23 Dining Specials to take Dad to enjoy on Father’s Day

Here’s some great spots to take your Dad on Father’s Day –

  1. Free Glass for Dad at Eureka! On Father’s Day buy dad a whiskey drink and Eureka will give him the glass to take home. Eureka features over 40 small batch whiskeys. Signature cocktails include classic recipes like the house Old Fashioned, made with Old Overholt Rye Whiskey, bitters, fresh orange zest and a block of ice. The modern Holy Smokes is made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, tart cherry liqueur, maple syrup, Aztec chocolate bitters, then smoked in house with hickory chips.  Click here for locations
  2. FARMHOUSE Brunch – Take dad to the Beverly Center for a $28 farm fresh brunch buffet or a la carte menu. Add $20 for two hours of unlimited mimosas or rose’. This special is available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For Father’s Day dinner enjoy a $38 per person supper featuring prime beef, whole striped bass, whole chicken and unlimited appetizers and sides. A la carte also available from 5 to 9 p.m. Call (310)818-4925 or visit Open Table, farmhousela.com
  3. The Peninsula Beverly Hills celebrate Father’s Day with an upgraded brunch from 11a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Executive Chef David Codney’s menu includes fresh seafood including oysters, prime rib and crispy fried chicken. Upgrade the experience with bottomless craft beer or Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne. Executive Pastry Chef Stephanie Boswell’s seasonal selection of delightful confections. Price: $98 per person; $25 per person for free-flowing craft beer and Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne. For reservations go to  The Belvedere.

