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

exterior
exterior

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

Somni, Los Angeles, 5/31/19

seating counter
seating counter

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

Momofuku Ko (update), New York City, 5/4/19

open kitchen
open kitchen

We visited Ko one year ago and the entrance changed positions but not much else has changed significantly.   The seats at the counter seemed better spaced but the loud music still makes conversation difficult.  They offer 2 seatings in a night and they are staggered slightly so waiting wasn’t a problem.  They offer only the same tasting menu to all and it was surprisingly similar to what we were served a year ago.  They probably offer wine pairings but we chose to order our own wines.  They do have a couple tables for larger groups but everyone else is seated at the wood bar in acceptable but not super comfy seats.  They have purse hooks under the counter but it was so far under you’d never be able to retrieve your purse if you need anything.  Pacing was uneven and portion control was on the light side.  You do receive a menu at the end but many of the things I well recognized from our last visit.  I mentioned this to the chef who was a bit defensive that they’d made changes but they were minor to the diner.  Unfortunately this similarity made the meal less exciting to me. Continue reading

Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare (update), New York City, 5/3/19

building
building

We were at Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare in the fall of 2015, back when it was in Brooklyn.  It has since moved into the city and relaxed a few of the rules.  Chef César Ramirez now allows note taking and photos but still does not permit jeans and requires coats for men in the dining room.  I was not a fan of such policies back then and still am not but was willing to try the new location that was more under my terms.  The new place in still in the back of a grocery store but the room is beautiful, softer than the old one with a lot less stainless steel and more woods.  It is also much larger with 20 seats at the counter and 20 at tables around the perimeter.  This allows larger parties to attend and the comfortable counter seats have backs and are now spaced between parties.  Shining copper pots hang above the large open kitchen that has lots of people making preparations.  The rock music in the background was a bit jarring for the otherwise elegant setting.  It still is a surprise tasting menu only but they do give you a copy of what you had at the end of the meal.  Pairings are available.  Pacing was good but portions tend to the large size and are fairly rich. Continue reading

Marea (update), New York City, 5/3/19

entry
entry

It’s been 4 years since we ate at Marea, a 2 star Michelin restaurant that specializes in seafood with an Italian influence.  The food here is all very flavorful with out dots or smears – just plain good and fresh.  It is a huge place, elegantly appointed but with closely set tables and some noise issues when it is full.  At lunch it was packed.  There is a lot of art on the walls and windows to the street on two sides of the large dining area.  They also have a long bar area with a beautiful yellow glass wall running behind the bar.  The wood on the walls is polished to a high sheen and you’re likely to spot some bold name people dining with you or in passage from one of the private dining rooms.  (I spotted Michael Douglas as he exited).  At lunch they offer a selection of primi and secondi courses with a fixed price of $63 for the two of your choice, however some selections will have a supplemental charge and a 5 course tasting menu for $99 with optional wine pairings offered.  The tasting includes dessert and although the menu is already set they were willing to make some changes for us and we did not have to get the same things, so that is the deal to get.  We ordered our own bottle of wine and had a cocktail and still beat the cost of buying the pairings, but just barely.  Service was excellent, friendly and efficient.  Put this place on your list if you can. Continue reading

Bozar Restaurant, Brussels, 4/27/19

one entrance
one entrance

Bozar is the one star Michelin restaurant in the Palais des Beaux Arts Museum.  Chef Karen Torosyan, the ‘Pie King’,  is noted for his pâté en croûte and in 2015 he was named the World Champion of Pâté en Croûte.  However be warned, if you want to try any of his crusts they must be order about a week ahead of time.  We ordered a Pithiviers a week before and tried to order a Millefeuille that evening and were told it was not possible.  They also offer 3 and 5 course tasting menus with wine pairings available.  It is a large place on multiple levels with bare marble tables closely set and appointed with bare wood armless chairs.  One end of the longer room is the open kitchen where there is a always a flurry of activity.  Karen Torosyan was there and very busy in the kitchen, with his name etched on the end of the huge stainless steel cooktop.   Lights are dimmed and the noise level is high.  Service was friendly, spoke good English and reasonably attentive.   Continue reading

