Hog Island Oyster Co
Oxbow Public Market
610 1st St
Napa, CA 94559
Dining date: 7/2/16
Hog Island Oyster Co. is based out of Tomales Bay, just north of San Francisco, with oyster bar locations in both San Francisco’s Ferry Building and Napa’s Oxbow Market. As its name implies, the restaurant serves up fresh oysters and other shellfish of all varieties, prepared very simply.
I’ve been to both the SF and Napa locations a couple of times. They’ve been very popular with both locals and tourists; lengthy waits are commonplace at this no-reservations spot especially on weekends. While spending the long holiday weekend in Napa, I stopped in for a lunch meal.
Palace Station Hotel & Casino
2411 W Sahara Ave
Las Vegas, NV 89102
Dining date: 5/7/15
The Oyster Bar at Palace Station is slightly off the beaten path, albeit a fairly well-known spot for great seafood off-strip. It’s open 24 hours a day, frequently with a long line that stretches through the slot machines.
There’s plenty of fresh seafood simply prepared (raw oysters and clams, crab and shrimp cocktail) as well as in a gumbo, pan-roast, chowder, jambalaya, bouillabaisse, etouffée, or pastas. All the food is cooked to order in steam kettles in front of diners.
This was my second trip to the restaurant and first for my parents.
Son of a Gun
8370 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Dining date: 3/29/15
Son of a Gun’s been open just over 4 years; this is my third time visiting the restaurant, but really my first time having a full ‘regular’ meal here. My first trip in 2011 was a ‘second dinner’ after a Cafe Boulud pop-up meal at Animal, while my second visit in 2013 was for a Graham Elliot dinner. After quite some time, I was excited for a return to try some of the favorite menu mainstays as well as some new dishes.
The maritime decor reflects the fact that this is a seafood-focused restaurant, though its most famous dish has become its fried chicken sandwich.
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.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
4743 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107
Dining date: 11/6/14
I had one free evening on a quick business trip to Seattle, my first time to the city. Seattle’s got a ton of interesting restaurants and it was a difficult decision narrowing down to one. In the end, we decided on The Walrus and the Carpenter, Renee Erickson’s 4 1/2-year old oyster bar. The no-reservations restaurant has been consistently popular since its beginning, but we were able to squeeze in for an early dinner table after a 20 minute wait.
As expected, the focus here is on seafood particularly oysters. A large variety are always on hand (9 on this evening) as well as a bounty of other seafood small plates. A handful of garden, pantry, meat and cheese plates round out the menu.
5955 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Dining date: 1/16/14
I’ve generally considered Providence one of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles since it opened in 2005. I first had chef Michael Cimarusti’s food at downtown’s Water Grill in college and followed him here. This was my fifth visit overall, but my first in about 3.5 years. I’m not totally sure what took me so long to return, but part of it was the fact that my last two visits didn’t live up to the high expectations created by the first two. Providence is consistently in the conversation of top special occasion fine dining restaurants in the city, so it’s a place I like to stop in every so often.
Cimarusti has been a busy man since my last visit and has presumably spent progressively less time in this kitchen, especially with the opening of Connie & Ted’s last year.
A number of menu options are available. A three course a la carte is $95, while 5-course and 9-course market tasting menus are $105 and $140, respectively. At the highest end, a chef’s tasting menu is available at $195 per person. We stuck to middle ground, ordering the 9 course market menu.