  4. Father’s Day at the beach – Treat dad to an oceanside dinner at 1 Pico on Sunday, June 17. Chef David Almany will prepare a Father’s Day feast, featuring a special dry-aged, 14-ounce, prime bone-in New York strip served with rosemary fingerling potatoes, bone marrow and a small green salad. There are other market-fresh meat and seafood favorites, along with flavorful pastas and vegetable-centric dishes for the family. 1 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, (310)587-1717.
  5. Father’s Day at Casita Del Campo – Sip on a delicious margarita with your favorite guy. Fresh fruit flavors include strawberry, peach, pomegranate, ginger or melon, served on the rocks or blended. Entrées include steak and eggs prepared with carne asada, two eggs prepared any style, rice and refried beans. Lighter options include huevos con chorizo prepared with two scrambled eggs and served with savory chorizo, rice and beans. During dinner, dad might order the classic carnitas plate made with delicious pork simmered in garlic and oranges, and served with guacamole alongside rice and beans. 1920 Hyperion Ave., Los Angeles, (323)662-4255.
  6. Free brunch for dad at Public School – The scholastic-themed gastropub will be treating dads to free brunch with purchase of another adult entrée on Father’s Day. The menu features new dishes like the buttermilk biscuits and gravy served with scrambled eggs, or classic favorites like the eggs Benedict pizza with prosciutto, Grana Padano, hollandaise and two fried eggs. Public School will also offer a complimentary draft beer with purchase of any entrée from the lunch or dinner menu on Sunday, June 17. 612 Flower St., Los Angeles, (213)622-4500. 9411 Culver Blvd., Culver City, (310)558-0414. 15300 Ventura Blvd., #102G, Sherman Oaks, (818)728-9818.
  7. Complimentary cocktails at The Independence – The corner drinking and dining destination in Santa Monica will be serving each dad on Father’s Day a complimentary Man-mosa at brunch and Man-hattan at dinner. 205 Broadway, (310)458-2500.
  8. Father’s Day with a French flair – Spoil dad at Church & State with a prix-fixe dinner menu. Head to Los Angeles’ Arts District to indulge in executive chef Tony Esnault’s four-course Father’s Day menu for $45 per person. There is an optional wine pairing offered for $25. For those who prefer to dine à la carte, Church & State also offers steak tartare prepared with Strauss Brand grass-fed beef, crostini, mesclun salad and French fries. The roulade de porc is made with pork belly roulade, Parisian gnocchi, English peas, pesto, pickled rhubarb and arugula. The eatery is open from 5 to 9 p.m. 1850 Industrial St., #100, (213)405-1434.
  9. Mexican fiesta for dads at Broder Gril – In celebration of dads, Border Grill’s celebrated chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken are roasting a whole pig and offering a carnitas taco stand on their expansive patio. For $30 per person, guests will have access to unlimited small plates and stations with brunch highlights including Yucatan pork Benedict; green corn tamales; and dulce de leche-infused churro tots with whipped cream. For an extra $20 per person, guests can enjoy unlimited mimosas, micheladas and bloody marys. Father’s Day brunch is available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 445 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, (213)486-5171.
  10. Lunetta all day on Father’s Day – Celebrate in Santa Monica this Father’s Day with brunch all day. Executive chef Raphael Lunetta’s favorites include the fried chicken sandwich or the L.A.D. burger made with Snake River grass-fed beef, caramelized onions, beefsteak tomatoes, aged white cheddar and Marie Rose sauce. For dads with a sweet tooth, there are lemon ricotta pancakes or a banana chocolate chip loaf.  Classic eggs and bacon include thickly cut Niman Ranch bacon, free-range eggs and the Calvados sausage. Brunch is served from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. 2424 Pico Blvd., (310)581-4201.
  11. Father’s Day at Norah – Raise your glass to Dad with a bloody mary comprised of vodka, house-made mix, lemon and olives, or a mimosa while satisfying your egg fix with the biscuit Benedict made with house smoked ham, poached eggs, hollandaise and market lettuces. Try also the breakfast sandwich or the heartier fried chicken sandwich made with pimento cheese, pickles and butter lettuce. Bring dad for dinner and executive chef Mike Williams will make his freshly made ricotta with house-made levain bread, sesame and honey, or the smoked salmon rillettes served with potato chips. Make sure Dad enjoys a proper Oaxacan Sour or the toasted coconut old fashioned prepared with Japanese whisky, brandy, Amaretto liqueur and bitters. Norah’s stellar entrées include American wagyu zabuton served with crispy fingerlings or the potato gnocchi with black truffle and Parmesan. Father’s Day brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner is from 5:30 to 10 p.m. 8279 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, (323)450-4211.
  12. Pearl’s BBQ in downtown L.A. – Sit with dad at an outdoor picnic table alongside a retro Airstream. Pearl’s BBQ serves certified smoked Angus beef brisket and beef short ribs by the pound. Smoked for nearly 16 hours, the beef is served with house-made potato salad, baked beans and coleslaw. Enjoy this with a classic Mexican Coca-Cola, Nesbitt’s honey lemonade or a creamy Big Red soda. Finish with a slice of Pearl’s apple and pecan pie. Open from noon and 6 p.m. 2143 Violet St. pearlsbbqla.com.
