Jill’s 10 Favorite Restaurants in 2015

In 2015 I dined at least three times a week in search of the quintessential dining experience. That is over 150 restaurants I had to reflect back on to chose only 10 favorites for the year.

To qualify, the ambiance needed to be clean and appealing, the service must be friendly and efficient, and the food needed to “wow” me. Throw in a stellar wine list and a few tantalizing cocktails.

When friends asked for dining recommendations, these were the culinary experiences that I fondly recommended. I hope to visit each of these restaurants again in 2016 –


  1. Barton G – Winner of the Special Occasion Dining Award

Jaw dropping culinary presentations begin the moment you sit down at Barton G and continue throughout the evening with vaporizing cocktails on elegant trays and three-foot tall entrees and desserts parade around the dining room. If you don’t want people ogling over the dishes you order, than Barton G may be too intrusive for you. These dishes demand attention. It’s the ultimate special occasion restaurant. When my daughter turns 21 in 2016, I will take her here to sip her first martini named Buddahlicious. the pear infused vodka is mixed with lychee and cranberry juice and served with a nitrogen pop of pear vodka and small golden buddah. Rub his tummy for good fortune.

What to order:

Cocktail: Sabrinatini martini served with a nitro-champagne swizzle stick and a solid chocolate monkey hanging down the side of the glass.

Food: The fresh line-caught halibut ceviche served inside into a leopard print stiletto heel. It’s mixed with a scoop of mango sorbet and small laughing bird shrimp marinated with the halibut in leche de tigre for hours. It’s drained and poured into a shot glass. Guests are to drink back the shot before reaching for a long plantain chip to scoop the avocado mousse, mango sorbet and ceviche.DSC_0475

Dessert: The Marie Antoinette served with pink cotton candy styled as a wig and the baked Alaskan Everglade with a large croaking neon eyed frog and huge piece of seven-layer red velvet ice cream cake, wrapped in toasted meringue and topped with full size candy apple to represent the ‘cherry’ on top.

Dress code: Celebrity fashion – short skirts, high heals and great hair.

Open Sunday through Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday the restaurant is open until 11 p.m.
61 N. La Cienega Blvd. (310)388-1888 –Barton G LAFullSizeRender-17

2. Terrine – Winner of the Most Romantic Al Fresco Dining

For my 26th wedding anniversary, I took my husband to Stephane Bombet, Executive Chef Kris Morningstar and Francois Renaud’s newer elegant California brasserie. Chef Morningstar pleases Los Angelenos with some of his French favorites that include beef tartare, onion soup, steak frites, divine quiche, escargot, tartines, and Croque Madame’s.

Cocktail: Terrine Gin & Tonic made with Bombay East, Renaud’s lemongrass and a house made yuzu tonic. It’s pretty with a long peeled rind of ruby red grapefruit.

FullSizeRender-15Entree: The juicy Terrine burger with truffle butter and cheese, a secret aioli, flash fried onions and cured tomato jam. The jam elevates this burger, especially on the soft brioche bun.

Dessert: French lemon tart. The meringue on top looked like floral grommets torched lightly to give the dish a visually stunning presentation.

Dress Code – Fashionable

Hours: Hours are from – 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Terrine – 8265 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles – (323)746-5130 – Terrine

Girasoldrink3. Girasol – Winner of the Best Field To Table

The design inside is magical. One feels as if they are inside a giant sunflower. Executive Chef CJ Jacobson and two-time “Top Chef” alumni, and Chef de Cuisine Justin Abram work their magic in the kitchen. They visit local farmers’ markets, while GM Adrian Migliore forages local herbs and flowers in the Angeles National forest several times a week. They gather edible weeds, bushes and pine needles to enhance many of the dishes. The butter for their exquisite bread is infused with toasted lovage leaves, the burrata salad is dressed with a forest floor vinaigrette.

Cocktail – a frosty tall aluminum tumbler filled with a slightly sweet vodka-guava cocktail. It’s similar in presentation to a Moscow Mule.

Entree – A signature dish at this restaurant is the octopus salad. The chefs roast long eggplant until it’s almost a puree. They add Little Gem and frisée lettuce to the plate. To make the salad dressing, the chefs char some rosemary and toss the ash with olive oil. This offers a more intense essence of the herb. The octopus is stewed for almost two hours in its own juices and then grilled before its placed on top of the salad. It’s finished with sweet & sour chilies and toasted lovage.

