Mother’s Day 2021 Gifts & Meals

Here’s some of my favorites spots in LA that are offering special meals and gifts for Mom on Mother’s Day:

  1. L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele on Mother’s Day 

Make a reservation on the garden patio at L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele for Italian specialties including carpaccio di pesce with scallops, tuna, and swordfish; eggplant parmigiana; ravioli di ricotta with cherry tomato and fresh basil sauce; or a slow cooked Jidori chicken served with mashed potato. The full menu is also available. Reservations can be made via Open Table  or by calling the restaurant directly. 1534 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood (323)366-2408.

2. Pie Hole edible flower pie holes

This Mother’s Day, instead of edible arrangements and bouquets, give mom a dozen flower pie holes to enjoy.  Available at all locations, The Pie Hole is taking Mother’s Day pre-orders for edible bouquets of pie holes. They are making strawberry and blueberry pie bites topped with whipped cream and edible wild flowers for $29.95 per dozen or $2.95 per pie hole. Pre-orders can be made for in-store pick up or delivery. For the nearest location, go to 6314 Hollywood Blvd., (323)963-5174.

3. Cafe Gratitude’s Chocolate Box

Express gratitude for mom this Mother’s Day with a plant-based chocolate box from Cafe Gratitude. Each chocolate box is crafted with vegan ingredients and contains a variety of truffles and chocolates for $16. Inside are coconut almond truffles, Brazil nut ganaches, and almond butter squares. These special boxes are available now through May 9. Go online for locations 639 N. Larchmont Blvd., (323)580-6383.

4. The Front Yard at The Garland

Celebrate mom on May 9 at The Front Yard enjoying a three-course meal on the expansive outdoor patio, paired with signature cocktails, wine or local brews. Start with a choice of beef carpaccio; sauteed shrimp or roasted tomato soup. Entree options include smoked salmon Benedict; 10 oz English cut prime rib; Chilean sea bass; lobster bolognese or fire-roasted Mary’s half chicken. Vegan and vegetarian options are available upon request. Finish with a chocolate espresso pot de creme; rum butter pound cake or peach frangipane tart. This special meal is $65 for adults and $29 for children under 12. Reservations are required via OpenTable. 4222 Vineland Ave., North Hollywood. (818)255-7290.

5. Take Mom to dine at the beach at Hotel Casa del Mar

Treat mom to a beachside brunch or dinner overlooking the ocean on May 9 at Terrazza Restaurant inside Hotel Casa del Mar. The three-course specialty prix-fixe brunch menu is served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Menu highlights include fresh oysters, crab cake eggs Benedict, heirloom tomato and burrata from Puglia, grilled local bass, and fresh tagliatelle. Desserts include a pecan and walnut chocolate brownie, coconut panna cotta, or poached pear with cactus coulis. The restaurant offers a children’s menu that  includes beef sliders, chicken fingers, and cheese pizza. This three-course brunch starts at $85 per person. A special dinner menu is $95 per person from 5 to 9 p.m. 1910 Ocean Way, Santa Monica (310)581-5533.

6. Huckleberry

Order today, May 6 before 3 p.m., a variety of fun and easy brunch kits for mom on Mother’s Day. Choose from huevos rancheros, avocado toast or country breakfast kits. There are also delicious heat and serve items, such as market veggie frittatas, roasted Yukon Gold breakfast potatoes, chocolate cherry croissant bread pudding, blueberry cornmeal cake, and a Mother’s Day cookie decorating kit. Add a mimosa kit, grapefruit spritzer kit, or coffee and tea boxes. Order online through Tock or calling from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Orders are available for pickup on Sunday, May 9 starting at 9 a.m. Due to limited availability, some items may sell out. 1014 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica (310)451-2311. 

