Eiffel Tower

Frozen soufflé

Ocean seafood salad

Cream of onion soup




**** (4 stars)

I was expecting this place to be very touristy, so I’m shocked to come away feeling it is one of my favorite restaurants in Vegas. In fact, I enjoyed it more that Jules Verne in the real Eiffel Tower!

The room is beautiful, and the view of the Strip and the Bellagio fountain can’t be beat. The atmosphere is sophisticated without being stuck up.

The lunch menu offers a nice assortment of French-inspired cuisine focusing on the lighter side. I loved the torchon appetizer and my Ocean Seafood Salad (btw, what other kind of seafood is there?)

The frozen souffle was an interesting dessert. Try ordering a glass of Amaro and pouring into the ice cream at the bottom–delicious!

The wine list is decent, and the prices normal for the Strip.

This is one of the few Vegas restaurants I think is worth a return visit, because it is about more than just the novelty of the experience.

Eiffel Tower
3655 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV
(702) 948-6937

The Stubborn Mule

Tuscan flat bread special

Tuna bowl

pastrami sandwich


**** (4 stars)

This was an odd meal, parts of it fine, others pretty much off the rails. It’s hard to judge how much of the experience was colored by a fairly dreadful server, but there were some issues in the kitchen, too.

First the good:

There is a nice outdoor seating area.

The menu is interesting.

The day’s special Tuscan flatbread was delicious, with a perfectly crisped naan crust and a lovely combination of toppings.

The rosemary fries were very good.

Now the not so good:

I would have been better disposed toward the experience if not for the server. We started with the wrong wine, and ended with the wrong entree.

I ordered the smashed salmon sandwich, but I got a pressed pastrami. I like pastrami okay, but this was fairly fatty, and there was an unappealing bitter spread.

Our server offered to correct the mistake, but at this point we were two hours into lunch, and it seemed futile. And that was also two hours without a water refill, so we were getting parched.

The tuna bowl had good tuna and avocado, but I suspect that consumption of the dressing (thankfully served on the side) would have made us sick, as it was pretty clearly spoiled.

I suppose if you’re looking for a burger that might be a good choice. Maybe you’ll have better luck than we did.

The Stubborn Mule
100 S Eola Dr
Orlando, FL

Le Grill de Joël Robuchon





Cheese soufflé


Ice cream and sorbet assortment

***** (5 stars)

l’Atelier is one of my favorite restaurants around the world, so I always try to visit when I’m in a city that has one. However on this Monday night only Le Grill was open, so we decided to try it, and we were glad we did.

Le Grill offers a relaxed environment, a reasonably priced and very interesting menu, and an excellent wine list. Service is as perfect as at all of Joel Robuchon’s restaurants, professional, yet never stuffy. It’s wonderful to have such an excellent meal experience without it having to be a production number.

Le Grill de Joël Robuchon
85 10th Ave
New York, NY 10011
(212) 488-8885

The Little Door




Sesame Seared Day Boat Scallops, Preserved Lemon Sauce

Chermoula Marinated Grilled Octopus, Preserved Lemon Sauce

Spicy Ahi Tuna Tartare and Shaved Fennel Salad

Patio at night

***** (5 stars)

The extraordinarily romantic ambiance of The Little Door makes it almost a magical dining experience. Divided into many intimate spaces, it feels like you’re dining in a patio, or a forest, or a cottage, depending upon where you sit.

Tuna tartare was a nice starter, but the grilled octopus was even better, extremely tender and flavorful.

The mussels appetizer which my companion had as an entree was huge; she could only eat half!

My grilled scallops were perfectly cooked and accompanied by carrots seasoned with interesting Morrocan spices.

The extensive wine list is extremely reasonably priced.

Service was professional, attentive, and friendly.

The Little Door
8164 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 951-1210

Toca Madera

Back room

Enchiladas De Mole

Carne asada hot rock


**** (4 stars)

This is a very vibrant restaurant with a club-like atmosphere in the front room. It’s loud by design, and louder because of the central bar. HOWEVER… there is a back room (and an upstairs room) where you can find a reasonable noise level and enjoy some very interesting food.

The free chips and salsa were good, and the plantain chips were particularly good, not overwhelmingly tough or banana-y. I’ve had a lot of guacamole in my life, but this was the best I’ve encountered–creamy, and topped with pomegranate seeds and interesting herbs.

The carne asada hot rock preparation was okay, but nothing spectacular; the soft tortillas were a bit more like roti.

The clear standout of the meal was the enchiladas de mole. WOW! This is by far the best mole I have ever tasted. They claim they use 42 ingredients and cook it for 24 hours, and the complexity shows it is worth it!

Service was very attentive. It’s worth noting that server’s costumes may be setting a new record for short hemlines.

Yes, many of the patrons are narcissistic, dressed to the nines selfie-takers making duck faces into their smartphones. But there are also plenty of well-adjusted people enjoying some creative cuisine. My advice is to go early, before it gets too full of itself.

Toca Madera
8450 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 852-9400


Shishito peppers


Buffalo chicken wanton

**** (4 stars)

Chroma combines a nice assortment of small plates with an interesting and varied wine list. The place is divided into several spaces, and it’s quieter in the rooms away from the central bar. There’s also outside dining. You might not think an outside dining area under an airport’s approach is a good idea, but somehow it works, particularly on a nice balmy evening.

It’s one of those places where things come out from the kitchen whenever they’re ready, which can lead to pacing problems, so I suggest going when you’re not in a hurry, and not ordering everything at once.

