Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Birthday Dinner at the “Old School” Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Serving the San Fernando Valley since 1947! This place is “Old School” 1950’s era dining at it’s finest and the restaurant’s atmosphere, decor and menu all follow this directive.

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

No valet parking here. Street parking is available, the meters run 8am-8pm everyday, except Sunday. Ready yourself for a “TIME WARP” dining experience!

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks – Welcome to the Valley Inn!

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks – Wall of Autographed Headshots!

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks – Chick Hearn & John Wooden Memorabilia!

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks – Tweety Bird (& the WB Animators)

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks – Antique Machine!

The Saloon Bar (order a martini or classic cocktail):

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks – The “Old School” Saloon Bar (have a cocktail!)

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks – The “Old School” Saloon Bar (have a martini!)

There are two public dining rooms, the John Wooden Board Room and the Main Dining Room, and there’s a private dining room in the back available for small parties.

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks – John Wooden & Main Dining Rooms

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks – John Wooden Board Room (Dining Room)

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks – Main Dining Room

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks – Fine Wine!

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks – Private Dining Room & Fine Wine Reserve

 

On The Menu: Fried calamari with marinara sauce, Boston clam chowder with soup crackers, Caesar salad, BBQ baby back ribs with wedge fries & coleslaw, bread & butter, a glass of red wine (Artesa Pinot Noir 2013), a coke and a hot fudge sundae for dessert.

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks – Red Wine! Artesa Pinot Noir 2013

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks – Fried Calamari with marinara sauce

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks – Boston Clam Chowder

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks – Caesar Salad

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks – BBQ Baby Back Ribs w/Wedge Potatoes & Coleslaw

Dessert: Happy Birthday to me! A classic Hot Fudge Sundae!

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks – Hot Fudge Sundae

NOTE: The coffee machine was broken, so they could only offer us decaf…NO COFFEE! We were told they were having it fixed “tomorrow” but that didn’t help us at dinner.

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

Dinner at the Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks

The food is good, not great. The atmosphere is good if you like the “retro” dining experience. It’s not a cheap meal, market price for lobster here was $39 per pound.

I would not order the ribs again (they were lacking seasoning and not very good), instead I would have steak and/or lobster.

THE SERVICE NEEDS WORK!!!!! Our server didn’t smile once and seemed totally overworked, which is impossible for a restaurant this size, it was early, and it wasn’t very busy. The service was slow and her attention to detail and our needs while dining was lacking (to put it nicely). There’s a regular crowd that eats and drinks here, and they seem to get better attention/service.

We had a fun party and ate a lot of food. It was a nice dinner, but could have been so much better! Good service and proper attention to the service makes a big difference!

I won’t patronize establishments with poor service where I’m treated as a 2nd class citizen, especially at their prices.

All photos copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel

Valley Inn Restaurant4557 Sherman Oaks Ave. Sherman Oaks 91403 (818)784-1163

Next time we’ll go back to Le Sanglier! Read the Blog> http://wp.me/p3dhVM-XM

 

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UPDATED November 25, 2018: Another Old School Steak Dinner at the Valley Inn!
We have been back and the experience was pretty much the same. We even sat in the same booth. It’s a big meal and a San Fernando Valley experience.
ON THE MENU: Ribeye steak (medium rare) with fries & veggies, fried calamari, salad with ranch dressing, bread & butter, a coke and a vanilla chocolate fudge sundae.
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Wine Tasting at the Belle Fiore Winery in Ashland Oregon

Wine Tasting at Belle Fiore Winery in Ashland Oregon

To be honest, I was heading for Weisinger’s Winery, but missed it and followed the signs to Belle Fiore Estate & Winery…and I am very glad I did!

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery

 

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – Beautifully landscaped parking lot

Belle Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – the Main Building

I arrived about noon and followed the road up the hill to the Tasting Room, Winery and Restaurant. It’s very pretty and even the parking pot is beautifully landscaped! The main building has the exterior design of a modern Italian Palazzo, with nice classical details.

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – the Main Building: Tasting Room, Winery and Restaurant

The interior is also lovely! There is table seating and a wine tasting bar downstairs, and a restaurant upstairs. The first floor also has the winery offices, a private dining/tasting room, restrooms and a kitchen area. The inside space is beautiful and decorated with art.

They have the Belle Arte label and hold an art competition every year, the winner is chosen and their art is featured on all the Belle Arte vintages that year. And artists can show and sell their work in the downstairs space.