  13.  Preux & Proper – Get ready for a stick-to-your-ribs Father’s Day brunch and enjoy bottomless mimosas for $15 at this downtown Los Angeles establishment. Other specials include Preux & Proper’s famous Captain Creole bloody mary made with poblano chili-infused vodka, celery bitters, Fresno hot sauce, freshly grated horseradish, boil spice, shrimp, crawfish, tomato, bay and Castelvetrano olives. Try the Shrunken Head(ache), prepared with pineapple-infused vodka, lemon, lime, passion fruit, Tiki bitters, coriander and clove, salt, mint, lime, booze-infused pineapple and Luxardo cherries, or the Wakey Wakey, made with bacon-infused vodka, Smog City Bo’ Pils, blackstrap Worcestershire sauce, hickory-smoked black salt, sharp cheddar, pepperoni, cherry tomato and house-pickled okra. Entrées include fried chicken and waffles, and sausage and eggs with house andouille, slow-cooked heirloom red beans, two sunny-side up eggs with toasted brioche. Be sure to get your sweet dad the pâte à choux beignets served with bananas Foster dulce de leche. Father’s Day dinner includes house-made charcuterie, chicken-fried pork belly and a 36-hour prime boneless beef rib. Finish off dad’s special day with Kassady’s Mama’s key lime pie. Open for lunch from noon to 4 p.m., and dinner from 4 to 9 p.m. 840 S. Spring St., (213)896-0090.
  14.  Father’s Day brunch at Spring – Restaurateur Yassmin Sarmadi and her husband, executive chef Tony Esnault are serving up French delights on Sunday. Housed in the time-honored Douglas Building in downtown Los Angeles, Spring offers a delightful atmosphere with an airy atrium among pepper trees and a fountain. Start with a selection of chef Esnault’s house-made pastries including croissants, pain au chocolat and fresh baguette with house-made rhubarb and cherry preserves. Order the traditional eggs Benedict, omelet escargot or the Maine lobster Benedict. The smoked salmon tartine is served open-faced with smoked salmon, arugula, dill and farmers market greens. For dads who love desserts, try the chocolat monégasque with bittersweet chocolate ganache, citrus vinaigrette chocolate crumble, lemon honey sorbet or pralines. Open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 257 S. Spring St., (213)372-5189.
  15. Spa and steak – On Father’s Day, enjoy a day of ultimate relaxation at The Spa at Beverly Wilshire. Learn about the newly launched spa line 111SKIN. Dads can opt for the stress-relief massage or the new cryotherapy sports massage before heading down to the Michelin-starred CUT by Wolfgang Puck for a steakhouse dinner and handcrafted cocktails. 9500 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310)275-5200.
  16. The Restaurant at Mr. C’s poolside cookout – Dine on the Mr. C yacht-inspired pool deck from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Sunday. Lunch includes grilled hamburgers, chicken mattone, an array of grilled summer vegetables, classic Cipriani pastas, house-made desserts, and endless pours of Peroni Nastro Azzurro or house wine. Guests can enjoy live music while playing outdoor games like life-size Jenga and cornhole. The all-inclusive lunch is $75 per adult and $38 for children ages 5 to 12. Kids under 5 are free. Dads get their pick between a Cipriani-bottled beer and a signature blend cigar from La Casa del Tabac to take home with them. 224 Beverwil Drive, Beverly Hills, (877)334-5623.
  17. Father’s Day at Melody – Located in Virgil Village, Melody features executive chef Justin Abram preparing brunch and dinner specials for Father’s Day this year. Enjoy a crispy chicken cordon bleu sandwich and a can of Modelo Especial for $15 during brunch from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Melody’s dinner special is available from 6 to 10 p.m. Highlights include a perfectly cooked skirt steak and a glass of Côtes du Rhône for $30. Open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. 751 N. Virgil Ave., Los Angeles, (323)922-6037.
  18. Brack Shop Tavern burger and beer combo – Executive chef Christena Quinn makes a “So Damn Good” burger with a choice of house beer or Goose Island IPA for $15. The burger includes ground chuck roast, American cheese, heirloom tomato, lettuce, house pickle, grilled onion and Brack sauce. This special is only available this Sunday from 3 p.m. to midnight. 525 W. Seventh St., Los Angeles, (213)232-8657.
  19. Mi Corazon two-for-one – Executive chef Vanessa Swan celebrates dads with a two-for-one deal on beer at Mi Corazon. You can also try the restaurant’s new barrel-aged tequila old fashioned for $9. Enjoy the beverages with brunch classics like chilaquiles and huevos rancheros, or stay for dinner and try guest favorite, house-made chicken mole. Open on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Brunch menu items are available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 2609 Hyperion Ave., Los Angeles, (323)522-3320.
  20. The FLATS pizza and cocktails – Executive chef Paul Shoemaker makes a variety of artisanal flatbread pizzas with classic cocktails that include an old fashioned or margarita made with tequila blanco, house curaçao and fresh lime. Bring dad between 5 p.m. and midnight. 8400 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310)909-7549.
  21. Baldoria’s bottomless beer – Here’s a fun Father’s Day gift: a pizza-making class by chef Duke Gerais. The class includes a pizza and a complimentary glass of beer or wine for $30. For dads who don’t want to participate in the class, enjoy bottomless beer from Fort Point alongside one entrée or pizza and one side for $30. Brunch menu items are available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 243 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles, (213)947-3329.
  22. Pikey brunch and Sunday roast dinner – Father’s Day brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. includes a complimentary bloody mary or mimosa. Bottomless pours are $15. Dinner offers slow-roasted pork belly or roasted short ribs with Pikey sides and house wines.  7617 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (323)850-5400.
  23. View Dining at Castaway – Start at 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a specialty Father’s Day brunch menu, created by newly appointed Executive Chef Perry Pollaci. The prix fixe menu priced at $79 for adults and $35 for children aged 4 to 12 with option for bottomless mimosas for $18. Highlights include: French Toast thick cut with fluff, rum-roasted banana, Nutella and spiced maple syrup, Steak and Eggs “Benedict” with an option of Hanger Steak, Wagyu Skirt Steak or Black Angus Filet served with poached eggs, crisp potato cakes, chimichurri and vine roasted tomato, or his famous Lobster & Waffles with Masago tempura lobster tail and orange scented waffles and smoked maple syrup. 1250 E. Harvard Road. Burbank. (818)848-6691.

