Rose Café – Venice, CA

The Rose Café has been around since 1979 and underwent a nice little facelift three years ago to bring it up to speed.  Chef Jason Neroni takes global influences from his travels and mixes them with the restaurant’s base of Southern California Cuisine.  Not only is the food impressive but the decor and space is so inviting.  With the help of local Venice artist Craig Stecyk, the walls reflect a lot of history from the neighborhood through photography as well as bright eye catching posters.

The standout of the night hands down was the Brentwood sweet corn agnolotti made Mexican street corn style with cotija, tajin and lime.  Oh. My. Goodness.  I can tell you for certain that every time I go back to this place I will be ordering this dish.  It’s perfect!  Everything was wonderful including the cocktails (try the Sea Cucumber – refreshing and not too sweet).   Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner – try it all!

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Black and Golden Figs – red walnut muhammara, sheep cheese, cucumbers, lime, Persian mint

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Grilled Spanish Octopus – sesame eggplant hummus, black beans, hatch chili vinaigrette

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Brentwood Sweet Corn Agnolotti – Mexican street corn style, cotija, tajin, lime

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Papadoom Kitchen – Paris, France

I know my experience at Papadoom Kitchen is going to be unlike anyone else’s, except for the few other tables dining with us that night.  It’s not because of the food, but rather because I happened to be in Paris when France won the semi-finals to go to The World Cup.  Not only that, but Papadoom Kitchen is situated on Rue Montmartre, the epicenter of pubs if you ask me and on Wednesday, July 11th, every pub/bar turned their big screen tv’s toward the street so everyone could enjoy a view and the locals went WILD!!! I mean lighting flares and jumping on top of buses wild.  It was a little distracting to our meal but entertaining to say the least and fun to be a part of.

Ok – now onto the food and restaurant – stunning, unique, satisfying, perfect!  I love Indian food and just don’t eat it enough.  We had a hard time narrowing down our decisions but went with our gut and LOVED every dish we ordered.

The decor was equally as impressive.  I took advantage of the fact that 99% of Parisians were in the streets watching the game and explored the restaurant myself.  Beautiful!

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Veg’ Channa Massala and Palak

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Garlic Naan

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Gambas Adarak

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Chicken Byriani

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Tandoori Ghobi

Gjelina – Venice, CA

I’ve had Gjelina’s cookbook on my kitchen bookshelf for a few years now and was so excited when I found out it’s just blocks from my girlfriend’s house who I was visiting in Venice.  We went for brunch (great way to get in there if you can’t get a dinner reservation – just show up before 10am) and while the outside patio was already full, we got in no problem in the main dining room.

We ordered an absurd amount of food for the two of us but I couldn’t help myself and had to try a lot seeing as it was my first time.  As generic as it sounds, the fruit plate is a must!  You’re not going to find sorry looking honeydew and pineapple on it, rather nectarines, pink pearl apples, plums, etc.  DE-lish!  We narrowed their huge menu down to the soft scramble with squash blossoms, ricotta and mint, the king oyster mushroom omelette with gruyere, red onion, arugula and lemon and then had to share the lemon buckwheat ricotta pancakes topped with créme fraiche and blueberry compote.  I wasn’t dubbed “The Good Eater” for no reason.  No I’m just dying to go back for dinner!

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Élephante – Santa Monica, CA

The restaurant scene is very different in LA – no surprise there – but when we showed up for brunch at Élephante we were met by a hostess stand on the sidewalk and then directed to the elevator to the roof.  I felt like I was in my 20’s showing up to a club!

The space is beautiful – think Mediterranean meets Cabo – at least that was my take.  Earthy tones and natural materials, cacti, plants, water features, fireplaces, gorgeous central bar and then the view…the restaurant is completely open on one side facing the beach and ocean.  They definitely killed it on the space!

For food we ordered the Green Eggs and Avocado Toast.  Both very good, not super filling, but great flavors and beautiful presentation.  I’d be so curious to see what this place is like at night, not to mention the dinner menu looks delicious.  Go if you can get in:)

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Green Eggs – soft scramble, zucchini, avocado, arugula, parmesan, salsa verde

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Avocado Toast – crispy chili, lemon, sung olds, herbs

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Ralph’s – Paris, France

Imagine The Ivy transplanted to Paris and then add beautiful Parisian waiters – yes please!  I was first recommended Ralph’s by an acquaintance that lived in Paris for years.  And then I read mixed reviews online, some thought it to be overrated while others couldn’t give it enough praise.  I already had a reservation for lunch and thought best to make my own opinion.  It was lovely!  Everything about it.  Set in a beautiful outdoor courtyard in the middle of the Ralph Lauren store, it’s comfortable and so relaxing.  The food did not disappoint either.  We couldn’t resist the cute little lobster rolls for a starter (a special that day) and then I couldn’t resist the lobster salad.  Stunning!

I have a hard time recommending lunch spots in Paris to friends simply because I find it fun to just stumble upon cute little bistros while out and about.  This would be an exception though if you’re looking for a nice civilized break in the day.  Reservations recommended.  Enjoy!

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Frenchie – Paris, France

What a charming restaurant!  I’ve wanted to go here for a while now and wasn’t able to last year because our party was larger than six (their limit).  Now I understand why…with just eight tables and two counter seats, there’s not a lot of room to spare.  And rightly so, it’s a beautiful dinner meant to be appreciated whereas with a larger group, sometimes the conversation and laughs take over the spotlight.

At Frenchie (the nickname Chef Gregory Marchand was coined while working for Jamie Oliver at one of his London establishments years ago), you are presented a five course seasonal tasting menu along with an amuse bouche and two desserts (eat light during the day).  From start to finish the meal was outstanding!  So many pleasant surprises and originality.  Honestly, the strawberry gazpacho that was our amuse bouche is still on my mind.  Stunning yet delicate flavors with just the right acidity.  YES!  Overall it was definitely worth the hype.  And don’t forget to make a reservation well in advance, you’ll need it!

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JuneBaby – Seattle, WA

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve most likely already heard of JuneBaby.  Even if you don’t live in Seattle, news about this special spot is making its rounds around the country – most recently in The New York Times (no big deal) as well as in the May issue of Food & Wine mentioning JuneBaby as one of their 2018 Restaurants of the Year!

Let’s just get down to business here – you have to order one of the breads to start!  We chose the Antebellum Wheat Buns with honey butter and I’m still thinking about them.  Damn they were good!  Next we went straight to main courses because…we ordered three plates for the two of us (gasp!).  Thursday’s special is Mac n’ Cheese with Benton Ham.  Whaaaaat?!?!  I can never pass up Mac n’ Cheese…it’s a serious weakness of mine.  Aside from that little number I ordered the Fried Catfish and my husband got the Chicken Fried Steak.  Nom nom nom.  Oh yes, and we got dessert too.  The sweet potato ice cream sandwich.  Delicious!

They are open Wednesday through Sunday and don’t take reservations unless you are a large party (8-12).  When we went we were told the wait was going to be 45-60 mins.  Conveniently their sister restaurant Salare is right down the street, so they suggested going there for a drink/cocktail while we waited and that they would text us when our table was available.  I kid you not, we had JUST gotten our drinks and they texted…10 mins or so…so don’t be discouraged if they say it’s going to take a while because chances are it might be a lot sooner than you think.  Something else to mention is that yes, this is Southern food at it’s best which typically is fried and on the heavy side, but I felt great after dinner and didn’t wake up tasting it.

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