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






  • pinitbutton Cooking With A Top Chef

by Sophie Gayot

Remember that dining scene in the movie “The Italian Job?” It was shot at the famous seafood restaurant Water Grill located in downtown Los Angeles. I recently dined there to review the cuisine of newly appointed chef Amanda Baumgarten as she follows in the footsteps of chefs Matt Stein, Allyson Thurber, Michael Cimarusti (now at Providence), and David LeFevre (now at M.B. Post), who have been part of the 20-year history of the restaurant. You can read my review in our Restaurant section.

Continue reading “Cooking With A Top Chef” »

Partners in Hell

on January 12th, 2011
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  • pinitbutton Partners in Hell

by: Sophie Gayot

Chef Mark Peel and I both appeared on the same episode of Hell’s Kitchen which aired on October 13th, 2010. We were both on the hit show working as judges, evaluating the same challenge. But when I went to The Tar Pit, his restaurant on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles, I was the only one judging what was coming out of his kitchen. Read my review of the restaurant to see if it’s worth making a stop at The Tar Pit.

Confident that his food would pass (after all, he is the chef/owner of Campanile, which has been packed since its 1989 opening), chef Peel wanted to talk about the cocktails that are being crafted behind the bar in my exclusive video interview. I guess he was right, since lots of thought is going into the libations.

Avec Eric (Ripert)

on December 10th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Avec Eric (Ripert)

by: Sophie Gayot

I was “Avec Eric” in Los Angeles yesterday. For those who don’t know, ‘avec’ is French for ‘with,’ and Eric is chef Eric Ripert. He had left his stoves at Le Bernardin restaurant in New York, a Top 40 US Restaurants continuously since 2004, so the West Coast could discover his new cookbook Avec Eric, based on his TV show Avec Eric.

Besides 100 easy-to-make-at-home recipes, the cookbook is filled with stories taking place in different parts of the US and countries around the globe. To read the full review of the book, go to the cookbook section. Watch my exclusive video interview with chef Ripert to learn more about him. And, yes, ladies, he is as charming as he is good-looking.

Put on your apron and start cooking Avec Eric!

minilogo Avec Eric (Ripert)



  • pinitbutton Michael Voltaggio Gets “Ink.”
voltaggio2 225x300 Michael Voltaggio Gets “Ink.”

Chef Michael Voltaggio hard at work in the kitchen

by Jeff Hoyt

This blog reported when Michael Voltaggio was leaving The Dining Room at The Langham in Pasadena, so we’re happy to announce his latest plans. The Top Chef season 6 winner will be opening a new restaurant called “Ink.” in Los Angeles in mid 2011. It reportedly will occupy the Melrose Avenue space that formerly housed Hamasaku. There’s no word yet whether molecular gastronomy will be on the menu.

Sadly, his restaurant won’t be open in time for Thanksgiving, but many other restaurants are offering a top holiday meal. If you can’t wait to taste Michael’s creations, you can prepare your Thanksgiving bird under his direction. Michael gives instructions on how to cook turkey sous vide and also has a recipe for turkey brine. Either way, pair it with one of our Thanksgiving wines and enjoy your holiday.

Keep coming back to for the latest in Los Angeles restaurant news, Culinary Events, Restaurant Reviews and Los Angeles Wine Dinners.



  • pinitbutton Good Food & Wines Win Over the Rain
sophie gayot mark peel govind armstrong 300x216 Good Food & Wines Win Over the Rain

Chefs Mark Peel, Susan Feniger and Govind Armstrong with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot


Despite the threat of rain, which became the reality of rain, zebras, llamas, dromedary camels and horses were out to welcome the more than 2,000 hungry guests who attended Los Angeles Magazine’s The Food Event 2010. It was once again held at the beautiful Saddlerock Ranch in Malibu, home to Malibu Family Wines, which produces Saddlerock and Semler Wines.


Some 80 restaurants and wineries came together for the 5th edition of the event, which donated  proceeds to the Kids Courage Foundation. I sampled quite a few dishes. Chef Warren Schwartz from Westside Tavern in West Los Angeles will be happy to learn that he was the winner of the day. He had prepared a delicious braised short rib crostini on caramelized onions accompanied with a horseradish/chive cream. After talking with Michael McCarty from Michael’s restaurant about his 2007 Pinot Noir from his own winery The Malibu Vineyard (watch my exclusive video), I indulged in white truffle pizza from Tra di Noi Ristorante in Malibu from chef Francesco Velasco (another video to watch). A stop at the new The Capital Grille in West Hollywood confirmed the impression I had from a previous tasting: the combinations of ingredients don’t match. The Indian spices mixed with the mustard oil on the Wagyu beef carpaccio are not a fit; neither are the black pepper mascarpone, lemon oil, and fig essence with King salmon cured with fennel pollen. My suggestion is to keep it simple.