This was featured in the June 14 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News.

Theatre Review: You in Midair


Sitting in the Lounge Theatre in Hollywood, an older gentleman and two young girls sitting in the front row, step onstage to make an announcement. The man is Benson Schaeffer, the father of Rebecca Shaeffer and the girls are her cousins. Benson informs us he is the husband of the performer, and father of Rebecca. The girls (one looks like a young Rebecca) request audience members to silence their cell phones. As they go back to their seats next to other family members, the protagonist Danna Schaeffer takes the stage. This is her play, that she wrote, to share the story and honor her daughter. She begins telling the audience how giddy with excitement she and Benson were about the accomplishments of their only child. Rebecca had achieved so much at such a young age. Her world was her oyster until July 18, 1989. 

I remember Rebecca Schaeffer, I was in my 20s when I watched in horror on television that she had been fatally shot point-blank in the heart in front of her apartment building in Hollywood. The community was terrified that someone would hide in bushes and jump out and kill a beautiful young starlet in broad daylight. Rebecca was an “It” girl with television and movie credits before she was 21 years old. She was best known for her starring role in My Sister Sam, a television comedy with Pam Dawber and David Naughton. Rebecca’s face graced the cover of Seventeen magazine, and she was offered movie roles and an opportunity to audition for Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather 3. Why would someone want to kill her?

Danna in her one-woman show tells us her story of how she and Benson lovingly raised their daughter, and let her go to New York at a young age to pursue acting. She shared with us how she got to travel with Rebecca to Rome when she was cast in a movie and then later had to travel to Los Angeles to say goodbye to Rebecca in the morgue at Cedars Sinai.

Danna is a descriptive playwright, not an actress, yet her performance had me paralyzed in my seat. I couldn’t move as I sat riveted listening to her story. She was only 45 years old when she lost her daughter. Without Rebecca she doesn’t know where she is in time, because she no longer can gauge time by the milestones her daughter would have achieved. It just all stopped in 1989.

The hero is prosecutor Marcia Clark, who helped convict the man (remains nameless) who senselessly killed Danna’s daughter. It took two years and six months for the fan obsessed stalker and murderer to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Later Clark became known for her role in the O.J. Simpson murder case.  

Danna is made of strong constitution and handles grief better than most. Family, friends and a therapist are concerned why she hasn’t crumbled. It uncomfortable trying to console someone dealing with grief and people with well intensions, sometimes say the wrong thing. That’s when Danna infuses humor in a play so dark and sad. Danna’s  scene where she and her mother have a blowout at LAX, and another when the two Rabbis have a smackdown at Rebecca’s funeral, gives us permission to laugh out loud. It’s hard to chuckle when the subject is about death, but Danna encourages it with her storytelling and facial expressions.

“You in Midair” is a somber reminder about how life is so fragile, and how one’s life can be extinguished in seconds. Even though Danna and Benson’s lives changed forever, their marriage remains strong. She recites quotes from famous writers about the subject of death from a book she comes across at her local bookstore. “I can’t be running back and forth forever between grief and high delight,” by J.D. Salinger. Even though Rebecca’s parents have extreme lows, they also have highs. At first they felt guilty whenever there was a happy event or occasion, yet now they realize they must live out their life and accept that she is not here.

One way Danna and Benson dealt with their grief was by getting involved in gun control, and the 1994 passage of America’s first anti-stalking laws in California. Another was by keeping busy. Benson continued working, while Danna went back to school to become a therapist. She also went on to write plays, teach playwriting, publish stories and a memoir. 

It took her years to write “You in Midair.” When it premiered at the Portland Fertile Ground Festival in 2017, it was received so well, that Danna and her production team brought it to Hollywood, within miles from where her daughter was killed.

Go see You in Midair on June 10 at 6 p.m., June 14 at 10 p.m., June 16 at 8 p.m. and June 17 at 4 p.m. The Lounge Theatre is at 6201 Santa Monica Blvd. (323)455-4585.

10 Reasons to take an luxury AmaWaterways Cruise

Last week I met with AmaWaterways co-founders Kristin Karst and Rudi Schreiner to learn more about their elegant European river cruises.

While enjoying a three-course lunch at the new FARMHOUSE restaurant at the newly renovated Beverly Center, Karst remarked that Executive chef and farmer Nathan Peitso (second-generation farmer of Kenter Canyon Farm) menu was similar to the cuisine on their cruise ships. As Peitso works directly with his family farm and the region’s top farmers to grow, harvest, and create his fresh and flavorful dishes, AmaWaterways chefs work with their suppliers in the regions they visit, to provide guests with authentic food and wine experiences.

