Providence (update), Los Angeles, 6/1/19

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It’s been 3 years since we visited Providence.  Since that time Michelin has issued a new California guide that reinstated the previous rank of Providence as a 2 Michelin star restaurant.  Also the restaurant has redone the dining space.  The new gray walls are in place of the patterned ones but are still decorated with the white flowers and the ‘netting material’ continues to cover the ceiling.  They retained an elegance in the room with a double white table cloth covering the large tables that are moderately spaced.  The bench seating is now covered with leather and dark velvet mated on the other side with comfortable chairs. Music plays in the background and service is friendly and very attentive.  They offer 3 tasting menus with optional pairings, additional options (oysters, caviar, uni, and spot prawns) and a full bar.  We chose the Chef’s tasting menu and ordered our own wines.  It was an excellent meal – full of wonderful flavors and textures.    This place gets 2 strong thumbs up from me.  Pacing started rapidly and then slowed down a bit.  Portion control was great. Continue reading

Animal Restaurant, Los Angeles, 6/1/19

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Animal is a medium sized place that serves lots of plates made for sharing.  It is the first restaurant of the group that also owns Jon and Vinny which is across the street down a couple lots.  The menu adds brunch items on weekends but the regular menu is still available.  They have been open 10 years and the menu was originally known for its interesting meat cuts but now mostly features meaty, hearty food.  The dishes were well flavored and fun, so I’d put this one on your list if you’re in town.  Rock music plays in the background but is dampened by the sound tiles in the ceiling.  Plain white walls host just a couple paintings and windows to the street are at one end of the place.  The opposite end is a counter with seats that face the bar and a small window into the kitchen.  The bare wood tables are set with large cloth napkins and ceiling skylights add additional light for daytime dining.  Service was super friendly and helpful.   Continue reading

Somni, Los Angeles, 5/31/19

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Somni means “dream” in Catalan and this place is the dream of Chef Aitor Zabala and Chef José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup.  It is inside the SLS Hotel Beverly Hills and offers a surprise tasting menu of about 20 courses.  The menu changes with the seasons and mostly as an individual item at a time and they did have a printed version of the tasting for you when you finished.  They received a 2 star Michelin rating in the new California Michelin Guide.  You entered into the hotel lobby, which felt more like a mini department store, where you waited to be ushered into the dining room.  The dining room is a lovely light wood curved counter with plush chairs for 10 people.  The large group of chefs work at the several counters in front of you and also in a back area that is less visible.  The white surfaces look pristine with the light woods and marble and small spotlights hang over every seat so you can enjoy the artistry of the dishes.  Some art is on the back walls but the real art is in the kitchen in front of you.  It felt elegant and serene.  Service was amazing along with questions easily answered by any of the chefs that served you.  It was a totally delightful and delicious experience.  I suspect that this is the work of manager Eric Jeffay (who we met at D.C.’s Minibar) and is well versed in providing the finest service.  I encourage you to go if you get the chance the food is gorgeous, as is the room, and explodes with flavor.   Continue reading

Jon & Vinny’s Restaurant, Los Angeles, 5/31/19

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Jon & Vinny’s is a medium sized place with bare blond wood tables for 2 and some booth seating.  The kitchen is on the left as you  enter and you can see the pizza baking and food being prepared.  There are some stools at the counter for eating too.  The two-tops had hinges that looked like they could be expanded for bigger parties.   All the tables are  set with paper napkins and a selection of paper placemats and there is older rock music in the background.   There are windows to the busy street at the front but no seats nearby.  However between those windows and the skylights there is plenty of light in the place.  Helen’s Wines is attached to the back of the dining area and you can go in to select your wine or do it from the list and they’ll bring it out.  Afterwards you can go and buy more of it or something else to take with you.  Service was efficient and friendly and pacing was fairly rapid.  They were happy for us to share everything and willing to bring it out in stages for us to eat but they did overlap sometimes which could make it tight on the small table.  The place was constantly full, especially with lots of young people, with tables turning several times. Stopped into the wine shop afterwards and they were extremely friendly too.   Continue reading

