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


RESTAURANTS TO WATCH 2004

The rarefied world of fine dining experiences the occasional hiccup. This year was no exception, from the culinary tremor in Los Angeles when Alain Giraud exited Bastide—a restaurant he tailored for three years prior to opening—to Sirio Maccioni's pronouncement in New York that he would relocate Le Cirque 2000. It's too early to say where the points will fall when these culinary giants settle into their transitions, but we are eagerly watching and waiting.


BASTIDE
LOS ANGELES
What was once a bastion of Provençal cuisine has now become newly installed chef Ludovic Lefebvre's showcase for exotic spices.
While Lefebvre travels the world of fragrant ingredients, his sommelier is bound to his all-French cellar, which proves exceedingly challenging with some combinations; other pairings are pure genius. But whether Bastide's clientele rides merrily along on this departure remains to be seen.


THE DINING ROOM
SAN FRANCISCO
Ron Siegel arrives at The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco after a lauded and successful tenure at Masa's, but he has big shoes to fill and is still in the shadow of long-time executive chef Gary Danko. Siegel has risen to seemingly impossible challenges before; after all, he won the Iron Chef lobster competition when the program was still based in Japan.

LE CIRQUE 2000
NEW YORK
The gastronomic world heaved a collective sigh this summer when Sirio Maccioni announced he would pack up his Le Cirque 2000 in November and relocate. Where his next move will be is still unconfirmed. With three talented sons in the business, he surely is not planning to fold his tent in New York? Stay tuned.

LE FRANÇAIS
WHEELING
The faithful have continued to worship at this temple of French gastronomy with or without founder Jean Banchet's participation. When one of the owners of Les Deux Gros, a more casual French restaurant in suburban Glen Ellyn, claimed his stake in the property, many cheered. But now Michael Lachowicz has pulled out, leaving the fate of this dining Mecca up for grabs.

MASA'S
SAN FRANCISCO
First Ron Siegel left for The Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco, then replacement Richard Reddington, from Auberge du Soleil, trimmed his responsibilities in the wake of landing his own restaurant project in the Wine Country. Can Gregory Short, whose last posting was at the casual dining room The Loft of Montage Resort & Spa in Laguna Beach, Calif., step up to the plate?

L'ORANGERIE
LOS ANGELES
Elsewhere in the country, the dining gods have not smiled on formal French restaurants in recent years, but Gérard and Virginie Ferry have held firm at this elegant locale. Still, the revolving door to the executive chef's office leaves us scratching our heads. The Ferrys always find incredible talents to man their stoves: New arrival Christophe Bellanca should be no exception.

STRIPED BASS
PHILADELPHIA
Add one part famous New York chef (Alfred Portale), one part of-the-moment restaurateur (Stephen Starr) and what do you get? The newly conceived Striped Bass. Not that the former Striped Bass had hit the skids—but now it's more of a technicolor Bass. Considering Starr's golden touch in Philadephia, this new incarnation of an old favorite will no doubt be an unusual and delectable kettle of fish.

WATER GRILL
LOS ANGELES
This exceptional seafood restaurant ticked along in downtown Los Angeles long before it was fashionable to go there. So there is no doubt the restaurant will survive the departure of its talented chef, Michael Cimarusti. All eyes are on King's Seafood Company, the owners of this standout, as they search for a worthy replacement.

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