Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.




  • pinitbutton The Curious Case of Jenson Button
jenson button formula one The Curious Case of Jenson Button

Jenson Button

By Alain Gayot


I have been a fan of Formula One racing for as long as I can remember. Sunday afternoons watching these soldiers fight it out on the racetrack felt a lot like what my ancestors would have felt, watching gladiators in the  Arenes de Nimes   –  which by the way is the place where we got the  word Denim  from. The Levi brothers used  the durable  Toile de Nimes to manufacture solid outerwear for the 49ers;  no, not the football team. The drivers lost their lives in horrendous and fiery crashes. Due to improved technology, not only are the cars faster today but, thankfully, no one dies anymore. Although the drivers are still the critical part of the operation, software in its many shapes and applications is what wins races. How is it possible that in the 2009 championship the usual suspects (Ferrari, McLaren Mercedes, BMW and Renault) are quasi scoreless after five races? And the British sensation of the last two seasons, Lewis Hamilton, is left in the brake dust of Brawn-Mercedes, RBR-Renault and Toyota.

Continue reading “The Curious Case of Jenson Button” »



  • pinitbutton Anniversary on Sunset
sopiegayotlaurenttourondel 300x191 Anniversary on Sunset

Chefs Laurent Tourondel, Brian Moyers, Christophe Bellanca with Sophie Gayot

By Sophie Gayot

Last night, to celebrate the first anniversary of his Los Angeles restaurant BLT Steak, chef Laurent Tourondel made the trip from the East Coast. During the occasion, he and his corporate chef, Christophe Bellanca, formerly at L’Orangerie and Le Cirque, introduced the new chef de cuisine, Brian Moyers, who just moved into the kitchen from The Blvd at the Beverly Wilshire, and the sommelier Jared Heber.

The trio cooked together in the kitchen and served us squash blossom stuffed with burrata, pistou and roast tomato pomodoro; hamachi with marinated white asparagus, avocado and pickled red onions; olive oil-poached halibut in artichoke barigoule, fennel and spring onion in a blood orange sauce; dry-aged NY strip on a bed of beef short ribs accompanied with ricotta gnudi, a morel fricassée and fava beans; and ending with strawberry rhubarb crumble pie with lemon thyme ice cream. Hollywood celebrities Sharon Stone and Victoria Recano were seen here that evening.

Note: In honor of the Lakers’ continued success in the NBA playoffs, BLT Steak’s bar is offering chef Tourondel’s signature BLT Burger—a first in LA (the offer is for a limited time only, while LA is in the playoffs). The “Kobe” burger ($17) or the “Jackson” burger ($14) can be accompanied by fries and a brew for $11 more. A flat screen captures the game action.

minilogo Anniversary on Sunset

  • pinitbutton Partying Like It’s 2009 at the James Beard Foundation Awards in New York
daniel boulud james beard awards Partying Like It’s 2009 at the James Beard Foundation Awards in New York

Daniel Boulud serving food in the basement of Bar Boulud at an after party

By David Farley 

The 2009 James Beard Foundation awards came and went rather quietly this year. There was less food at the post-show reception in the Lincoln Center lobby and the celebration was more subdued than years past, but that doesn’t mean the kitchen stars didn’t come out for the event.


We were there all night (plus at after parties at Bar Boulud and the Pegu Club) and rubbed elbows with the culinary all stars, including Tom Colicchio, Alain Ducasse, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, David Chang, Missy Robbins, Grant Achatz, and Daniel Boulud.


The big winners included David Chang’s Momofuku Ko for best new restaurant, Daniel for most outstanding service, Dan Barber (of Blue Hill) for most outstanding chef and Jean-Georges for most outstanding restaurant. 


See our list of complete winners. 



  • pinitbutton Red Bull Air Race in San Diego
mike mangold edge 540 256x300 Red Bull Air Race in San Diego

Pylon turn

Racing Bulls

By Alain Gayot

Motorsports are elevated when you are a live spectator from the sound of the roaring engine to the anticipation of an active crowd of 55,000. But when you are talking about the Red Bull Air Races, everything get kicked up a notch – especially when fans can get right up to their favorite pilot for a quick autograph on a recently purchased t-shirt. Finally it certainly can’t get much better than the setting in San Diego Bay with perfect weather conditions.

Created in 2003 by the energy drink guru Dietrich Mateschitz, the air racing series is a cross between the air races of the twenties and modern aerobatics flying. Although the aircrafts are small in size, the show they put on is big – very big. And beyond the actual race plane, there are all sorts of other acts and fly-bys by the U.S. Navy, demonstrations by the Coast Guards etc. You sort of need to attend to catch the full effect.