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – Downstairs Tasting Room and Art Gallery

Belle Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – the fancy ironwork stairs to the Restaurant upstairs

There was only one other person at the tasting room bar when I arrived. I met my server Dottie, who passed me on the road in her new BMW and had just arrived at work. I would also meet Savannah (aka Sarah from Havana) and Michael while I enjoyed their wine.

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – the Wine Tasting Bar downstairs

Tasting Time! They had two tasting menus to choose from, and the wines change weekly and there are substitutions and add ons available. I decided to try the $12 tasting menu with five wines: a sauvignon blanc, a pinot noir, a syrah, a cabernet sauvignon and a muscat canelli. Along the way I also tasted a caprettone, a montepulciano and their recent Gold Medal Award Winner the Numinos red wine blend.

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – Wine Tasting Time!

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – Wine Tasting Menu

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – Dottie and Savannah at the Wine Tasting Bar

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – Belle Esprit 2014 Caprettone

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – 2014 Sauvignon Blanc

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – 2013 Estate Pinot Noir

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – 2012 Estate Syrah

Their Numinos red wine blend just won a Double Gold Medal Award!

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – Numinos 2012 Red Wine Blend – Gold Medal Award Winner

 

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery

Big Thanks to Dottie, Savannah and Michael for their service, knowledge, stories and personal entertainment. Savannah and Michael are both very talented singers! They were also nice enough to let me plug in my phone charger while I was at the bar.

Bella Fiore Winery

Bella Fiore Winery – 2012 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – Belle Arte 2012 Montepulciano

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – Belle Esprit 2013 Muscat Canelli

They have a food tasting menu downstairs and a full restaurant upstairs. And I think the restaurant menu is available downstairs as well. I have to thank my new friends Kim and Lynn again for sharing their cheese, bread and charcuterie leftovers with me.

Belle Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – Downstair Wine Bar Tating Menu

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – Bread & Cheese

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – Charcuterie Board Leftovers

The wines were EXCELLENT! All of the wines I tasted were absolute winners!

The whites were light, fruity and delicious. I would definitely drink the Caprettone and Sauvignon Blanc. The Muscat Cannelli is an excellent dessert wine.

Their red wines each had distinct qualities and wonderful flavors. The Numinos was exceptional and I “really-really” liked the Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Montepulciano vintages.

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – Private Dining/TastingRoom

I spent a couple of hours at the bar, tried a lot of wines, and then wandered around the parking lot and building afterwards. It was cloudy, hazy and smoky but I got a few good pictures. The winery is onsite and the loading dock is adjacent to the tasting room.

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – Winery Loading Dock and Vineyards

Bella Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – Vineyards

Belle Fiore Winery

Belle Fiore Winery – Vineyards

They have acres of vineyards and the neighbor’s properties make for good pictures.

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Belle Fiore Winery – the view from the parking lot of the neighbors property

11950237_1210317988994765_7316723302090844237_o

Belle Fiore Winery – the view from the parking lot of the neighbors property

I had a wonderful time and all the wines were great! I would definitely return and want to try the private tour/tasting of the Mansion and eat at the restaurant next time I’m in town.

NOTE: The Private Tour and Tasting available at the Mansion Estate and gardens up the hill includes a tour, a select wine tasting and is fully accessible for Special Needs visitors.  The cost for the Private experience is $25 per person for a group of 1-8 guests.

They are licensed to ship wine to CA, NY, WA, NV and CO. They will also pack your purchase for shipping and you can ship it yourself as “perishable food” (don’t tell them it’s wine) if they don’t ship to your home state.

Belle Fiore Estate & Winery 955 Dead Indian Memorial Road, Ashland, Oregon 541-552-4900  www.bellefiorewine.com

All photos copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel

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Happy Birthday Dinner at Mario Batali’s Carnevino at the Palazzo Las Vegas!

Happy Birthday Dinner at Mario Batali’s Carnevino at the Palazzo Las Vegas!

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Friday night! We were celebrating in Las Vegas at the Palazzo Hotel and made a dinner reservation for 7:15pm. We arrived on time and were seated without having to wait.

RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO SEE A LARGER PIC!

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel – The Carnevino Bar!

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel – The Carnevino Bar!

We had a choice of the Dining Room or a table in the Carnevino Bar with a view of the casino. We chose the Dining Room which was almost full, so we were seated at a 4top in the back of the house by the service doors (more about this later) and the entrance to the “group” and private dining rooms.

