I spent last weekend in smoky Los Angeles, visiting friends and enjoying a slice of its diverse dining and social scene as wild fires raged nearby, making the air heavy with smoke and tinting the sun an amber color.
Friday night I dined at Michael Mina’s new place, XIV, it being his 14th restaurant. It’s an amazing venue. From the outside you’d never know you were entering a restaurant, with its ultramodern exterior design, which makes the door invisible. Inside it’s the exact opposite, a warm and comfy environment.
I can’t say I was surprised by the quality of the entrées, all of which were excellent. The food is presented in what I’d call a family tapas style, where each order (we had about seven) is served to each diner.
After dinner we stopped by the Chateau Marmont, where my colleague James Suckling often hangs out. We were seated at a table next to Madonna, who had the night off from her current tour.
Lunch Saturday at Gordon Ramsay at the London in West Hollywood was amazing. It has a great view of the L.A. basin and it was there that we caught our first glimpses of the raging fires. Each excellent entrée was outdone by the next, with beautiful presentations and great flavors. Two that were especially memorable: carpaccio of wild mushroom, with balsamic reduction, pine nuts and aged parmigiana, and a ravioli of roasted king prawn with fresh calypso bean seafood cassoulet.
We dined that night at Wolfgang Puck’s Cut, in the tony Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Steak (and steak and tuna tartare) is the star, presented in a variety of cuts and sizes. I had a bone-in rib eye which was chewy and flavorful, washing it down with a bottle of Casanova di Neri Sant'Antimo Pietradonice 2004, which offered wonderful perfumed dark berry aromas. We also drank a 2006 Lang & Reed Cabernet Franc North Coast. North Coast is a new appellation for this wine—it has been labeled Napa Valley in the past—but Franc does well in Lake County, too, and this wine is a blend of both Napa and Lake. It had classic Franc herb, tobacco and cherry aromas with a Pinot Noir-like texture.
I recommend all three restaurants.
Ashley Potter — LA, — November 19, 2008 6:00pm ET
Troy Peterson — Burbank, CA — November 19, 2008 7:01pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — November 19, 2008 7:12pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — November 19, 2008 7:15pm ET
John Wilen — Texas — November 20, 2008 8:40am ET
Philip Barr — New York City — November 20, 2008 10:43am ET
Troy Peterson — Burbank, CA — November 20, 2008 1:56pm ET
Jamie Sherman — Sacramento — November 20, 2008 3:10pm ET
Chris Lavin — Long Beach, CA — November 21, 2008 2:14pm ET
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