Steak Houses


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Food and Beverage

Petaluma Post Review
Victorian Dining Room


Toque of San Francisco August 2011

By Carol & Joe Davis
Dining Detectives

Garcon! Restaurant- San Francisco
California French Bistro Cuisine

Executive Chef Arthur Wall

We love to venture into the neighborhoods of San Francisco to soak up the local atmosphere and of course taste the cuisine. Garcon! is located on the corner of Valencia and 22nd Streets so the area draws from the multi-cultures that make San Francisco so interesting and vibrant. The restaurant’s décor is Old World French Bistro with a centrally located bar, well spaced tables, comfortable banquette, French Poster Art and mirrored walls. There are windows on two sides looking out to the street which gives the interior an open feeling and there is also outdoor sidewalk dining when weather permits.


We ordered a bottle of Perrier Sparkling Water and some wines by the glass and settled in to look at the menu. We started with large and luscious Oysters on the Half Shell from Nootka Sound in British Columbia which came with a tasty mignonette sauce. Next, we enjoyed one of their Artisan Cheeses which was a rich and creamy Blue Rogue “Crater Lake Blue” fourme d’ambert. We knew that we had to try the French Onion Soup made with Gruyere, a little Cajun spice and croutons. It was divine! The Beet Salad with endive, watercress goat cheese fondue, crispy shallots and sherry vinaigrette was refreshing and one of our favorites. We also loved the Grilled Scallops with braised lentils du puy, cauliflower-garlic puree, candied bacon and red wine syrup. The Caramelized Veal Sweetbreads with grilled mushrooms, pomme puree, capers and lemon brown butter is a must.


The entrees were both delicious. The Shellfish Bouillabaisse, with mussels, clams, scallops, shrimp , cod, fregola pasta, basil and paprika aioli and the 38 North Sonoma Duck Breast with orange and ginger braised endive, Black Trumpet mushrooms, parsnips and duck jus were both hearty portions. The wines we enjoyed from Beverage Manager Brian Felley’s International Wine List included the 2008 Shipwreck Cellars, Carneros Chardonnay, 2009 Domaine-Jean-Jacques Auchere Sancerre, and the 2009 Melville, Verne Estate Santa Barbara Pinot Noir.


The Almond Semolina Cake with pear compote, honet crème fraiche and toasted almonds and the Espresso Pot de Crème made with milk chocolate, espresso and kahlua cream desserts were both well worth the calories. An espresso and a 1945 Rivesaltes Cuvee Amedee after dinner drink were an excellent finish to a very satisfying dinner.

We chatted with the Executive Chef Arthur Wall who is a native of New Orleans and graduated from The California Culinary Academy. He told us how pleased he is to be able to create French Bistro classics with California interpretations using seasonal, fresh, locally sourced and organic ingredients. His passion for his food really shines through. Garcon! is our kind of restaurant. It has great cuisine, excellent service and a really fun atmosphere. They also offer a three Course Prix Fixe Menu for $32.00.

Garcon! Restaurant
1101 Valencia St (at 22nd)
San Francisco, CA. 94110

Ozumo-San Francisco
New Sunday Night Prix Fixe Menu
Contemporary Japanese Cuisine

Asparagus Salad

We love dining out on Sunday night as it always feels like it lengthens the weekend! It is usually slightly quieter than Friday or Saturday night and many restaurants want to keep the restaurant full so it is not uncommon that there are special dining options. Ozumo San Francisco, which has been a favorite now for over ten years, has quite a stylish décor featuring Sake Hangings, steel screens, walls of Sake bottles, Ochre wallpaper and beautiful bay views. There is also romantic seating on the interior of the restaurant. They are known for their active bar area, Sushi Bar, Sake Lounge and Robata Grill offering diners many options from their menu. Now they have just introduced a Sunday only Four Course Prix Fixe Menu with great choices and also the option of Wine or Sake specials.


