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Spencer’s – Palm Springs, CA

This was my first time to Spencer’s but it won’t be my last.  Nestled up again the San Jacinto Mountains, the setting is beautiful and I can only imagine what it would be like at night seeing that we were there to enjoy a late lunch.  Outside on the patio under the trees is by far the best seat in the house – it’s no wonder they won the award for Best Outside Dining:)

The menu is American with hints of Asian and Mediterranean influences.  Being a hot afternoon I chose the Baja Shrimp Salad.  It came with roasted corn, avocado, tomatoes and tortilla strips with a lemon tequila dressing…yum!  I added a squeeze of lemon and a dash of salt…DE-lish!

Uccello – Sydney, Australia

With the nice warm weather Uccello seemed like the perfect lunch spot, especially considering it’s on the top floor of the ivy overlooking the rooftop pool.  Eugenio Riva’s restaurant reminds me of mid-century Palm Springs (there are a number of Jonathan Adler pieces accessorizing the space) mixed with rustic Italian.  I loved how open and airy it felt and how relaxing it was.  I couldn’t help but notice all the other diners there in suits.  Talk about a great business lunch spot:)

The food was vibrant in color and taste and everything was so seasonal and fresh.  My snapper was perfect for lunch – light, perfectly pan fried and seasoned and the accompaniments paired with it weren’t fussy or overwhelming, simply great texture and taste to go along with the star of the plate.

I highly recommend this place for lunch or dinner.  I’ve heard that the pool bar can get quite busy at night along with the restaurant so unless you’re planning on a big night out lunch might be the better option.

San Daniele prosciutto, heirloom tomatoes, figs, marinated Spanish onion salad

Roasted Spatchcock, corn and basil risotto, marsala reduction

Roasted snapper fillet, giardiniera and octopus salad, salsa verde

Broccolini, cherry tomatoes, chili, garlic, parsley

Le Vin sur la Table – Otari, Japan

We found this charming little restaurant from the staff at our lodge in Hakuba.  The chef had spent a couple of years working in the south of France before opening his own restaurant in his hometown of Otari, about 30 minutes from Hakuba.  It’s not very convenient unless you happen to be in the Cortina area.  If you ski there I highly recommend making the 15 minute drive to this spot for an impressive meal.  My dish, the trout, was $16.25…a steal considering the quality of the food and overall experience, not to mention it included soup and dessert.  This was such a special lunch.  I totally recommend this place to anyone in the area.

Pumpkin Soup

Roasted Trout

Pork Minced Meat

Wild Boar Stew

Dessert – panna cotta with espresso caramel, fresh seasonal fruit and persimmon ice cream

Our chef and his wife

Maeda – Hakuba, Japan

Every year we go back to Hakuba my husband and I make this restaurant a must for lunch.  It usually happens on our first day in town because we’ve been thinking about it for a year and just can’t wait any longer.

The tonkatsu is to die for.  The breaded pork cutlet is so tender and with the egg on top and the perfect rice underneath, this dish disappears fast!  Another favorite is the tempura udon and most recently for me the tempura soba…same dish just with buckwheat soba noodles instead of the udon noodles.

I’m not sure what this was but it was so tasty.  Some sort of pickled or fermented vegetable.  That’s a vague description but I really have no inkling as to what it was.  Most likely a veggie we don’t have in the states.

This was some of the BEST Kimchi I’ve ever had!  I could have eaten this whole plate by myself.  Next time:)

My tempura soba…DE-lish!  I couldn’t eat even half the noodles but I loved everything about this.  You could tell the noodles were made fresh…they were incredible!  I’m probably going to be dreaming about this until the next time we get back here.

My husband’s tempura udon…you can’t go wrong with this one!

Mmmm…the tonkatsu…this is unbelievable – that is assuming you eat pork.  I’m afraid to try this dish in the states assuming it might not live up to my expectations.  I don’t want to ruin it.

The Blvd – Beverly Hills, CA

There’s no better place in Beverly Hills to eat well and have the best people watching right in front of you.  Located in the timeless Beverly Wilshire at the tail end of Rodeo Drive, The Blvd comes with a high price tag but it’s THE quintessential Beverly Hills experience.

Almost every time I’m there I get the Seafood Salad.  It’s changed over the years but is never disappointing to me and comes with the highest quality of seafood one would expect for a $33 salad.  My husband started with the Lobster Salad which was divine.  I especially loved the green apple.  It added such a lovely acidity and made the dish perfectly balanced.  For his entrée he got the Veal Schnitzel…whoa…I had a tinge of order envy but luckily he was nice enough to give me a couple of bites.  The veal was pounded thin and cooked to perfection.  So tender and full of flavor…this was definitely a success.  My only advice is to add a good squeeze of lemon juice on top.  It brightens the dish and makes it not as heavy tasting.

Just to name a few, Bob Green, Mariel Hemingway and André Leon Talley were all dining there the last time I was there for lunch.  Does it get much better than that?!  Go!

Great selection of breads

Maine Lobster Salad – green apple, avocado, jicima, lemon oil vinaigrette

Seafood Salad – pickled butternut squash, octopus, prawns, lobster, scallops, white port and hazelnut oil

Veal Schnitzel – fingerling potato salad, red radishes, lemon butter

Boat Street Cafe – Seattle, WA

Another Renee Erickson favorite of mine, Boat Street Cafe is one of my go to places for lunch.  They also offer brunch and dinner (on most days/nights).  The ingredients are such great quality and the food isn’t fussy which is so refreshing sometimes.

One of my favorite lunch items is the chicken sandwich with fresh basil and lemon pepper mayonnaise.  I’ve attempted to recreate it at home and have to say, I’m not that far off.  But the original is always better:)  Their baguettes are from Columbia City Bakery and are some of the best in the city!

Magali Tomato SoupPotato and Salmon Cakes with Remoulade, Fresh Beets, Salad and Baguette…another favorite of mine!

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.

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