7. Mom will enjoy Ospero at Pendry West Hollywood 

Chef Wolfgang Puck is back on the Sunset Strip at Pendry West Hollywood. His new casual luxe Ospero restaurant offers breakfast staples, a full bar, Farmers Market salads, wood burning pizzas, pastas, vegan dishes, seafood specialities and spectacular desserts. Dine overlooking the lively Sunset Strip and the Comedy Store or on the intimate outdoor terrace overlooking Pendry Residences and Los Angeles beyond. For a much-needed rejuvenating Mother’s Day gift, give mom a facial and massage from the newly-opened Spa Pendry. Reserve a 60-minute massage and facial, and mom will receive a complimentary gift. Afterwards, moms can to Bar Pendry to enjoy a special La Chamomile cocktail, specially curated for the occasion with gin, chamomile tea, fresh lime, and french herbs. 8430 Sunset Blvd., (323)918-3420.

8. Conservatory re-opens for dinner and Mother’s Day brunch

Enjoy dinner and weekend brunch outdoors with a reservations on the Conservatory website or Resy. The dinner menu includes charred maple honey nut squash; popcorn chicken; Bolognese pappardelle with Beyond Meat ragu; Cali turkey wrap; Nicoise salad; Conservatory burger; breakfast burrito; tres leches french toast, and Conservatory brunch bowl with eggs your way, bacon or lox, aged cheddar, and tater tots. Beverage Director Lisa Beaumont’s specialty cocktail menu includes rose’ sangria carafes and mimosa kits for four people, plus some refreshing mocktails. 8289 Santa Monica Blvd., (323)654-0020.

9. Roses and Rosé for Mother’s Day at STK Steakhouse 

Make Mother’s Day sparkle with specialty brunch items like lobster and eggs Benedict or cinnamon french toast. Mom’s can enjoy $9.99 rosé wine specials featuring Whispering Angel and Chandon Sparkling Rosé during both brunch and dinner on May 9. For those staying home, there is a Mother’s Day Surf, Turf and Vine basket available for take out and delivery for $129. Pre-order today two filets with grilled prawns, cheesecake and a bottle or Whispering Angel Rosé. A red or white wine alternative is also available. Reservations and pre-orders can be made at  930 Hilgard Ave., Westwood (310)659-3535.

This article was featured in the Beverly Press on May 6, 2021.

Al Fresco dining at The Front Yard

You know the saying – Three’s a charm? Over the weekend, I dined for a third time at The Front Yard restaurant attached to the Garland Hotel in North Hollywood. The first two times, we sat in a booth inside the dining room near the small, yet lively bar. This time we were seated out on the patio under twinkling strings of lights, near a cozy fireplace. I noticed a basket of rolled, plush blankets await for guests to drape for warmth when the evenings develop a slight chill.

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

The charming GM Mario-Leal Cruz Jr. welcomed us and excitedly shared a few of the new changes to the restaurant. They continue to tone down the 70s decor. There aren’t as many macrame hanging plant holders and the interior is more glamour Hollywood. They still have left elements of the 1970s-era hotel decor to honor legendary Hollywood actress, Beverly Garland. Her son, James, took over the property a few years ago and expanded The Garland into a sophisticated hotel with a new restaurant.

Executive Chef Larry Greenwood and General Manager Mario
Executive Chef Larry Greenwood and General Manager Mario

Another change is the Executive chef Chris Turano left and is now cooking in West Hollywood’s Sunset Marquis restaurant, Cavatina. Now at the helm is Executive Chef Larry Greenwood (LGO Hospitality, La Grande Orange Cafe and The Luggage Room in Pasadena and BOA Steakhouse) and chef de cuisine Jacob Smith (Bouchon Bistro Beverly Hills).

Chef Jacob Smith – Photo by Jill Weinlein

Greenwood and Smith both worked at STK Los Angeles. Greenwood noticed that on Smith’s resume and hired him to help create a more playful menu with items that include a PB & J jar. Don’t expect peanut butter, instead its a smooth chicken liver pate made with crushed hazelnuts. On top is a thick layer of Concord grape jelly. It arrives on a plate with toasted dark brown pumpernickel sliced bread and a cluster of seedless grapes. I’m not much of a chicken liver pate person, yet I loved this dish. Spreading the pate on thick pieces of bread, and topping it with the jelly and a few sliced grapes, softens the gamey taste profile.

