Bouchon Beverly Hills

Restaurant: Bouchon Beverly Hills

Location: 11712 San Vicente Blvd.Brentwood, CA 90049 310.826.9222

Date: October 15, 2011

Cuisine: French Bistro

Rating: Good, but expensive

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In the last three-four years there’s been a bit of a French Food revival in Southern California, but the emphasis has been on Bistro fare. Of course this is consistent with the post-recession trend toward less formal restaurants anyway. Bouchon is the small-chain spawn for Thomas Keller, the highly acclaimed chef of The French Laundry.


Here is the brunch menu. My snapshot is still at the doctors (Canon service center) so this is a test run for the new iPhone4S camera. Better than its predecessor, but no match for either of my real cameras. The Photostream sync to the desktop is however, pretty sweet.


My obligatory cappuccino.


The Beverly Hills space is very pretty. Check out the bar (both raw and booze). Lobsters oversee the diners.


The elegant dining room has a very spacious, even Parisian feel.


The have good bread here, as well as amusements for the three-year-old set.


Pain Perdu” (i.e. french toast). Brioche toast with macerated strawberries, creme Chantilly & vermont maple syrup. I’m slightly confused about the strawberries, as these sure looked and tasted like apple. But it was good nonetheless.


“Chicken & Waffles. roasted chicken on a bacon & chive waffle with Tahitian vanilla bean butter and sauce chasseur.” The chicken was a nice bit of roast chicken. If the waffles had bacon and chive in them, I couldn’t tell.


It came with the butter, the gravy, and good maple syrup. I ended up shredding the chicken, cutting the waffles, and adding syrup. It was good, but not quite Roscoes.


Downstairs is the much anticipated takeout bakery.


Not a huge space.


Serving various classic pastries and some salads and sandwiches.


Salads, sandwiches, macarons, cookies, etc.


The breakfast pastries, like croissant and coffee cake. The chocolate croissant was good. The coffee cake and banana nut muffin were a bit dry. Really I expected more. I’ll have to try a lemon tart at some point.


A closeup of the macarons. I had one (passionfruit) and while large, and pretty good, it wasn’t as good as the divine Paulette Macarons (reviewed here).


Good luck trying to read this blurry iPhone photo.

Overall, while Bouchon and bakery were fine, they are very expensive and failed to wow me. The chicken and waffles was $27! This is almost triple Roscoes! I would have forgiven the prices if the food were superlative, but it was just good. Sorry Mr. Keller, you’re rep sets a higher bar.

For more LA dining reviews click here.

Wynn Breakfast Buffet

Restaurant: Wynn Breakfast Buffet

Location: 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas, NV 89109.  (702) 770-7000

Date: September 24, 2011

Cuisine: Breakfast Buffet

Rating: Quantity over quality

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What would a Foodie Club trip to Vegas be without at least one buffet. Being as we were staying at the Wynn Encore, and the Wynn buffet should theoretically be one of the nicer ones in town (and it was comped) off we went. This is the weekend brunch.


The room is pretty enough (by Vegas standards). The buffet is fairly reasonable at $32 on the weekend, $10 extra for all you can drink cheap champagne (we skipped).


Just part of the main service hall. This buffet goes for serious quantity and variety, at the expense of quality. Not that it’s bad, but it isn’t superlative either.


Fruit.


Salad.


Cesar salad.

More fruit.


Soups.


Meats.


Bagels.

Cheeses.

Salmon in pastry.

Fish dishes.

Fish cakes and potatoes.


Heat lamp pizza, four types.


Pancakes, waffles etc.

Sauces for above.

Pastas.

Eggs and good old fashioned pig products.


Pulled Pork sliders. Actually pretty good.


Veggies.

Prime rib, super fatty bacon, etc.


Sketchy mexican dishes.

Toppings for nachos.


Cerviche. Had me frightened.


Eggs with chorizo.


More mexican.


Chung King Chinese.


Now this is different. Congee. For those that don’t know, congee is a typical Chinese (and other Asian) rice gruel (like oatmeal) that you spice up with toppings. They didn’t have grubs, but they did have 1,000 year old egg. In China, I often saw grubs.


A few bits of dim sum. The center pork thingys were okay.


Cereal.

Veggies.

Lox and toppings bar.


Shrimp. Not the best shelled shrimp in the world, but edible.


Various cold salads.