Dessert – Deconstructed chocolate S’mores dazzled with bright yellow sunflower petals on a dark chocolate bar, with marshmallows, banana cream, caramelized banana sliced lengthwise and a graham cracker crust.

Hours: Nightly for dinner from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., on Sundays they serve brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 11334 Moorpark St. Studio City, (818)924-2323 – Girasol


4. The Front Yard – Winner of the You’ll Have A Great Time

In LA there are a slew of hotels that offer exceptional restaurants. In Studio City, the beloved Garland Hotel’s signature restaurant is a lot of fun.

Cocktail –  Cucumber press cocktail made by head bartender Will Cutting. He mixes Bulldog gin, lime juice, cilantro, cucumber, and combier pamplemousse, which is a grapefruit flavored triple sec. This is an ideal drink for a hot summer day and evening.

Entree – Chef Turano is an expert at seafood with his grilled red wine glazed octopus with pickled ramp aioli, spiced crisp chickpeas, and a radish salad. We also ordered his wild halibut entree. It’s delivered to his kitchen as a whole fish before Turano butchers the 30 pound fish himself. One side of the halibut is pure white in color, the other side is darker and more gray. He takes the pure white meat of the fish and prepares it with three different cauliflowers. It’s served with a blond gastrique made with Chardonnay and sprinkled of sugar and butter. The dish is colorful with small green cauliflower florets and pickled beech mushrooms.

Dessert – Salted caramel pudding in a jam jar with freshly popped salted caramel popcorn decorating the plate.

Open for breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner. $$ 4222 Vineland Ave. (818)255-7290 – The Front Yard

(La Quinta - Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(La Quinta – Photo by Jill Weinlein)

5. Morgan’s in the Desert – Winner of Epicurean Delights

Spend a weekend at the La Quinta Resort and Spa to experience Executive chef Jimmy Schmidt three-course themed prix fixe menu with wine pairing menu selected by Morgan’s Sommelier Lisa Tussing. One week it could be an Heirloom pear and Artisan duck menu, the next Squab and Pumpkin dishes.

Cocktail – Pomegranate-Ginger Margarita Sauza Agave Tequila, Pomegranate Juice, Ginger & Lime. Served on the rocks.

(Chef Jimmy Schmidt knows how to prepare local ingredients into spectacular dishes. Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Chef Jimmy Schmidt knows how to prepare local ingredients into spectacular dishes. Photo by Jill Weinlein)

Entree – The Mahi-Mahi dusted with coriander seeds and served with a mild chopped celery root and roasted leeks with lots of microgreens. Coriander is the dry seed from cilantro. It offers a pleasantly sweet and lemon essence to the fish.

Dessert – The visually spectacular butter popcorn ice cream parfait served with salted caramel house made Cracker Jack popcorn. It’s heightened with bittersweet chocolate fudge and sea salted caramel.

Dress Code – Resort wear

Dinner is served nightly from 5:30 – 10:00 p.m. 49499 Eisenhower Dr. La Quinta, CA (760) 564-4111 – Morgan’s in the Desert

(Photo of Ricardo Zarate and Jill Weinlein by Rick Weinlein)
(Photo of Ricardo Zarate and Jill Weinlein by Rick Weinlein)

6. Smoke. Oil. Salt – Winner of Best Tapa Hour 

James Beard nominee Ricardo Zarate and Executive chef Brian Gregg created a new three tapa “happy hour” special for $19. Pair it with a glass of Spanish wine, sparking cava, fruity sangria for and extra $7.

Cocktail –  Kalimotxo – a Spanish cocktail made with equal parts red wine and a cola-based soft drink.

(Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Photo by Jill Weinlein)

Entree – Crispy Frito chicken with Serrano ham and a lovely, slightly spicy red brava sauce. Also, grilled scallops on a pea puree adorned with crunchy hazelnuts and a tangy lemon aioli. The Pintxo de Iberico, is a toasted sourdough bread layered with a slightly smokey unpasteurized sheep milk, and delicious Iberico ham.

Dessert – Brazo Gitano made with rolled sponge cake, dulce de leche and a passion fruit curd.