Restaurant De Jonkman, Brugge, 4/27/19

entering
entering

De Jonkman was started in 2006 by Chef Filip Claeys and his wife Sandra Claeys.  It is a short train ride from Brussels to a shrubbery surrounded modern house in Brugge.   There are colorful and whimsical animals outside the windows and in some of the several dining rooms. Detailing of the interior and exterior design is lovely and lots of large windows to the lush grounds serve as walls for the dining rooms.  Art by Belgian artists and mirrors adorn other walls and the large white cloth covered tables are well spaced and fitted with comfortable chairs.  They have 2 Michelin stars and chef Claeys was on hand the day we were there to produce some wonderful dishes for us to enjoy.  He really stresses sustainable food sourcing and works to highlight local products that are not usually on menus, especially fish that would often be thrown back and he finds a way to turn them into something delicious.  It is worth a trip to Brugge; the food is outstanding.  The staff were all friendly and spoke great English.  The menu offered a la carte options as well as 5, 6 and 7 course tastings.  Working with the chef we were able to select a la carte options that would highlight what he thought looked best that day. Continue reading

La Paix (update), Brussels, 4/26/19

building
building

We last visited La Paix 2 years ago.  Since then they have been elevated to a 2 star Michelin rating.  The beautiful origami bird sculpture still graces the 1892 dining room built in a retired bank that processed the money from the meat slaughterhouses across the street.  Chef David Martin was in the kitchen and while he has changed the hours and days the food is still of great quality and flavor.  I recommend you visit here if you can.  The tasting menu changes every couple months but individual dishes  change with availability and seasons.  His staff, along with his partner Nathalie Obbiet, could not have made us feel more welcome.  They offer a 6 course tasting only on Thursday and Friday evenings and lunch Tuesday through Friday.  The large open kitchen is at the back of the room and one side is filled with an old bar that serves as a service area, not for seating, and stocks a full bar.  The large fish tanks have moved into the center of the room for all to easily admire the size of the crabs and lobsters.  The bare wood tables are nicely spaced and most include a side service table so crowding is not an issue.  The old wood floor is gorgeous and the lighting is lowered but far from dim.  Pacing was great as was the portion control of the tasting. Continue reading

L’air du temps, Liernu, 4/26/19

building
restaurant building

L’air du temps is in an old farm house about an hour train ride from Brussels and then a 30 minute cab ride from Namur station.   The good sized dining room is in one of the many buildings on the compound and had floor to ceiling windows on three sides that overlook some of the gardens.  I understand that some of the other buildings offer lodging if you want to stay out there.  The restaurant has a 2 star Michelin rating and the room has a contemporary feel with swirling wood decorations covering the ceiling and low pile gray carpeting, both of which dampen sound.  They had upholstered chairs that I did not find particularly comfortable – they felt too hard.  The good sized, white cloth covered tables are widely set and minimally decorated.  The back wall is mostly cabinets except for the glassed in passage to the kitchen.  Piped in bird sounds are in the background.  They offered 2 tasting menus and an a la carte menu.  There was a special smaller option for lunch only.  Pacing was pretty good and portion control was excellent.  Alcoholic and non-alcoholic pairings are offered.  We chose the smaller tasting and ordered our own wine.   Chef Sang-Hoon Degiembre was in house and came out to chat with guests as well as present some of the dishes.  He is from South Korea but is now a Belgian citizen.  The Korean letter that seems to be a symbol of the place is the first letter of his name and also the world for world in the Japanese alphabet. Continue reading

