420 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94102
Dining date: 11/28/14
Alta CA opened late last year, the latest from chef-restaurateur Daniel Patterson (Coi, Plum, Haven). The restaurant is one of the more notable SF openings in the past 12 months and has generally garnered praise for its Californian cuisine. My parents had dined here earlier in the year for lunch and found it unmemorable, but this would be their first time for dinner (and my first overall).
The menu is shared plates-based, ranging from $5 for deviled eggs to $26 for black cod. Between our party of three, we were able to sample seven of them with dessert as well.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
4743 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107
Dining date: 11/6/14
I had one free evening on a quick business trip to Seattle, my first time to the city. Seattle’s got a ton of interesting restaurants and it was a difficult decision narrowing down to one. In the end, we decided on The Walrus and the Carpenter, Renee Erickson’s 4 1/2-year old oyster bar. The no-reservations restaurant has been consistently popular since its beginning, but we were able to squeeze in for an early dinner table after a 20 minute wait.
As expected, the focus here is on seafood particularly oysters. A large variety are always on hand (9 on this evening) as well as a bounty of other seafood small plates. A handful of garden, pantry, meat and cheese plates round out the menu.