The Dining Room has a large metal cow in the center. We were sitting in the back of the house with a nice view of the cow’s ass. The space has an “old-world” rustic Italian theme. There are bottles of wine used as window display, and there’s a nice view of the Wynn and Encore hotels.

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel – View of the Wynn & Encore Hotels

The service was excellent and the large restaurant staff is very well trained and extremely well managed and monitored! There is a defined procedure for every step of the meal followed by the waiters, servers and bus people. The meal was perfectly timed, done to order and everything we ate was excellent!

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

White linen tablecloths, a great menu with lots of variety, tasting menus and an extensive wine list were on the table and available.  As I mentioned before, we were seated at a 4top in the back of the house by the service doors. There’s a very large staff and they move very quickly. They also have carving carts for table presentations and large group rooms beyond the Dining Room accessed through the back of the house. I know this because of the constant stream of traffic rushing by our table, and the carts trying to fit between the chairs. There was also a clown car length line of business people that walked past our table to get to their party in the group room, probably 50 or so people parading past our table. It was a little distracting, and almost annoying, but we were enjoying the food and this is really my only complaint about the dining experience. I would advise requesting a table away from the service doors and back of house to anyone eating here.

The food was terrific. Everything was cooked to order and prepared with care. The presentation and plating was clean and simple, the food being the focus. We made our choices and chose a glass of wine (rather than a bottle) from their extensive list. I really enjoyed each delicious dish, which is the sign of a great kitchen.

On The Menu:

Cheese puff appetizer starter, Grilled octopus appetizer, NY Strip steak (bone in, cooked medium), charred asparagus, mashed potato with poached egg & bacon, bread with butter & lardo, a glass of red wine and a coke.

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel – Cheese puff appetizer starter course

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel – Bread with butter & lardo (pork fat)

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel – Grilled Octopus in Limoncello

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel – NY Strip Steak (bone in, cooked medium)

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel – Mashed potato with poached egg & bacon

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel – Charred Asparagus

A fine wine: 2009 Ciacci Piccolomini d’ Aragona Brunello di Montalcino

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel – Fine Wine!

ROSSO DI MONTALCINO DOC – Tuscany, Italy
The Grape varietal of this wine is 100% Sangiovese Grosso; fermented & refined in stainless steel & glass concrete vats w/temperature controlled through cooling plates & jackets, aged roughly 12 months in 20-85 Hl Slavonian oak barrels. Rosso di Montalcino fruit-forward, spicy & floral. Red berry fruits notes are enriched by slight floral & spicy hints. Warm, soft on the palate w/great structure & round tannins.

The wine was a wee bit tannic at first, but was great with the perfectly cooked meat.

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel – a coke and a smile

For Dessert: Birthday tiramisu, peanut butter & chocolate torte with almond brittle and caramel sauce, an espresso and shortbread cookies with black currants to finish.

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel – Happy Birthday Tiramisu and an iced espresso

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Double Down on Dessert at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel – Peanut Butter & Chocolate Torte with Almond Brittle and Caramel Sauce! Like a Snickers on Crack!

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel – Shortbread Cookies with Black Currants to finish

Thank you Carnevino! Thank you for a wonderful birthday dinner! I really enjoyed the food and the service was terrific. I would definitely return and recommend it to my friends. It really is one of the best steaks in Las Vegas.

GOOD SHABBOS!

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Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO SEE A LARGER PIC!

All photos copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel

Vegas Leftovers!

Vegas Leftovers!

Vegas Tip! (or tip for any hotel stay): Request an in-room mini-refrigerator for a “special diet” or “medical reasons”! They usually provide them without a charge (ask them to waive the fee if there is one) and you’ll have a place to store leftovers, food you bring/buy outside the hotel, and a place to keep beverages cold (much better than the ice bucket). My Vegas leftover breakfast: cold NY strip steak, cold boneless buffalo wings with ranch dressing, pineapple juice, tiramisu, slightly stale donuts & a banana (not pictured)

Dinner at Fifty Seven in Downtown L.A.

My Sister’s Birthday Dinner at Fifty Seven in Downtown Los Angeles

My little sister is a bigger “foodie ” than I am, so for her birthday we decided to take her to the hot spot restaurant downtown. We tried to get a reservation at Alma, but we were denied (and they won’t take a reservation for a party larger than four people). You might think that’s unfortunate, but I don’t like restaurants where the chef cooks what he likes and serves it to you without a choice. You eat what he serves, that’s it. No thank you.

