Archive for the 'Southern California' Category


I have said this many, many times and I will say it again I consider Providence to be the best fine dining restaurant in Los Angeles.  Chef Michael Cimarusti was not there and GM/Partner, Donato Poto was also not there. You would think our dining experience would be mediocre, NOT AT ALL!!!!!!!!! Chef de cuisine, Tristan Aitchison did a terrific job, sommelier Drew Langley is a true professional and Molly our server was incredible – she wrote down every dish with every ingredient on note cards for me. That is why my descriptions are so precise – a huge thanks to Molly.

P - Champagne

BYO Champagne to start

P taco

TACO – scallop tartar, sushi rice, seaweed, bubu arare (crispy rice crackers), nasturtium leaf – fantastic

P - Clam

Chilled Middleneck clams, chorizo and clam consomme, roasted red pepper, coriander, chorizo foam – a refreshing presentation of chilled clam

P - presentation of cigars

Presentation of next dish

P - cigars

Ficelle (cigars) – Red wine braised Wagyu, feuille de brick, ume aioli (Japanese plum), celery leaf – just delicious

P - second wine

BYO Wine

P - uni presentaion

Uni presentation

P - uni

Uni Yuzu, yuzu peel, uni, soy milk panna cotta, wasabi paste, caviar, gold leaf – a wonderful combination of flavors

P - scallops

Raw Nantucket Bay Scallops, lemon zest, crispy puffed rice, creme fraiche and shaved white truffles – absolutely A++

P - geoduck clam

Presentation of the Geoduck Clam, julienne of cucumber, Ikura

P - geoduck clam with ponzu poured on

Ponzu poured over the Clam – light and full of flavor

P -- squid crabonara

Squid Carbonara, egg sabayon, pancetta, white truffle – another winner

P - egg drop soup

Dungeoness crab egg drop soup (dashi, bonito, sake), matsutake mushrooms, celery leaf, scallion, celery

P - abalone

New Zealand Abalone, puffed and braised buckwheat, brown butter foam, sea beans, borage blossoms

P - Foie gras

Duck Foie Gras, smoked apple puree, aged balsamic vinegar, sorrel – I do wish we could have real foie but this was excellent

We were suppose to have 3 more courses, John Dory, Black Bass and Wagyu – we just couldn’t we were full.

What a terrific meal. It just doesn’t get any better than this.



Vin Bar/Valentino

I have written about Vin Bar/Valentino numerous times. I think it is the best Italian restaurant in Los Angeles. Chef Nico is so talented and there is no better restauranteur than Piero. We never look at a menu – we just let Nico cook and Piero chooses the wine.

V_ Champane

Champagne to start

V - Croquette

Croquette filled with spinach sitting in a pool of parmesan fondue – delicious

V- Lobsteer Crudo

Lobster crudo that had been marinated in anchovies on a bed of fresh orange topped with thinly sliced onion sprouts – another absolute winner

V- white wine

White wine

Now Piero and I got into a discussion about white truffles. I mentioned that so many of the truffles we have had in restaurants are poor quality and taste like cardboard. Piero asked if we wanted to see his alba white truffles.

V- Piero with trruffles

Piero and Chef Nico with the truffles – top notch quality!

V- close-uup of truffles

Close-up of the beautiful truffles – of course we asked for a course that would include truffles

V- Monkfish

Peppered Monkfish and butternut pistachio soup – an inspired combination executed to perfection

V- Red Wine

Red Wine

V- Totellini

Tortellini stuffed with veal brain that had been sautéed in butter topped with a generous amount of Alba white truffles – finally truffles that tasted like truffles

V- chicken

This is NOT Chef Nico’s plating. My husband forgot to take a picture and this was our take-out portion -we were getting full so this is what we took home. Chicken stuffed with sausage, chestnuts and porcini mushrooms sitting on a bed of risotto parmesan with shaved white Alba truffles – a nod to Thanksgiving and just stupendous.

We decided to forgo cheese and dessert.

This was a perfect meal served beautifully, executed with precision accompanied by terrific wines. What more can one ask for?



Maude is the brain child of Curtis Stone. Maude was just named best new restaurant in Los Angeles. It is a small restaurant – only 25 seats with 2 seatings a night. Each month the ingredient changes and all 9 courses uses that ingredient in some form. It is a very difficult reservation to get.