Here’s what I learned about AmaWaterways river cruise in Europe and beyond:

  1. Rudi Schreiner has been in the river cruise industry since 1992 starting at Uniworld. When the Danube canal opened, 3,000 miles of waterways, river cruises could visit over 10 countries from Amsterdam to the Ukraine. The first cruise in 1994 had 100 passengers. He met Karst at Viking Cruise Line in 2000. When his contract at Viking expired, he and Karst started their own cruise line and in 2002 Ama (means love) Waterways set sail. Today they operate 20 ships – 300 days out of the year. The ships range in size from 28 to 160 passengers.
  2. Not only does AmaWaterways ships cruise down European rivers that include Rhine river cruises, France and Portugal sailings, but they also have Asia and Africa river cruises for passengers to see the world in luxury and comfort.
  3. Passengers have the opportunity to discover local culture and sights on shore excursions included in every port of call.
  4. All dining on board starts with breakfast where guests wake up sipping sparkling wine while enjoying a buffet, fresh pastries, and made-to-order items from the menu. Stop by the Main Lounge for a light lunch, or head to the restaurant for full menu while sipping high-quality regional wine, beer or a soft drink. Dinner is a multi-course affair with wine recommendations that accompany visually stunning dishes. Try local favorites — goulash while cruising through Hungary, bratwurst and sauerkraut after returning from an excursion in Vienna, and Camembert cheese while sipping wine while cruising on the Seine. The Executive Chef, Primus Perchtold earned three gold medals at the European Championship of Culinary Art and oversees the menus aboard every cruise in Europe. Guests receive one of his recipes on their pillow each night to recreate his dishes at home.
  5. Each ship offers free internet access and Wi-Fi onboard.
  6. For an active adventure, ride a bike along the Danube. Each ship has 25 bicycles that you can use to explore on your own or join a guided bike tour.
  7. In 2018 AmaWaterways offers 64 Wine Theme cruises. They invite a dedicated wine host to share with guests their wine from small and medium US and Canadian wineries. Passengers get to taste Old and New World wines.
  8. During the winter season the ships visit the Magical Christmas Markets along the Danube. The 7 night cruise includes Nuremberg to Vienna. Cruises start Nov. 23 through Dec. 23, 2018.IMG_5573
  9. The new Wellness program offers multiple classes throughout the cruise on 6 different ships. Next year the will program will be offered across the fleet.

    Photos by AmaWaterways
  10. The new AmaMagna ship defines contemporary elegance in river cruising. Rudi Schreiner designed this ship offering staterooms with windows or a full balcony.  The Owners Suite is 710 sq. ft. There are multiple dining venues – all at no charge. Debuting in May 2019, the ship is twice the width of traditional European river cruise ships.

To reserve a cruise on AmaWaterway, contact your cruise specialist or travel agent or call (800)626-0126 – http://www.AmaWaterways.com.



Best Brunch at Baltaire in Brentwood

Last Sunday I saw Executive Chef Travis Strickland from Baltaire at the Taste of the Nation festival in Culver City. He prepared delicious Nueske cherrywood BLT lettuce cups topped with strawberry sambal and pretty flowering cilantro sprigs. It was a hit at the fundraiser benefiting No Kid Hungry. 


Chef Travis is a chef with a big heart. As an avid runner and cyclist, he co-founded a 5K “Run for Their Knives” event, benefiting a memorial scholarship fund that promotes health and well-being in the culinary community.

I’ve been a fan of this chef ever since I had my first lunch at Baltaire years ago. He revived the restaurant’s tableside service, with servers sautéing Dover Sole in a French copper pan, before filleting and deboning it in front of guests. 

Recently, I enjoyed Sunday brunch at Baltaire while sitting out on the light and airy outdoor terrace with a retractable roof. As I was admiring the serene green and grey hues offering a classy California vibe, my party and I received an amuse bouche of bright blue colored spiraling yogurt with fresh fruit compote, pecan granola, and a sliced strawberry on top.


While sipping Contratto Metodo Classico Millesimato Pas Dose 2012, I learned it’s the oldest sparkling wine house in Italy. The bubbles were nice to pair with Chef Travis special cinnamon monkey bread that was delivered in a black iron baking loaf pan. IMG_1560

Next we ordered three different toasts to share around the table. Chef Travis approached our table and told us that all the bread is made in-house with natural fermentation. Two were sweet – Nutella and sliced caramelized banana toast on a slice of homemade brioche with a brown butter streusel, and a ricotta and blueberry compote toast that had a touch of Meyer lemon and mint to enhance the earthy flavors. The more savory toast was layered with smoked salmon and avocado. It was adorn with pickled onion, radish, egg and a Basque crushed Espelette pepper. IMG_1571

