Melisse (Santa Monica, CA) [4]

Melisse
1104 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Dining date: 8/5/17

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It’s been a couple of years since I last dined at Melisse. One of the few real fine dining establishments left in the city, the restaurant is still going strong 18 years in. To celebrate their anniversary, the restaurant was running a promotional 4-course anniversary menu for $99 (it felt more like 7 courses). There were a couple of options for each course, giving us the ability to try a number of different menu offerings.

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Rivea (Las Vegas, NV)

Rivea
Delano Las Vegas
3940 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Dining date: 4/27/17

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Rivea opened in late 2015 atop the Delano Las Vegas, a re-conceptualization of the former Mix Restaurant and Lounge. Alain Ducasse remains the executive chef, bringing his French and Italian Riviera-inspired restaurant to The Strip. This is the third location of Rivea, after Saint-Tropez and London.

A tasting menu is available, 5 courses for $115, but our party of 5 decided to go a la carte.

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Given the restaurant’s placement at the top of one of the southernmost hotels on the strip, views were impressive.

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L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (Las Vegas, NV)

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
MGM Grand Hotel
3799 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Dining date: 4/26/17

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On my most recent trip to Las Vegas, I chose to return to this restaurant for the first meal in town. This is Joel Robuchon’s more ‘casual’ concept next door to his eponymous fine dining establishment, which primarily features bar seating around the open kitchen. This was my second time dining here, although I have also dined at the Paris, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Taipei locations.

A few menu options are available, including 5-course and 6-course prix fixe menu options. A ‘seasonal discovery’ tasting menu is also available, 9 courses for $195. That’s the menu we opted for this evening.

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Le Pigeon (Portland, OR)

Le Pigeon
738 E Burnside St
Portland, OR 97214
Dining date: 3/11/17

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Gabriel Rucker’s Le Pigeon has been one of Portland’s most highly-regarded restaurants since 2006. Rucker was named a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2007 and has won two James Beard awards – Rising Star Chef of the Year (2011) and Best Chef, Northwest (2013). The food here is French, modeled after an upscale bistro. Five and seven course tasting menus are available but we went a la carte for this meal after dedicating some stomach space to an earlier happy hour.

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The restaurant is small; a handful of seats are available at the bar (for walk-ins only), while table seating is all communal.

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Papilles (Los Angeles, CA)

Papilles
6221 Franklin Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Dining date: 11/19/16

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I really like Papilles’ concept. A $38 three course menu is served daily with multiple options for each course. The menu, influenced by the French bistronomy movement, changes constantly. This evening’s menu featured a squash salad with an optional upgrade to foie gras torchon and a main course of prawns, hangar steak or duck breast.

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Le Bernardin (New York, NY) [2]

Le Bernardin
155 W 51st St
New York, NY 10019
Dining date: 9/26/16

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I’ve been to Le Bernardin once, dining on the chefs tasting menu in the main dining room. This time, I came to try more of Eric Ripert’s seafood-centric cuisine in the bar/lounge area.

The restaurant serves the full menu in the lounge, as well as a ‘City Harvest menu’ for lunch. This fixed menu offers three courses (two options for each) for $49, with $5 of that going to a local organization called City Harvest (which helps feed the city’s underprivileged). Given that $49 could be the price of just one entree in the main dining room, this seemed like a great price point to drop in for lunch on a few courses.

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