A very special November menu – Truffles – I will let the photos tell the story

Maude wine

White wine from their list

Maude - parmesan canoli

Parmesan Cannoli filled with black truffle infused ricotta

Maude - pop tart

Pop tart filled with onion marmalade, mushroom truffle glaze

Maude soup 1

Maude soup 2

Soup – Potato, Roasted Kohlrabi, Braised Escarole, Black Truffles, Green is Romesco and Broccoli

Maude sqush salad

Squash Salad – Persimmon, Brussel Sprouts,  Truffle batons, Truffle powder, Hubbard squash, Truffle Vinaigrette, Brown Butter

Maude scallop crudo

Scallop crudo – Pan seared scallop served at room temperature, Red Beet Gelee, Pickled Salsify, Truffle soil

Maude - hen egg

Hen Egg, Brioche Croutons, Creamed Leeks, Onion baked in salt, Alba White Truffles

Maude turbot

Turbot, Spinach puree, braised endive, Truffle coulis, shaved Burgundy truffles

Maude - Tagliatelle

Acquerello Risotto, Casamento Cheese, Brown Butter, White Alba Truffle

Maaude - sweetbread

Veal Sweetbread, Cauliflower, Sauce Perigord

Maude - venison

Venison, Parsnip, Matsutake, Chocolate, Shaved Truffles

Maude - cheese

Teleme,  Walnut, Cranberry,  Black Truffle

We were so full we skipped dessert that was

Toffee Cake, Alba Truffle Ice Cream, Raisin, Pomegranite


Providence is the best fine dining restaurant in Los Angeles. Chef Michael Cimarusti is a genius – his gift is taking the best ingredients and combining texture and flavor to highlight that ingredient. GM/Partner, Donato Poto is an extraordinary host and manager. When we arrived who was at the valet station? Donato!!!!!!!! He will do anything to run a tight ship. The service is extraordinary and sommelier Drew Langley is a true professional.

The restaurant has been completely renovated. It is beautiful, tasteful, elegant and very comfortable

P - new wallpapeer

The new wallpaper is perfect.

P - new room

A section of the new room

We BYO our wine and I will just post what we brought.

P- Champagne

2006 Launois Champagne

P - wine

1985 Bienvenue Batard Montrachet, Henri Clerc

P - Rioja

2003 Lopez Heredia Rioja Blanc

P - Chhateau neuf du pape

2011 Chateau Neuf du Pape Blanc Domaine du Pegau

P - wine 1996

1996 Beaune les Cras, Camille Giroud

P - Meuller

1998 Mueller-Gators Eiswein

Now for our spectacular meal – A+++++++++++ We never look at a menu – we just let the Chef surprise us.

P- scallop taco

Scallop “taco” with nasturtium leaves, bubu arare (baby rice crackers), lime, olive oil

P - clam chorizo

Clam Chorizo – littleneck clams, chorizo consomme, red pepper confetti, chorizo espuma

P= Tai Snapper

Japanese Tai Snapper, basil and ginger syrup, basil oil, pickled ginger

P - Goma Saba

Goma Saba (Japanese mackerel), Calabrian chiles, cilantro blossoms, pickled red onions, cucumber, lemon, bronze fennel

P - Butter

Butter and salt for bread

P - Bread

Bread service – seaweed, plain, bacon

P - foam

Unfortunately all you can see is the smoked halibut foam poured on  top – blanched English peas, olive oil, lemon zest

P - uni

Santa Barbara uni, tapioca, coconut milk, red curry, basil, mint, peanuts – “Thai influence”

P - Hairy Crab

Poached Hairy Crab, lime, shellfish consomme. scallions, diced and sliced nectarines


P - Spot Prawn with sauce

Santa Barbara Spot Prawns, peas, pea tendrils, prawn broth made with fennel, orange, madeira and the heads of the prawn

P - Beef cigars

Wagyu beef cigars, mayonnaise, celery leaf on top

P - Salmon

Columbia River King Salmon, wild French asparagus, morels, ramps, radish foam, smoked butter

P - sardine

Japanese sardines, roasted artichokes, tomato compote, ratatouille,  basil oil

P - Black Bass

Black bass, porcini mushrooms – this and our cheese course have incomplete descriptions – a lot of wine!