The Jane, Antwerp, 4/25/19

building
building

The Jane opened in 2014 in the former chapel of an old military hospital complex.  The building is well restored and already has 2 Michelin stars, however they did have a fire a few months ago and much of the kitchen had to be replaced.  It is a large dining room with one end being the open kitchen.  The balcony above is a bar and it gives a visitor a spectacular view of the room below as well as many seats at the bar to lounge and get ready for the meal.  It also serves an a la carte menu of bites to be shared.  The coved ceiling of the building has been restored to look old with a distressed paint treatment.   Stained glass windows have whimsical designs in them.  New age music plays in the background of the large white cloth covered tables which are closely spaced. Bench seating with lots of pillows is along some of the walls and the middle tables are outfitted with 4 chairs, but some are worked into built in partitions.  A huge overhead light fixture as well as a sculpture over the kitchen are centerpieces of the stylish design. Continue reading

Bon Bon (update), Brussels, 4/25/19

building
building

We last visited Bon Bon, a 2 star Michelin restaurant, 2 years ago.  The interior decorations of the old mansion haven’t changed much but now the whimsical sheep are also by the front door to greet you.  The white painted tree branch still extends into the room and the lovely old wood floors have nice rugs that provide sound absorption.  Tables are well spaced and with the ceiling sound panels, noise level is really not a problem, even with soft music playing in the background.  The large open kitchen is still humming and there are some counter seats for those who want an even closer view.  Windows around the perimeter look over the lush gardens outside.   They now offer a 6 course surprise tasting as well as a 5 course vegetarian one, in addition to an a la carte menu.  After a heavy lunch we chose the vegetarian option and ordered our own wine.  Pacing of the meal was good as was portion control.  Chef Christophe Hardiquest was in the kitchen and cam out to speak with each of the tables. Continue reading

Chambre Séparée, Ghent, 4/24/19

exterior
exterior

Chambre Séparée is a u-shaped counter for 16 around a large open kitchen dominated by wood fired grills, which do all the cooking.   There is a comfortable space out front where you wait for your seat at the counter.  They invite you to come early to enjoy the space and a cocktail.  Our reservation ran a little late so they started with the snacks out there.  I don’t know if this was usual or not. Two seatings fill the spaces for this surprise tasting menu.  Wine pairings are available but we chose our own bottles of wine to accompany dinner.  Vintage rock records are played on a turntable, smoke fills the air ( which will also permeate your clothes by the time you leave) and lighting is pretty dim at the counter.  They have been in this location for two and a half years and hope to move the restaurant to the country in another year and a half when it would be time to remodel the building.  It is a several hour meal with good pacing, no lags, and great portion control.  At the end of the evening they have a written copy of the menu for you as well as a parting gift of housemade bread and butter.  Kobe Desramaults is the chef and he and the other chefs presented the food and described it well.  They were all very friendly, spoke good English and didn’t mind questions. Continue reading

Sea Grill (update), Brussels, 4/24/19

entrane
entrance

We were last at the Sea Grill in November of 2013, a 2 star Michelin restaurant in the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel.  The elegant dining room is located below the hotel lobby with widely spaced large tables set with lovely clothes and napkins.  The lighting is lowered but there are spots directed to each table so it’s good lighting for photos.  There were 2 adjoining rooms with larger tables for bigger parties. Wood walls are on either end with art on the other walls and music plays in the background.  The excellent service was provided by a staff that all conversed well in English.  An old school atmosphere did not provide my menu with prices but did provide a purse stool.   The menu offered a la carte options as well as a 4 course tasting, for which they were willing to do some substitutions (we substituted the Sole for the Sea Bass). Pacing of the meal was on the slow side but portion control was very good.  They did provide us with a printed menu of our meal however it was not exactly what we had. Continue reading

Restaurant Alliance (update), Paris, 4/12/19

building
building (you can see chef through the window)