A few friends at my table ordered the prettiest brunch cocktail, a lavender sensation known as The Lavender 75. It’s made with lavender infused Absolut Elyx and smoked honey syrup, with lemon juice before topped off with champagne. A sprig of lavender enhances this bubbly brunch classic. Bar Manager August O’Mahoney also makes a vegan cocktail named The Piccolo. It’s a take on the Cappelletti sour that is whipped with aquafaba (chickpea water). Baltaire makes hummus in house and reuse of the chickpea water. Not only does it cut waste, but it’s a delicious vegan egg white substitute. Aquafaba is ideal for those who fear raw egg whites in cocktails, or those who just don’t consume eggs. Some bartenders say aquafaba is a better substitute in sours and fizzes. What enhanced this cocktail was a little baking spice, lime and orange juice.


Our second course of brunch were an array of skillet dishes. After training at the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Travis cooked at the legendary Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN. This experience inspired him to create decadent thick orange cornmeal hot cakes. It’s a take on Southern Johnny Cakes or Hoe Cakes. The orange zest is a nice touch.


Wine sommelier Melanie Kaman recommended a beautiful Copain Tous Ensemble Rose’ of Pinot Noir from Mendocino County to pair nicely with the heavier skillet dishes. The bright salmon pink hue offered aromas of watermelon, strawberry, lemon blossom, and orange. The wine offered moderate acidity creating an enjoyable finish. It also cut the fattiness of the beautifully presented Chilaquiles with soft poached eggs arranged in a flower shape. What made this dish unique was the shredded cauliflower.

The last skillet was a Tunisian and Israeli dish called shakshouka. The skillet had eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions, and spiced with cumin. 


We enjoyed the last two brunch dishes with a glass of wine Karman recommended. She loves Oregon’s Willamette Valley Croft Vineyard 2014 Haden Fig Pinot Noir. The wine offered a bright cherry and raspberry essence with a juicy acidity. It paired perfectly with slices of harissa lamb with an almond and olive relish and duck fat potatoes. It also went well with the popular Prime filet Benedict layered with avocado. 

Brunch at Baltaire will heighten your senses while enjoying the atmosphere, food presentation, cocktails and wine offerings. $$$ 11647 San Vicente Blvd. (424)273-1660.

This review was featured in the June 7, 2018 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea Newspapers.

Cattle & Claw summer soirée

With so many vegan and vegetarian restaurants opening in the area, the Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills has decided to balance out the options with Cattle & Claw, a surf and turf eatery perfect for omnivores. Diners at this summer pop-up get to enjoy the best foods from the land and sea – lobsters and burgers – for lunch and dinner.

Cattle & Claw is a casual venue without a stuffy vibe, inspired by the London chain Burgers & Lobsters. You don’t need a reservation to sit out on the garden patio under twinkle lights while enjoying a rosé or craft beer with a lobster beignet or burger.

Creative cocktails include margaritas in jar glasses.

Start with a festive lobster bloody mary. It’s made with lobster-infused vodka, homemade mix, lemon and tomato juice, and garnished with celery and a strip of bacon, and served in a glass jar. They also make a gin-based Tom Collins, refreshing Moscow mule, classic mojito with lots of mint, and a margarita with fresh lime juice.

For those who prefer beer, they pour five California beers including three different brews from Bear Republic, an Arrogant Bastard bourbon barrel-aged ale and Anchor Brewing’s Anchor Lager.

Oenophiles may enjoy with their burger a glass of Trinity Oaks cabernet sauvignon or Chateau Pey La Tour merlot. I found the Sacha Lichine rosé paired perfectly with a lobster roll topped with lettuce, tomato and a rémoulade sauce.

The night I dined with a group of friends, Chef Brandon Umemoto approached our table to explain the Cattle and Claw menu. On the Claw side he recommended we start with a plate of lobster beignets. They arrived in three perfect spheres that were placed on an artistic swirl of sunset orange colored lobster aioli.

Chef Brandon Umemoto

Next, we ordered the crab salad with mixed greens and slices of cherry tomatoes. The salad was lightly tossed with salt and pepper, sprinkled with Champagne and tarragon vinaigrette, and topped with fresh lobster pieces.

Also on the “claw” side of the menu is a half or whole lobster that is poached and lightly grilled. It’s served with tarragon cream, mixed green salad and fries to round out the flavors.

Crab salad at Cattle & Claw

Next, we moved on to the gourmet burgers served in three different sizes and layered with lettuce, tomato, onions, roasted red pepper and garlic mayonnaise. The baby burger is  delicious and affordable, at just under $10. They also make a 5-ounce and 10-ounce burger patty. Add a little bacon if you prefer or enhance it even more with pepper jack, blue or jalapeño cheese.