  Continue reading “Red Bull Air Race in San Diego” »

  • pinitbutton The War of the Beef Will Not Take Place


cow The War of the Beef Will Not Take Place

War of the beef settled between Americans and Europe

By André Gayot

The European Commission and the US Department of Commerce have finally resolved their differences, and they appear to have read our earlier blogs to find their solution. Under the auspices of the World Trade Organization, after smoking the peace pipe (the tobacco was American but the pipe was European), they have wisely buried the hatchet. The archaic war of the beef will not unravel any longer, and the battle of the cheese has ceased.   

Continue reading “The War of the Beef Will Not Take Place” »

  • pinitbutton Mother’s Day with Our Mom in L.A.

sophiegayotalexandremeiers 300x261 Mother’s Day with Our Mom in L.A.

Sophie Gayot and her son

By Sophie Gayot




Mother’s Day is just around the corner and Alain and I are so happy to have our mom visiting with us now. Of course the Gayot family tradition is to have a fabulous Mother’s Day meal in one of the world’s great restaurants.


Throughout our travels we have found many wonderful places to enjoy a delicious Mother’s Day Brunch. Even at the last minute, there are lots of great restaurants taking Mother’s Day reservations all across the U.S.


In France, we celebrate Mother’s Day at the end of May and I am looking forward to another great meal with my mother and with my own fabulous son.

  • pinitbutton An English week in Los Angeles!
sophiegayotbobpeirce 300x210 An English week in Los Angeles!

Bob Peirce, British Consul General in Los Angeles, his wife Sharon Harroun and Sophie Gayot

By Sophie Gayot


What a better way to keep in touch with Great Britain and entice you to go there, than to bring some of its culture, creativity and energy directly to our doorstep, at least for those who had a chance to experience Los Angeles’ “BritWeek.”


The English are famous for their sense of humor, so the “week” is, in fact, spread over the course of three, starting on April 16th and ending May 8th. British Consul General in Los Angeles, Bob Peirce, plays a dominant role in this huge organization.


Last night during a party at the Petersen Automotive Museum, I had a chance to chat with him. He shared with me the good news that the pound has fallen against the U.S. dollar, making Great Britain much more affordable!




  • pinitbutton An Evening at Drago Centro
sophiegayotdragocentro 225x300 An Evening at Drago Centro
Partner-general manager Matteo Ferdinandi with Sophie Gayot in the wine tower

By Sophie Gayot



Yes, I go out very, very often and sit at many different restaurant tables. My fondest memories occur when I am surprised, either by the food, the décor, the ambience, the wines, the view, the service or a combination.


Last night, my GPS took me to Drago Centro in downtown Los Angeles. I don’t know how much work and effort Celestino Drago and partner-general manager Matteo Ferdinandi invested in the project, but it had to be A LOT! In one word: stunning.




minilogo An Evening at Drago Centro

  • pinitbutton Really, is There Still a “Smoking Fun”? Oui…
smoking cigar Really, is There Still a “Smoking Fun”? Oui…
           79% of Europeans approve of  smoke             prohibition in restaurants

By André Gayot


A survey by the European Commission states that 79% of Europeans approve of the smoke prohibition in restaurants. So what about the other 21%? Twenty one per cent of the European population is about 30 million people. This strong minority still finds fun in smoking.


No wonder that a few restaurateurs think that there’s a niche market catering to nicotine addicts. But how to lure them back—legally, that is—to the tables?


The law is strict: smoking in a restaurant is allowed only in a tightly-closed, separately-ventilated space with no access for the waiters, maître d’s and sommeliers so they can avoid the risks of passive smoking. The staff must be hailed via walkie-talkie and then whisk your order through a special passage. It is a costly installation, but it’s conceivable that after such an effort, the smoking diners will pay the price of their pleasure.


Continue reading “Really, is There Still a “Smoking Fun”? Oui…” »



  • pinitbutton Michael (almost) Angelo
sophiegayotmichaelmccarty 300x198 Michael (almost) Angelo

Husband and wife Michael and Kim McCarty with father and daughter André and Sophie Gayot

By Sophie Gayot

Michael‘s, the eponymous restaurant of Michael McCarty in Santa Monica, California, was packed yesterday with faithful clients, friends and colleagues celebrating the 30th anniversary of this landmark house with Michael and his artist wife Kim. The buffets were stupendous, up to the stainless reputation of this regarded table.


Indeed, three decades of consistent success in Tinseltown, where the life span of an eatery is often times shorter than that of a cactus flower, can be considered an historical achievement worthy of merited kudos. Michael and Kim were justly entitled to appear radiant in their “ravishing” garden as we described it in our review of Michael’s in 1982, and the charm still floats on the patio.

Continue reading “Michael (almost) Angelo” »

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