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




  • pinitbutton Mother’s Day with Our Mom in L.A.

sophiegayotalexandremeiers 300x261 Mother’s Day with Our Mom in L.A.

Sophie Gayot and her son

By Sophie Gayot




Mother’s Day is just around the corner and Alain and I are so happy to have our mom visiting with us now. Of course the Gayot family tradition is to have a fabulous Mother’s Day meal in one of the world’s great restaurants.


Throughout our travels we have found many wonderful places to enjoy a delicious Mother’s Day Brunch. Even at the last minute, there are lots of great restaurants taking Mother’s Day reservations all across the U.S.


In France, we celebrate Mother’s Day at the end of May and I am looking forward to another great meal with my mother and with my own fabulous son.

  • pinitbutton An English week in Los Angeles!
sophiegayotbobpeirce 300x210 An English week in Los Angeles!

Bob Peirce, British Consul General in Los Angeles, his wife Sharon Harroun and Sophie Gayot

By Sophie Gayot


What a better way to keep in touch with Great Britain and entice you to go there, than to bring some of its culture, creativity and energy directly to our doorstep, at least for those who had a chance to experience Los Angeles’ “BritWeek.”


The English are famous for their sense of humor, so the “week” is, in fact, spread over the course of three, starting on April 16th and ending May 8th. British Consul General in Los Angeles, Bob Peirce, plays a dominant role in this huge organization.


Last night during a party at the Petersen Automotive Museum, I had a chance to chat with him. He shared with me the good news that the pound has fallen against the U.S. dollar, making Great Britain much more affordable!




  • pinitbutton An Evening at Drago Centro
sophiegayotdragocentro 225x300 An Evening at Drago Centro
Partner-general manager Matteo Ferdinandi with Sophie Gayot in the wine tower

By Sophie Gayot



Yes, I go out very, very often and sit at many different restaurant tables. My fondest memories occur when I am surprised, either by the food, the décor, the ambience, the wines, the view, the service or a combination.


Last night, my GPS took me to Drago Centro in downtown Los Angeles. I don’t know how much work and effort Celestino Drago and partner-general manager Matteo Ferdinandi invested in the project, but it had to be A LOT! In one word: stunning.




minilogo An Evening at Drago Centro

  • pinitbutton Really, is There Still a “Smoking Fun”? Oui…
smoking cigar Really, is There Still a “Smoking Fun”? Oui…
           79% of Europeans approve of  smoke             prohibition in restaurants

By André Gayot


A survey by the European Commission states that 79% of Europeans approve of the smoke prohibition in restaurants. So what about the other 21%? Twenty one per cent of the European population is about 30 million people. This strong minority still finds fun in smoking.


No wonder that a few restaurateurs think that there’s a niche market catering to nicotine addicts. But how to lure them back—legally, that is—to the tables?


The law is strict: smoking in a restaurant is allowed only in a tightly-closed, separately-ventilated space with no access for the waiters, maître d’s and sommeliers so they can avoid the risks of passive smoking. The staff must be hailed via walkie-talkie and then whisk your order through a special passage. It is a costly installation, but it’s conceivable that after such an effort, the smoking diners will pay the price of their pleasure.


Continue reading “Really, is There Still a “Smoking Fun”? Oui…” »



  • pinitbutton Michael (almost) Angelo
sophiegayotmichaelmccarty 300x198 Michael (almost) Angelo

Husband and wife Michael and Kim McCarty with father and daughter André and Sophie Gayot

By Sophie Gayot

Michael‘s, the eponymous restaurant of Michael McCarty in Santa Monica, California, was packed yesterday with faithful clients, friends and colleagues celebrating the 30th anniversary of this landmark house with Michael and his artist wife Kim. The buffets were stupendous, up to the stainless reputation of this regarded table.


Indeed, three decades of consistent success in Tinseltown, where the life span of an eatery is often times shorter than that of a cactus flower, can be considered an historical achievement worthy of merited kudos. Michael and Kim were justly entitled to appear radiant in their “ravishing” garden as we described it in our review of Michael’s in 1982, and the charm still floats on the patio.

Continue reading “Michael (almost) Angelo” »



  • pinitbutton Happy Birthday Mr. Zwiener!
sophiegayotwolfgangzwiener 300x225 Happy Birthday Mr. Zwiener!

Wolfgang Zwiener showing Sophie Gayot his custom designed meat aging fridge

By Sophie Gayot

Last night, Wolfgang Zwiener and his son Peter celebrated the first anniversary of their restaurant in Beverly Hills, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener.


