Arzak (San Sebastián, Spain)

Arzak
Alcalde José Elosegui Hiribidea, 273
20015 Donostia/San Sebastián, Spain
Dining date: 9/27/17

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Arzak was the first reservation I made in Spain on this trip. This restaurant has reached a legendary status in San Sebastián and has been on the forefront of modern Basque cooking for decades. The restaurant has garnered three Michelin stars since 1989 and has made the top 50 best restaurants in the world list every year it’s been published (since 2003). It currently sits at #30. Chef Juan Mari Arzak has been the driving force behind the restaurant’s success, and he now shares the kitchen management with daughter Elena Arzak.

I had a very hard time deciding between this restaurant and fellow three-star establishments Akelarre and Martin Berasategui. While the restaurant has plenty of accolades, I read a number of reviews with mixed feelings about the place. I ended up sticking with Arzak and am glad I did.

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An a la carte menu is available, as well as a 210€ tasting menu. We went with the latter for this dinner.

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Per Se (New York, NY) [3]

Per Se
10 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019
Dining date: 6/18/17

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This was my third time dining at Per Se, Thomas Keller’s Michelin three star restaurant in NYC’s Time Warner Center. My last visit was at the restaurant’s lounge having an abbreviated menu, but I returned to the dining room for the formal tasting menu on this visit. The tasting menu is currently priced at $325 (service-included) and we opted for the wine pairing at the $200 level.

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Le Bernardin (New York, NY) [3]

Le Bernardin
155 W 51st St
New York, NY 10019
Dining date: 6/19/17

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For a weekday lunch in midtown, I stopped into Eric Ripert’s flagship restaurant. This was my third time dining at the restaurant and second time for lunch.

The restaurant’s lounge offers a prix fixe menu of 3 courses for $55 with two options for each course. $5 of each purchase goes straight to City Harvest, a local organization that “rescues” excess food from local restaurants, grocery stores and farms and distributes this food to community programs to provide meals to underserved populations.

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Marea (New York, NY) [2]

Marea
240 Central Park S
New York, NY 10019
Dining date: 6/9/17

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I’ve been to Michael White’s seafood-focused Italian restaurant once a couple of years ago. I recall having a good meal there; in particular, there were some memorable pastas. The restaurant is known to have some of the best pastas in town, which was one of the primary reasons for returning (another was that it was so close to the hotel on an evening with scattered thunderstorms). The restaurant still holds two Michelin stars and is still one of the busiest fine dining establishments in the city.

While a la carte and custom tasting menus are an option, I imagine most people go with the 4-course prix fixe at $102 for dinner. That menu offers a lot of variety – diners can choose from almost any appetizer, pasta, main and dessert for that price. That’s exactly what we did here.

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The Restaurant at Meadowood (St. Helena, CA)

The Restaurant At Meadowood
900 Meadowood Ln
St. Helena, CA 94574
Dining date: 1/14/17

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I’ve been to the Restaurant at Meadowood once, seven years ago, and had a great meal. Since then, the restaurant has garned a third Michelin star (it had two at the time) and undergone a renovation, although Executive Chef Christopher Kostow is still at the helm. I’ve been wanting to return for some time and finally had a chance over the MLK Day holiday weekend.

Whereas an a la carte menu was available the last time I was here, the dining room menu is now tasting menu-only. $275 (before 20% service and tax) pays for about a dozen courses.

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Ishikawa (Tokyo, Japan)

Ishikawa
5-37 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku
Tokyo, Japan
Dining date: 11/1/16

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Ishikawa is one of the most highly regarded restaurants in Tokyo, known for its kaiseki dining. Here, diners are served a pre-fixed menu either at the counter or at a handful of private dining rooms. About a dozen small dishes are served in a careful progression featuring plenty of local seasonal ingredients for 22000 yen. I’ve dined at sister restaurant and fellow three-star restaurant Kohaku once before and had a great meal, so I was eagerly anticipating this one.

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