The Starters that we enjoyed were the Asparagus Salad made with lightly grilled local asparagus, Asian greens, tamago and spicy wasabi vinaigrette. We also enjoyed the Sake Kobujime which was a tasty Miso cured Scottish salmon with pickled sea kelp. The Sushi Course was amazing and served with Ozumo’s own soy sauce. We loved the fresh Maguro, Hamachi, and Salmon nigri along with Ozumo’s signature Akebono maki roll which was topped with caviar. The Main Courses were both delicious as well. The Burikama which is pan roasted fresh Hamachi Collar with cucumber sunomono and ponzu dipping sauce had a light crispy crust which sealed in the flavor and juices. It was amazing! The Tontoro was a fabulous braised kurobuto pork jowels served with braised daikon, upland cress and jidori egg on top. Quite a unique entree which was beautifully prepared.


We enjoyed the Preston Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc with green apple hints and crisp and clean finish which paired perfectly with our starters. The Argyle Willamette Valley Pinot Noir was bold and paired well with our entrees. We loved both Desserts which were light and tasty. The Pineapple Maki which was thin pineapple stuffed with yuzu curd, citrus salad and pomegranate syrup was just like a crepe! The Choco Chan which is flourless chocolate cake with mochi, azuki and green tea ice cream was light and rich.
We always enjoy the atmosphere, view of the bay and sushi chefs, upbeat music, cuisine and superior service at Ozumo. The Sunday Prix Fixe dinner was a great value and a wonderful dining adventure so we look forward to returning soon!

Choco Chan

Ozumo-San Francisco
161 Steuart Street
San Francisco, CA 94105

Donato Enoteca- Redwood City
Contemporary Italian Cuisine

Executive Chef Donato Scotti

There is no better way to spend the afternoon than to enjoy lunch while dining al fresco in a lovely setting on a warm summer day. Downtown Redwood City has seen a renaissance over the past decade and has turned into an upscale dining and shopping area. Executive Chef Donato Scotti, who grew up in Bergamo Italy and trained at the Instituto Alberghiero di San Pellegrino Culinary School, was thrilled to open his own restaurant Donato Enoteca in 2009 to honor his Italian heritage using fresh locally sourced ingredients, as well as products imported from Italy. The decor is charming with contemporary flair and an open kitchen. You have the option of three dining rooms and a lovely patio with umbrellas.

Pizza Marinara

Our sunny Saturday afternoon lunch started with some sparkling water and a basket of Warm Bread with tasty olive and herb spread. Our favorite Antipasti was the Calamaretti E Fagiola which was grilled fresh Monterey Bay Calamari with “bianchi di Spagna” beans and mache lettuce. This is the perfect way to enjoy fresh calamari. The Fritto Di Carciofi E Gamberetti which was Crispy Organic Artichokes, rock shrimp and spicy parsley sauce was great as finger food, light and spicy and just perfect to dip. We must return for the Insalata Gamberi which was Grilled Prawns with mache salad, grilled organic tomatoes and zucchini. It had a lovely presentation and was quite popular with other diners.

Misami Pork Tenderloin

Our Pasta Course was next. We loved the Agnolotti Del Plin which was House made small Ravioli “del plin” made with three meats, sausage, veal and beef topped with meat, tomato and onion sauce. It was served al dente,
was fresh and healthy and we loved their fresh grated parmesan cheese.
The Pizza was also terrific! We loved the Pizza Marinara from their Wood Burning Oven made with tomato, roasted garlic, capers, olives, and anchovies. It is Donato’s personal favorite and the thin crust and anchovies made it perfect for us as well!

The Entrees were both fabulous. The Branzino E Zucchine, Grilled Mediterranean Sea Bass filet with zucchini trifoliate, garlic thyme sauce and new potatoes had a very pleasing smoky essence from the grill. Our second entree was the Filetto Di Maiale Alle Verze which was a delectable Misami pork tenderloin wrapped in guanciale bacon served with braised cabbage, marinated olives and fingerling potatoes. It was tender, pink in the middle and so juicy....just amazing! We also loved the side dish Organic Asparagus with butter and garlic.