So, we made a reservation for six at FIFTY SEVEN in the industrial arts loft neighborhood south of downtown Los Angeles, which is now gentrifying as fast as it can. I wasn’t driving and we took the surface street route through the Skid Row neighborhood, which has moved east now that 5th Street has been rehabilitated. It’s a strange feeling when you’re going for an expensive luxury meal and there are people living on the streets and tent encampments line the sidewalks for entire city blocks just a short distance away.

Welcome to Fifty Seven. There’s street parking and they have valet parking available.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

It’s INDUSTRIAL! Enter on the alley through the tall glass doors. It’s a beautiful space with wood floors, red brick walls, metal railings, retro wall sconces, exposed ceiling and stainless trim and duct work.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

There’s a huge rectangular bar, and you walk up a ramp past the open kitchen, to the raised dining area upstairs.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Looking down on the huge rectangular bar at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Looking at the front door and open kitchen area across the huge rectangular bar from the raised dining area at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

 

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Open Kitchen – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

 

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Raised Dining Area Upstairs – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The raised dining area is a little too “close quarters” and the aisle between the seats is only wide enough for one person. And of course it’s LOUD! The hard wood and brick with the low ceiling over the dining area amplifies the sound to a level that make conversation difficult. Also, there’s music playing in the bar area and there’s a performance space downstairs. Did you hear me, it’s LOUD!

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Tiny Chair! – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The chair was tiny and the back was just too short, there’s no way to hang a jacket properly, and it’s hard to sit in for a long time (a warning for people with bad backs). The meal, if properly done takes about 3 hours. That’s a long time in that chair.

We started with still and sparkling water, a Marsannay 2009 Burgundy wine, and the Chef sent us a complimentary order of deviled eggs to get the birthday party off to a good start.

We ordered a few shared plates for the table, all of which were excellent, and everyone decided to take advantage of the Prix Fixe Menu (Great Deal! See Below.).

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sparkling or Still Water? – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Marsannay 2009 was a really good wine choice.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Marsannay 2009 Burgundy wine – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The restaurant concept its to have a Chef in Residence, and then change that chef every six months or so. The current Chef in Residence is David Nayfeld.

From the Fifty Seven website: “Nayfeld’s cuisine can best be classified as Progressive American, harmoniously combining flavor palettes from around the world with a broad range of techniques to create food that is refined, distinctive and satisfying – all while using ingredients that are grown, harvested, and foraged wild from the land that surrounds us….in Europe, David worked with such distinguished chefs as Mauro Colagreco, Albert & Ferran Adria, Philip Rochat, David Toutain, Clare Smyth, Gregory Merchand and Jacques Genin. In New York, he spent more than three years at Eleven Madison Park, where he served as the senior sous chef. While there, the restaurant received three Michelin stars, six James Beard awards, and four stars from the New York Times”

THE SHARED PLATES:

Deviled eggs (compliments of the Chef), Fried Chicken, Pickled Garden & Veal Liver.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

WINNER! Deviled Eggs Shared Plate – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The deviled eggs with stuff inside were an excellent beginning to an awesome meal. We chose two orders of the Fried Chicken shared plate and it was perfectly cooked. The skin was crunchy and flaky, the inside was warm and juicy. It was served with pickled veggies and a brown mustard sauce. WINNER WINNER! Fried Chicken to start your dinner!

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

WINNER! Fried Chicken Shared Plate – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

We had to order a Pickled Garden shared plate, just based on the name. It was exactly what it sounds like, a combination of pickled vegetables. Each had a distinctive taste, different than you might expect. My mother said about the pickled cucumber (dill pickle) piece she tasted, “That’s the best pickle I’ve ever tasted.” I enjoyed the pickled carrots and pickle, they were tasty and not a typical appetizer, but I wasn’t quite that enthused about this dish.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Pickled Garden Shared Plate: pickled cucumber, carrot, squash, cauliflower and baby beets with red miso – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Now the Veal Liver is a different story. Winner! Winner! The Veal Liver was truly excellent! The smell and taste brought back memories of my Great Grandmother’s chopped liver, and the texture was similar to a fine foie gras. It was served with an onion jam and toasted rye bread. I spread a big chunk on the warm bread and topped it with the jam. It was a really great combination of flavors with a taste that took me right back to my childhood!