P - Cheese Cart

Cheese Cart

P - Cheese Plate

Cheese plate – I do know we had Comte cheese

This was a spectacular meal – it just doesn’t get better than this – absolutely A+++++++





Maude, Curtis Stone’s new restaurant is phenomenal. Thomas Keller has an expression that great cooking is all about finesse. Curtis Stone cooks with finesse. He has an unique way of taking a seasonal ingredient and handling it with inspiration yet not letting the ingredient be overshadowed as an overwrought creation. His ability to let texture play an important role in his dishes makes for great cooking with finesse.

M- Curtis

Chef Curtis Stone

Maude is named after Curtis Stone’s grandmother a very important figure in his life.

M - the real Maude better

A photo of Maude on her wedding day.

Chef Stone’s own words best describes the restaurant:

“It has always been my dream to open a tiny, little restaurant, where I’m able to cook with the very best of the season, and create an incredible menu that changes regularly. Maude, named after my dear granny who opened my eyes to cooking and food, is the realization of my dream.”

“Each month a single ingredient inspires a menu of nine tasting plates, and this celebrated ingredient is creatively woven, to varying degrees, through each course. Some courses call for the hero ingredient to be at the center of the plate whilst at other times, it plays a supporting role to the rest of the produce and proteins making up the dish. By choosing a special ingredient to star in each course, from first bites right through to desserts, a beautiful, little challenge is born!”

The above is from the website:

Let me also add that Curtis Stone’s biography is very very impressive!!!!!!!!

The  ingredient for the the night was rhubarb. Each dish was phenomenal. The service was impeccable. This is a must go restaurant.

My photos of the dishes are rather poor and honestly don’t do the dishes justice. They didn’t want me to use flash and as a result the color and quality of the photos are not very good.

M - first

Whipped Rhubarb, cucumber sorbet, marigold flowers – a refreshing, vibrant beginning

M- Chicken

Far left – Chicken wing that had been rolled in pimenton and then in rhubarb glaze and deep fried, rhubarb compressed celery, pickled rhubarb, rhubarb ranch dressing – you dipped the wing in the ranch dressing – what a treat and what a superb combination

M - Prawn

Santa Barbara prawns served escabeche style – carrot, onion, radish, celery, extra virgin olive oil and the grilled head of the Santa Barbara Prawn – as a good Bostonian I picked up the head and ate every single bit including the tentacles – I was in seafood heaven

M - white wine

White wine from their list – excellent

M - asparagus

Composed Salad – charred green asparagus, white asparagus custard, dandelion greens, brown butter croutons, rhubarb vinaigrette – this is where texture is such an important aspect of Chef Stone’s dishes – the toasty croutons were an essential component of this dish

M - Curtis working - open kitchen

The open kitchen and Chef Stone hard at work – his attention to detail is extraordinary

M - chicken pate

This photo just doesn’t do justice to this dish – Chicken liver parfait, spring garlic, crumbled pain perdue, rhubarb pickled spring onions, pickled mustard seeds, banyuls vinegar, herb puree (the green blob) – this was off the charts fantastic – again the texture from the pain perdue was crucial and the parfait was a rich and unctuous mouthful. “Finesse Cooking!”

M - Branzino

Branzino wrapped in rhubarb, zucchini blossom, fried zucchini, pickled peppers, fava beans, dehydrated nicoise olives, rhubarb puree as a base

M - Sweetbread

Sweetbread ravioli, rhubarb beurre blanc, turnip and rhubarb remoulade dressing topped with puffed rice (“overcooked” ) jasmine rice that had been fried – again the photo doesn’t do this dish justice – a triumph of flavor and texture

M- Duck

Duck 3 ways – duck breast, sous vide duck pastrami, savory granola with duck skin, smoked beet puree, leeks, dehydrated fennel – again flavor, texture and ingredient quality was handled expertly

M - cheese

Comte Cheese, underneath the slice of cheese –  Madeira-Rhubarb gelee, macadamia nuts, microgreens

M - underneat cheese

underneath cheese

M - Ginger Parfait

Red Rhubarb sorbet – I didn’t get a full description of this dish

M - last dish

Ginger parfait, almond streusel, vanilla-rhubarb gratin  vanilla poached rhubarb with sabayon), salted honey

What a meal – this was exceptional in every way. I hope I captured the essence of Chef Stone’s cuisine. Many restaurants are listed as chef driven – this really is – I can’t wait to go back!