The usual assortment of mediocre sushi rolls.


A made to order omelet bar.


Now dessert fared a little better. Maybe because cakes are more forgiving of sitting around.


I’ll let the pictures do the talking here.

Candied apples and chocolate covered marshmallows.


Gelato. That was interesting. It wasn’t up to Italian Gelato standards, but wasn’t awful either.


Chocolate covered marshmallows.


More cakes.


Cakes. The Dulce de Leche was pretty good.


Cookies and cupcakes.


More goodies.


Fruit. Eww!

Pastries.

More.

And even more.

Cinnamon buns and coffee cakes.


Fat is flavor — my plate.


And a dessert sampling.

Overall this buffet suffered greatly from too muchness or quantity over quality. The LA based Tres buffet is an example of trying to do much more with many less dishes. Here, dabbling into every conceivable type of cuisine (Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, etc.). So much that nothing could be well done. They should have just concentrated on classic brunch food perhaps. Who knows. But a lot of the stuff had that scary sitting around in chaffers factor. Yes, I’m a snob. Still, I was able to find some perfectly edible items. It just wasn’t great. The desserts were pretty decent though.

For more Vegas dining reviews click here.

Beverly Hills Hotel – Polo Lounge

Restaurant: Polo Lounge

Location: 9641 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California 90210. 310-276-2251

Date: September 10, 2011

Cuisine: American

Rating: Good but pricey

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My wife and I were married (10 years ago) at the Beverly Hills Hotel so it’s a tradition of ours to go back there once a year. We usually wander around and then eat at the Polo Lounge (even though the lounge itself had no part in the wedding, which was in the Crystal Ballroom).


This is an old school and iconic spot in Hollywood history. The hotel is still gorgeous too, having been heavily renovated by hot black oil cash from the Sultan of Brunei.


The patio.


Old school Hollywood style in the dining room.


And the bar.


The current lunch menu. Brunch is available only on Sunday.


What would a visit to the Polo Lounge be without a cocktail, in this case a mimosa.


They also have good bread. Same exact basket (basically) was served at our wedding LOL.


I’ve totally been on a gazpacho kick recently (made it at home here). This is “golden tomato gazpacho, garlic crostini, basil pepper relish.” Despite the yellow color it tasted classic. Very nice smooth refreshing summer texture and flavor.


Pizza margarita.”


Salmon burger, tomato salad, cucumber & yogurt, dill bun.”


The usual condiments, but stylishly presented.


“Lobster cobb salad, gem lettuce, tomato, bacon, avocado, quail’s egg, tarragon.” Pretty much a great cobb, the only thing to complain about being the price. The juicy bacon cubes sold it.


Cappuccino to combat the coma.

Overall, the Polo Lounge has great lunch/brunch food in a stylish setting. Really the only disadvantage is the price, which is pretty punitive. But this is pretty much the usual high end hotel tax — making it a special occasion kind of thing.

For more LA dining reviews click here.

Joan’s on Third for Breakfast

Restaurant: Joan’s on Third

Location: 8350 West Third Street. 323.655.2285

Date: August 20, 2011

Cuisine: American

Rating: Fantastic gourmet shop & cafe

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Another father/son morning rolled around and after a most enjoyable trip to the Peterson Automotive Museum (excellent boy fun) we headed over to Joan’s on Third.

The busy Third Street shop front is pretty much an institution. This is a combined cafe, gourmet shop, and bakery.

 You can pretty much bet on seeing celbrities, or at the very least lots of the beautiful people.

There is a good amount of outside seating.

Cappuccino of course.

My son went for the pancakes.


I had this grown up egg mcmuffin type sandwich. Buttered bread, egg, cheese, and of course, bacon!


Joan’s has some of the best cupcakes around and these are two of my favorites. Coconut and snickers!


It’s worth showing the interior spaces. We have all sorts of really good (but overpriced) gourmet products.


Fresh baked goods.


Cheeses!


Meats!


And even more baked goods. I only photoed a small sampling. Joan has really good taste. There may be a mark up, but there is some serious yummy going on here. That’s what impresses me the most, the general extremely high level of culinary quality of most stuff. The prices can be a shock though.

We’ve used them for catering too. They have all sorts of delicious salads, quiches, and whatnots.

For more LA dining reviews click here.

