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




Testing Out the Test Kitchen

on September 16th, 2010
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by Sophie Gayot

Last night, I parked by chance in front of Test Kitchen for an appointment I had in the West L.A. neighborhood with Hollywood’s favorite publicist Michael Levine. So I decided to pop in to the pop-up restaurant afterwards. I wanted to find out what exactly the restaurant is and to see who was cooking. The chef turned out to be John Sedlar of Rivera.


Continue reading “Testing Out the Test Kitchen” »



by Sophie Gayot

At the end of July, I finally discovered Lawry’s The Prime Rib. It seems that time has stopped at this 1938 Los Angeles institution, but customers haven’t stopped flocking there. The valet parking was so crowded, I ended up having to park in the street.

I have no idea how the food was there over 70 years ago, but I am sure it has not changed too much. Its founders, Lawrence Frank and Walter Van de Kamp, should be proud of their creation. But it is a daring challenge in 2010 for the third generation of owners with the evolution of the cuisine and the décor of restaurants in Los Angeles and other parts of the world. Continue reading “After All a Classic is a Classic” »

by André Gayot

Who wasn’t bewildered by the magnitude and the architectural riches of the South Coast Plaza in Orange County, California, when it first opened in 1967? We were among those filled with admiration for the shining, marble-tiled, majestic alleys of what was then one of the largest shopping malls of the world. (Of course, that is now dwarfed by The Dubai Mall). Today, we remain impressed with the flamboyant style of this cathedral of consumption adorned with the names of the luminaries of the chicest commerce of the globe. Overwhelmed by the Gucci’s, the Tiffany’s and the Louis Vuitton’s, we like to pause and seek some relief from grandeur in a human proportioned asylum, with the reassuring French name, “Marché Moderne.”
Continue reading “When the American Dream Has a Taste of Brie” »



by Sophie Gayot

Yesterday was a fitting day for Taste of Beverly Hills to begin, since the date was 9-02-10, matching the famous Beverly Hills zip code 90210. Taste of Beverly Hills is a 4-day event of food and wine, where many local restaurants offer tasting portions of their cuisine. Besides visiting, attending the event can help you decide where to go out for your next meal.

The winning chef last night was definitely Perfecto Rocher from The Blvd at The Beverly Wilshire. He prepared black “Fideua” with spot prawns, calamari, fideus noodles, and a honey aïoli, based on his grandmother’s recipe. It is a perfect illustration of why it is important that traditions survive.

Continue reading “9-02-10 – Taste of Beverly Hills” »

Hello, Cleopatra!

on August 31st, 2010
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It seems that Sam Nazarian likes to keep himself busy, and I am glad that he does. Tomorrow, Nazarian and his team will officially open Cleo restaurant in Hollywood at The Redbury hotel, just across Hollywood Boulevard from Katsuya Hollywood. 
Last night, I got to discover this new spot, so I can share my first impressions. SBE corporate chef Daniel Elmalel has composed a good menu with food from around the Mediterranean basin. Strangely enough, there is no cuisine offered from Egypt, home of the original Cleo(patra). Greece and Morocco are well-represented with dishes like tatziki, moussaka, grilled octopus and couscous. For now, avoid the beef cheek tagine which needs work. Prices range from just $6, with nothing on the menu more than $16, making it a good value. The bar will draw crowds with their interesting specialty cocktails. Mix all the above and you get a great, noisy, place for the young and young-at-heart. Continue reading “Hello, Cleopatra!” »

A Winning Battle

on August 25th, 2010
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“Waterloo & City” is the name of a famous subway line in London. It is also on track to becoming a destination restaurant in Culver City, California, due to the talent of chef Brendan Collins. I had previously enjoyed his cooking at The Hall at Palihouse while dining with Curtis Stone, who worked with Collins under Marco Pierre at Quo Vadis in London.

At Waterloo & City, Collins has free rein in the kitchen (which he co-owns with partner/general manager Carolos Tomazos), and his food is so much better and creative. Being English, Collins has created a very interesting gastropub menu, and it’s hard to choose what to order because it is all good.  Continue reading “A Winning Battle” »



by Sophie Gayot

It took me a while to get to Lazy Ox Canteen, the bistro owned by Michael Cardenas. Sorry, Michael! He has had a long successful culinary history with his partners in Los Angeles, with Katana (try to get a table on a Saturday night), three Sushi Roku and two Boa Steakhouse locations. (Have you seen the patio at the latest Boa on Sunset?) Continue reading “Little Japanese in Little Tokyo” »




I had been hearing about Royal/T, a café located in Culver City, for a while now and had never quite understood the concept developed by its owner Susan Hancock. So when I heard that chef Kenny Yamada was presenting his “Sushi Pop Art” dinner series last night, I eagerly headed there.

I discovered a 10,000 square-foot space, resembling more of a gallery than a restaurant. It is actually both at the same time. Hancock is sharing her private art collection, focused on Japanese contemporary art, for the viewing pleasure of the diners. The space is huge, but designed and decorated in such a way that it is warm and homey.

Since the café closes at 5pm, it is available at night for these new kind of chefs: the “pop-up” ones, like chef Ludovic Lefebvre (who rented it for the rendition of Ludo 3.0). It is now being utilized by chef Yamada, known for having started Katsu-ya in Encino as well as appearing as a judge on television’s Hell’s Kitchen (like me). The talented chef also worked at Hakata, SHU in Bel-Air, Bambu in Malibu and Takami.

Continue reading “Sushi at Royal T, in Culver City” »

Chef Jamie Gwen, Lana Sills, chef Anthony Zappola from Craft Los Angeles with Sophie Gayot
Chef Jamie Gwen, Lana Sills, chef Anthony Zappola from Craft Los Angeles with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot

After meeting chef Jamie Gwen at Craft Los Angeles, where chef de cuisine Anthony Zappola was introducing his new small plates for the summer, Jamie and I decided to share our summer outdoor dining discoveries on her weekly radio show on KFWB News Talk 980.

Continue reading “Summer Ending, but not Al Fresco Dining Season” »



Perhaps you’ve heard the same rumor I have: that that Spago Beverly Hills was going to relocate to the Hotel Bel-Air, which is currently closed for renovations. The rumor makes perfect sense, as the landmark hotel is part of The Dorchester Collection, famous for attracting top chefs. Don’t they have Alain Ducasse at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris and Yannick Alléno at Le Meurice restaurant (redecorated by Philippe Starck)? And, they could certainly afford it.

Continue reading “Is Spago Beverly Hills Becoming Spago Bel Air?” »

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