It’s been 2 years since we visited Restaurant Alliance, a small one star Michelin restaurant with Chef Toshitaka Omiya at the helm – someone who seriously knows how to cook.  If you have the opportunity to get there, do.  I give it solid thumbs way up.   The food is wonderful combinations of really flavorful ingredients that will leave you wanting more and then they’ll bring the next course that is just as good or better.  They offer 2 tasting menus, one a 7 course surprise menu selected by the chef or a Harmony Menu of set courses.  They do offer a smaller tasting menu at lunch but go at dinner if you can because you don’t want to miss any of the dishes this chef turns out.  Pacing is good, no lags and portion control great.  There are only around 7 tables in between the windows to the street and the large window looking into the kitchen.  Shades of gray and cream along with lower lighting provide a peaceful, cozy ambiance along with some cool circular overhead light fixtures.  Service is stellar, with welcoming and helpful staff that all spoke great English.  We were warmly greeted by  the chef and manager Shawn Joyeux, who is great at finding you a fun wine at your chosen price point. Continue reading

La Condesa (update), Paris, 4/12/19

building
building

It’s been just over a year since we visited La Condesa and this trip we tried lunch instead of dinner.  It is a really small one star Michelin restaurant that has been open about a year and a half.  There are about 8 closely set small bare wood tables.  The use of mirrors helps make the place seem bigger but it has a cozy atmosphere.  Music is in the background and the chef Indra Carrillo is in the kitchen but makes frequent trips to the dining room to bring food and check on diners.  The menu offers tastings of 3, 4, or 6 courses and wine pairings are available.  We chose the 6 course menu and ordered our own wine.  Portion control and pacing are both good and the staff is all super friendly, helpful and speak great English.   Continue reading

Le Clarence (update), Paris, 4/11/19

entrnace
entrance

We were at Le Clarence last fall for lunch and so this spring we tried their dinner service.  The physical location had not changed but it did feel different without the sunlight streaming in the windows.  The same menus cost more at dinner but they offer the same great and friendly service at both times.  Of the 3 tasting menus we chose the Menu Inspiration.  The meal was presented with groupings of different plates, sometimes presented together and others in succession.  It made for fun combinations.  We ended up at the exact same table, but that was fine because I think it is the prettiest of the rooms.  However with the large, well spaced tables, all the rooms offer a lovely atmosphere for dining.  Chef Christophe Pelé was in house and stopped by to say hello to Frankie, as did restaurant manager Cédric Servain.  Chef’s creativity and flavor intensity make this a place a must when you are next eating in Paris.  It is pure, relaxed elegance. I did take photos of a number of the old photographs in the menu and will place them throughout this post. Continue reading

Restaurant H, Paris, 4/11/19

building
building

Retaurant H is a small place of about 8 well spaced tables.  Soft music plays in the background, one wall has windows to the un-busy street and the back wall has a window into the kitchen.  The bare topped tables are set with lovely large napkins.  The modern room has wallpaper on some walls and others are decorated with arty photographs.  Decorations are minimal.  The menu is tiles in a box where you can pick how many courses you want.  They offer tastings of 3, 5 or 7 courses with wine pairings available.  We chose the 5 course omnivore menu and ordered our wine.  Service was exceptionally friendly and servers spoke great English and were helpful. The chef, Hubert Duchenne came out to visit with diners.  The restaurant currently has a one Michelin star rating. Continue reading

Restaurant Antoine, Paris, 4/10/19

street
exterior

Antoine is an enclosed patio with about 10 well spaced tables of various sizes.  Those tables nearer the windows to the outside were smaller whereas the ones along the kitchen wall were larger.  However those at the windows could have a view of the Eiffel tower and/or the museum across the street.  There is music in the background and the tables are covered with nice white clothes and set with good sized white napkins.  You are greeted at the table with the champagne cart – a wheeled “figure 8” table with the ice bucket of champagnes on top (later on it carries the cheese selection).  We were there at lunch time and they did have a special lunch menu as well as an a la carte menu and a 4 course lunch surprise tasting.  Wine pairings were available and they are known for their seafood.  We chose their 4 course lunch with our own bottle of wine.  They currently have a one star in the Michelin guide.  Servers spoke good English and were friendly and helpful.   Continue reading

