1104 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Dining date: 7/24/15
My last time dining at Melisse was a year and a half ago when it participated in the dineLA Restaurant Week promotion. While Melisse didn’t technically participate this time, they offered a special 5-course 16th anniversary ‘Dine Melisse’ menu that happened to coincide with dineLA. Priced at $85 per person, it was a very attractive price point to revisit.
301 Tchoupitoulas St
New Orleans, LA 70130
Dining date: 6/13/15
Restaurant August was high on my list of places to try while in town. It’s John Besh’s flagship restaurant and consistently regarded as one of the top restaurants in the city. The food here combines Besh’s classical French training with the cuisine and ingredients of Louisiana. The decor is an upscale setting with old-world charm.
A few dining options were available – a la carte, a five course farmers market tasting ($72) and a five course degustation menu ($97). The restaurant allows each diner to choose which route they want to go; the tasting menu isn’t mandatory for the entire table. The flexibility allowed us to get one tasting menu and order a handful of a la carte dishes to create a custom tasting.
The French Laundry
6640 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599
Dining date: 5/24/15
I’ve been lucky enough to visit The French Laundry a handful of times. It’s always a memorable experience with delicious food, precise execution, and warm service. This most recent visit was thanks to a reservation I was able to obtain when the restaurant’s reservation books opened up following their closure since the holidays. The kitchen has been completely torn down in preparation to build a much larger state-of-the-art version; it’s currently replaced with four temporary shipping container kitchens (they’re much, much nicer than it seems).
A visit to The French Laundry isn’t complete without a stroll through the gardens across the street.
The famous blue door.
Twist by Pierre Gagnaire
3752 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89158
Dining date: 5/8/15
I first dined at a Pierre Gagnaire restaurant in Tokyo a few years ago and enjoyed it. Gagnaire’s restaurant in Vegas has been open since 2009 (the only one in America), but it took me a full 6 years to visit. Part of it was my parents’ less-than-stellar impression of the restaurant during their first visit, but they were game to give the restaurant a second try.
The restaurant’s located on the 23rd floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. It’s a beautiful restaurant providing beautiful views for any table next to a window. The grand tasting menu offers four courses for $135 and five for $155. However, ‘courses’ is used very conservatively; our five course meal could easily have been called twelve with all of the extras. Even more approachable is a four course vegetarian tasting at $70 (five for $85), which presumably also includes a bunch of additional plates. A very reasonable way to try a Pierre Gagnaire restaurant.
624 S La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Dining date: 4/16/15
I first dined at Republique soon after it opened at the end of 2013. That meal had its ups-and-downs but was generally a little disappointing. Since then, the restaurant has been one of the most oft-praised and highly acclaimed restaurants in town over the past 18 months. I was due for a return to the restaurant hoping the kitchen and service had worked out any kinks.
The menu’s changed a fair amount since I was last here, though there are a few menu mainstays. On this visit, the focus was on new dishes getting a sampling of appetizers, a couple of main courses and a dessert (we skipped dessert last time).
155 W 51st St
New York, NY 10019
Dining date: 2/27/15
Le Bernardin is one of the legendary fine dining restaurants in New York City. Originally opened in 1986, the restaurant has stayed at the forefront of NYC dining up through this day. Currently helmed by famed chef Eric Ripert (Executive Chef since 1994), the restaurant has be given a full 4 stars by the New York Times, 3 Michelin stars, and ranks #21 in the World’s Best Restaurants, 2014 list. Few restaurants have received more acclaim than Le Bernardin. I wasn’t sure if/when I’d be able to try the restaurant, but was excited to dine here on this most recent trip to NYC.
A four-course a la carte menu is offered for $140, while the Le Bernardin Tasting Menu offers seven courses for $170 and Chef’s Tasting Menu with eight courses for $205. We opted for the Chef’s Tasting Menu for the ‘full experience,’ although this would be my dad’s second time having it.