Gjelina Brunch

Restaurant: Gjelina [1, 2, 3]

Location: 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, CA 90291. (310) 250-1429

Date: August 6 & 14, 2011

Cuisine: New Californian

Rating: Great food, annoying service!

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I hadn’t been to Gjelina (despite it being a favorite) in a few months but I headed back there for two brunches only a week apart, one with my son and the other with my brother and cousin.


The all important Cappuccino. They make a good one as attested by the nice micro-foam. I’m not a fan of those coffee with a pile of foam on top versions.


Moroccan Baked Eggs with Merguez, Chili, Tomato Sauce, Cilantro & Spiced Yogurt.” This was REALLY tasty. The sausage was awesome, as was the sauce and yogurt combo. It had a pretty genuine Moroccan flavor profile.


My son wanted eggs. He didn’t even touch them though. Toddlers!


“Crispy Sunny Eggs with Prosciutto, Romesco, Arugula & Lemon.” This was also very good, and very similar (except for the ham) to my special Breakfast Eggs.


Pizza Margherita.” A very nice version of the classic. Rich tomatoey sauce, lots of basil.


My son ate most of this, although he complained about the “green stuff” and made me remove it.


“Duck Sausage, Nameko Mushroom, Garlic & Mozzarella.” The sausage was fantastic, and the overall pizza was very smokey with an interesting chewy mushroom texture. I liked it a lot, but you certainly have to be a shroom person.


“Peach crumble with Crème Fraiche.” I like my crumbles more crumbly.


“Butterscotch Pot de Crème with Salted Caramel w/ Crème Fraiche.” This is just incredible as always. I could eat like 10 of them. Bad me. Bad me.

Overall, the food at Gjelina is fantastic as always, but I need to snark about the service, and I’m not the first. Apparently the owner/managers even like to hire staff with attitude! Boo hiss! The first time, I asked to get some eggs that on the menu had strips of bacon on top with the bacon on the side (or gone). I was told (very rudely) that I could remove the bacon myself. In this day and age of people with dietary restrictions this just isn’t acceptable. I can understand not building totally custom dishes, but trivial omissions? Give me a break.

On the second trip we ordered some vegetables which didn’t come (the waiter read them back to us too). Plus similar with an ice tea even after asking about three times. Eventually, after the waiter went AWOL we found him and brought up both. He didn’t even apologize. 10 minutes after that he brought the ice tea and said he’d take it off the bill. Ooh ah, $4 ice tea for free (it’s all profit anyway). We mentioned something to the manager. He didn’t apologize either, just nodded his head. Then finally, about 5 minutes after that he snuck back and apologized, like it had been eating at him and he felt he needed to. There was no offer of a freebee or anything. My brother asked him point blank about that and he took a dessert off the tab.

I go for the food, but they do need to lose a bit of the ‘tude.

You can check out two other Gjelina reviews HERE and HERE.

Or my index of LA Restaurants.

Trés – Brunché Fantastique

Restaurant: Trés [1, 2]

Location: 465 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048. 310.246.5555

Date: July 31, 2011

Cuisine: Modern Brunch

Rating: Fantastique

ANY CHARACTER HERE

I follow José Andrés on twitter, and I was reading (and crying) about the final meal at elBulli, so when the restaurant selection for brunch with friends came up, the SLS came to mind.


Enter the whacky world of Trés at the SLS.


Inside is the same kind of bizarre Philippe Starck space as at Bazaar. High tables on one side.


Comfortable lounging on the other.

The brunch menu is here. There are buffet, ala carte, and “experience” options. We went for the experience which is the buffet + an entree + a mimosa for only $10 more (the mimosa alone is $16).


The buffet is endless, but i’ll begin with breads and pastries.


And more.


And condiments for such.


And the table des fruits.


Melons.


Various fruit juice “waters.” These are lighter than regular juice. There were about six exotic types.


If you are so inclined, you can add them to these glasses of fruit for a blend of fruit and juice.


And these spectacular yogurts with fruit.


Cereal if you are boring.


The the vege station. Prep glasses for gazpacho.


A zoom of one. You add the gazpacho yourself, and there are other condiments.


The gazpacho.


Salad plates and condiments.


Pull back for the big picture.


Then the meat and cheese station.


Pig, pig, and more pig. Hams and salamis.


Jamon del Iberico!


Some more fruits.


Spanish cheeses.


And more.


And rolls and condiments. To the rights are jams and butters.


Inside are mini steam buns (more on that later).