Alcyone, Marseille, 3/23/19

hotel
hotel

Alcyone is a one star Michelin star restaurant in the Intercontinental Hotel.  It is a stylish dining room on the second level of the hotel with large windows overlooking the city.  The good sized room is filled with large well spaced tables draped with white clothes and set with large napkins.  Beige tones are in the chairs, curtains and walls and a stunning overhead fixture gives off muted light while music plays in the background.  There was a soundboard in the ceiling and the chairs were well padded with arms, so noise was not an issue.  Table decorations were different sizes of metal fish.   A modern rug is in the center of the room set off by the dark wood floor. The menu offers a 5 course chef selected tasting menu or a la carte selections. Wine pairings are available.  Pacing  started rapidly and then really slowed down and portion control was okay.   The staff was friendly and spoke good English.   We chose the tasting and a printed menu was offered to be presented at the end of the meal, but when that time came it was not ready or started. Continue reading

Restaurant AM, Marseille, 3/22/19

exterior
exterior

Restaurant AM is a small place that offers 3 tasting menus based on the number of courses (10, 15-20, 20-30) with the courses sometimes just being one bite.  The night we were there they did offer a supplemental courses with truffles (some were under a dome on the table to temp you) for 55 euros and a comté cheese with caviar for 35 euros.  We chose the longest tasting and the cheese course.  It sounds like a lot more food than it was;  it is easily manageable because of great portion control and a fairly rapid pacing.   The rustic bare wood tables with metal legs are set nicely a part and with comfortable ‘plastic string chairs’.  The open kitchen is one corner of the place and music plays in the background but sound panels in the ceiling control noise levels.  A few seats are available at the bar where you could interact more with the chefs.  A couple windows are open to the street and the light fixtures are set to give a warm glow to the room.  Servers spoke good English and were really helpful and friendly.  Chef Alexandre Mazzia was in the kitchen, as he has been for 5 years, and was awarded 2 Michelin stars last February, which are a good indication of the quality of the food you’ll find here.  The dishes are innovative and loaded with flavor.  You’ll want to lick the plate clean in many instances.  They were nice enough to give me a listing of the courses before we left but it is a surprise as you dine.  If you have the opportunity to go, I would suggest you take it! Continue reading

Une Table, Au Sud, Marseille, 3/22/19

exterior
exterior

Une Table, au Sud is located on the second story of a tourist souvenir shop along a busy strip of outdoor dining areas across from the water where many boats are docked.  It was good sized with rock music in the background, a lowered ceiling, wood floor, white tableclothes and a great view.  They offered a couple tasting menu options, a la carte and a lunch special.  Wine pairings were available.  Pacing was good and portions were fairly large.   We had the 3-course lunch menu with wine pairings.  Even though it has one Michelin star there were some service issues, like tardy delivery of the wine to go with the course and not very friendly servers. Continue reading

Le Petit Nice, Marseille, 3/21/19

exterior
exterior

Le Petit Nice is the only restaurant in Marseille to receive a 3 Michelin star rating.   It is in a luxury hotel that overlooks the water with Gérald Passedat as the chef.  The dining room has windows on 3 sides of its hexagon shape that overlook the water and lights of the city.  It was a lovely view even in the dark when you could’t see as much.  It was a bit hard to find the entry as we were walking to it.  A taxi would know to call at the gate to the parking lot but in the meantime we got to look into the kitchen from the passage way alongside the building.  The well spaced cloth covered tables are good sized and set with comfortable swivel chairs.  No music plays in the background, candles are on the tables and lights are slightly dimmed.  It is old school enough that the ladies menus don’t have prices.  They offer several tasting menus and an a la carte menu which is mostly seafood and vegetables. Service was good as was portion control of the tasting menu. Continue reading

