The Royce - Pasadena, CA - 5 Golden Spoons

Although we'd heard rave reviews of this restaurant for years, this was our first dining experience at They Royce at the famous Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, California.  It did not disappoint.  In fact, it exceeded expectations on all levels.  The dining room is quite elegant in a traditional black and white motif that overlooks some of the spectacular grounds of the hotel.  The extensive menu features a variety of American and European meat and seafood dishes but is known for its selection of USDA Prime Cuts, and authentic Australian and Japanese Wagyu, prepared over a wood-fired grill with White Oak.  While most other diners appeared to be focused on the gill menu, we decided to venture outside the box a bit based upon suggestions from our outstanding waiter, Rob.  We started with the veal sweetbreads, which were seared and served with sunchokes, bacon, and a red wine reduction.  I'm a sweetbread fanatic, and this was one of the best preparations I've ever had.  What a fantastic explosion of flavors and textures.  Next, we had the seared foie gras which was served with a gorgeous balsamic sauce on the side with lovely micro-greens.  Perfection.   For our mains, we had the Wisconsin veal chop with a madeira jus accompanied by a house-made fettuccine  with veal lardons.  The veal was tender and flavorful and the fettuccine was perfectly prepared.   We also enjoyed the risotto with shaved black truffles.  This can be a difficult dish to execute, but the rice was exactly right and the portion of truffles was absolutely decadent.   Simon, our sommelier, recommended a marvelous port to be paired with the house beignets and creme brulee for dessert.  He suggested we actually open the beignets and use the creme as a filling.  How wonderful and extravagant.  It's rare to find that perfect blend of a gorgeous atmosphere, superb service, and spectacular cuisine.  Kudos to The Royce.  We will be back.   

Melvyn's - Palm Springs, CA - 5 Golden Spoons

What a transformation!  This iconic Palm Springs restaurant is located in the historic Ingleside Inn once a favorite of old-glamour Hollywood celebs including Spencer Tracy, Howard Hughes, and Norman Vincent Peale.  However, in the past ten years or so, the restaurant had really become somewhat tired and run down until the PlumpJack Group, a noted San Francisco based hospitality firm acquired the property in 2016 and undertook a major restoration of the entire facility, completed in 2017.  What’s so fantastic about the renovated Melvyn’s is that they kept the 1940’s supper club feel with dark brown walls and romantic fixtures and even kept dishes on the menu that have virtually disappeared from modern view, including Steak Diane, Veal Oscar, and Chateaubriand for Two prepared table side.  They also kept the seasoned wait staff, many of whom have been with the property for decades and understand the art of classic dinner service.  This visit, we were lucky enough to have Robert as our server who epitomizes excellent dining care; attentive, engaging, warm, and efficient.  But on to dinner, we started with the Lobster Cocktail and Wedge Salad.  The Lobster was served with a mango and citrus salad, remoulade, and cocktail sauce.  A generous portion that was absolutely bright, fresh, and delicious.  The Wedge Salad was classically dressed with chopped hard-boiled eggs, almonds, crispy bacon, and a creamy blue cheese dressing, but served atop baby gem lettuce as opposed to the traditional iceberg greens.  This may be one of the best Wedge Salads we’ve ever had.  For entrees, we chose the Seared Scallops and the Sole Piccata.  Four magnificent scallops were accompanied by a roasted red pepper puree with wild rice, green beans, and baby carrots on the side.  Spectacular dish. The sole was lightly sautéed in a delicate white wine, lemon, caper sauce that was simple but perfectly prepared.  Not a easy feat.  By dessert time, we were quite sated.  Perhaps next time.  Overall, a wonderful memorable evening.  Melvyn’s is an old yet new must-visit dining experience for locals and visitors alike.  The staff from the host to bartenders, waiters and even table bus, carry you back to a by-gone era of service and the menu is magnificent.  Can’t wait to go back.  