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

WINNER! WINNER! – Veal Liver with Onion Jam and Sweet & Sour Nebbiolo Shared Plate! – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

We all enjoyed the shared plates and the wine, which were served at a very nice pace. Our waiter was attentive and took our order in a timely fashion. The servers brought the food out and presented it properly, again in a timely fashion.

The tabletop was a little small for all the food plates, silverware, and wine glasses.  I ordered a coke and an extra glass of ice, and I received only a flat “bar coke” which I sent back. Again, it was a little close quarters at the table with six people. The narrow aisle, the waiters taking orders, the servers trying to serve and bus dishes, and the hostesses trying to seat incoming parties. Not for people who can’t handle being close to other people.

We were given a short break in service, then they brought us bread course: Rye and Brioche Buns with “House Made” Butter. The rolls were baked to perfection. The brioche bun was topped with salt and anise (I think) and the butter was smooth, creamy and a little bit better than store bought.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Rye and Brioche Buns – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

“House made” Butter – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

HERE’S THE GREAT DEAL!

CHEF’S PRIX FIXE MENU! CHOICE OF STARTER, MAIN, & DESSERT FOR $48!

I chose the Vegetable A La Grecque, the Heritage Pork, and the Chocolate Dessert for my meal. Other choices at the table were the Brassica salad and the Jerusalem Artichoke starter plates, and the Muscovy Duck and Halibut “main” entree courses, and the Cherry dessert. I tried a little taste of everything except the halibut (which got a positive review from my step-brother).

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Brassica Starter Plate – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Jerusalem Artichoke Starter Plate – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Vegetable A La Grecque Starter Plate – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The three starter courses were good. My vegetable plate was similar to the pickled garden, and the pickled vegetables on the fried chicken shared plates. The brassica was probably the best of the three, although the Jerusalem artichokes were very well received.

The restaurant started getting busy, the bar filled up, the noise level rose, five very muscular men from West Hollywood were seated at the table next to us (and they all pulled out their phones and started texting), and they brought us the “main” entree course.

The Heritage Pork was beautiful. It was perfectly cooked and the spaetzel mixture was a great complement to the meat. I enjoyed it, but was getting full and wanted to have dessert, so I had most of it packed “to go”.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Heritage Pork “Main” Entree – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Muscovy Duck for Two was presented to the table for our approval and they requested we name it. I wasn’t having any part of it and just wanted to get a good picture. Alas, the sun had set and the light level inside had dimmed, so this is the best shot:

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Whole Duck for Two Shown Tableside – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

NOTE: There’s a $45 upcharge for the Duck on the Prix Fixe Menu! (but it is for 2 people)

The duck was returned to the kitchen and returned to the table as a plated dish. Again, it was perfectly cooked, tangy and delicious, and complemented by a duck confit.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Muscovy Duck “Main” Entree – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dessert: Cherry, Chocolate, Lemon or Strawberry? I’ll have CHOCOLATE!

And the Chocolate was terrific! It was a dark and rich chocolate-covered-creamy-mocha mousse on a cookie crust with an edible gold leaf flourish, served with salted caramel ice cream, crunchy and crispy wild rice, and a little splash of Laphroig 10 year old Scotch . I enjoyed it completely!

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

WINNER! Chocolate Covered Mocha Mousse with Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Crispy Wild Rice, and a little Laphroig 10 year old Scotch – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Cherry was also yummy. It was a tart cherry served in a warm cobbler with whipped cream. It was a little too tart for my taste (slightly reminiscent of the Swanson hungry man cranberry sauce from the frozen turkey dinner) but it too was a great dessert.

My sister got a candle in her cherry cobbler, but they didn’t make a overt show of her birthday. The other table next to us (not the guys from WeHo) was also having a birthday party, so it’s a great place for a small party and a special occasion.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Everyone in my party really enjoyed the meal. The service was good and timely, although it did slip a little as the restaurant got busy and that’s all I’m going to say about that. The Chef came out during the meal and visited our table twice, so we got to meet David and have a little conversation. Because I didn’t eat a lot of the pork, he wanted to make sure I enjoyed it and even offered to get me a different entree. I expressed my admiration for his cooking, and the pork, and declined another plate. It was a great moment and made the meal even more personal. We discussed the concept and he told us he was looking for a permanent space to open a new restaurant.

The meal was great! It was an expensive dining experience, but you get what you pay for. I would definitely go back, and I suggest you put this on your list of restaurants to try while Chef David is still in residence.