Restaurant Saisons, Marseille, 3/21/19

exterior
exterior

Restaurant Saisons has about 8 tables in the main dining room, 2 seats in front of the kitchen window and a party room upstairs.  In the dining room there is a large window to the kitchen and a good-sized bar which is just for service not seating.  The front room or entry has some seats for waiting and a reception station along with the window to the street.  Modern music plays in the background but a number of sound dampening panels on the ceiling keep the noise level down.  The room has a modern look reinforced with the small tables of polished light wood and the concrete floor.   The menu offered 2 surprise tasting options and a small a la carte menu.  We chose the smaller 5 course menu.  For a one star Michelin restaurant the meal’s pacing was not even, with a slow down after the first two courses, like the kitchen wanted the whole room to catch up and be on the same course.  Service was friendly and helpful.   Continue reading

L’Epuisette, Marseille, 3/20/19

entrance
entrance

L’Epuisette is on top of a rock overlooking the cove of Marseille and the Mediterranean Sea.  Chef Guillaume Sourrieu, who started here in the 1980’s,  prepares local and Mediterranean cuisine that is created around what he can obtain from his local fish and vegetable suppliers.  It is a medium-sized place and received one Michelin star in 2001.  The dining room is striking with windows on two sides that look out to the water and the stone cliffs, however visibility is limited at night, but you could see boats and late night fisherman.  There are some lights hanging from the ceiling that looked almost like jelly fish.  Hanging fish, paintings, mirrors decorate the room with well spaced white cloth-covered tables.  Music is in the background (it was turned down when more people arrived) and the lighting is lowered at night.   Sound dampening panels are on the ceiling The menu offered tasting  of 7 or 9 courses (a cheese course supplement is offered for 12 euros), a bouillabaisse menu and a la carte dishes. Continue reading

Benu (update), San Francisco, 3/16/19

gates
gates

It’s been 3 years since we’ve been to Benu and I don’t know that I detected a lot of change in the interior, however they said it was completely re-done since we were there.  Classical music is in the background and completely fits the soothing peacefulness of the place.  The well spaced large bare dark wood tables are set with comfortable seats, exquisitely thin stemware and gilded flatware and chargers.  Service is friendly but totally professional, shown with their knowledge of our previous visits and orders.  You feel elegantly at home.  Everyone still has a tasting menu and the food is fantastic.  Pacing is spot on and portion controls allows you to really enjoy the meal with its amazing flavors and textures.  The spectacular visual affects (down to the presentation plates) of the food are not for show, they match the quality.  If you can, get there, you won’t be disappointed.   Continue reading

In Situ, San Francisco, 3/16/19

exterior
exterior

In Situ is the one Michelin star restaurant inside the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  It is a very modern large place with a separate entrance from the street, so you don’t have to be in the museum.  A couple of long wood tables with bar stools are up front opposite a painting created for In Situ.  The other tables are small blond wood and appointed with bench seating or wood chairs. It’s very bright and open and a really interesting ceiling sculpture of wood is a highlight of the decorating, as there is surprisingly little art on the walls.  Their concept is to present some of their own creations but also to feature some highlights from their ‘current collaborators’ or well-recognized chefs around the world.  We have been lucky enough to visit some of these places in their home countries and had the original take on the dish and when possible I have posted those pictures following the ones from In Situ.  The chefs do advise and approve of the version of their dishes and I thought they did a good job.  It’s a fun concept.  Service was excellent.  Our server Katerina, from Lithuania,  was most helpful and interested in seeing pictures of the corresponding dishes.  She even brought us an extra dessert, one developed by their staff, so we could get a real sample of what was going on there.  I would recommend the place for a fun lunch. Continue reading