Grilled Mediterranean Sea Bass

The Wine list features Italian Wines mostly from small production wineries. There are 35 wines by the glass as well as some Rare Vintages ranging from $100-$3500 per bottle. You can order by the glass, small 5 oz, large 8 oz, Caraffa 16 oz, or bottle. We were pleased that our sever Giaccomo understood our tastes in wine and made excellent suggestions which allowed us to explore some new selections. We enjoyed the 2010 Sardegna Canayli Vermentino , 2008 Muller-Thurgau Aristos Alto Adige , 2008 Piemonte Areneis Bruno Giacosa Roero, 2006 Lombardia Mazzolino Noir Pinot Noir and the S Lazzaro Sangiovese/ Montepulciano.

The Desserts we chose were perfect! The Panna Cotta made with organic lemon and drizzled blood orange sauce was like heaven. The Semifreddo alle Nicciolele E Caffe was a unique Hazelnut and Chocolate semifreddo with espresso sauce. Both were amazing and truly complimented one another. A Double Espresso allowed us to linger and enjoy the great weather.

Monterey Bay Calamari

Donato Enoteca Italian Restaurant is as good as it gets! The cuisine was fabulous, the service was superior and either dining indoor or outdoor is quite lovely. We look forward to returning.

Donato Enoteca
1041 Middlefield Rd
Redwood City, CA 94063

Victorian Dining Room Restaurant
Mendocino Hotel
Excellent California Cuisine

Mendocino Coast

We needed a get-a-way and decided that with air fares so high, it was a good idea to take a short road trip. We hadn’t been to Mendocino in over 15 years and had heard that the Victorian Dining Room Restaurant at the Mendocino Hotel was getting excellent reviews and decided we had to try it and see for ourselves. It didn’t take us very long to drive north on Highway 101 to Cloverdale then west on Highway 128 through the pastoral countryside to the magnificent Mendocino coast. We soon arrived at the Historic Mendocino Hotel which was established in 1878 during the lumber boom times when the now lightly populated town had over 20,000 residents. The Hotel overlooks the Pacific Ocean and the dramatic Mendocino headlands. It is right in the middle of town and features luxury suites and rooms for lodging, as well as multiple options for dining. As you enter, you will see that the main floor of the hotel is very charming and romantic. It boasts a fireplace, mahogany bar, Garden Room where breakfast and lunch are served and the main dining room which serves dinner. The décor includes antiques, beautiful 19th century stained glass, original oil paintings and fine art, which all add to the charm.

Crab and Oysters Mendocino

The Victorian Dining Room was lovely. We appreciated that they had fresh cut flowers and candle lighting on each table which created a romantic atmosphere. We ordered wine and started out with appetizers. We really enjoyed their signature starter which was the Crab and Oysters Mendocino which is their rendition of Oysters Rockefeller but made with Dungeness Crab, local oysters, scallop, rock shrimp, smoked prosciutto, spinach and Grana Padano Pernod cream. This is great to share, as there are four and they are not too rich. Next, we had the Warm Baby Spinach Salad made with grilled Mendocino trumpet mushrooms, bacon and onion vinaigrette dressing which was delicious. You must also have the Wild Mendocino Mushroom Soup which is served with roasted garlic baguette and wonderful onion jam. The soup has an amazing broth and stays piping hot as it is served in a ramekin. True comfort food.

Warm Baby Spinach Salad

The Entrees were also both exceptional! The delicious Seared Scallops are served with cauliflower puree, Yukon gold potatoes with crab, fig molasses, and vanilla brown butter. We also loved the Braised Beef Short Rib with wilted local Swiss chard, glace de viande, risotto and candied pecan butter. It was perfectly prepared and so tender! The “Award of Excellence” Wine List features wines from around the globe as well as many local selections. We enjoyed the 2008 Handley Cellars Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc which paired perfectly with our appetizers and the 2009 Navarro Vineyards Mendocino Pinot Noir which also paired perfectly with our entrees.
The Desserts are made in-house and were delicious. We loved the rich Chocolate Torte with banana brulee, French vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. Our favorite was the Meyer Lemon Custard Cake served with citrus meringue cookies, vanilla caramel and whipped crème fraiche. It was amazing! Espressos and after dinner drinks were the proper finish to our very enjoyable dining experience. The espresso was hot and strong and we particularly enjoyed the 2007 Ceago Clear Lake Late Harvest Del Lago Semillon and the 2004 Sonoma County Estralina Port.

