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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Kikunoi (Kyoto, Japan)

Kikunoi Honten
Shimokawaracho, Higashiyama Ward
Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0825 Japan
Dining date: 10/29/16

Dining Room

One of the most notable dining styles in Kyoto is a kaiseki meal, a traditional dining experience featuring individual small plates using local and seasonal ingredients (not unlike a western tasting menu). The presentation are often as intricate as the foods – everything is thoughtfully presented and made to look beautiful. While in Kyoto, I visited one of the most well-known examples of kaiseki at Michelin three-star Kikunoi.

Each party that dines here sits in one of the 11 private dining rooms with a view of the grounds’ scenery, creating a very unique experience. It felt, at first,  kind of weird being in a private room as a party of 2 but I quickly got used to it.

Dining Room

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Eleven Madison Park (New York, NY) [2]

Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10010
Dining date: 9/26/16

EMP

This was my second time dining at Eleven Madison Park. There aren’t many restaurants more highly regarded – the Michelin three star restaurant continues to climb the list of the world’s best restaurants, currently at #3 in the 2016 list. I think my expectations were a little too high in my first visit and have been wanting to give EMP another try.

Dining Room

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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

Le Bernardin

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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Per Se (New York, NY) [2]

Per Se
10 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019
Dining date: 9/25/16

Blue Door

I’ve dined in Per Se’s dining room once, but this was my first time dining at the restaurant’s lounge, called the Salon.  In the Salon, right outside the main dining room, the restaurant offers an a la carte version of that day’s tasting menu. Desserts are also offered a la carte, as well as a dessert tasting menu priced at $70 for 5 courses. I picked out a few items from the evening’s menu – one appetizer, a fish, a meat and a dessert.

The Salon offers the same view as the main dining room.

Columbus Circle

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