Tapa Hour is 5:30 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Dinner nightly from 5:30 to 12 a.m. Brunch is served on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 7274 Melrose Ave. (323)930-7900 – Smoke. Oil. Salt

(Photo of Robert Downey Jr. by Timothy White)

7. Cavatina – Winner of Dine Like a Celebrity

Located in the Sunset Marquis in West Hollywood. It opened its door in 1963 and soon became a favorite to rock stars coming to Los Angeles. Below the street level pool is a world-class sound studio. Some of the best rock stars have recorded their Grammy-winning songs here. They also can park their tour bus underground to stay incognito from their fans.

During the award-season with Emmy’s, Oscars and Grammy’s, the hotel sells out and is filled with A list actors, musicians, comedians, writers, artists, filmmakers, fashion designers, supermodels, restaurateurs, billionaire entrepreneurs.

The night I was invited to dine at the fine dining restaurant Cavatina, my group and I partied like rock stars while enjoying a multi-course dinner prepared by James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur Michael Schlow and the new Executive Chef Jonathan Kim.

Appetizer – The Grilled Octopus was served with a “hummus” made from black chick pea puree, olives, fresno chiles.

Entree – a skillet of shrimp and lobster with black crispy rice.

Dessert – An exquisite creme fraiche cheesecake with a hazelnut crumble and scoop of Fossleman’s coffee espresso ice cream.

Dress Code – LA hip or Rock star

1200 Alta Loma Road, West Hollywood, CA – (310) 657-1333 – Cavatina

(Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Photo by Jill Weinlein)

8. The Church Key – Winner of Best Dining Cart Experience

Foodies and locals rave about their unique Dinner and Brunch wheel cart dining service. Celebrating their second anniversary, Executive chef Steven Fretz and General Manager Joseph Sabato decided to introduce the cart service for a creative lunch experience.

Cocktail – The Church Key Mimosas made with fresh fruit elixirs and the Bloody Mary with an array of garnishes.

FullSizeRender-66Entree – Vegetarians love the bright green English pea falafel patty on a dark pumpernickel and oat bun. Be sure to add the fried egg to the truffled tahini and tomato mixed with parsley relish. A skewered tomato raisin, grilled green onion and clove of garlic accompany the veggie-style patty, making a pretty dish and oh so delicious.

Dessert – Fretz’s winning warm brioche donuts with a brown butter glaze and cinnamon caramel sauce.

Open Monday through Sunday from from 11a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., for dinner. Sunday Brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 8730 W. Sunset Blvd. (424)249-3700 – http://www.thechurchkeyla.com

(Dramatic Entry - Photo courtesy of Bel Air Bar + Grill)
(Dramatic Entry – Photo courtesy of Bel Air Bar + Grill)

9. A little bit of Magic at the Bel Air Bar + Grill

It’s been open a few years, but now has a new Executive chef – Chris Emerling. Roy Disney’s granddaughter Susan Disney Lord owns this visually beautiful restaurant located near The Getty Center off the 405 freeway.

Appetizer – The Waldorf “Escoffier” salad. Don’t visualize a chunky mayonnaise salad, this one is pure elegance. In the 1930s, Auguste Escoffier was one of the world’s greatest chefs. A group of men in the Jantzen suite at the Hotel Waldorf-Astoria formed an epicurean organization who gathered at the Waldorf regularly and called themselves, “The Friends of Escoffier.” Emerling’s Waldorf salad is not flat, but rises above the plate. Instead of chunky apples, his apples are sliced long and thin to peek out. Instead of celery, Emerling chops celeriac which is the bulb that grows from the stalks. Celeriac is the heart and soul of celery, offering a delicate and vibrant flavor to this fine dining dish. California walnuts are sprinkled around and then glistened with a delicate and vibrant 3880 French Escoffier secret sauce that only Emerling knows how to make so well.

(Executive Chef Chris Emerling and owner Susan Disney Lord - Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Executive Chef Chris Emerling and owner Susan Disney Lord – Photo by Jill Weinlein)

Entree – Red wine braised short ribs are cooked for hours and served with roasted rainbow carrots, garlic mashed potatoes with charred poblano chilies to intensify the flavors. The ultimate winter comfort food.

Dessert – Lemon tart with an Italian meringue.

Dress Code – casual elegance.