Seared Scallops

Mendocino is a great town for a short get-a-way. We enjoyed the magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean and the sunny weather. This time of year the local flowers are also spectacular! The shops have become more upscale and we found some great things to buy at Rainsong, Circa, Salie Mac, Quilt Shop and Mendocino Preserves. We are pleased to report that we had a truly great dinner at The Victorian Dining Room Restaurant at the Mendocino Hotel. The California Cuisine made with local, fresh, seasonal and organic ingredients was excellent, the service was professional and friendly and the Chefs, Stephen and Jackson executed the recipes to perfection. We won’t wait quite as long to return to Mendocino, as it is closer than you think but takes you away from it all.

Meyer Lemon Custard Cake

Victorian Dining Room Restaurant
Mendocino Hotel
45080 Main Street
Mendocino, CA. 95460
707-937-0511 / 800-548-0513

Tanjia Moroccan Restaurant- Oakland

Marinated Olives

We had dined at and enjoyed Tanjia Moroccan Restaurant a few years ago with a group of friends and were eager to see the changes, as we had heard that there were new owners. Restaurateur Jamal Zahid who grew up in Casablanca and his wife Judith recently bought the restaurant from his brother and renovated the interior. They use Jamal’s mother’s family recipes and want you to experience a piece of Morocco in the Temescal in Oakland. The updated décor features a tent like ceiling with lovely hanging stylish lighting. Dining at low tables and banquettes with large pillows and ottoman seating adds to the Moroccan setting. Oil Paintings of Moroccan scenes are on the walls and Moroccan music adds to the colorful authenticity of the restaurant and gets you in the mood. On warm nights, you also have the option of sitting outside in front of the restaurant.

Jamal Zahid

We chose to sit inside near the front where we could see a full view of the stylish interior. We ordered wine and began to browse the menu. The new menu features reasonably priced a la carte small plate selections, as well as two Prix Fix Dinners. Both the Prix Fix Dinners have multiple courses and combinations, so you will never be bored and you may have some leftovers to take home.


You must start with the warm Marinated Olives. They were delicious and we had never had them served warm before. It was a fabulous way to start our meal! The Hummus with Pita Bread was also delicious as we found it rich, lemony and not oily. We loved the piping hot Harira Soup which was a spicy lentil soup. The Moroccan Salad made with eggplant, cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, tomato-roasted bell peppers which was served with home baked bread, was excellent as well. The next course was their Bastilla which are made with Phyllo dough. The Bastilla filled with chicken, egg, almonds, topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar was both sweet and spicy. The Bastilla filled with Seafood and Mushrooms topped with parsley was very fresh and flavorful.

Lamb and Chicken

The Entrees were all hearty portions. The Lamb and Chicken with almonds, couscous and vegetables featured lamb that was especially tender as the meat fell right off the bone. The couscous was fluffy and some of the best we has ever tasted! The other entrée that we loved was the Chicken with Prunes which was really luscious and also very tender. Another great choice a la carte/small plate was the Casablanca Shore made with Scallops and Prawns with cilantro and accompanied with vegetables. This would be an excellent
choice for a lighter dinner accompanied with Hummus and Olives of course!

Almonds with Dates and Chocolate

The Global Wine list has something to please everyone with wines from Morocco, Europe, USA and South America. .We particularly enjoyed the 2008 Cedar Brook, Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc with our starters. The 2003 Chateau Roslane Premier Cru Les Cotreaux de L’Atlas was a fabulous, smooth and hearty Moroccan Red Wine which paired perfectly with our entrees. This Moroccan Red competes very favorably with Napa Cabernets which are twice the price. The Dessert that we really enjoyed was the Warm Almonds with Dates and Chocolate. The combination of flavors and texture really works! Mint Tea and a 2005 Robert Hall Vintage Port was the perfect finish to a delicious, well paced, tasty and satisfying dinner.