The red carpet was deployed on Canon Drive to welcome more than three hundred guests for a cocktail reception. Beef, and lots of it, in various cuts, was passed around, still sizzling on the plates, grilled to perfection. I have to admit, I cannot recall the last time I had such delicious, tender and tasty meat.


I was lucky to be let in on part of the secret: the custom-designed, temperature/humidity controlled aging box where all meat is dry-aged on the premises for 28 days.  I am, also, guessing that Zwiener uses only top-quality, hormone-free beef.


Other locations include the original in New York, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse, and spin-offs in TriBeCa and Hawaii.


minilogo Happy Birthday Mr. Zwiener!



  • pinitbutton A Delicious New Start at XIV
sophiegayotmichaelmina 300x270 A Delicious New Start at XIV
Chef Michael Mina and Sophie Gayot

By Sophie Gayot


When I went to XIV in November, I was not totally convinced by Michael Mina’s first restaurant in Los Angeles. When the names Mina and Sam Nazarian (SBE Group) are on the door, you have high expectations.

Did the team sense  it? What I am sure of is that they have worked very hard to create a totally new dining experience which, I feel, now works. From Michael Mina, whose eponymous restaurant in San Francisco has been one of our Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S. for four years in a row, to executive chef Steven Fretz, pastry chef Jordan Kahn and to general manger Ryan Cole, they had all realized that they could make things better, and they succeeded.


Note that on Mondays, a three-course market menu is offered for $49, and that you can enjoy the restaurant’s best wines, including Château Cheval Blanc and Domaine de la Romanée Conti, at half price, for any bottle over $100.

You can read our review of XIV restaurant and add your comments in our restaurant section.

minilogo A Delicious New Start at XIV

Continue reading “A Delicious New Start at XIV” »



  • pinitbutton Meet Meat Not Scary to Eat
organicbeef1 Meet Meat Not Scary to Eat

Organic Beef

By André Gayot


On bumper stickers we often read this straightforward formula: “War is not the answer.”

That should be the motto of the World Trade Organization (WTO) when the officials of this International entity try to reconcile the US Department of Commerce with the European Commission of Brussels. For now, the battle is raging.


 The European Union does not want to buy American beef because of the (legal) use in the US of the growth hormone to raise cattle faster by some farmers. Indeed, not all the farmers. Apparently the EU is not sensitive to the difference and parks all of these American animals in the same corral. In response, the US retaliates with the threat of raising custom tariffs on European food items such as French Roquefort and Italian mineral waters so popular on this side of the Atlantic. Continue reading “Meet Meat Not Scary to Eat” »



  • pinitbutton A Tasty Gathering at Jaan
sophiegayotchefkarimrazgallah 300x225 A Tasty Gathering at Jaan

Chef Karim Razgallah presenting his desserts to Sophie Gayot

By Sophie Gayot

Last night chef Karim Razgallah of Jaan at L’Ermitage in Beverly Hills prepared an elegant dinner, under the toque of the Club Culinaire of French Cuisine, presided by Jean-François Meteigner of La Cachette restaurant. Chef Karim, former private chef to Karl Lagerfeld, is half Tunisian (from his father) and half French (from Bourgogne). He loves to mix the two cultures while cooking and uses spices wisely.

The evening began with a cocktail party in the hotel’s garden accompanied by bubbles from G.H. Mumm Champagne. Then we moved into the dining room for a five-course meal: lobster bisque (very tasty); roasted sea bass (perfectly cooked) with braised veal sweet breads; truffle chicken cannelloni (quite interesting); crusty lamb loin (more traditional); pear-almond feuillantine in a chocolate sauce (great orange blossom flavor).

minilogo A Tasty Gathering at Jaan

  Continue reading “A Tasty Gathering at Jaan” »

  • pinitbutton Modern Mexican Experience Downtown LA
sophiegayotnickalbrecht 300x225 Modern Mexican Experience Downtown LA

Chef Nick Albrecht and Sophie Gayot toasting over tuna ceviche tacos

By Sophie Gayot

Downtown Los Angeles is sprouting with new, elegant restaurants. CASA on South Grand Avenue is one of them. Located at the foot of one of the towers of California Plaza, it is as beautiful as the buildings, though in a very different style. You can choose to sit outside or inside to sip on great house-made cocktails, before moving onto chef Nick Albrecht’s interpretation of Mexican cuisine.

minilogo Modern Mexican Experience Downtown LA

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