Fifty Seven712 S. Sante Fe Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90021  http://www.fiftysevenla.com

UPDATED JANUARY 13, 2017: Fifty-Seven CLOSED in September 2014!
The space is currently For Lease in the Arts District next to Bestia Italiano:
http://www.loopnet.com/Listing/19913503/712-S-Santa-Fe-Ave-Los-Angeles-CA/

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Sunday Brunch at the LUXE Hotel On Sunset

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE Hotel On Sunset – On Sunset Restaurant

Big Thanks to the LUXE Hotel On Sunset, the On Sunset Restaurant and LWH Hotels for the wonderful brunch! I was lucky and won brunch for 2 at the Tokyo Cerulean Hotel Reception at the LUXE On Rodeo (see past blogs, it was a great event!). I had to wait until after football season for a free Sunday, so today we went to collect my win and try their well reviewed Brunch.

I love this hotel. It’s a beautiful property! You can take the full photographic tour in my other blogs, there are a couple of links at the bottom of this page. This blog is just about the brunch and the delicious food and drink that we enjoyed today.

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch Ahead at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

I made a reservation and we had a lovely table reserved for us on the restaurant patio.

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Cold Table: seafood – crab claws, crab legs, shrimp, oysters, bagel, lox and grav lox, cream cheese, sushi, scallop ceviche, fish ceviche, herring, meat plate – salami, turkey, 3 kinds of cheeses, crackers, tomatos and mozzarella, salad, muffins, danish, coffee cake and all kinds of bread.

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Hot Table: chafing dishes – bacon and sausage, roast potato, mexican rice, mashed potato, roast peppers and vegetables, fish in sauce, pancakes, french toast, waffles, blintzes, eggs benedict, and more.

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Omelets, crepes and prime rib. Oh my!

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Prime Rib carving station. With Au Jus and horseradish sauce.

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Crab legs, crab claws, shrimp, and oysters.

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Bloody Mary, fresh squeezed Orange Juice, Iced Tea and Coffee to drink.

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Cold Plate: sushi, crab legs, crab claws, shrimp, scallop ceviche, bagel, lox, grav lox, and cream cheese.

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Cold plate; cornbread muffin, chocolate danish, salami, turkey, pepperjack cheese, bread, and a california roll.

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Prime rib au jus with horseradish sauce, eggs benedict, and cheese blintzes with berry sauce.

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Bacon, sausage, french toast, roast potato, and mashed potato.

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Fruit: pineapple, watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, Dessert: mini fruit tart, flourless brownie, and a chocolate mouse cake roll.

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Many tempting desserts and a fruit platter.

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

You can dine indoors in the dining room or bar area or on the restaurant patio or bar patio.

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Today’s brunch was accompanied by music from a wonderful jazz trio.

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sunday Brunch at the LUXE On Sunset (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

LUXE Hotel On SunsetSunset Blvd (at the 405 freeway), West Los Angeles, CA

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Dinner at Cafe Firenze in Moorpark, CA

Friday night: Dinner at Cafe Firenze – Big thanks to my new friend John, an old friend, and Executive Chef Johnathan! Definitely would recommend this restaurant if you are near the Reagan Library or in the Thousand Oaks/Simi Valley neighborhood.

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (photo by Carrie Smith)

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (photo by Carrie Smith)

On the menu: fresh baked bread, a huge bowl of fried calamari, fettucine alfredo, a homemade cannoli, and a coke.

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (photo by Carrie Smith)

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (photo by Carrie Smith)

 

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (photo by Carrie Smith)

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (photo by Carrie Smith)

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (photo by Carrie Smith)

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (photo by Carrie Smith)

 

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Musical Entertainment by Kevin James O’Brien – http://www.kevinjamesobrien.com

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Cafe Firenze (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

And after dinner we enjoyed a wonderful homemade wine!

Chocolate and chambourd infused Port appertif (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Chocolate and chambourd infused Port appertif (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Definitely worth the drive!

Cafe Firenze563 West Los Angeles Ave, Moorpark, CA 93021 http://www.cafefirenze.net

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The 90th Party at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles

Party Time Roaring 20’s Style to Celebrate the 90th Birthday of the beautiful and historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles.

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The Millennium Biltmore Hotel (originally named the Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel) is a luxury hotel located on Pershing Square in Downtown Los Angeles. At its grand opening in 1923, the Los Angeles Biltmore was the largest hotel west of Chicago.  In 1969 the Biltmore Hotel was designated a Historic-Cultural Monument by the City of Los Angeles.  Since 2009, it has operated as the Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles.

