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




Buick Food & Wine

on January 25th, 2012
Print This Post Print This Post



  • pinitbutton Buick Food & Wine
buick test drive cars 300x200 Buick Food & Wine

Buick Discovery Tour

The General’s Art

by Alain Gayot

The automobile is not only a favored mode of transportation but also an objet d’art. Cars are designed not just to be driven, but to be looked at and admired. They often come in flashy, eye-catching colors, adorned with shiny chrome and festooned with insignia, spoilers and racing stripes. Some are even displayed in museums and art galleries.

In the right hands, food and wine can be art as well. Emphasizing the artful connection between gourmet food and wine and fine automobiles, Buick has hired top chefs to help them market their line of cars. Together with sponsor Food & Wine magazine, Buick is taking its Discovery Tour around the country. We had the pleasure of playing “art critic” when the tour pulled into the SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills this past weekend.

Continue reading “Buick Food & Wine” »

A TOP Chef, for Sure

on January 23rd, 2012
Print This Post Print This Post



  • pinitbutton A TOP Chef, for Sure

by Sophie Gayot

My assistant has typed up hundreds of photo captions of menu items. But after typing the captions for the gallery below, he couldn’t help but comment for the first time, “That menu seems very interesting.” He is right. And more than that, the wild game menu created by Chris Crary, chef de cuisine at Whist at the Viceroy Santa Monica, was creative, intelligent and sexy; pretty much what we look for when we go out for a fine dining experience.

By chance, the evening of the dinner was right after Chris Crary was voted off season 9 of the TV show Top Chef, where he was competing. Trust me, the dinner I enjoyed was created by a chef who is at the top of his game. I foresee a great future for Crary!

Continue reading “A TOP Chef, for Sure” »

Foodie Fun for Everyone

on January 20th, 2012
Print This Post Print This Post



  • pinitbutton Foodie Fun for Everyone
jehangir mehta 249x300 Foodie Fun for Everyone

Jehangir Mehta

by Meryl Pearlstein

With New York City Restaurant Week (January 16-February 10) already underway, foodies have hundreds of great restaurants from which to choose. But there are other food events and celebrations well worth checking out in the next few days, including the Kids Food Festival and the start of Mehtaphor’s Global New Year dinner series.

At this weekend’s Kids Food Festival at Citi Pond in Bryant Park, chef Jehangir Mehta continues his mission to educate children about the role of nutrition in combating obesity. Chef Mehta will be joining food personalities and chefs such as David Burke (David Burke Townhouse, Fishtail by David BurkeDavid Burke Kitchen), Ben Pollinger (Oceana) and Jackie Newgent, RD, to present culinary demonstrations and offer healthy samples. The festival provides plenty of fun activities, including the “Balanced Plate Scavenger Hunt,” a puppet show and the “Silly Workout,” but also aims to educate parents and kids about the importance of making balanced food choices. General admission is free from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on January 21 and 22; tickets are required for cooking demos and other chef events. Festival partners are the James Beard Foundation and Share Our Strength. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit

Continue reading “Foodie Fun for Everyone” »

Top 40 Time

on January 18th, 2012
Print This Post Print This Post



  • pinitbutton Top 40 Time

by Sophie Gayot

Our team of writers and editors are working hard to compile the 2012 edition of the Restaurant Issue, which includes’s Top 40 Restaurants in the US, to be published soon. Subscribe now to be among the first to learn about the latest culinary trends, rising chefs, the restaurateur of the year, and much more.

Mélisse in Santa Monica has been on our Top 40 list since 2006. Take a look at the video interview above with chef/owner Josiah Citrin to see what it takes to rank consistently as one of the best restaurants in the country. Then join our community and post your ideas for what restaurants you believe should be on this select list.

Continue reading “Top 40 Time” »

Lunch at Michael Mina’s

on January 16th, 2012
Print This Post Print This Post



  • pinitbutton Lunch at Michael Mina’s
arctic char 300x239 Lunch at Michael Mina’s

Arctic char

by Tiffany Maleshefski

Michael Mina moved his eponymous restaurant out of the Westin St. Francis more than a year ago and into the building that formerly housed Aqua, the very restaurant where the chef started to develop his culinary cred. The move “home” had a lot of benefits, the biggest one probably being that it gave Mina a chance to tinker with the restaurant’s formerly stuffy atmosphere. Because while the space at the St. Francis was indeed stunning, there was no getting around the fact that one felt like they needed white gloves and tails to set foot in it. No matter how hard the restaurant tried to create a less opulent environment, with fun happy hour specials and a short-lived bar menu, diners weren’t buying it.

