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




  • pinitbutton How To Enjoy Friday Lunch at Spago
spaghetti 300x242 How To Enjoy Friday Lunch at Spago

Friday house-made spaghetti and veal meatballs at Spago Beverly Hills

by Sophie Gayot

Having lunch at uber chef Wolfgang Puck’s Spago restaurant in Beverly Hills on a Friday requires much more time than on any other day. For some unknown reason, for many years now, when you enter on a Friday at noon or one o’clock, don’t expect to leave until 4 or 5pm. That is what everybody does and, please, don’t break the tradition. The restaurant becomes sort of a friendly club where everybody starts talking to each other, especially when Barbara Lazaroff starts going from table to table.

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A Punchy Evening

on June 15th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton A Punchy Evening
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World champion Sugar Ray Leonard with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot


Saturday night I attended the 2010 edition of Vintage Hollywood, an organization formed in 2002 to raise funds to support charitable organizations that work to promote the health and well-being of Southern California’s diverse community. This year the proceeds will benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.


The king of the evening was definitely world boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard, whose Pacific Palisades house hosted the event. Food-wise, Christophe Happillon was the most popular with his Luna oysters from Carlsbad. The line to sample the dish was very long, as he was opening them “à la demande.” Don’t be fooled by the photo below; I was not really helping him. Readers can find him at Joe’s restaurant in Venice every Friday and at Church & State downtown Los Angeles every Tuesday.

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  • pinitbutton Grant Achatzs Revolutionary Next Restaurant
chres050604 Grant Achatzs Revolutionary Next Restaurant

Alinea, where there is a method to the culinary madness

by Jennifer Olvera  

People are growing comfortable with the idea of buying movie tickets in advance. But will they do the same for fine dining? Chef Grant Achatz is celebrating the fifth anniversary of his world-lauded Alinea. Perhaps as a nod to himself, he’s making what some alternately call a bold or narcissistic move.

This year, he’ll open the simply named Next Restaurant. To enjoy the privilege of visiting, diners will have to purchase advance tickets via its website, (If you want a sneak peek, that’s also where you can check out his “movie trailer.”)

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  • pinitbutton Air France: Paris / Los Angeles, Celebrating 50 years
sophiegayotdavidmartinon 300x199 Air France: Paris / Los Angeles, Celebrating 50 years
Consul General of France David Martinon, Sophie Gayot, pastry chef Yvan Valentin, Christine Ourmières, Air France Vice President & General Manager USA

by Sophie Gayot

It’s been fifty years since Air France became the first French airline to link to the West Coast of America. On April 4, 1960, the airline inaugurated twice-weekly flights of a Boeing 707, which took thirteen-and-a-half hours from Paris to Los Angeles, including a stopover in Montréal. Previously, the flight stopped in New York and lasted an extra 10 hours! Of course, things are even better today with three non-stop daily flights, done in eleven hours. From two classes of service (Luxe and Economy), there are now four: La Première, Business, the new Premium Economy (read a description of it in our Travel section) and Economy.

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Soccer Fever

on June 11th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Soccer Fever
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Egidio Arevalo Rios and Mauricio Victorino of Uruguay challenge Franck Ribery of France

 by Sophie Gayot  


America is not very versed in the game of soccer, but every four years, a pandemic sweeps the globe. Americans cannot really understand the effervescence that the rest of the world is experiencing. As I’m writing these lines, the game between France and Paraguay is in full swing in South Africa. From the reports I’m getting from Paris, the streets (and restaurants) have been deserted as everyone is at home watching.  

And, even though I am French, for tomorrow’s match against England: Go USA!  

If you want to be part of the 2010 FIFA World Cup excitement, here are some places to follow the 19th edition of the world’s largest sporting event.   



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Delicious Delicias

on June 10th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Delicious Delicias
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The dining room at Delicias restaurant in Rancho Santa Fe, CA near San Diego

By Jeff Hoyt   

You’re not supposed to drink and drive, or drive and text, or drunk dial, but how about drinking and typing on an iPad? Delicias, the highly-rated Rancho Santa Fe restaurant, plans on offering diners iPads at their tables to peruse the wine list electronically.
General Manager and Sommelier “Gino” Campbell, plans on expanding his holdings to a 5,000-bottle list, so think of all the trees that will be saved. He will also be teaching wine classes here on Saturdays starting next month.  



  • pinitbutton Cuisine from the Iberico Sun

by Sophie Gayot

There are many dining options at the new Aria Resort & Casino located at the impressive CityCenter in Las Vegas, but I feel that Julian Serrano at his eponymous restaurant offers the “sunniest” experience. As evidenced by the photos below, from the food to the décor, dining here is all about colors. That’s not really a surprise coming from a Spaniard, but it is very well done. For more, read my review.


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A Room with a View

on June 07th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton A Room with a View
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A view of San Francisco Bay from the Mandarin Oriental hotel


Since the Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco is located in the third tallest commercial building in the City by the Bay, guests are sure to be getting a view—if the fog is gone. The day I went, the fog was obviously not there. And, I have to admit, I stayed in my room much longer to tour the city from my bed instead of from the streets.
At lunchtime, I arose to experience the cuisine of chef Rick Bartram at the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, Silks. There is no view from there, so diners can concentrate all of their attention on his cuisine: modern, light and elegantly spiced, blending local organic ingredients with flavors of the East where Bartram has worked in the past. Discover it below in pictures, before heading there yourselves. 

  • pinitbutton Living One Year Longer for Every Year of Research
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Chef Rory Herrmann, sous-chef Katie Hagan-Whelchel from Bouchon Beverly Hills with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot

When I attended the 21st annual Culinary Evening with the California Winemasters on May 15, it was no surprise that I did not have time to get to all of the 45 restaurants and 71 wineries that were donating their food, wines and time to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The very same thing happened too, last year!   
1,400 epicurean guests wined and dined for a good cause at the sold-out event held on the “Midwest Street” backlot at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank. The generosity of the crowd in conjunction with 900 live and silent auction items raised $1,590,000 for the Foundation’s vital research and care centers. I admired the entertaining energy of premier auctioneer DawnMarie Kotsonis, who sold an Imperial of 2005 Château La Mission Haut-Brion for $22,000 as well as a 6-liter 1996 Domaine de la Romanée Conti Romanée Saint-Vivant for $10,000.

  • pinitbutton An American (Restaurant) in Paris
PARES100601 An American (Restaurant) in Paris

The romantic courtyard patio of Ralph's in Paris

French restaurants tend to have such romantic-sounding names, but can you believe that the new chi-chi place that’s captivating Paris’s swank set is called Ralph’s? To be fair, this American restaurant that recently opened on the boulevard Saint-Germain is part of the Ralph Lauren empire, as is his new store nearby. Sure, Parisians might be headed there for the steak (sourced directly from the designer’s own ranch, no less), but more likely it’s for a seat on the courtyard patio with its large parasols, teak benches and fountain. Want to enjoy your own al fresco feast? Browse our lists to find the best outdoor dining restaurants in your area.


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