delicate orange-cinnamon carrot cake with coconut sorbet
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L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (Las Vegas, NV)

On my most recent trip to Las Vegas, I chose to return to this restaurant for the first meal in town. This is Joel Robuchon’s more ‘casual’ concept next door to his eponymous fine dining establishment, which primarily features bar seating around the open kitchen. This was my second time dining here, although I have also dined at the Paris, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Taipei locations.

A few menu options are available, including 5-course and 6-course prix fixe menu options. A ‘seasonal discovery’ tasting menu is also available, 9 courses for $195. That’s the menu we opted for this evening.

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Vegas Uncork’d 2017: Grand Tasting (Las Vegas, NV)

This past weekend marked the 11th annual Vegas Uncork’d sponsored by Bon Apetit. This would be my sixth straight year attending (and seventh overall). Similar to past years, I attended the Friday Grand Tasting. This event featured 50+ different restaurants/chefs and drink purveyors in small tasting formats. Hosted at Caesars Palace’s Garden of the Gods pool area, attendees were able to stroll from booth to booth to sample the offerings. Tickets to the all-you-can-eat/drink event were $260 ($350 for early admission allowing an extra 30 minutes).

orsa winston
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Orsa & Winston (Los Angeles, CA) [2]

It’s been some time since I’ve been to Orsa & Winston. This was my third visit here and it seems like the restaurant hasn’t changed too much. The food is still very much Italian and Japanese-influenced, although the menu does appear to feature vegetables more prominently. This isn’t surprising, reflective of chef Jose Centeno’s latest desire to cook/eat (his latest concept, P.Y.T., is almost vegetarian).

$85 buys six courses here with a couple of optional supplements that change often. Some of the ‘extras’ – an amuse bouche, a pre-dessert, and mignardises kind of makes it feel like a nine courser before supplements. If that’s still not enough, there’s still a 20-course super omakase is still available at the bar with advance reservation.

cento pasta
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Cento Pasta Bar (Los Angeles, CA)

Cento Pasta Bar is a recurring pop-up restaurant in downtown’s Mignon space. At night, this is a French wine bar serving French small plates and wines, but during the day it’s a pasta bar (Wed-Sat). The menu is very focused; typically there’s a couple of appetizers and about three pastas on offer. The pasta offerings change weekly, though can change even daily depending on what the chef comes up with. Prices are very reasonable – pastas are in the $12-$18 range.

tasty n alder
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Tasty n Alder (Portland, OR)

Brunch is supposedly a big deal in Portland on the weekends. Meeting up with an old friend, he suggested having brunch at this place, one of the most popular spots in town. Tasty n Alder is part of John and Renee Gorham’s restaurant group that owns and operates a number of concepts in town (Toro Bravo, Tasty n Sons). Even though we thought we got to the restaurant relatively early (9:30), our party of four still waited 90 minutes for a table (Heart Coffee Roasters across the street was a great place to kill some time).

le pigeon portland
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Le Pigeon (Portland, OR)

Gabriel Rucker’s Le Pigeon has been one of Portland’s most highly-regarded restaurants since 2006. Rucker was named a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2007 and has won two James Beard awards – Rising Star Chef of the Year (2011) and Best Chef, Northwest (2013). The food here is French, modeled after an upscale bistro. Five and seven course tasting menus are available but we went a la carte for this meal after dedicating some stomach space to an earlier happy hour.

crab leg, innards jelly, almond milk meadowood
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The Restaurant at Meadowood (St. Helena, CA)

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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