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.
8 Mint Plaza
San Francisco, CA 94103
Dining date: 12/24/15
Oro opened in September, the second restaurant from chef Jason Fox of the Michelin-starred restaurant Commonwealth. I’ve had some great meals at Commonwealth over the years, so I was very interested in trying this spot. The restaurant was one of the few that could welcome a party of 8 on Christmas Eve, so it was an opportune chance to try the restaurant with some extended family.
A la carte is available at the restaurant, as well as a blind tasting menu served family style for $75pp. To make things easier with such a large party, we opted for the tasting format. It turned out to be a ton of food.
222 S Hope St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dining date: 12/12/15
Otium is one of the most anticipated restaurants of the year. Part of the new Broad Museum development, the restaurant is a collaboration between Bill Chait’s Sprout Group and Tim Hollingsworth (ex-chef de cuisine of The French Laundry, Barrel & Ashes).
I’ve been following Hollingsworth since he departed TFL and came to LA. From his first dinner at The Strand House, to opening BBQ restaurant Barrel & Ashes, and to making tacos at the Petty Cash Taqueria soft opening, Hollingsworth has made a number of appearances around town. However, Otium promises to be his flagship restaurant. The restaurant has been open for about a month for lunch service, recently debuting brunch and then dinner service.
1525 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115
Dining date: 11/29/15
The Progress is Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski’s follow-up to uber popular State Bird Provisions. Opened for almost a year now, the restaurant is located just next door to State Bird and has also gained mostly positive reviews (though not quite to the same crazy hype as their first restaurant). I was able to dine in with the parents as the last meal in SF over the Thanksgiving holiday.