NOBU Caesars Palace - Las Vegas, NV - 5 Golden Spoons

​This was my third visit to NOBU at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.  It rates on my list of top ten restaurants in the world.  The ambiance is stunning, the service is exceptional, and the cuisine is phenomenal in every sense.  When we arrived, we were greeted by a lovely hostess who escorted us to a fantastic table surrounded by a wicker cocoon where we could observe passers-by in the casino but still felt intimate and private.  Our server, Amber, was quick to visit our table with menus.  When she learned we had dined there before, she suggested we consider having the chef design our dining experience and asked for budget parameters.  A very smart way to create a custom prix-fixe.  We chose to dismiss the menus without even looking and let the chef’s selections begin.  Our first course was the Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno.  It happens to be one my favorites.  Bright delicate slices of yellowtail with a light lime infused sauce topped with slashes of jalapeno.  How such a simple dish can be so wonderous is beyond me.  Gorgeous pure unpretentious presentation that burst with flavor.  Next up, Soft Shell Crab Tempura.  A generous portion of perfectly prepared crab.  Crisp, just the right amount of batter, and seasoned to bring out the natural essence and not mask the flavor of this fantastic crustacean.  Maybe the best soft-shell crab I’ve ever had.  It was about at this point that Aaron Hopwood, the Bar Manager/Sommelier, paid our table a visit to check on us.  What a nice touch.  Aaron was sincerely interested in our dining experience and it gave us a chance to give praise to the immaculate service we were receiving from Amber and the rest of the team.  It’s rare to find such exceptional, efficient and warm care.  Following the crab was the Filet Mignon with Crispy Onions.  The filet was nestled under wisps of fried onions that were so delicate they absolutely melted in your mouth.  The filet was medium rare, and thinly sliced in a light sauce.  The combination was sensational.  For our closing course, the chef chose to present a special sushi plate with various filets and rolls.  The highlight for me was it included two delicately fried Sawangani River Crabs.  These tiny fresh water crabs are about the size of a silver dollar and are eaten whole.  They are so crispy, crunchy, and flavorful.  I’ve only had them once before in my life and absolutely fell in love with these exotic crab delicacies.  What a treat.  At this point, we were completely sated.  The perfect combination of dishes and just the right portions.  An absolutely exceptional evening on all levels.  We can’t wait to visit NOBU again.

Tadich Grill - San Francisco, CA - 5 Golden Spoons

​Believed to be the third oldest restaurant in America, there's a reason that Tadich Grill has withstood the test of time. The best seafood in San Francisco, outstanding old-world service, and a vibrant historic dining atmosphere.  I believe I had my first meal at Tadich nearly 40 years ago.  And, while I moved away from San Francisco 5 years ago, I still make sure I visit every time I'm in the Bay Area.  The staff is fantastic and somehow always manages to remember me!  The menu is extensive and I have my favorites.  Best clam chowder anywhere.  Fresh shucked oysters are always terrific as are the Pacific Oysters Rockefeller.  Sand Dabs are sumptuous and, when on the menu, the Chilean Sea Bass is incredible.  Prices are amazing too.  They could charge much more.  I tell everyone that Tadich Grill is a must experience restaurant when visiting San Francisco.  It's great to see that it continues to draw crowds!

California Market at Pacific's Edge - Carmel, CA - 5 Golden Spoons

​Located in the newly renovated Hyatt Carmel Highlands, California Market at Pacific’s Edge boasts astounding views and a fantastic menu.  However, the star of this restaurant may just be the staff and service!  Our visit began at the bar where we were greeted by bartender, Reynaldo.  He poured us a couple of fantastic Tito’s Vodka Martinis with blue cheese stuffed olives.  Perfection.  Reynaldo was quick to tell us about the history of the restaurant and bar and to detail the upgrades with the new décor.  He, like many others we met on the property, has been working at the hotel for years.  You can tell he really enjoys his job and interacting with his customers.  He introduced us to the restaurant’s hostess, Diana, who was vibrant, warm, and engaging.  What a fantastic way to begin our dining experience!  She escorted us to a corner window table with a stunning view of the Big Sur coast.  Wow.  She pointed out her favorites on the menu and introduced us to our server, David who was quick to take our drink order and answer any questions.  The menu was extensive, offering a wide range of dishes with locally procured seafood and produce.  For starters, we chose the Ceviche and Octopus.  The ceviche was made with black tiger shrimp, avocado, cilantro oil, and an Ecuadorian sauce.  It was a large portion accompanied by taro and beet chips (the menu said organic tortilla chips which would have been better).  It was fresh, bright, and absolutely delicious.  A perfect complement to the Octopus appetizer which was accompanied by local heirloom baby potatoes and Kalamata olive aioli.  This dish was outstanding. Full of flavor and the consistency of foie gras!  Buttery and perfectly seasoned.  David told us the secret was a four-hour poach in olive oil before being charred on the grill.  You could tell a lot of work went into this dish. For our mains, we opted for the Scallops and the Chilean Sea Bass.  The scallops were perfectly seared and accompanied by heirloom cauliflower in a light romesco sauce.  The surprise was in the pickled mustard seed relish topping the scallops.  Something we’ve not seen before that really made the dish memorable!  The sea bass was also fantastic.  A generous filet with a roasted corn relish in a coconut cream sauce with micro tomatoes.  Wonderful.  Overall a beautiful evening with exceptional food and service.  Even the gentlemen busing our table, Daisuke, was warm and attentive.  Thanks to all.

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 jim@foodtodish.com
888-942-4274 ext. 701

Palm Springs, California

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