For something even more spectacular, guests can order a Cattle & Claw combination that arrives on a multi-layer seafood tower. The Cattle & Claw #1 is ideal to share with two or three people. It arrives with a 5-ounce burger, half of a grilled lobster, salad and fries. These fries, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, are seasoned with a sprinkling of salt or truffle oil for a delectable savory side.IMG_1656

Gather your family and friends for the Cattle & Claw #2 combo. It’s just the right amount of food for four or more. The tower arrives with two lobster rolls, two 10-ounce burgers, a whole grilled lobster, more fries and salad.

For a quintessential London-meets-Los Angeles dining experience, try Cattle & Claw before it closes for the winter.

$$.  Lunch is served from noon to 2 p.m., dinner is from 5 to 11 p.m. 8555 Beverly Blvd., (310)358-3979.

This article was featured in the May 31, 2018 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News.

Summer Dining & Music at the Hollywood Bowl

I was invited to the preview of this year’s culinary and beverage program led by James Beard Award winning Chef Suzanne Goin and this year’s James Beard Foundation Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year, Caroline Styne.

Caroline Styne, Herbie Hancock and Suzanne Goin

I learned that the Hollywood Bowl is one of the largest natural amphitheaters in the world, with a seating capacity of nearly 18,000. It’s  been the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since its official opening in 1922.

During the summer the venue plays host to the finest artists from all genres of music, offering something for everyone.

Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel announced that the opening night of the summer program is on June 16 with Diana Ross Sings Memories with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

Seating at the BOWL is still one of the best deals anywhere in Los Angeles with $1 seats at the top of the Bowl for many classical and jazz performances.

Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel announcing the opening night June 16 with Diana Ross Sings Memories with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

The Hollywood Bowl Food + Wine’s many dining choices include two sit-down restaurants, street-food kiosks, pre-ordered picnic boxes, and full-service dinner delivered to your box seat. For private events, Hollywood Bowl Food + Wine will also provide catering at several locations for groups both large and small.

The dynamic culinary team including Sodexo Sports & Leisure Executive Chef Jeff Rogers promises an array of exceptional dining experiences for the 2018 Hollywood Bowl Food + Wine season.


Here’s what’s new for this summer season: 

  1. This year concert-goers can skip the line before the concert and use the Hollywood Bowl Food + Wine mobile app. Guests may select a choice of pizzas, barbecue, bánh mi, hot dogs, and popcorn. Skip the long line and pick up your picnic fare on the way to your seats.
  2. My favorite Supper in Your Seats is a three course dinner delivered right to your box seats. Chef Suzanne Goin’s new menu item is Susanita’s Carnitas Feast for Two. It features ceviche de mariscos; sweet corn tostadas; patio salad of cucumber, tomato & romaine; pork carnitas; Javi’s guacamole; black beans; tomato rice; pico de gallo; and tres leches cake with mango, coconut and lime. Supper in Your Seats is available by pre-order online up to 4 pm the day before a performance.
  3. For the ultimate dining experience Lucques at the Circle is a full-service dining experience for subscribers of the Pool Circle. The seasonal made-to-order menu is paired with an exceptional wine list styled from the award-winning cuisine of Lucques. Menu Highlight: Tunisian grilled halibut with couscous, summer squash, harissa, and pistachio yogurt.
  4. There are now 5 Picnic Boxes including a new Maple Drive box. It features a slow-roasted prime beef tenderloin served with Early Girl tomato salad, roasted potatoes, wild mushrooms and a caramel chocolate brownie. Picnic boxes can be pre-ordered a day before a concert and picked up at the Plaza Marketplace or delivered to your box seats.IMG_0126
  5. The Wine Bar by a.o.c – Boasting a wine list curated especially by Caroline Styne, L.A.’s favorite wine bar comes to life at the Hollywood Bowl and features artisanal cheese and charcuterie, signature vintner’s and farmer’s plates, grilled flatbreads, market-fresh salads, and a.o.c.-style fish and meats. There are also craft brews and farmers’ market-driven cocktails made with soju and other wine-based liquors. Menu Highlight: Lamb skewers with fava bean purée and tomato-preserved lemon salsa.
  6. For a grab-and-go option there are three Marketplace locations – Plaza, East and West. Here concert attendees can “grab-and-go” salads, hot entrées that include rotisserie chicken, barbecued beef brisket and mac ’n’ cheese, as well as other picnic-friendly sandwiches and cheese plates. The west side Marketplace features a sushi bar where chefs prepare premium sushi, available for pre-order or to purchase on-site. Showcasing the best of Goin and Styne’s casual Larder café-marketplace, these Hollywood Bowl venues also feature a large selection of hand-picked wines, craft beers, sodas and waters, as well as salty and sweet snacks including cookies and brownies, candy, nuts and crackers. Menu Highlight: A new sandwich and a summer favorite of Suzanne’s daughter – Alex’s Veggie sandwich – goat cheese, farmers’ vegetable slaw, and basil pistou.IMG_8919
  7. Winemaker Wednesdays series is an eight-week program of complimentary wine tastings at the Plaza Marketplace from guest winemakers hand selected by Caroline Styne.
  8. the backyard is an al fresco dining room flanked by two large wood-burning grills, offering an updated seasonal market-driven menu. Select one of the summer salads, grilled fresh fish, scallops, lamb merguez, pork chops, steaks, side dishes and an extensive raw bar. Menu Highlight: Diver scallops with cornbread panade, wild mushrooms and gremolata.
  9. Kitchen 22  Grills up made-to-order beef and turkey burgers, Suzanne’s Spanish fried chicken, grilled Comté cheese on Larder sourdough, and savory sandwiches anchor the Hollywood Bowl’s tribute to American classic fare. Menu Highlight: The new falafel wrap with house-made carrot-jalapeno slaw, green onion zhoug, and tahini dressing.
  10. Street Food and Snacks – Authentic street foods can be found throughout the grounds of the Hollywood Bowl, including a diverse range of multi-cultural foods of Los Angeles, from street tacos, gourmet pizzas, specialty hot dogs, BBQ, bánh mì, sandwiches, and nachos, to confections and signature desserts at the Sweet Shop.