Open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Happy Hour is available the same days from 4 to 6 p.m. Brunch is on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner is served nightly at 5 p.m. 662 N. Sepulveda Boulevard. (310)440-5544.

fullsizerender-4010. The Flintridge Proper – Best Brunch in the Valley (San Fernando and San Gabriel) NOW CLOSED.

Sunday is a day of exploring treasures that lurk around our great city. About 20 minutes from downtown LA is the bucolic small community of La Canada-Flintridge. There are lots of oak trees, bridal paths and bike trails throughout the town.
A big draw to the community is the 160 acre Descanso Gardens offering paved pathways to explore a variety of gardens, a small train ride, water features, an art gallery, and historic home to tour.

Before or after a visit to Descanso Gardens, enjoy brunch at the nearby Flintridge Proper. It’s one of the only unique farm to table dining options in town and houses the world’s largest gin bar.

Cocktail –  The slightly sweet Angel Kiss offering an essence of grapefruit. It’s was refreshing and perfect to sip while looking over the menu.

fullsizerender-37Starter –Enormous buttermilk biscuits on a wood plank that were sprinkled with sea salt. There was a silver container of berry jam and shredded butter that looked like shredded mozzarella cheese. The butter was so smooth and easy to spread on the warm biscuits. It was a fun starter to share among the table.

Brunch Fare – The salmon Benedict with smoked salmon on two English muffins topped with poached eggs and a pleasing citrusy Hollandaise sauce. I love the smooshed potatoes.

Open for lunch and dinner starting at 11:30 a.m. Breakfast and brunch is served on Sat. and Sunday starting at 8:30 a.m. The restaurant closes at 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturdays. $$ 464 Foothill Blvd. La Canada Flintridge (818)790-4888 – theproper.com.

This article is featured in GPSmyCity –  https://www.gpsmycity.com/gps-tour-guides/los-angeles-631.html

7 Great Soups in Los Angeles & Beyond

When the temperature cools down, it’s time to be comforted with a bowl of delicious soup. Here are 7 0f my favorite dining destination that offer exceptional soup in Los Angeles.

Flintridge Proper creamy tomato & basil soup with grilled cheese - by Jill Weinlein
Flintridge Proper creamy tomato & basil soup with grilled cheese – by Jill Weinlein

1. Flintridge Proper Restaurant & Bar

This hotspot in La Canada offers a warm and wonderful creamy tomato basil soup and seasonal soup of the day. The day I dined, the seasonal orange butternut squash soup had a touch of cream. Order a bowl of soup with a gooey grilled cheese sandwich made with in-house American cheese. 464 Foothill Blvd. La Canada Flintridge, CA 91011 (818)790-4888 – http://theproper.com

(The owners of Canter's - Marc, Jacqueline and Terry)
(The owners of Canter’s – Marc, Jacqueline and Terry)

2. Canter’s Deli

Since 1931, Canter’s has been making great soups that come with a side of crisp bagel chips. Only on Wednesday do they make a delightful Split Pea soup. If I dine on another day, I select the Barley Bean or Vegetarian Vegetable. They offer 1/2 of any classic sandwich with a cup of soup for under $13. The owners Marc Canter, sister Jacqueline and cousin Terri Bloomgarden are really nice people. Parking is free for 90 minutes with a Canter’s validation. Open 24 hours, seven days a week. $-$$ 419 N. Fairfax Ave. (323)651-2030 – www.cantersdeli.com.

(Photo by Cassia Santa Monica)
(Photo by Cassia Santa Monica)

3. Cassia 
Chef Bryant Ng is offering some of the best Southeast Asian soup to beat the chilly weather or help make you feel better if you get a winter cold.
Two of the must-try soups include a Laksa – A traditional Singaporean rice noodle and seafood dish is a thick and spicy, coconut curry, and the chile oil is great for clearing stuffy sinuses. Ng also makes a Vietnamese Pot Au Feu – a spiced pho broth with Creekstone Farms short rib, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, and a side of grilled bread to smear with the bone marrow or sides of housemade Bird’s Eye chile sauce and a walnut mustard. 1314 7th St, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (310)393-6699 – http://www.cassiala.com

(Laurent Halasz with writer)
(Laurent Halasz with writer)