6967 Lake Nona Blvd
Orlando, FL 32827
(407) 955-4340

STK Orlando


Dining room

Pull apart bread

Small seafood platter

Truffle fries

Mini burgers

Crispy rock shrimp

Carmelito Bar

*** (3 stars)

If you’re looking for a steakhouse experience in Disney Springs, this is it. It’s not going to change your life, but it is fine.

You’ll find all the usual offerings, and not much outside the box.

We started with the seafood tower, which is expensive (well, everything is expensive) but included a generous portion of fresh, giant shrimp, the best thing we had. The most interesting component was the two jars, one of smoked mussels and the other ceviche, although I wasn’t wild about the marinade on either.

Complimentary “pull apart sourdough” is included, but you’ll find that it is more like Parkerhouse rolls with blue cheese butter on top.

We skipped the steak and tried a couple of other appetizers. My companion liked the mini burgers, but I couldn’t really deal with the uncooked center of the patty. Truffle fries were good, and a serving for four to six people. Crispy rock shrimp was essentially the same dish as the bang bang shrimp at Bonefish. It was fine, but I’d actually ordered the crispy rock shrimp salad (repeating the word salad twice to our waiter, who wasn’t very good at listening).

Our waiter was good at talking, though. He was one of those people who have to tell you everything they’re going to do: “I’m going to bring you fresh silverware”, “I’ll go get your bread” and even “I’m moving the candle to make room for your next course.” I wish he’d spent some time on refilling water glasses or pouring more wine, two things that didn’t seem to be on his list.

Speaking of wine, it’s expensive, especially by the glass. You’re looking at $16-$28 per glass. We opted for an $82 bottle of Chardonnay instead. If you can deal with the pricing, the selections are excellent.

The carmelito bar was an excellent dessert, with several layers of different flavors and an excellent caramel sauce.

I’m not sure Orlando needed another steakhouse rather than a truly interesting fine dining restaurant, but that seems to be the trend, and I guess Disney Springs didn’t have one. Now it does.

STK Orlando
1580 E Buena Vista Dr
Orlando, FL 32821
(407) 917-7440










**** (4 stars)

If you’re looking for a romantic outdoor dining experience in Beverly Hills, this is the spot. It overlooks the park, is away from the street, and it’s dimmly lit. It’s really the perfect spot for a quiet and intimate dinner.

That the food never quite lives up to its ambitious aspirations is really beside the point. It’s nicely presented and pretty good, if not exactly superb. But given its location, and the excellent service, it is reasonably priced.

The wine list, which has to be requested, is extensive and interesting, with many big names but also lots of obscure gems. There are no deals on the list, but you’ll find some very intriguing selections.

In short, this is a great place to come with someone when you want the focus to be on your time together. A lovely experience.

225 N Canon Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 860-7970

Jean-Georges Beverly Hills

Baked apple


Black cod with green curry


Tuna tartare



***** (5 stars)

Whenever we visit New York, our first stop is always at Jean Georges for lunch, probably the best deal in town. So we were interested to check out this new Beverly Hills location. The restaurants turned out to be fairly different, even though they look a bit similar.

Unlike in New York, the Beverly Hills restaurant isn’t divided into casual and formal areas. Instead, the entire space is used for hotel dining at breakfast and lunch, and then becomes a bit more elegant at dinner with the simple addition of white tablecloths. The dinner menu also offers dining suitable for a hotel restaurant, with pizzas and french fries.

But for those looking for the full Jean George experience, there is thankfully also a multi-course tasting menu. At a very reasonable $145, this is an even better deal than the New York offering.

There is a notable difference between this tasting menu and the New York version, with more California influence, and less in the way of sauces, allowing the fresh seasonal ingredients to show through. That’s not to say the dishes have simple flavors; the Ahi tuna tartare was the best I’ve ever tasted, with layers of flavor that evolved on your palate with each bite. Heirloom beets were also wonderful, with surprisingly potent celery and cilantro flavors.

We selected the wine pairing to accompany the tasting menu. At $115, it was also a great value, and one of the best groups of pairing wines I’ve had. A couple of the wines I’d normally shun, such as Gruner Veltliner and Riesling were real standouts, and perfectly matched their courses.

Service was flawless, down to the last detail. When our waiter heard my wife admiring the french fries that went to another table he added them to our meat course in the tasting menu at no charge (and they were really good!)

My only quibble relates to a couple of cutlery issues–that’s an indication of how perfect the meal was. Black cod was served in a bowl with crispy greens that couldn’t possibly have been cut with the dull fish knife. And the baked apple dessert was served with only a fork, making cutting the apple and scooping the melting honey ice cream a bit of a challenge. Life is hard.

Sommelier Michael Scribner did a wonderful job with the wine pairings, and had interesting comments about each selection. The wine list is also excellent, with some reasonably priced offerings and some pricey gems.

In short, Jean George Beverly Hills will become as regular a stop for us as the New York version, even while the restaurants are each doing their own thing.

Jean-Georges Beverly Hills
9850 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 860-6566

Boca Kitchen Bar Market



**** (4 stars)

I used to think this space was cursed, because of the long succession of unsuccessful restaurants that occupied it. But it turns out it wasn’t the space, it was the restaurants that were the problem. Boca is packed every day, and with good reason.

The food and service are both top notch. We had the day’s lunch special, a blackened amberjack sandwich. The amberjack was a thick piece, perfectly cooked. The accompanying mango slaw was a bit sweet for my taste, but with just a little on the sandwich it was perfect.

Rather than fries we asked for the mixed vegetables which had been sauteed and had a delightful smokey flavor.

Boca is one of the best bets for lunch on Park Avenue.

Boca Kitchen Bar Market
358 North Park Ave
Winter Park, FL 32789
(407) 636-7022