Archive for October, 2009

Bryan Flannery Steaks

I very rarely endorse a product and never do I get anything for free. I have been hearing about Bryan Flannery’s steaks and everyone who has had them has raved. Well, when he did his helluva a deal promotion, I couldn’t resist and ordered 8 New York Strips and 4 Rib Eyes. I must say my husband declared that the strip steak he had this morning (yes, it was 10 am and he couldn’t wait) was one of the finest steaks he has ever eaten.

steak saesoned

Steak seasoned

steak on grill

On the grill

steak served

Ready to be eaten


Website here:


HelluvaDeal here:



Lunch at Spago is always a treat and the patio is just a lovely place to dine. I have said this numerous times, but having a tasting menu is the only way to order at Spago.

Spago patio

The Patio

Spago patio 1

Another view of the patio

Spago dining room

Inside dining room

Spago bar

The bar

Spago garden

The garden – Patio

Spago garden 1

Sculpture in the garden – Patio

Spago garden 2

Waterfall – Patio

Spago Krug

BYO Krug Champagne


Spago tuna cones

Tuna tartar in a sesame cone


Spago ceviche

Hamachi Ceviche with Heirloom Tomato Confit


Spago mousse with blini

Smoked Trout Mousse, Salmon Eggs, Chives, Red Onion, Corn Blini


Spago duck liver

Duck Liver Mousse, Pear Compote, Golden Raisin Tartlets


Spago BYO white wine

BYO White Wine


Spago bruchetta 1

Bruschetta, Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil Aioli

Spago bruchetta

Close-up of the Bruschetta


Spago bacon en croute

Bacon En Croute


Spago tomato sorbet

Heirloom Tomato Sorbet, Tomato Carpaccio, Basil Oil


Spago red wine

BYO Red Wine


spago pig'es ear

spago pig's ear 1

Warm Crispy Baked Pig’s Ears, Gigantic Beans, Chanterelles, Balsamic, Mushroom Emulsion, Wild Arugula


Spago pan roasted langoustine

Pan Roasted Langoustine, Maryland Crab, Baby Leek Puree, Matsutake Mushrooms, Fresh Grated Yuzu


Spago pasta

White Corn Agnolotti, Shaved White Truffle


 Spago lamb

Roasted Saddle of Sonoma Lamb, Blood sausage, Sweetbreads, Ragout of Porcini Mushrooms, Figs, Natural Jus


Spago cheese



A lovely lunch on a warm, sunny afternoon.

Il Treno – Vernon

The only real place to eat in Vernon! Il Treno (The Train in Italian) is on the property of Peacock Cheese Gourmet food distributors. They bought two real honest-to-gosh Santa Fe train dining cars and built a patio around them to serve local businesses. Only open 5 work days for lunch but it’s amazing. This is truly one of those rare LA things and worth playing hookie for a trek to Vernon for the experience. Ironic that they are on Santa Fe Blvd.

comment from

This comment reflects the feelings of the Refined Palate ROVING REPORTER exactly.  If business associates in Huntington Park did not bring me there I certainly would not have found Il Treno. It is a very good restaurant with a nice setting, simple service and high quality food…I don’t find many places to have home made spagetti and meat balls and lasagna…it is a treat.

Photos tell the story…well worth finding time to get there for a good, reasonable cost different lunch. 

 Il Treno Sign big




The Train Santa Fe
Il Treno front door
Il Treno counter

rolls and olive oil with fresh garlic
Rolls and Olive Oil with Fresh Garlic

Pounded chicken breast
Pounded Chicken Breast


4 cheese Lasagna

Four Cheese Lasagna

Chinois – Halloween

If you are looking for a place to celebrate Halloweeen, Chinois is THE place. Bella goes all out and decorates Chinois in a grand style.

room at Chinois

All the staff are in costumes and the staff does get a prize for the best costume. The following is from a Halloween a couple of years ago. This was a set menu with some signature dishes, although this year you can just order from the regular menu. I don’t have my notes on the food so I will have to let the photos speak for themselves.

Halloween at Chnois - Bella


Hallowen at Chinois 1

Rene and Anita

Halloweeen at Chinois 3


Halloween at Chinois 2

Halloween Food 1

Halloween food 2

Halloween food 3

halloween food 4

Filet Mignon – make ahead

A company meal that you can make ahead is always a perfect way to entertain. The original recipe is for 16 portions. I have changed the recipe to serve 4. This is one of my son’s favorite birthday dinners and I can make it the day ahead.