4. FIG & OLIVE – Melrose Place in West Hollywood
Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. The key components of the Mediterranean diet include a splash of olive oil, instead of butter, and a variety of fruits and vegetables, lean meat, whole grains, legumes and nuts. A glass of red wine is acceptable too. At Laurent Halasz’ Fig & Olive, the soups are ideal, because they don’t have any cream. Try the Butternut Squash & Chestnut Velouté that is silky and accompanied by shaved chestnuts, onions, toasted squash seeds, and a drizzle of Arbequina olive oil. It’s divine. They also serve an antioxidant-rich vegetable cold gazpacho Andalucia. It’s a delightful combination of minced tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, red onion, basil, Sherry vinegar and a splash of basil olive oil. There is a small scoop of Ayala goat cheese to enhance the dish. 8490 Melrose Place (310)360-9100 – melroseplace@figandolive.com

(Photo from Taste)
(Photo from Taste)

5. Taste on Melrose –

West Hollywood Executive Chef Brian Sheard’s comforting Chicken Tortilla Soup features fresh tomatoes, chipotle, jalapeños, corn, cilantro, red bell peppers, crème fraiche, and crispy tortilla strips.  During lunch they offer a soup or salad and sandwich special. Sandwiches include a Classic BLT on Ciabatta Bread, or a chicken salad sandwich with pulled Mary’s organic chicken, tarragon, dried currants, aioli, Gala apple on herb foccacia. Vegetarians like the Caprese sandwich on Ciabatta Bread for $10.75. 8454 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, Ca 90069 (323)852-6888 – http://ilovetaste.com/app/taste_melrose/

(Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Photo by Jill Weinlein)

6. Morgan’s in The Desert

When in the greater Palm Springs area, be sure to stay or visit La Quinta Resort. They offer a fine dining restaurant featuring the talented Executive chef Jimmy Schmidt offering a themed three-course prix fixe with wine pairing. The night I dined at Morgan’s, the soup of the evening was a fennel soup infused with roasted red peppers, cipolini onions and dazzled with chive oil. There was no cream in this elegant soup. A bowl was delivered to my place setting with all the roasted vegetables, my servers Sal and Erik poured the luscious liquid into the bowl. The presentation was beautiful. 49-499 Eisenhower Drive, La Quinta, Ca 92253 – (760)564-7600 http://www.morgansinthedesert.com.

(Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Photo by Jill Weinlein)

7. Bel Air Bar + Grill

Executive Chef Chris Emerling cooked in Michelin 3-star restaurants before arriving in Los Angeles. He prepares locally sourced, seasonally inspired elegant cuisine. His daily Market Soup is fresh and healthy. He also makes a chilled Gazpacho soup enhanced with dill weed and avocado dots. This is the ideal spot to meet friends or family off of the 405 freeway or after visiting The Getty Center. 662 N. Sepulveda Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90049 (310)440-5544 – http://belairbarandgrill.com




Celebrate The Holidays at La Quinta

IMG_0128.jpgA dear friend of mine comes to La Quinta with a group of twenty friends annually to stay in a historic casita clustered around one of the 41 pools.

Some play golf on the PGA West golf courses, others play tennis on one of the 23 La Quinta tennis courts.

Kids ride Razor scooters around the 45 acre grounds, while parents take turns watching them and then sneaking into the 23,000 sq. ft. luxury La Quinta Spa for a massage, facial and quiet time.

Since my family has had a home in the desert for over 20 years, I’ve never stayed at La Quinta or any of the wonderful desert properties. Last year, we finally sold the family home, and now “homeless,” we reserved two nights just before Thanksgiving to see what everyone is raving about.

IMG_0124.JPGFirst of all, La Quinta Resort is a Waldorf Astoria (Hilton Hotels) property. Walking into the historic entrance with conquistadors on each side of the door, you feel as if you have been transformed into an Old World era.

There are a multitude of 620 California hacienda-style casitas and villas with different floor plans. Some offer patios, others offer pool views and the Starlight casitas are up a flight of beautiful Mexican paver tiles to a balcony patio with a large conversational couch, table with four chairs and outdoor fireplace. One can sit out on their private patio, flip on the electric fireplace with dazzling blue glass, recline on the couch and count hundreds of stars at night. While the weather is warm, this area is inviting to sleep outside, since you have a private and locked gate at the patio entrance.

In the morning, this area is visually stunning as the sunrise bathes the Santa Rosa Mountains and verdant green palm trees.