Vin Bar/Valentino

In all my posts about Vin Bar/Valentino I have made it clear that I consider this restaurant one of the finest in Los Angeles. This is NOT a stuffy restaurant. This is not a restaurant for those over 50. This is a contemporary restaurant that is fun dining at its best. Piero Selvaggio is one of the best restaurateurs in the country. Chef Nico Chessa is an extremely creative chef handling the best seasonal ingredients with contemporary flair. We never look at a menu. We just let Chef Nico cook and Piero pick the wines. I urge the younger set to give it a try – you will be wowed by how good this restaurant is.

We started with a glass of champagne – not pictured.

Vin - first wine

First wine

Vin - first app

On the left smoked salmon, orange, almonds, arugula. On the right Dungeness crab, watercress, melon, cucumber, baby cherry tomato – the ingredients sang and were perfect given the unbearably hot days that has plagued Los Angeles

Vin - 2nd app

Baked Ricotta cheese, spinach, white asparagus, candied walnuts, aged balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil – again a masterful combination of ingredients

Vin - 2nd wine

Second Wine

Vin - tomato soup

Cold tomato soup, fresh oregano, bottarga, burrata cheese – not your ordinary tomato soup – this just screamed great ingredients handled perfectly

Vin - rice

I am not going to do this dish justice by my description. This is a dish that was created by Chef Nico’s mother. It is a rice salad, with La Tur cheese, roasted ham flavored with truffles, peas, tomato – A+++

Vin - last wine

Third Wine

Vin - laast dish

On the left slipper lobster wrapped in speck, tomato. On the right, veal salad –  roasted slices of veal, parmesan, roasted fennel, roasted beets, butter lettuce, olive oil from Umbria – now the photo doesn’t do these two dishes justice – they were inspired, contemporary and creative that would easily win Top Chef.

Vin- cheese

Cheese – I forgot to write the name -it was a combination of cow’s milk and goat’s milk, walnuts, strawberries, barolo wine

This dinner by Chef Nico was off the charts fantastic. He has an ability to extract the best from an ingredient without losing the instrinic quality of the ingredient. His blending of flavors is stupendous and couple that with Piero’s wine pairings you can expect a meal of Michelin 3 star quality in an atmosphere that is great for both the young and old.

Il Grano

I am going to sound like a broken record but I must repeat that Il Grano is a “must go” restaurant. Chef/Owner Sal Marino is amazing – his attention to detail, his extraordinary ability to get the best ingredients and his gift in that he lets the ingredients shine and not give you overwrought cuisine. We invited good friends to join us for a meal at Il Grano  – another meal of amazing company, extraordinary food and unbelievable wine.

Grano - champagne

BYO Champagne

Grano - crostini

Crostini with sautéed shishito peppers, dried bead crumbs, toma cheese

grano - smelt

Fried Wakasagi – Japanese smelt – with a sauce reminiscent of guacamole – pepper and smashed avocado

grano scallop

Seared Hokkaido scallop, oscetra caviar, Sequoia cherries, Purple carrrot and coffee sauce

Grano corton

BYO Corton

grano lobster

Lobster Catalonia, marinated onions, tomatoes, olive oil, basil

grano - montrachet

BYO Montrachet

grano - mushrroom

Porcini Mushroom Carpaccio, arugula, sundried tomatoes, parmesan, olive oil

grano - pea soup

English pea soup, olive oil, edible flowers

Grano - Lynch

BYO Lynch Bages

Grano - papparadelle

Home-made pappardelle, peasant ragu

Grano - Chateau de Beaucasse

BYO – last red wine!

Grano - rabbit

Rabbit stuffed with artichokes, caramelized onions, rabbit demi glace, edible flowers

Grano - lamb

Lamb loin, lamb chop, potatoes parmentier (my notes are very sketchy at this point!)

Grano - dessert

Apricot with amaretto, nectarine peaches with fresh mint, sequoia cherries with white chocolate

What a meal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A+++++++++++++++++++++



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