 Filet Mignon with Potato Gratin and Creamed Spinach


Filet Mignon from Marlene Sorosky’s cookbook

4 Filet mignon steaks ( 6 to 8 ounces each) cut 1 inch thick

1/2  large clove of garlic

1/4  tablespoon seasoned salt

1/8  teaspoon seasoned pepper

1/4 stick of butter plus 1/2  tablespoon butter

1 tablespoons brandy

1 1/2  tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1/4  teaspoon crushed garlic

scant 1/2 cup dry red wine

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup beef broth

1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon currant jelly

1/4 pound mushrooms, sliced


Place steaks on a work surface in a single layer.  In a small bowl, make a paste of the 1/2 clove of garlic  and the seasoned salt and pepper.  With hands, rub seasonings on both sides of steaks.  Heat 1/2  tablespoon butter in a large heavy skillet (NOT NONSTICK) until very hot. Saute the 4 steaks over moderately high heat until brown on each side but still raw in the middle. DO NOT CROWD. If butter begins to burn, reduce heat slightly. Put steaks in a 9 by 13 inch casserole; leave at least 1 inch space between steaks. Set aside.

Add 1 T brandy to skillet that you sauteed the steaks in.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, scraping up all brown bits which stick to the bottom of the pan.  Add 1/4 stick butter; when melted and foamy, stir in the flour.  Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is golden. Stir in tomato paste and 1/4 teaspoon garlic; the mixture will be thick and grainy.  Remove pan from heat and whisk in wine, chicken broth and beef broth.  Return to moderate heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or until reduced by approximately a third.  Stir in Worcestershire sauce and currant jelly.  When jelly has melted, stir in mushrooms.  Adjust seasonings.  Sauce should be coating consistency. If too thick, thin down with water, broth or wine. COOL COMPLETELY!

Then pour sauce over steaks in the casserole; sauce should NOT come more than halfway up the steaks.

May be rerigerated covered with foil overnight.

About 2 hours before serving, take casserole out of refrigerator and let come to room temperature.  Preheat oven to 400.  Bake uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes, for medium rare.  When serving, spoon sauce from pans over steaks.

Virgin America

Some first class airline food is terrific. A number of years ago we were first class on Thai airlines. We were served unlimited Beluga caviar plus Krug champagne and I do mean unlimited. This was while we were on the ground waiting for a part from Air France. After take-off more caviar and champagne, then appetizers, then dinner, then after dinner treats and then dessert.  Before tucking us in to our sleeper seats, they asked what we wanted for breakfast. My husband jokingly asked for softly scrambled eggs with beluga caviar. Well, they have a working kitchen on board and the next morning he was served freshly scrambled eggs with caviar.

Now to Virgin America.

I was on flight VX3367 from Boston to LAX leaving at 4:25 pm. We left at 4:25 Boston time, had to refuel in Vegas and didn’t arrive in LA until 12:00 am Boston time. I have no concerns regarding the fueling stop or the length of the flight – it couldn’t be helped. But I was a full paying first class passenger and the level of service on the Boston-LA flight was a disgrace.

1. Usually a flight attendant asks if you would like something to drink when you first board the plane – nothing. There were only 8 of us in first class and one flight attendant.

2. As soon as we were airborne, she came by with a basket of packaged pretzels and/or trail mix for us to snack on – this is first class?

3. After about 30 minutes of snacking, we were given our meal at about 5:40 pm – Boston time. From 6:15 pm to 12 am (Boston time), we were never offered one more bite of food – no cheese, no nothing, not even those pretzels.

Drago – Santa Monica

Drago is our neighborhood go to restaurant. We have known Celestino Drago for years and not only  has he aged very well over the years, but he is as gracious as ever.



drago tuna

New amuse – tuna tartare on a potato crisp – good, but I do miss the Arancini

drago prawns

Grilled Santa Barbara prawns on caponata with basil oil, drops of balsamic, topped with crispy garlic strips- the prawns were head on and just meant for sucking every bit. The caponata was perfect and a great compliment to the prawns.

drago john pasta

Risotto with sausage and Spaghetti Bottarga – cured tuna roe, garlic, bread crumbs, EVO- this is my husband’s favorite combination and Drago always does a split of the two.

drago liz pasta

Tortelloni filled with pumpkin, sage, butter and Parmesan cheese – October food and “homey” delicious.

byo wine - drago

BYO wine

A quick lunch that just hit the right notes.