Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Michael Mina's XLV in West Hollywood

This is a Michael Mina restaurant in West Hollywood and I have to say that I was very impressed. The atmosphere was very Hollywood club feel, but felt inviting and comfortable. Everyone from management to the waiters was very friendly and helpful. I had the Lobster ravioli and it was outstanding. The pasta cooked perfectly, the lobster was very fresh and all of the flavors worked well together. I finished up with their Bourbon Glazed doughnuts. When people talk about foods that you just can’t just have one. These doughnuts are on that list. Nice light crunch on the outside and moist on the inside. The glaze took it right over the top.

4 out of 5

Jason C Ricks

The Farm at LA Live Los Angeles

My wife and I went to The Farm to grab some lunch on a Saturday. The vibe of the place made me feel that we were eating in a nice northern California restaurant. I had a great salad and wish I knew the name. Might have been the house salad. It had spring mix, brie, caramelized pears, and caramelized red onions in red wine. Came with a shallot aioli.
The Salad was fresh and all of the ingredients works great together. The creaminess of the brie and sweetness of the caramelized pears and the flavor from the red onions made it a must get salad at The Farm at LA Live. If you want something that’s light and taste great, get this salad.

4 out of 5
Jason C Ricks

Stefan’s LA Farm June 2010

Had to go to one of my favorite chefs on the TV show Top Chef. Love the feel of the restaurant and the staff is great. Stefan is moving all over the place and talking with guest and laughing it up. He really makes you feel like you’re at his house visiting. I had the following small plates.

Truffle Arancini & Lemon Aioli: Very Good and the flavor was one point.

Like a big mac: Is one of my favorites here. Might like it better than the actual Big mac.

Salted organic fingerlings: Was very boring.

Calicrufo: Was just ok. Wouldn’t order it again.

Sonoma Foie Gras: Was absolutely decadent and addicting.

Bud light tempura shrimp: Was very good and the sauce is great. Will always order this dish.

Alaskan crab and melted butter: Is as good as it gets.

Beef satay with peanut sauce: Did not make the cut.

Chicken pate: I’m not a pate guy. If you are, you'll love it. Sweet salty flavored with great toast.

Fried oyster: The oyster didn’t have much flavor, but the cole slaw was good though.

Kumamoto oyster with absinthe jello: I thought it was just ok, but very fresh.

Lentil soup and Duck: Was excellent. The soup was creamy and tasty. The duck was cook perfectly and had the entire flavor you want from your duck.

Pork chop on braised cabbage and mash potatoes: The chops and cabbage were great. Foods that will stick to your bones have you leave very happy. Have to say that was surprised that the mash potatoes were a little bland though.

King crab and prawn risotto: Could have been better if it didn’t have so much dill and pepper. It over powered the food.

Apple beignet with caramel ice cream: This was Outstanding. Will get this every time!

5 out of 5

Jason C Ricks

Spago’s Las Vegas May 2010

I was in Vegas and I wanted to try Spago’s at Caesar Palace to see if I would enjoy it as much as the one in Beverly Hills. I went for lunch and ended up sitting at the bar. I decided to have the Chicken wings lollipops and the pizza with lamb chorizo with goat cheese and cilantro.

The wings were solid. Not the best, but worth ordering. A solid traditional hot wing sauce with fresh made blue cheese. The cool factor is that they take the meat off the bone, then wrap it around the bone so all you have to do is bite a slide the meat off. The chicken was cooked perfectly with a little crunch. Overall it was a solid bar dish. Would I order it again? Maybe.
The pizza was great. The lamb chorizo was nice and spicy with plenty of flavor that played well with the creaminess of the goat cheese. I would order that again for sure. Spago’s did not disappoint. The bartender was really cool and personable.

I’ll give it a 3 ½ out of 5.

Jason C Ricks

Spago's Las Vegas in December 2010

Love Wolfgang Puck, so every time I come to Vegas I have to go to one of his restaurants. I tried the chicken salad sandwich for lunch and it was the best I ever had. The textures worked so perfectly together. You had the creamy from the mayo, the crunch from the nuts and the chew from the bread. The chicken was great and so tender. I will get this sandwich again and again. Also the service there is top notch.