Melisse Restaurant, Santa Monica, 7/20/16

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Melisse is a fairly large restaurant located in Santa Monica near Los Angeles. The chef/owner Josiah Citrin had two Michelin stars when Michelin covered the LA area. It is French cuisine presented in an soft contemporary dining room full of fairly casual people. My understanding is that the dining room was done over in an attempt to obtain that third star, but then Michelin pulled out. There were a ton of service personnel that provided efficient but not overly engaging service. I noticed that not one woman was seen on the staff except for the greeter/hostess. We chose their 10 course tasting and our own bottles of wine. They offer vegetarian and regular tasting menus (numerous choices for each course), with optional supplements.  Continue reading

Lukshon, Los Angeles, 7/20/16

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Lukshon is a medium sized restaurant with very modern motif.  For days of good weather they also have a patio for eating but not much people watching as they are located off the busy street on a pedestrian pass-through.  The service was efficient and helpful but not overly friendly, but in the server’s defense she had a lot of tables to look after. It was DineLA week and so in addition to their usual a la carte menu they had a special menu and the server was right to steer us to it as it contained a couple items not usually on the menu.  It our usual over-ordering way we also threw in one a la carte item and ordered the optional add-on for the DineLA menu.  But let me say that I’m glad we did cause then we got to try so many things.  This place is an amazing value for the flavor they deliver! I would definitely put this on my options for dinner on my next visit or at least come back for lunch. Everything was delicious but some were truly outstanding.   Continue reading

Orsa & Winston, Los Angeles, 7/19/16

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Orsa & Winston is a small restaurant that combines parts of Italian and Japanese cuisines in their food. It is named for the chef’s two dogs, which we and Frankie were able to meet at the end of the evening.  They serve a 6 course tasting as well as a la carte options. However with 48 hours advance notice they will fix you a “super omakase” tasting which is 20 plus courses served to you while you sit at the bar next to the kitchen. There were 4 stools available for this option but we were the only ones that night.  We went well over the 20 courses and they did offer us the option to quit, warning that we had another half dozen savories before they started sweets.   Continue reading

Spago, Beverly Hills, 7/19/16

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Spago is Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant in Beverly Hills. It is a large space with a glassed in kitchen and a patio that opens into the dining room. Normally this would be nice but on the days when the temperature is higher than the average the dining room does get warm. It is a modern design with warm and very friendly service people. They made the experience as opposed to the food.  We were there at lunch and the menu is all a la carte. Continue reading

Providence, Los Angeles, 7/18/16

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Exterior

This is a second visit to Providence and it hasn’t lost its touch – it’s a lovely dining experience. You can see why Michelin awarded it 2 stars when they covered the LA area. The service is top rate and friendly. There were some similarities to last year’s menu but overall it was a new set of tastes and some different takes on ones we saw last year.  A different table gave me a better feel for the dining room and although it still feels “dated” it also felt quite comfortable.  Most of the guests were dressed well but it’s LA and you’ll still find sneakers and t-shirts. They offered a seasonal tasting menu, one for DineLA week and a chef’s tasting menu which we opted for, all with optional supplements. Continue reading

Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles, 7/18/16

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Pizzeria Mozza is one of 3 restaurants run by the same group in the area. This one is medium sized, casual with a menu heavy on pizza. Service was friendly, efficient and willing to make suggestions on ordering. We were there during restaurant week and it made a reservation a must for lunch, but the waitress said they do a brisk business. They offer a number of antipasti and salad plates that are easily shared, which was our route. Continue reading

Providence, Los Angeles, 7/27/15

A semi large place with a really dated interior that had some reviews of “too old school” but I found it excellent. The table set up was minimal but service was exceptionally nice. The acoustics allowed you to hear the buzz of the other patrons but still have a conversation with your table mate. They do offer a special 4 course tasting menu in the summer but we opted for the Chef’s menu tasting which is a 3+ hour experience. Continue reading