  Continue reading “Good Food & Wines Win Over the Rain” »

  • pinitbutton “Top Chef” Contestant Takes On Home Turf
DFRES100801 “Top Chef” Contestant Takes On Home Turf

"Top Chef" contestant Casey Thompson's Brownstone restaurant in Forth Worth, TX

by Becky Sauer 

Texas native and “Top Chef” Season 3 contestant Casey Thompson is back on her home turf with her first signature restaurant, Brownstone, in Fort Worth. She’s crafted a menu of modern (but still stick-to-your-ribs) Southern-inspired fare like mini chicken pot pies, barbecue pork rib-lets with house-made sauce and sweet relish, and a bone-in buffalo skillet rib-eye with potato dumplings and cumin-butter.

Find out what else is cooking in the Metroplex with Dallas/Fort Worth Restaurant News, Restaurant Reviews, Culinary Events and Dallas/Fort Worth Wine Dinners.

LudoBites: Take 5

on July 27th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton LudoBites: Take 5


by Sophie Gayot


It took me four days to get a reservation for LudoBites, which began its fifth incarnation last week, and even when I arrived last night I had to wait almost an hour to get seated—a party of two who had arrived at 6 p.m. (and finally left five hours later) was enjoying themselves so much that they would not free my table. But they weren’t the only ones there having a good time. Gram & Papas, the café Ludovic Lefebvre is renting for the second time, was completely packed with patrons on a Monday night. (And this in an area of downtown Los Angeles that’s desolate after dark.)

  Continue reading “LudoBites: Take 5” »



  • pinitbutton Girl & the Goat—at Last
kitchen 2.jpg.414x222 300x160 Girl & the Goat—at Last

On July 12, the frenzy that is Girl & the Goat begins

by Jennifer Olvera

It’s been long in coming—that’s for sure—but finally, Girl & the Goat is set to open on July 12. Top Chef Stephanie Izard’s West Loop restaurant will start taking reservations at 10 a.m. on Monday, July 12 (good luck getting one).

On the menu are 30 items, split evenly between vegetarian, meat and fish dishes. Sausages are made in-house daily, with four to choose from at any given time. Among the oft-changing offerings may be shaved kohlrabi and fennel salad with cherries, toasted almonds and evalon, a raw milk cheese; hiramasa crudo with crisp pork belly, aji aioli and caperberries; and pork liver mousseline, teamed with ham hock jus, cherry mustarda and crumpets.

Continue reading “Girl & the Goat—at Last” »

As Funky As It Gets

on June 23rd, 2010
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  • pinitbutton As Funky As It Gets
sophiegayottopchefilanhall 300x206 As Funky As It Gets

Top chef winner season 2 Ilan Hall at The Gorbals with Sophie Gayot

 by Sophie Gayot

I remember meeting Top Chef Season 2 winner Ilan Hall at the opening of Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale’s South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, right after his May, 2005 victory. It must have been a lucky night for me, because on top of chatting with him, I was accompanied by Curtis Stone. 

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure to discover Hall’s cuisine at The Gorbals Los Angeles that we call “eclectic.” Between the food and the décor, I’m not sure which is more eclectic, but eclectic is indeed the appropriate description. Go, but by no means should you dress up while heading to Hall’s first restaurant, as it is located in in the downtown Los Angeles’ run-down Alexandria Hotel.


Good Luck, Amanda

on June 18th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Good Luck, Amanda
sophiegayotamandabaumgarten 300x197 Good Luck, Amanda

Water Grill chef David LeFevre & Top Chef, Season 7, contestant Amanda Baumgarten with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot

Some restaurants install large screen televisions for special sporting events, like the World Cup or the Super Bowl. But last Wednesday at Los Angeles’ Water Grill, the TVs were tuned to the premiere of season 7 of Top Chef in Washington D.C. Among the contestants was Amanda Baumgarten, who had been working at the downtown seafood restaurant as sous-chef under executive chef David LeFevre for just ten days.

As we dined on Thai snapper, soft-shell crab and Columbia River king salmon, we cheered Amanda on as she followed Tom Colicchio’s orders, and winced when she cut herself deeply while peeling potatoes.

Continue reading “Good Luck, Amanda” »

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