During our dinner we enjoyed the show put on by Tatseena the Belly Dancer. We particularly enjoyed her Sword dance and that she encouraged audience participation and many of the diners got up to dance. There was quite a bit of talent in the audience that night with good hip action. Lot’s of Fun!


The New Tanjia is an excellent Moroccan Restaurant! The cuisine, made with primarily local and organic ingredients, was a cut above and we appreciated the friendly welcoming vibe! You can find a slice of Morocco right in Oakland.

Tanjia Moroccan Restaurant
4905 Telegraph Avenue (at 51st)
Oakland, CA. 94609

Italian Colors Ristorante- Oakland
California & Italian Cuisine
New Spring/Summer Menu

We are always happy to dine out on Thursday nights as it is a great start to the upcoming weekend. Italian Colors Restaurant which is located in Montclair Village Square in Oakland, is close to home and has always been a favorite of ours. We were pleased to hear that they had added some new seasonal spring/summer items to the menu and decided we’d better see what was new. We were warmly greeted by the host and escorted to our favorite table on the mezzanine level. The popular restaurant was filled and there is a talented guitarist who contributes to the relaxed but lively atmosphere. We noticed that they had added a charming enclosed Outdoor Patio which accommodates 25 and is perfect for dining and can also be rented for private parties.

Beet Salad

We started out with their special Tangerine Cosmo which was a tasty cocktail made with Grey Goose Orange Vodka , fresh tangerine and triple sec. Executive Chef/Owner Alan Carlson stopped by our table and asked us what we were in the mood for and offered some suggestions, then moved on to welcome and thank other diners as well. We always enjoy their homemade Focaccia bread because it is made fresh daily and is slightly sweet. The appetizers that we enjoyed included the fresh Cerviche which was made with sea scallops, hamachi, opaca paca with Anaheim chilies, endive and wasabi ponzu aioli and came as a unique and lovely presentation. The flavors were wonderful and it seemed to melt in your mouth! We also loved the Roasted Organic Beets with grilled asparagus, toasted hazel nuts, Tuscan clouds, watermelon radishes, turnip puree and goat cheese arancini. This was also a unique artistic presentation and the toasted hazelnuts added such a nice touch of flavor and texture. Next, we enjoyed the luscious Zuppa which was Grandma Birdie’s sweet and sour cabbage soup with beef, sour cream, tomato and dill. It had a great aroma and you could tell that it had Eastern European roots. We wished we had a Grandma Birdie! You must also have the Angus Meat Balls which were moist, perfectly seasoned, served piping hot and came with a great salsa rosa.

Angus Meat Balls

The entrees were both excellent. Bistecca, sliced marinated Skirt Steak on grilled peasant bread with charred sweet onions, wild Arugula Salad and French Fries was amazing! Every aspect of this entree was perfect. We loved the flavor of the meat and felt that the hearty portion also made it an excellent value. The Grilled Pacific Covina Sea Bass topped with lemon caper butter sauce had lots of fresh black pepper which is just how we like it. The Oyster mushroom and sweet pea risotto, sugar snap peas and baby carrots which accompanied the fish were delicious. We also felt that this entrée was an excellent value. You must have a side of their great Fried Brussels Sprouts made with pancetta, parmesan, crushed chilies and lemon.

Bistecca - Skirt Steak

The wine list features selections from around the world and has many reasonably priced bottles and wines by the glass. We particularly enjoyed the 2009 Keenan Napa Valley Chardonnay which paired well with our starters and the 2008 Fort Ross Sonoma Pinot Noir which paired perfectly with our entrees. Make sure you save room for dessert. We loved both the Pineapple Upside Down Cake served with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel which was light and lovely and the Kakao Chocolate Mousse Cake which was quite decadent.