Amazing smoked salmon and caviars and accompaniments.


Creme fraiche, chives, onions, quail eggs, two types of caviar (including the real stuff).


The salmon was amazing.


And roast beef.


Then some desserts.


And more.

And an extensive assortment of petite fours from the pasticerie. Passion fruit pate des fruits on top, bon bons, cookies.


Our meals came with mimosas. This is the classic. The alcohol is cava (Spanish champagne).


Or the even yummier grapefruit mimosa.


A close up of a bit of caesar salad. Very tasty.


The gazpacho was amazing. Just totally amazing. I had three helpings as did several others.


A plate of goodies. You can see the caviars (and meats).


I made a couple of these custom steam buns. Wow!


Fried potatoes.


An omelet with mushrooms and zucchini blossoms.


360 degree eggs, toasted brioche, hollandaise air, and Jamon Serrano. This was one of the better eggs benedict I’ve had — and I’ve had a lot.


The salmon version.


Grilled cheese.


Fries — always yummy.


This Greek yogurt with fruit (this one had apricots) were so incredibly delicious! Sweet though.


Then some desserts, which are more or less highlights of the Bazaar’s desserts. These are mango and cream.


“Hot chocolate mouse, three layers,” mini version.


Classic Spanish flan.


Some of the whacky decorations.


more

and more.


Even the bar nuts are cool.


And this crazy zesty lemonade, which served nicely as an aperitif.

Overall this was a fantastic brunch. Different than your typical one, but fantastique for sure. It holds up in every way to the quality level of the various José Andrés offerings at the SLS!

Click here to see more LA dining, or reviews of The Bazaar and Saam (also at the SLS).


The entrance again, behind us is the parking zoo. And it’s a serious zoo.

Also check out a lunch meal here.

Room with a Vu

Restaurant: Vu [1, 2]

Location: 14160 Palaway Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292 310.439.3033

Date: July 28 & 30, 2011

Cuisine: Modern

Rating: Interesting, but a little all over the place

ANY CHARACTER HERE

My brother and I were out for our weekly lunch adventure and after Gjelina had a 45 minute wait we made our way to Vu, which I had tried a couple months ago for dinner.


Vu does live up to its name, sporting a nice patio with an excellent view of the marina.


I was a little surprised to find the lunch menu, PDF here, a bit “more conventional” than the modern tapas centric dinner menu.


Bread.


“Grilled Polenta: Asparagus, tomato, pickled red onion, aged balsamic.”


Green Curry Soup: Mussels, coconut boba, micro cilantro.” This was quite good. Fairly spicy, coconuty, definably rich. The mussels, boba, and pork lumps inside were like little prizes to hunt for.

“Seared King Cole Duck Breast Salad: mixed greens, goat cheese, dried cherries, chocolate-spiced cashews, red wine vinaigrette.”  This was pretty tasty, the duck was good, and the various elements. But the mix was overall a little weird. I’m pretty sure there was sisho in the greens, as they had that distinct flavor. Now I like sisho, but the overall flavor profile of the dish was a little helter-skelter.

“Blue Crab Cakes: charred tomato, orange, brioche bread crumbs, pickled red onion, mache, mustard ice cream.” These crab-cakes were way over fried, and inside they were stuffed with tarragon. So much so that they tasted like tarragon cakes. This wasn’t ideal, masking the crab flavor (as did the heavy fry). No where near in the league of the crab-cakes from Houstons or Capo.

I also popped down to Vu two days after this with my toddler from some brunch as we were already in the Marina.

The brunch menu can be found here.


Pancakes. Pretty conventional. I think the syrup was vanilla syrup, which was tasty.


My son likes a mix in with strawberries.


“Lobster Omelette: asparagus, shaved fennel, niman ranch pork belly, pommery hollandaise, home fries.” This wasn’t bad at all, but the overall flavor profile was again a little weird. The sour mustard clashed a bit with the sweetness of the pork and lobster.


Some VERY good fries, with a cumin based seasoning on them.


And some fantastic Neiman ranch bacon. Really really good bacon.

Overall Vu is trying interesting stuff, but the chef is too wild with his palette. I’m all for crazy and interesting combinations and new modern techniques — really all over them — but they need to be employed with care. Dishes still have to work together harmoniously, which isn’t really going on here.

Click here to see the previous review of Vu.

or other LA restaurants.