PB & J at the Front Door - photo by Jill Weinlein
PB & J at the Front Door – photo by Jill Weinlein

Another whimsical dish is the peas and carrots gnocchi. Peas and carrots were big in the 70s, Greenwood makes this dish more elegant with a butterscotch carrot puree on the bottom and peas in their pod with  pea tendrils. The gnocchi is flash fried with carrots and a brown butter sauce to dazzle the dough with sweetness. Fried sage on top enhances the flavors. Kids will even eat their peas and carrots when prepared this way.

Elegant peas & carrots - photo by Jill Weinlein
Elegant peas & carrots – photo by Jill Weinlein

Order the dry aged prime NY steak with crumbled Moody blue cheese. Every steak should have crumbled cheese. It’s topped with bacon confit onions that are similar to onion rings, just not breaded, and arrive with a charred rim around the edges. This dish is drizzled with a grape gastrique and served with jumbo, smushed fingerling potatoes. They were a tad too salty to my liking, however the steak was outstanding.

A touch of heat in these brussle sprouts - photo by Jill Weinlein
A touch of heat in these brussels sprouts – photo by Jill Weinlein

Be sure to order the caramelized brussels sprouts spiked with a spoonful of chili sabal sauce, lime, yuzu crushed peanuts and fish sauce. It offers a pleasing amount of heat with each bite.

The quintessential dessert - photo by Jill Weinlein
The quintessential dessert – photo by Jill Weinlein

Desserts are worth every calorie, especially the large strawberry shortcake and lighter panna cotta with sliced peaches.

Be sure to sit out front at The Front Yard, a playful and inviting dining spot in the Valley.

The restaurant is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. $$ 4222 Vineland Ave. (818)255-7290.

8 of my Favorite dineLA Destinations

This is a great time to try a new restaurant in Los Angeles for lunch or dinner. Here are some of my favorites that are offering a dineLA menu:

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

1.BIRCH (Elevated Dining)- Brendan Collins newest restaurant in Hollywood  is offering guests a glass of house red or white wine. The first course is a choice of gazpacho, tomato toast or smoked summer vegetables. Second course is his fabulous pork shank, or a kabocha squash cappelini or cod Viennoise. Finish with his sticky toffee pudding cake.

Restaurant Week (July 18 – July 31) Dinner: $49 open Tuesday through Saturday 6 p.m. -11 p.m.

1634 N. Cahuenga Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028 (323) 960-3369. (CLOSED NOW)

c_fit-w_640-h_480-crm-la-bpola-_05249a4a-9285-9b64-501517cb149449422.Blue Plate Oysterette (Fresh Seafood)This fun neighborhood spot serves fresh seafood, raw bar classics and other American favorites. The first course is a butter lettuce salad; clam chowder or ceviche mixto. Next, choose an entree that includes seared ahi tacos; lobster roll; whole roasted Branzino or fish and chips. Finish with a slice of key lime pie or chocolate mousse. This dineLA Dinner is $39 per person. 8048 W. 3rd St. Los Angeles, CA 90048 (323) 656-5474. (CLOSED NOW)

IMG_07193.BOA Steakhouse LA (Celebrity Hot Spot)- I enjoy BOA for lunch, because you never know who you will see. Last time I dined next to Rob Reiner’s table. On the $25 dineLA lunch menu, the first course is a choice of salads. Next, choose between Chef Jose Melendez smoked American Kobe beef brisket sandwich; grilled chicken Pillard or Penne pasta. Finish with a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookie with a scoop of ice cream. If it’s a special occasion, they will put a sparkler on top. This menu is available Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  9200 Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90069 – (310) 278-2050.

Mediterranean Cuisine – Photo courtesy of dineLA

4. FIG & OLIVE – Melrose Place (Dine as if you are in the South of France) at the $25 lunch and $39 dinner menu until July 31. For the lunch there are four different starters from pea soup to salmon crudo. Entrees include Riviera salmon with grilled asparagus and braised fennel to lamb meatballs cooked in a Mediterranean tomato sauce. Finish with a dessert crostini or chocolate pot de creme.