Kakao Chocolate Mousse Cake

Italian Colors Ristorante continues to impress us. The cuisine is delicious and you feel like you truly get your money’s worth. We enjoyed some new fresh seasonal dishes as well as some of our favorites. Jason our waiter was especially professional and very congenial. We look forward to returning soon to enjoy the new outdoor dining!

Italian Colors Ristorante
2220 Mountain Blvd.
Montclair Village Square
Oakland, CA. 94611

Pastis Restaurant- New York City
Traditional French Bistro Cuisine

Chicken Liver & Foie Gras Mousse

We love to dine out in New York City especially late at night in the Summer time. The streets are filled with happy locals and tourists who really enjoy the great weather and by 9:00 PM it is usually just perfect. Located in Manhattan’s Meat Packing District Restaurateur Keith McNally’s Pastis is a hot spot which features hearty Provencal dishes that you can enjoy while dining either indoors or outdoors. There is a Full Bar which serves specialty cocktails, an extensive global list of Wines by the bottle or glass and is also great for people watching. We sat at their long communal table, ordered a bottle of 2007 M & E Roblin Sancerre Rouge, nibbled on the fabulous Balthazar Bread and eagerly awaited our appetizers.

Balthazar Bread Poster

You must have their Chicken Liver & Foie Gras Mousse which was creamy, decadent and excellent. Both the spicy Steak Tartare and the Grilled Sardines on toast were also superb. The Entrée that we loved was the classic Steak Frites with Béarnaise which was prepared perfectly. We were intrigued by the Grilled Lamb Steak entrée but found it disappointing. We all did love the Gratin Dauphinois side dish. Desserts were delightful! We enjoyed a classic Crepes Suzette and a rich Warm Chocolate Cake. Pastis Restaurant in New York City is a worthy destination for French Bistro fare and a fun time!

Crepes Suzette

Pastis Restaurant
9 Ninth Avenue
(at Little West 12th Street)
New York, N.Y. 10014

Ditka’s Restaurant-Chicago

Mike Ditka

It is impossible to think of the Chicago sports scene without hearing the named Ditka. Mike Ditka, NFL Hall of Famer, feared tight end and Da Coach of Da 1985 World Champion Bears is a Chicago hero and legend. His popular downtown restaurant and bar was packed on the Thursday night that we dined there. We loved sitting at a comfortable booth in the tiered seating overlooking the bar with a view of big screen TVs and walls filled with signed Chicago sports photos and memorabilia. We ordered a few beers and enjoyed looking at the menu which had many sports references including The Fridge Burger made with everything in the fridge named for Bears Richard “The Refrigerator” Perry.


Cowboy Oyster Shooters with spicy cocktail sauce and Tabasco vinaigrette was a delicious and light shellfish starter. The Hall of Fame Features (Entrees) that we had were both very hearty portions and excellent. The BBQ Baby Back Ribs were cooked to perfection and were so tender that the meat fell right off the bone. Ditka’s signature spicy BBQ sauce, coleslaw and hand cut fries were the perfect compliment. Da Pork Chop which came with apple chutney, cherry jus and mashed sweet potatoes was also prepared perfectly and delicious. We did not have steaks but hear from our friends who live in Chicago that they are fabulous! We were impressed that the Meat Temperatures are listed right on the menu, so there is no confusion about getting your steak prepared exactly to your liking. Rare is purple center, Medium Rare is warm red center, Medium is warm pink center; Medium Well is slightly pink and Well done is hot grey center.

We were too full for dessert but hear that Ditka’s Famous Banana Cream Pie with fresh bananas, rich custard, chocolate and caramel is fantastic. Don’t be surprised if you see Da Coach, as he frequents his three restaurants which are located in Chicago, Pittsburg and Oakbrook Terrace but don’t ask him to teach you The Super Bowl Shuffle. No trip to Chicago is complete without stopping in for a drink at the bar or dining at Ditka’s.


