L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon
Bellavita Mall 5F
No. 28, Song Ren Rd, Xinyi District
Dining date: 2/9/14
I’m not sure how it really originated, but I’ve made it a point to dine at Joel Robuchon’s L’Atelier wherever there is one where I’ve traveled. My first visit was to the original Paris location seven years ago now (a restaurant that has maintained a top 25 spot in the highly-subjective Pellegrino Best Restaurants in the World list all these years), and have visited locations in Las Vegas, London, Tokyo and now Taipei.
The decor at this location, located in the upscale Bellavita mall, is very similar to the others – red and black color-scheme and an open kitchen surrounded by bar seats. We dropped in for a leisurely weekend lunch; fixed menu options range from 1260NTD/~42USD up to 2880NTD/~96USD. We each ordered different menus and I went somewhere in the middle.
Salon de The de Joel Robuchon
Bellavita Mall 3F
No. 28 Song Ren Road
Dining date: 2/6/14
For my first meal in Taipei (which happened to be solo), I figured I’d ease into it by dining somewhere sort of familiar and possibly more Western-friendly (turns out Taipei has been one of the more English-friendly international cities I’ve been to). Joel Robuchon has two restaurants in Taipei, his ‘casual’ L’Atelier and his even more casual Salon de The. Plans to dine at L’Atelier were already booked later in the trip, so I stopped by the Salon for lunch.
Similar to my experiences with La Boutique de Joel Robuchon in Tokyo, the Salon de The includes a retail patisserie serving a fairly large variety of breads, pastries, cookies and sweets. Definitely a nice stop for a quick treat.
1104 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Dining date: 1/24/14
Melisse, like the restaurant of my last post Providence, is oft-considered one of the best restaurants in the city for its French-Californian cuisine. It’s truly one of the few refined fine dining destinations that has survived through all the food trends Los Angeles has seen since it’s opening in 1999. Like Providence, Melisse garnered 2 Michelin stars in the last guide; while I have been familiar with Providence ever since it opened, my first visit to Melisse didn’t come until a relatively late 2010. I’ve now had a few meals here (including a very memorable Farewell to Foie last year) and have thoroughly enjoyed them.
The impetus for this dinner was the restaurant’s participation in dineLA’s new $85 price level, an opportune time for 4 friends’ first visit. As with many dineLA options I wondered – what type of meal would Melisse provide at this lower price point? Would it still reflect a ‘regular’ Melisse experience? I was pleasantly surprised on both counts.
Keiko à Nob Hill
1250 Jones St
San Francisco, CA 94109
Dining date: 12/1/13
My dad’s mentioned Keiko à Nob Hill a number of times in the past as a potential restaurant, but we didn’t try it until this most recent trip to celebrate some November birthdays. Chef Keiko Takahashi and partner Seigo Takei opened the restaurant at the end of 2011; while there hasn’t been a ton of buzz surrounding the place, it has garnered a Michelin star in the last couple of guides.
Located in the ritzy Nob Hill neighborhood and in the old location of the venerable Charles Nob Hill restaurant, it looks and feels very expensive. Especially with their tasting-menu only and fusion French/Japanese fine dining. However, its 6-7 course menu is priced at a not-unreasonable $95 a head and comes with some of the best service I’ve had in any restaurant recently.
624 S La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Dining date: 12/6/13
Chef Walter Manzke (Bastide, Church & State, countless collaborative/pop-up events) has become one of my favorite chefs in Los Angeles over the years, so I’ve been eagerly awaiting this opening for a long time. Taking over the location of famed Campanile & La Brea Bakery, Republique’s menu is steeped in French influences with a lot of dishes reminiscent of the classical Bistro fare that Manzke was cooking at Church & State.
The hottest seats in the restaurant, literally, are the four at the chefs counter. These provide a front-row glimpse into the action in the kitchen, directly opposite of the large wood-burning oven. Even on this chilling Los Angeles weekend, these seats were kept very warm all evening.
141 South Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dining date: 10/10/13
Patina’s been a fixture in the Los Angeles fine dining scene for decades, celebrating its 10-year anniversary at the Walt Disney Concert Hall this month. To celebrate, the restaurant offered a special menu of 10 courses for $10 each on October 10th.
I first dined at Patina relatively “early-on” in 2006; this would be my third visit. While I’ve found many of the Patina Group restaurants to be a little boring and overpriced for what they are, I’ve felt that the flagship Patina bucked that trend with its strong execution grounded in classical French and modern American cuisine. It’s been just over a year since my last visit; new Executive Chef Charles Olalia had just taken over the kitchen from the exiting Tony Esnault. At the time, the menu still had much of Esnault’s touches – this would be my first meal with Olalia fully at the helm crafting the menu.