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lobby and Reception:

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The Bar:

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Fine Detail and Original Restoration:

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Grand Corridor:

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

 

The Party Theme was Roaring 20’s and guests were instructed to dress the period or wear black and white.  After checking in we were greeted by a 1927 Automobile (have your picture taken!) and waitstaff with trays of champagne and sparkling water.

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

 

I arrived a little early, the ballroom was beautiful and the Dean Morro Orchestra was the evening’s entertainment.

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Artifacts and Biltmore History were displayed for guests:

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Let the festivities begin!

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Two costumed couples were hired to dance and provide “atmosphere”.

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

There was Singing! (and some truly great music!)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

There was Dancing! (Everybody Charleston!)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

And there was lots of Great Food, Champagne and an Open Bar!

Tray passed appetizers: California crab cakes on slider buns and Prime rib on sourdough with horseradish. Then buffet stations! Asian food: veggie springrolls, duck pancakes, and seafood lo mein; Seafood: Salmon-sour cream-caviar on potato pancakes and LOBSTER in martini glasses; New England Clam Chowder in a hollowed out bread roll, Beef short rib with polenta, leg of lamb with risotto; And The Dessert Table: chocolate cake, lemon cake, cake pops, petit fours, (tray passed by the executive chef a chocolate cigar filled with ganache), sugared donuts, coffee, champagne and an open bar. I tried a little bit of every food dish, but skipped dessert and only a had half a donut, one bite of the cigar and only two Grey Goose and 7up.

Salmon with sour cream and caviar on a potato pancake:

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Lobster in a Martini Glass with a slice of lemon

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Asian Food: veggie springrolls and crispy duck (seafood lo mein not pictured)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Beef Short Rib with Polenta and shaved black truffle

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Leg of Lamb with risotto and mint jelly

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The Dessert Table

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Root Beer Float!

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Donuts and Coffee

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

The Rendezvous Court (once it was the original hotel lobby):

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Meanwhile back at the Bar:

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Millennium Biltmore506 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA

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Sushi Dinner at Sushi Hirosuke in Encino, CA

Sushi dinner at Sushi Hirosuke in Encino, California

My local sushi place:

Sushi time! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi time at Sushi Hirosuke! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sunumono and Edamame starters (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Yellowtail, Salmon Sushi and Spicy Tuna on a Crispy Rice Biscuit (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Alabacore Sashimi (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi Assortment – Nigiri Dinner (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Spicy Tuna Handroll (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Spicy Tuna Handroll (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

 

Sushi (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Baked Scallops on California Roll (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Freshwater Eel sushi and a "Volcano" fish/rice/veggie mix (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Freshwater Eel sushi and a “Volcano” fish/rice/veggie/sauce mix (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi time! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi time! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi Hirosuke17237 Ventura Blvd., Encino, CA 

NOTE: pay cash and save 10%, also they have a “happy hour” discounted menu, and discount coupons online.

UPDATED 10 Dec 2014: Sad News. Sushi Hirosuke has CLOSED PERMANENTLY and is Out of Business.

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Dinner at Melisse

Dinner at Melisse (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Melisse (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

A welcome card with a box of chocolate truffles waiting on the table:

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!

For my birthday, we went to Melisse in Santa Monica.  It was an amazing dinner!  Great food and wine, good service and a wonderful “foodie” experience. Thanks!  $$$$$!

We decided on the four course meal.  They have a ten course meal, an ala carte menu, and a “let the chef decide” menu, but the four course menu choices were the most appealing to my tastebuds.  Ready, let’s begin.

Amuse bouche – Cherry tomato with a almond panna cotta herb crust and a (“reconstituted”) tomato emulsion with an olive oil center.  I love molecular gastronomy!

IMG07503-20130815-1834

Six kinds of bread: french sourdough, brioche, basil brioche, chibatta, olive chibatta, and bacon focaccia to choose from: (they bring it on a platter and let you choose)

IMG07504-20130815-1843

Appetizer:

IMG07505-20130815-1849

Oyster Granita on the half shell with a Bombay Gin froth served on a bed of sea shells

Amuse bouche – Gaspacho tomato concentrate with a cucumber cream:

IMG07507-20130815-1851

The Wine List: (and big thanks to Brian the Sommelier for his great recommendations!)