Ditka’s Restaurant
The Tremont Hotel
100 East Chestnut Street
Chicago, IL. 60611

Noe Restaurant - Los Angeles

Executive Chef Glen Ishii

We took a short trip to Los Angeles and decided to stay at The Omni Hotel on Bunker Hill, as it is in the heart of Downtown. We were also interested in dining at their restaurant, Noe which features California Cuisine with French techniques and Japanese influences. We like to dine where we stay as it adds to our enjoyment of the hotel and is also very convenient and extremely relaxing. The Omni Hotel was recently renovated to perfection! As we entered the lobby, we were impressed by stunning floral arrangements and a very friendly staff. You could tell they were very proud of their hotel!

Foie Gras

The décor at Noe includes pleasing blue and yellow bamboo glass art panels and an Eiffel tower theme. There are also fabulous views of downtown Los Angeles from both the Bar, Dinning Room and outdoor Patio. There was a lively Bar scene this evening with many business people meeting after work to enjoy cocktails and or appetizers. We chose to sit in the Dining Room surrounded by glass and overlooking the Patio and View. We started by ordering cocktails from our server Lauren, who was very professional and perky! We loved the Grey Goose Cosmopolitan and their house Margarita made with Don Julio Tequila, fresh squeezed lime juice, agaves syrup, cointreau and orange juice. The “Cosmo” was very generous!


The starters that were our favorites included the Fuji Apple Fennel Shrimp with Kumquat preserves with fabulous herbaceous blackened prawns and The Yellow Fin Tuna with grapefruit and fresh wasabi which was light, fresh and absolutely perfect! We loved the entrees which were also right sized portions. The Maple Leaf Duck Breast and Foie Gras with peach carpaccio was decadent and delicious! We also enjoyed the Braised Short Ribs with truffle polenta and rapini as they were very tender. Noe’s Fish is the freshest as it is flown in daily, so both the New Zealand King Salmon with braised leaks and orange gastrique and Alaskan Halibut with spring pea ragout, lemon preserves and a white wine finish were excellent and perfectly prepared!


The wine list features wines from around the world , however we are drawn to California vintages. We enjoyed the Cambria “Katherine’s” Santa Maria Chardonnay and our house wine the Ferrari-Carano Sonoma Fume Blanc. The desserts were stellar! The Brownie was subtle and the Caramel bread pudding was ultra light. We ended our meal with very special Coffee, Kopi Luwak. Chef Glen was very proud to serve this rare coffee and when he told us how it was processed, we admit we were surprised but enjoyed the entire pot of French Press. Kopi Luwak is one of the world’s most expensive and low-production coffees. It is made from beans that have been eaten and digested by the Asian Palm Civet! The coffee was served with amazing cookies which included lemon and true treat with Peanut Butter & Jelly.

We were pleased to tour their roof top vegetable garden and chat with Noe’s talented and charming Executive Chef Glen Ishii. Glen is a native of Los Angeles who honed his culinary skills at his family’s restaurant in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo. He also worked in restaurants in Japan prior to coming to Noe in 2005. He takes great pride in his food with only the freshest ingredients including his own herbs & vegetables from their garden. His creativity and attention to detail definitely shine.! We really enjoyed our dining experience as Noe delivers the quality Cuisine and Service you would expect!

Noe Restaurant
Omni Los Angeles Hotel
251 South Olive Street
Los Angeles, CA. 90012

Circa 59 Restaurant-Palm Springs
Posh Poolside Dining

Executive Chef Aaron Burns

We love our short trips to The Desert where we always enjoy the heat, great food and poolside living. We normally stay at small B&Bs but this time decided to stay in the heart of old Palm Springs at The Riviera Resort. It can only be described as an Ultra Chic, glamorous 1960’s inspired Rat Pack swanky Hollywood glam Resort and Hotel. The Resort opened in 1959 and recently had a $70 million renovation. It is Palm Springs largest and most famous resort which hosted Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and many other celebrities in the past and still draws the “IN” crowd today. It features the Circa 59 Restaurant, the Starlight Bar, full service spa, two pools with poolside cabanas, 400 rooms and suites as well as lush landscaped gardens. We checked in, unpacked and immediately headed for the pool. It was a dry 105 degrees outside which was quite comfortable as we had seen 114 degrees in previous visits. The pool was quite active as guests enjoyed cocktails poolside. There were several choices of lounges which included single, double and private cabanas to enjoy the sun and the fun!

