Relate at Bistro St. Germain's - Encinitas, CA

Dinner - Saturday, February 26, 2011

Billed as San Diego's first pop-up restaurant (to my knowledge, an accurate claim), Relate is the creation of Chef Dan Moody - most will know him as Ludo Lefebvre's sous-chef at the recent iterations of LudoBites. In his own words, Chef Moody's style is "contemporary French with a down-home American flair" and his goal with Relate is to "offer high-end food without the high-end price tag". We dined here on closing night with a group of local food enthusiasts.

Providence - Los Angeles, CA

Dinner - Sunday, February 6, 2011

I've wanted to visit Providence ever since Michael Cimarusti left Water Grill to start the restaurant with Donato Poto in 2005. Yet every time we planned a trip to the West Coast, it got left off the books. This all changed when we moved to San Diego. Now that we're less than a 2-hour car ride from the restaurant, we were finally left with no excuses. Plans were made, hotels were booked, bags were packed, and off we drove to LA. This was the second dinner of our weekend jaunt (for the first, see the previous post about The Bazaar).

Providence occupies the former Patina space, which is situated on a quiet stretch of Melrose Avenue less than half a mile east of Batali's Osteria Mozza and Susan Feniger's Street. The restaurant itself is elegant, dressed in earthen tones both outside and inside. Upon checking in, we were led to a table along the wall of the half-full room (the restaurant stayed between half and three-quarters full throughout the night - we were the penultimate guests to depart). Shortly after being seated, our server arrived and asked us about our dining preferences. He mentioned that Chef Cimarusti could customize a tasting menu with luxury ingredients or play around and improvise/riff on some dishes - "the sky's the limit," as he said. Although we were tempted, this was our first visit, so we decided to stick with the "standard" Chef's Tasting menu ($175) in order to grasp the essence of the restaurant.

The Bazaar - Beverly Hills, CA

Dinner - Saturday, February 5, 2011

Saturday night at The Bazaar is always a bit of a circus, especially later in the evening when we typically prefer to dine. Fortunately, this night we were seated on their covered outdoor terrace, which is isolated from the incredible indoor din - it was a pleasant night for semi-outdoor dining. Of course, in true LA style, we had to contend with a drunken guest who knocked a large floor lamp over in our direction, shattering the bulbs and strewing broken glass everywhere.

Aside from that alarming hiccup, our experience was smooth throughout the night, lubricated by the friendly and competent service characteristic of Jose Andr├ęs' restaurants. Still quite sated from a large (and very passable) Malaysian lunch at Belacan Grill in Tustin, we ordered relatively few items. I do not mention the cocktails we drank here because they weren't particularly memorable, and are quite frankly grossly overpriced at $16 each - consider us permanently spoiled by the immeasurably better (and cheaper) cocktails at the Violet Hour.