Champagne Tasting

Champagne Tasting – we tried two kinds and settled on the fruity one

White Wine

White Wine – a German vintage from Napa, California

Red Wine Tasting

Red Wine Tasting – we liked the French Cabernet Sauvignon

First Course:

Santa Barbara Spotted Prawns

Santa Barbara Spotted Prawns with a herb sauce and fresh herbs

Coconut Sweet Onion Soup

Coconut Sweet Onion Soup with tasty “reconstituted” crisps  – WINNER!

More bread!

IMG07506-20130815-1849

Second Course:

IMG07515-20130815-1931

King Salmon with snap peas, vegetable mix and a cucumber dill sauce

Black Truffles in a Humidor displayed tableside

Black Truffles in a Humidor displayed tableside before shaving on to the truffle egg

Truffle Egg

Truffle Egg – poached egg with truffle froth, truffle sauce and a lot of shaved black truffle served with a thick slice of toasted and buttered brioche bread – WINNER!

The Main Course:

Cabernet Sauvignon, 3 kinds of salt, 3 kinds of pepper

French Cabernet Sauvignon, 3 kinds of salt, 3 kinds of pepper for the entree

We decide to have the Cote de Beouf for two (there’s an extra charge, but it was worth it).  They present it and carve it tableside.

Cote de Boeuf for two carved table side

Cote de Boeuf for two carved table side

Cote de Boeuf for two carved table side

Cote de Boeuf for two carved table side

Cote de Boeuf

Cote de Boeuf with sauteed mushrooms and a pastie filled with onion and ricotta cheese

NOTE: I took the rib bone home and had it for lunch the next day.  It was one of the best beef ribs I’ve ever eaten!

And then Dessert! (We decided not to have the cheese plate, which I’m told is spectacular…)

Amuse bouche – caramel corn, popcorn sherbert, nut crisp with a caramel water sauce to cleanse the palette:

IMG07521-20130815-2032

Chocolate souffle’ injected tableside with melted chocolate, a concentrated chocolate mousse with a mint leaf, and a chocolate tart with caramel sauce, toasted cookie crisps and painted chocolate pieces:

Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate!

Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate!

And then a plate of petit fours as a final indulgence (which I had to take “to go”):

Chocolate filled with caramel, mini chocolate chip cookie, carmelized dough, a sugared orange gel, and a lime and yuzo macaroon.  There was also a white peach slice, but that didn’t make it home.

IMG07526-20130815-2152

There’s a reason Melisse is rated one of the best places in the country!  If you have the opportunity and the money, I whole heartedly recommend you experience this restaurant.

Melisse Restaurant1104 Wilshire Blvd (at 11th), Santa Monica

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12-JUN-13: Oh yeah, we’re gonna have sushi. Sushi at Okumura!

12-JUN-13: Oh yeah, we’re gonna have sushi.
Sushi at Okumura!

Oh yeah, we're gonna have sushi. Sushi at Okumura! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Oh yeah, we’re gonna have sushi. Sushi at Okumura! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi at Okumura! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi at Okumura! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi at Okumura! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Tiny Origami Swan Chopstick Holder at Okumura! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi at Okumura! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Yellowjack, Albacore and Blackjack (not pictured because we ate it) Sushi at Okumura! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi at Okumura! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Spicy Yellowtail and Jalapeno at Okumura!  NOTE: those are Jalapeno slices, not celery (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi at Okumura! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Oysters at Okumura!  Not for me, but fresh from Seattle!  Report says, “a little briny, but good”  (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi at Okumura! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Tuna, Yellowtail and (excellent) Salmon Sushi at Okumura! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi at Okumura! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Softshell Crab and Avocado Cut Roll at Okumura! It needed some sweet sauce so we got some and it was good. (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi at Okumura! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Bluefin Toro Sushi at Okumura! $16 O-Toro was not my call but it was good. (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi at Okumura! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Eel, Crab and Avocado Roll with sweet sauce at Okumura! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Okumura Sushi – Ventura Blvd (at Louise) in Encino

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12745453_1320476684645561_59619479863257421_n

SushiTuesday! at Okumura in Encino

Sushi Tuesday! We had dinner at Okumura last night again. Since Sushi Hirosuke closed this has been our “go to” local sushi restaurant. The food has been consistently good and reasonably priced. The service is good and it’s very convenient when we want a quick sushi dinner.

On the Menu: Cut rolls: spicy tuna roll x2, California roll, yellowtail & green onion roll, and a Rainbow roll (tuna, yellowtail, albacore, salmon & avocado on a California roll) with small hot sake.

12729370_1320429107983652_4601549523120045472_n

SushiTuesday! at Okumura in Encino