Not too long ago I got a Daily Candy SF (I still subscribe to be “in the know” of all things San Francisco) advertising a new website/company called Kitchit that acts as a search engine for chefs in the Bay Area that are for hire for private events. They also cater to Los Angeles and New York…hopefully Seattle in the near future:) Whether it’s a casual dinner or formal affair, there are chefs and budgets to fit any situation. The website makes it easy to check out each chefs profile and what they’re capable of not to mention you can read reviews from others that have used them. Pretty easy!
My good friend Jen hired Chef Anne Olsen for her fiancé’s surprise 40th birthday party and the whole night was amazing!!! She started us with a gorgeous farmers market crudité platter and then followed it up with an unbelievable first course of burrata with favas, English peas and speck. Next was oven roasted Halibut with Meyer lemon gremolata, pan fried baby potatoes, spring herbs and créme fraiche. For dessert…baked Alaska!!! All in all it was an outstanding night start to finish and I would recommend Chef Olsen and Kitchit to anyone!
Madeo – West Hollywood, CA
This was my first time dining at the popular Northern Italian restaurant Madeo and I can tell you that it won’t be my last. It was one of the best Italian meals I’ve had. I normally opt for fish dishes (and I still did this time) however I always rely on my husband for a bite of pasta. He chose wisely and went with the classic Spaghetti alla Bolognese made with a veal meat sauce and honestly…it was probably the best we had both had. Simple and far from fussy, the tender meat and perfectly cooked pasta intensified with every bite. It was sad when it was gone. My sister-in-law went for the special Veal Meatballs which I think we all assumed would be coming with pasta however it didn’t BUT, these meatballs were melt in your mouth good. Perfect from start to finish. They were delicate and soft not over mixed, hard or dry. They (aside from my Cafe Lago meatballs) are the best meatballs I’ve ever tasted. Next time I go if these are on the menu I’m getting them! Another dish in the mix on our table was the Osso Bucco which was also to die for. The veal shank was cooked the way it was supposed to be with the meat falling off the bone. Absolutely delicious. I guess what I’m getting at is that you can’t really go wrong at this restaurant, or at least that’s what my first impression has led me to believe. The ambiance won’t blow you away but there’s something nostalgic about it and you’re bound to find some famous faces in there which is always fun:)
Carciofi e Parmigiano – baby raw artichokes and Parmigiano cheese and rucola *SO good! A light dish that got eaten quickly…everything about it was well balanced and seasoned perfectly.
Prosciutto e Melone – Parma ham and melon *Classic Italian dish…how can you go wrong?
Fagioli e Aragosta – Italian Cannellini beans with diced lobster and Rucola salad in a lemon dressing *This was such a beautiful flavorful starter. Plenty to share but honestly something I could eat everyday. DE-lish!
Calamari Affogati – sautéed squid in tomato sauce *Some of the best calamari I’ve ever had! you need a spoon to get some sauce with every bite:)
Branzino di Mare al Carciofi – filet of wild sea bass baked with white wine and artichokes *On the special menu…VERY good!
Vitella Arrosto – sliced roasted leg of veg from the cart *We didn’t order this but as we were paying our bill…STUFFED…we all salivated while the chef started carving this beautiful meat and then carefully coated each delicate piece with some au jus. Thankfully our waiter saw our oh-so-descreet drooling and had the chef make us a plate. I can’t describe how flavorful this was. It was on the special menu but seriously if you go and it’s on there and you have enough people to share with…GET IT!!!
The Ivy – Los Angeles, CA
While on a recent trip down to LA we stopped in for lunch at the well known celeb spotting restaurant on Robertson – The Ivy. The food never disappoints here and the people watching is worth the high price tag. A reservation is highly recommended and a must if you want an outside table.
I chose the Butter Lettuce Salad which was topped with fresh papaya, avocado, cherry tomatoes and grilled shrimp…YUM! I would definitely order this again and it was nice and satisfying but not too heavy on a warm day. My husband indulged in the Enchiladas which were delicious! Honestly, enchiladas are probably the last thing I would have expected on the menu but we weren’t the only ones ordering them because the people next to us did too and they were incredible. So flavorful! Another dish I would order again and highly recommend.
Spago – Beverly Hills, CA
Whenever we get the chance to pop down to Beverly Hills, Spago is a must! The tuna cones (not on the menu) are such a highlight. In fact, I find when I’m home in Seattle that I day dream about them. They’re amazing so if you get the chance to eat there get at least one! It’s easy to fill up on them and spoil your dinner but boy are they worth it. Just beware…they’re not cheap:)
There are so many favorites on the Spago menu but because it’s seasonal things change which makes it even harder to decide. This time around I started with the Hand-Made Autumn Pumpkin and Mascarpone Agnolotti with Sage, Pine Nuts and Parmesan…wow! Savory and rich…I could have eaten a LOT of these. For my entree I went with the Steamed Wild Grouper “Hong Kong” Style which was nice and light but full of so much flavor. Perfect considering I started with a heavier 1st course. My husband indulged in the Snake River Farms American Wagyu New York which was served with Pioppini Mushrooms, Baked Bone Marrow, Smokey Shallot Purée and Red Wine Bordelaise Sauce…another wow! But being a Wagyu steak, that was a rich and filling dish.
However, just like when we were kids, our “dessert compartment” in our stomachs was empty so we chose to go with the Caramilk Chocolate Bar which was delicious. I normally vote for the signature Kaiserschmarrn but this was a nice change.