Birdsong, San Francisco, 3/15/19

exterior
exterior

Birdsong is a good sized one star Michelin place that has opened in May of 2018.  Most of the space in the dining room is taken up by the large kitchen which is surrounded by a low counter and seats.  A few tables are on the outer edge of the place and we were lucky to snag a table right across from the kitchen action.  There is a comfy little reception area as well as party rooms downstairs that they were nice enough to give us a tour of after we ate.  Windows to the street are on one wall and the bare light wood tables are set with a large cloth napkin that houses the evening’s menu. Everyone receives the same tasting menu.  Clear glass ball light fixtures hang from the ceiling that add good lighting but most light comes from the glow of the kitchen which is filled with action.   Lots of plants, background rock music and wood beams soften the affect of the exposed ductwork.  Service was exceptionally friendly and helpful.  After they clear that there are no allergies or dietary restrictions the menu starts promptly and pacing continues at a good rate throughout the evening.  Portions are well done to not stuff you before the end. Continue reading

Nico, San Francisco, 3/15/19

exterior
exterior

Nico opened in May of last year at this new location.  It is a fairly small place with one Michelin star rating.  Windows to the street make up one end of the place and the open kitchen is opposite that side.  One wall has a bench seat with a line of small light wood tables opposite it.  Exposed brick is on the walls, rock music plays in the background, a wide plank wood floor are all the backdrop for a friendly staff.   The small menu has  series of smaller plates to share or snack on and 3 larger plates for main courses.  From talking to the waiter it sounded like a lot people just come to the 5 seats at the bar and enjoy the snacks with drinks rather than come in for a meal.   It was a nice place but the food had mixed results. Continue reading

Atelier Crenn, San Francisco, 3/14/19

exterior
exterior

Atelier Crenn is a small restaurant with only 8 tables.   It’s been several years (pre Frankie site) since we were there and since then Chef Dominique Crenn has become the first female chef in the U.S to attain a  3 star Michelin rating.  It is a warm setting with paintings by chef’s father Allain decorating the walls.  They re-modeled 2 years ago and now round polished wood tables are set off with dampened lighting and music playing softly in the background.  The presence from the street is very discreet with no name, just the number marking the place.  They have 2 seatings for a multi course tasting menu, for which wine pairings are offered.  The evening we were there it was a spring menu that featured many items now grown on their own farm and locally sourced other ingredients.  Dishes are complex yet simple with a depth of flavor and texture in each dish that is amazing.   Many had a tableside finish that was a nice show and added to the information about the dish.  A poem greets you at the table with each line symbolizing a part of the meal to come.  Afterward you are presented with a summary of your courses. Service is friendly and helpful and pacing and portion control of the meal are good.  Chef Crenn did come out and greet each of her guests and allowed time for a bit of conversation.  Continue reading

Guy Lassausaie Meilleur Ouvrier de France 1993, Lyon, 12/15/18

exrterior
exterior

Guy Lassausaie, located 13 miles from Lyon, is a large modern building with a good sized parking lot across the street.  It seemed to have been built in a circular design with various size dining rooms off the center circular hallway surrounding the kitchen.  A large comfortable waiting area holds small tables, deep chairs and wood floor whereas the dining rooms have large widely spaced tables on carpet.  No music  is in the background, tables are set with white clothes and napkins, some display cases and art decorate the rooms.  Noise level is non existent and yet your conversation feels private. It is well lit with a combination of ceiling lights and wall fixtures.  One large table is in the center of the room for service and ours was decorated with beautiful large red flowers.  Our room had two mantels but no fireplaces underneath.  The windows to the outside were covered with shades.  Service was good and the greeters even came out to the car with umbrellas as it was raining.  The menu offered 4 tastings as well as an a la carte section.  We chose the Discovery Menu which was a surprise tasting of 5 seasonal courses chosen by the chef, not necessarily on the menu.  Pacing was a little slow and the portions size was variable.  They have a 2 Star rating with Michelin.   Continue reading