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.

Taste on Ellis - San Francisco, CA - 5 Golden Spoons

What a fantastic addition to San Francisco’s food scene. Located in the newly renovated Hotel Fusion, you enter Taste on Ellis via a dramatic staircase in the hotel lobby that takes you up to the second floor where you’ll find an intimate dining room with a contemporary décor with hints of Asian flair. The hostess was charming and we were immediately greeted by several servers. The menu was extensive with a Hawaiian Hispanic influence offered up in small and large plates at reasonable prices. Honestly, I wanted to try every dish as the descriptions were exotic and inspiring so we decided to taste a few. To start, we chose the Beet and Portagee Sausage Salad. Gold and red beets on top of a frisee with goat cheese fritters and deconstructed sausage. The mix of flavors and textures was unique and flavorful. A balsamic reduction added just the right amount of tartness to the dish. Next, the Hot Stone Wagyu. What a dramatic presentation. A generous portion of uncooked Wagyu beef, cut into delicate strips next to a steaming hot river stone surrounded by shishito peppers with a miso vinaigrette on the side. Tiny tongs were provided to sear your own beef on the stone. I tried it with and without the sauce, cooked and uncooked. Each preparation was absolutely delicious. On to the Musubi Roll. I hadn’t actually heard of this before but I understand it’s trending! It’s sort of a delicate burrito with a layer of nori filled with seasoned rice, Spam, and wasabi tobiko. It’s fried and cut into wedges topped with a siracha aioli. What a surprise. Something to experience! We were already getting full but we asked our server if there was anything else we “must” try. The house Wagyu burger was suggested. I didn’t see it on the menu, but I understand you can ask for it. Seemed like an odd suggestion, but boy was it absolutely amazing. A simple plating with just the burger and traditional fries, but the juiciness of the burger and the perfection of the fries made this a memorable dish. To finish the dinner, we just had to have a little something sweet. The sous-chef took the lead on this one and prepared a nice sampler for us. Malasadas, a guava tres leches, house made peanut-butter chocolate fudge, bread pudding, and more. We were spoiled.  An overall spectacular taste of Taste. Superb service. Unique dishes. Completely new flavor profiles. Taste on Ellis certainly deserves 5 Golden Spoons!  

Pom at Fantasy Springs - Indio, CA - 4 Golden Spoons 

​Consistently good food.  A surprise for a cafe in a casino!!  Great choices on the menu from fried chicken to a wide array of salads.  The chicken enchiladas can't be beat and the portobello mushroom tower with chicken and grilled vegetables is sensational. So are the fish tacos!  Service is warm, friendly, and efficient too.  Give it a try!

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

Palm Springs, California

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