Poolside Dining

Around 7:30pm there were warm tropical breezes, as we walked to our dining destination Circa 59 Restaurant which features eco friendly fish , premium boutique farmed meats and locally grown Coachella Valley produce. We were offered a lovely booth by our hostess but we preferred a table on the covered patio with chic red leather wing back chairs overlooking the pool. The atmosphere was absolutely perfect! There was a nice mix of music, giant crystal chandeliers, decorative sconces with candles and a view of the pool and outdoor fire pits.

Sparkling water and hot fresh bread was soon at our table and we perused the menu. Beginning our meal with cocktails was the appropriate thing to do. We enjoyed a tasty Cosmopolitan and a Moscow Mule made with Grey Goose Vodka and Ginger Beer.

Excellent Cocktails

We started out with refreshing Chilled Cucumber Gazpacho Soup which included Dungeness crab, watermelon, jicama and mint. It was ideal for a hot summer night. Next, we enjoyed the Warm Summer Tart which was a puff pasty with zucchini squash, slow roasted tomatoes and mild goat cheese. The flavor of the slow roasted tomatoes really shined through complimenting the other ingredients. The Watermelon and Prosciutto Salad is a must and we were so glad we tried it. We loved the Feta cheese, black olives, mint, chili lime vinaigrette and marvelous herbs. Our pasta course of Potato Gnocchi with zucchini, crispy squash blossoms, basil and parmesan was a wow! The Entrees were fresh and delicious and we appreciated that you can get half or full entrée portions. The fish, Onion Crusted Barramundi, was served with white corn pudding, wild mushrooms, haricots verts and tomato vinaigrette. A perfect choice for a warm summer night! The Roquefort-Crusted Filet Mignon with Heirloom tomatoes, white corn, fennel and radish salad was also delicious.

The wines that we paired with our meal included the 2009 Cakebread Napa Sauvignon Blanc, Craggy Range Martinborough New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and the 2009 Santa Barbara County Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir.

The Desserts were right sized and excellent. We loved the Sticky Toffee Pudding made with salted butterscotch and candied walnuts which went down so easy! The Crepe Crème Brule with whipped cream and yellow peach sauce was browned and sweet and is a great choice for peach lovers...which we are. The Iniskillian Ice Wine was the perfect after dinner drink.

Circa 59 Restaurant is fortunate to have Executive Chef Aaron Burns who was appointed in Feb 2011 and adds his personal twists to many of the menu items. He has great experience having worked in the Napa Valley at Auberge de Soliel. We loved our dinner at Circa 59. The cuisine was excellent! Christopher, our server, really added to our evening as he was extremely personable, professional and knowledgeable. The atmosphere was swanky, romantic and fun. We highly recommend Circa 59 Restaurant and the Riviera Palm Springs resort and will most definitely return soon!

Circa 59 Restaurant
Riviera Palm Springs
1600 North Indian Canyon Drive.
Palm Springs, CA 92262


SF CHEFS Culinary Event 2011
Taste, Pair, Mix, Engage.
Celebrate local flair & regional flavor in the epicenter of culinary innovation. San Francisco’s Union Square will be transformed into an enchanting oasis of delights, entertainment and education featuring notable chefs, vintners, mixologists and culinary personalities.
Monday, August 1 - Sunday, August 7, 2011 Union Square - San Francisco
For more information and tickets: 

Taste of Petaluma 2011
The Sixth Annual Taste of Petaluma takes place on Saturday, August 27 from 11:30 to 4pm from the central part of downtown over to the Theater District and all points in between.  It’s a walking tour, a culinary journey of all things wonderful about Petaluma.  Restaurants, galleries and shops will put their best feet forward to treat the public to something delicious for the eyes, ears and taste buds. 
For more information and tickets:

Until we eat again…….


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