Visit hollywoodbowl.com/foodandwine for more information about the food and wine experiences available at the Hollywood Bowl.

Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival – June 1-3, 2018

Yesterday I got to experience the wonder of soaring 2,700 feet above sea level in a hot air balloon at the 35th annual Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival.

The festival is located near Temecula in Winchester at the Lake Skinner Park. At 6:30 a.m., I met with my pilot David and his crew Lauren, Helen and Skip. They are Gypsy Flights Hot Air Balloon Adventures. David and Lauren are married, Helen is a retired teacher from Burbank and Skip is a sailor and Lauren’s brother. Together they inflated the blue and white balloon on a grassy lawn before rising to the clouds.IMG_5011

David and Lauren have been balloon operators for over 20 years. About 10 years ago they retired to become full time balloonists. They travel to balloon festivals all around America giving rides to newbies and aficionados in the mornings. Later, they  gather with their balloon friends to enjoy the food, wine and music at each festival.


Once the balloon was ready, I climbed into the two person basket with Pilot David to start our ascent.


David calmly guided us over the park to take it the picturesque birds eye views. After about a 45 minute ride, David gently piloted the balloon down, and with the help of the chase crew (Lauren, Helen and Skip) guided us to a smooth and safe landing.


Another fun part of the adventure is helping to deflate the balloon and get it back up into the truck. Other balloons were coming down right near us, so we all gathered to help those balloons too.


We went back to the festival lawn to celebrate our adventure with a champagne toast, and fun tailgate fare before saying our goodbyes.

Here are four experiences for you to get up close and personal with a hot air balloon this weekend at the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival.

  1. Come early around 6:30 a.m. to observe the beauty of 40+ hot air balloons soaring above Lake Skinner park. Check in at 5:30 a.m. for your three hour adventure. The flight lasts about 45-60 minutes depending on the weather conditions. Riders may reach 3,000 feet above sea level before coming back down. Your ride includes same day festival admission, champagne toast and souvenir certificate of flight. Morning flights are $225 per person.IMG_4995
  2. Around 7:30 a.m. festival ticket holders can take a complimentary tethered balloon ride. Rides are first come, first served). Step inside the bucket of a hot air balloon that is anchored to the ground with special ropes that allow the balloon to rise to a low altitude of 50 to 70 ft. Toyota Dealers of Southern California sponsor these free rides.
  3. Be sure to stay until dusk to experience the evening hot air balloon glow show. Check in at the Wine Stage at 8 p.m. Watch how a group of hot air balloons glow in color when inflated by propane burners. These balloons stay on the ground fully inflated and a visually spectacular to see while the propane burners roar.
  4. Help out a Chase crew. You can help inflate, deflate and milk a hot air balloon. Volunteer positions are available register here .

To learn more about the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival Click here.



%d bloggers like this: