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




Hello, Cleopatra!

on August 31st, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Hello, Cleopatra!

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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  • pinitbutton A Winning Battle
“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” »



  • pinitbutton Little Japanese in Little Tokyo

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” »



  • pinitbutton Sushi at Royal T, in Culver City

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” »

  • pinitbutton Summer Ending, but not Al Fresco Dining Season
sophiegayotanthonyzappola 300x152 Summer Ending, but not Al Fresco Dining Season
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” »

  • pinitbutton Is Spago Beverly Hills Becoming Spago Bel Air?


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?” »

The Tiato Kick

on July 30th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton The Tiato Kick


by Sophie Gayot


Last weekend, I went to have a family brunch with my brother at Santa Monica’s Tiato, the latest restaurant from the An family. Also known as the House of An, they own Crustacean in Beverly Hills, molecular gastronomy-influenced AnQi Gourmet Bistro in Costa Mesa, and Thanh Long and Crustacean in San Francisco, which is where it all started in 1971 after they moved from Vietnam.

Continue reading “The Tiato Kick” »

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 Food, Fun & Fighting Cancer
sophiegayotfarishhakim 300x219 Food, Fun & Fighting Cancer

Farshid Hakim, owner of La Provence Pâtisserie & Café with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot

The winning dish at Concern Foundation’s 36th Annual Block Party, held on July 10 at the Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, was the sweet corn agnolotti by Savore Catering. But honestly, I could not try every single one served on that fun night. Out of the 63 restaurants and refreshment stations, an increase of six from last year, I only had time and room to try ten. My apologies to the rest.

  Continue reading “Food, Fun & Fighting Cancer” »



  • pinitbutton A New Fun Bar in Los Angeles


There were no villains last night at the opening of Villains Tavern, located in the middle of absolutely nowhere in the industrial part of downtown LA. But there was a happy crowd discovering this new bar owned and designed by famous interior decorator Dana Hollister, who has worked with top clients like Madonna. I spoke with her in the small kitchen where bar food will be prepared to accompany the long list of hand-crafted cocktails.

  Continue reading “A New Fun Bar in Los Angeles” »

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