The dinner is a choice of four appetizers, plus you can add a crostini tasting for an additional fee. Appetizers range from a Fig & Olive salad; truffle mousse croquette, octopus Gallega or burrata with watermelon and heirloom tomatoes. Dinner entrees include truffle risotta; chicken Tajine; Brazino or paella de Mar. Finish with a choice of two desserts. 8490 Melrose Pl. Los Angeles, CA 90069 – (310) 360-9100.

Fritzi LA - Photo by dineLA
Fritzi LA – Photo by dineLA

5. FRITZI (Best Deal)- Chef Neal Fraser’s industrial chic restaurant in DTLA’s Arts District serving a $15 dineLA lunch and $29 dinner menu. They also serve cocktails and craft beer from Arts District Brewing Company.  Monday – Sunday from noon to 4:30 choose a four course lunch that begins with one of three salad options. Next choose a Beef burger, Backyard dog or Rotisserie chicken. Add a choice of Fritzi waffle fries, French fries or tater tots and finish with a Summer Camp chocolate chip cookie or a cakewich.

Dinner includes a choice of three beers, braised short ribs or Black sea bass with two other courses. Desserts are a sticky toffee blondie or a magic bar. 814 Traction Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90013 – (213) 537-0327.

The Front Yard - Photo courtesy of dineLA.
The Front Yard – Photo courtesy of dineLA.

6. The Front Yard  at The Garland in North Hollywood (Gourmet Calif fareExecutive Chef Larry Greenwood is preparing for guests green garbanzo hummus; compressed watermelon; flatbreads; salads and gooey desserts.  His dineLA lunch is $20 for lunch (Mon-Fri 11am-2:30pm). Start with Green Garbanzo Hummus with California olive oil, flatbread; Tuna Tartare Taco with avocado and charred Serrano vinaigrette or a kale salad. Mains include a squash and burrata flatbread; Thai town shrimp salad or aground short rib burger. Finish with butterscotch pudding and spicy caramel popcorn.

For the $38 dinner the table shares chorizo deviled eggs and orders a starter of grilled octopus; compressed watermelon or caramelized Brussels sprouts. Main dishes include Alaskan halibut; flat iron steak or for vegetarians roasted King trumpet mushrooms. Finish with rhubarb marinated strawberry shortcake with Harry’s berries strawberry ice cream. Dinner (Sun-Thurs 5:30-10pm / Fri-Sat 5:30-11pm). 4222 Vineland Ave. North Hollywood, CA 91602 – (818) 255-7290.

The Pot Roast is fabulous at Jar

7.Get the Pot Roast at Jar – During Restaurant Week the prix-fixe menu is $49 per person. Guests have a choice of soup of the day or salad. The Main dishes include Suzanne Trachts familiar, yet retro Coq au Vin or signature pot roast or wild Alaskan salmon. Guests can share family style Jar fries with garlic and parsley. Finish with a choice of butterscotch pudding or ice cream sundae. Dinner is served Tuesday – Sunday from 5:30 to 9 p.m. 8225 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90048 – (323) 655-6566

8. Knuckle & Claw Special Menu at two locations.(NOW CLOSED) Both are having a special $25 lunch c_fit-w_640-h_480-crm-la-knuckle-and-claw-lobster-roll_050368d4-ea04-07a3-b6a4d03d2514c1d7that includes chips or slaw and a Maine-California lobster Roll with fresh Maine lobster, chipotle aioli, avocado, crumbled cotija cheese, or their California Salad made with fresh Maine Lobster, romaine lettuce, fresh corn, avocado, crumbled cotija cheese, chipotle honey vinaigrette. At lunch guests get a drink and new whoopie pie for dessert (11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon-Sun). Dinner guests choose between ¼ dozen freshly shucked oysters or one of their chowders. Next either the Roll or salad and a whoopie pie for $29. Dinner is from 5 to 10 p.m. Sun-Thurs. and 5 to 11 p.m. Fri-Sat. 3112 W. Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026 – (323) 407-6142 and 2715 Main St. Santa Monica, CA 90405 – (310) 399-9939. This article is available on GPSmyCity –


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 –

(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 –

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