I learned that La Quinta’s fine dining restaurant Morgan’s in The Desert is one of the top Open Table reservation destinations, just behind French Laundry.

(Sommelier Lisa Tussing at Morgan’s in The Desert) Photo by: Jill Weinlein

The Executive chef Jimmy Schmidt offers a themed three-course prix fixe with wine pairing twice a month with Morgan’s Sommelier Lisa Tussing. She is the youngest female Level 2 sommelier in AZ and one of the best in the desert. Together they created a one-of-a-kind Heirloom pear and Artisan duck menu, that I had to try.

Our servers Erik and Sal were extremely professional, friendly and informative about each dish. Sal shared with us his favorite dishes on the a la carte menu and recommended the soup of the evening – a fennel soup infused with roasted red peppers, cipolini onions and dazzled with chive oil. There was no cream in this elegant, purely vegetarian warm goodness.

IMG_0086.jpgWe started with  housemade garlic rolls with French Plugrá European-style Butter that is a slow-churned to create less moisture content and a creamier texture, before the soup and my first core of  Bosc pear and shredded crispy duck confit salad arrived. With a little Mache and frisse, Schmidt tossed the ingredients with a pear cider dressing and topped it with a flash fried duck oil egg. Visually it was interesting, taste wise- it was exquisite with the sweetness of the pear, savoriness of the egg and wonderful flavors from the duck. Schmidt cooks the duck slowly and for a long time to get this confit so tender. It was paired with a glass of 2013 Zind Humbrecht Pinot Blanc from Alsace, France that was light with a fruity essence.

(Chef Jimmy Schmidt knows how to prepare local ingredients into spectacular dishes. Photo by Jill Weinlein)

The main course was pear cider cured sliced duck breast that was pan roasted and served with an elevated vegetarian dish that looked like ravioli, yet was made purely with caramelized pears stuffed with a French soft-ripened triple cream cheese and Italian Gorgonzola. It was beyond good and should be a staple on the menu with or without the duck. The dish also had a savory grilled leek, shallot and red Bosc pear salad. The chef and sommelier paired this with a red 2013 Federalist Zinfandel wine from Lodi, Ca. Tussing felt this Zin was light and offered more to this dish than a Pinot Noir.

The Mahi-Mahi my husband selected was dusted with coriander seeds and served with a mild chopped celery root and roasted leeks with lots of microgreens. Coriander is the dry seed from cilantro. It offers a pleasantly sweet and lemon essence to the fish.

(Fresh corn cut from the cob with coconut milk and ginger – Photo by Jill Weinlein)

The two side dishes we tried included the ginger scented Indio sweet corn sliced off the cob and intensified with coconut milk and crispy ginger. The Brussels sprouts are amplified with Wagyu beef bacon. Not pork, but beef bacon from the belly of the cow. It was better than any pork bacon I have tasted. Not as fatty as pork bacon, Wagyu crisps up beautifully, yet offers a delightfully chewiness. There were also some exquisite Pearl onions complementing this side dish.

(Popcorn flavored ice cream with salted caramel Cracker Jack style popcorn on top- Photo by Jill Weinlein)

We ordered a trio of desserts. My favorite was the pear sorbet on top of the red pear galette with a pomegranate caramel. The most visually spectacular dessert was the butter popcorn ice cream parfait served in a parfait glass with salted caramel house made Cracker Jack popcorn. Our server Sal told us that at 4 p.m. the restaurant smells like a movie theater with popcorn popping. It’s heightened with bittersweet chocolate fudge and sea salted caramel.

The last dessert was too sweet for me, after enjoying the first two sweets. The twisted S’mores of chocolate offers house made fire kissed marshmallow ice cream and an almond brittle that was like an Almond Roca on steroids.

Since we were one of the last to close down the restaurant, Tussing took us into the extremely clean kitchen to give us a tour. We tasted the house-made ice cream kept in freezer drawers, walked into her wine storage closet and had the opportunity to thank the chefs.

It was an evening of fine dining that I will never forget. Outstanding service, food and culinary experience at Morgan’s in The Desert. If this peaked your interest, Morgan’s in The Desert is offering a special Thanksgiving and Holiday menu that features some of the dishes I enjoyed, plus a few extras.

Make your reservations by calling (760)564-4600 or go to Open Table.







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