But now Mina is deeper into the Financial District, with a hipper, more vibrant and funky space that’s meant to make the restaurant feel less “special occasion” and more “this won’t completely deplete our bank account by eating here.” The introduction of a a prix-fixe lunch menu is one more step to making the restaurant more accessible. At $49 for three courses and $59 for four, the lunch menu is a great way to try out one of the Bay Area’s most decorated restaurants for half the price — but not at half the experience.

Continue reading “Lunch at Michael Mina’s” »

Molecular Extravaganza

on January 13th, 2012
Print This Post Print This Post



  • pinitbutton Molecular Extravaganza

by Sophie Gayot

Have you ever wondered: “What exactly is molecular gastronomy?” Read’s guide to this avant-garde cuisine or taste it for yourself by dining at one of’s Top 10 Molecular Gastronomy Restaurants in the U.S.

If you are in the Los Angeles area this month, you can try chef Ryan Carson’s molecular creations during four pop-up dinners at Tiato in Santa Monica on January 18, 19, 25 & 26.

To see what you might expect, watch my exclusive video interview with chef Carson, filmed at Tiato during a December pop-up dinner. You can reserve seats for the upcoming events by calling Tiato at 310-866-5228. The dinners get booked very fast, so if you are not able to join this series there will be more in February and March, with some in Orange County. 

Continue reading “Molecular Extravaganza” »

Flying Lobsters

on January 11th, 2012
Print This Post Print This Post



  • pinitbutton Flying Lobsters
live lobster 300x154 Flying Lobsters

Live Maine lobster

by Ben Narasin

While a trip to Montauk or Maine can create the ultimate lobster memory, if you don’t have one planned, you can create a small part of that Eastern elegance anywhere a FEDEX box can fly. will ship crustaceans overnight, chilled and wrapped in seaweed, alive and comatose, for you to drop fresh into your pot.

We tried the Maine Lobster “Feast for Two.” Two one-and-a-half-pound, just caught, live Maine lobsters, two pounds of mussels and two whoopie pies. Delivered from the Eastern shore to our Western coastline, the small feast costs $115.

Continue reading “Flying Lobsters” »

Viva Celestino Drago!

on January 09th, 2012
Print This Post Print This Post



  • pinitbutton Viva Celestino Drago!

by Sophie Gayot

For whatever reason, Celestino Drago is closing his restaurant Drago in Santa Monica at the end of January. We are sad to see it go, but we are happy because Celestino is working on some new projects.

His Angeleno story started when he arrived in Southern California from Sicily at the age of 22. His restaurant Drago rapidly became a success, and has been Celestino’s flagship for twenty-one years! He later went on to open Enoteca Drago and Il Pastaio, both in Beverly Hills, and DRAGO Centro in a gorgeous space downtown LA.

Continue reading “Viva Celestino Drago!” »

A Newborn in Santa Monica

on January 06th, 2012
Print This Post Print This Post



  • pinitbutton A Newborn in Santa Monica

by Sophie Gayot

For my “official” last meal of 2011, I chose to go to Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan’s new restaurant Milo & Olive, named after their one-year-old son Milo. The place is as cute and small as a baby, and the parents can be proud of it.

Watch my exclusive video interview with them, filmed in the bakery located in the back, to discover this new venue; and read the just-published review in our restaurant section.

Continue reading “A Newborn in Santa Monica” »

  • pinitbutton A Restaurant for Locals & Gourmet Travelers

by Sophie Gayot

If you are going through Los Angeles International Airport (aka LAX) and are looking for a restaurant for dinner, Paparazzi at the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel is a very good option — and there are not that many in the vicinity. If you are close by and craving a nice Italian culinary voyage, don’t hesitate to go there. (The hotel is located on the north side of West Century Boulevard, so make sure to approach it from the right direction as it can be a challenge to make a U-turn on that busy road.)

Watch my exclusive video with chef Orazio Parisi, a true Sicilian native, to discover the restaurant and his personal recipe for tuna tartare. Read the just-published review in our restaurant section.

Continue reading “A Restaurant for Locals & Gourmet Travelers” »