4 out of 5

Jason C Ricks

RM Seafood at The Mandalay Bay Hotel

Was staying at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Vegas and had to check out Rick Moonen’s spot RM Seafood. The restaurant had a very nice décor and feel. The staff was friendly and knowledgeable. I had the following:

Shrimp dogs: Very Very good. Great flavors that actually it melts in your mouth. I would order this again and again.

Cornbread and bread in the beginning wasn't that impressive. Corn bread was bland and the bread was bland and a little doughy.

“Famous fish and chips” weren’t that hot. The batter was great, but the fish was over cooked. The fries were seasoned and cooked well. Loved the seasoning.

BBQ pork mac & cheese was good. The pork was tender and flavorful. Wasn't the biggest fan of the cheese. The cheese was more of a sauce. Would have been nice if the cheese was thicker.

3 out of 5

Jason C Ricks

RAO'S Las Vegas

Always wanted to go to the original spot in New York for years, so why not save a bunch of miles and go to the one in Vegas. They brought the décor, service and great food from NY. I started with the Heirloom Tomatoes Caprese salad and it was very good and fresh. Tried the shrimp cocktail and the shrimp were big, but have to say they were over cooked. The waiter handled it very well and took them back with no problem. They gave us a free desert for the trouble.
Up next was the penne pasta with vodka sauce. The pasta was cooked perfectly and the sauce had Italian ham and over the entire dish was decedent. Not the best, but far from the worst. Last but far from the least was the Veal Parmesan on the bone hand pounded. Hands down was the best I ever had. It was so tender and had so much flavor from the bone. I couldn’t believe that veal can taste so incredible. It’s a must have when you come here.
Over all, Rao’s was great. When you come to Vegas, you have to make this a must go to place to eat amongst all the other great restaurants. My son gave it two thumbs up also.

5 out of 5

Jason C Ricks

Pulino Pizza NYC

Saw this spot on two different shows in The Foodnetwork channel. Everything they showed looked great and the chef/owner is from my home town of San Francisco. The atmosphere was very New York Italian/ Fan rancisco Italian. I first tried the burrata & Roasted tomatoes which was good. Burrata was nice and creamy and the tomatoes were very fresh and flavorful. Tasted the Broccoli salad and it was very very good. So much flavor and the broccoli was cooked perfectly. Last but not least was the pepperoni pizza with mushroom pizza and sadly to say it was only just ok. The crust was great, but to my surprised it was really bland. I will come back to give it another shot.

3 ½ out of 5

Jason C Ricks

Providence in Los Angeles

As soon as I walked into Providence I was very impressed by the décor and energy of the restaurant. The first thing I tried was the Bacon bread and it was outstanding. How can you go wrong with bacon and bread? Then I had their version of Clam chowder. Absolutely amazing. Might be the best clam chowder I ever had. So silky and the flavor was out of this world. Next up to bat were the
Spot prawns baked in a mound of sea salt and rosemary. The prawns where cooked perfectly and not salty at all. Great dish. Finally I had their Pork belly dish. Are you kidding me? There are no words that can describe how great the flavors, tenderness of the belly and how everything work so well together. I could eat that everyday of my life.

5 out of 5

Jason C Ricks

Ottavia in Walnut Creek, CA

Very nice atmosphere, which seats 35-40-seat restaurant. The chef/owner worked with Mario Batali. I will come back.

The service was very good from the beginning to end. Their regular water had a hint of peaches, apples and oranges. I was drinking buckets of it. Then they brought over their bread, which was very fresh and baked in house. I started out with the house smokes boars prosciutto with a special with cream cheese and Berry compote. The cream cheese and berry compote was very good, but the wild boar didn't have much flavor, and a funny gamey taste to it. Then I had the special gnocchi with oxtail ragu with white truffle oil. I’ll give this dish two very good. Gnocchi cooked perfectly and the oxtail ragu very flavorful and savory. I had to try the Pan roasted duck with fig & pomegranate sauce. It was good and cooked well and had some very nice flavors working in this dish. I see this place getting better.

I’ll give it a 3 ½ out 5

Jason C Ricks

Osteria Mozza Los Angeles

Walked into this restaurant and felt like I belong here from jump. Had the mozzarella bar right in the middle and the beautiful bar to the left. We were seated and from the start, the service was spot on. They brought out moos boosh, which was toasted bread with mozzarella and an olive topidad. It was very good. Then we had a bunch of items, which we all shared.

• Soft shell crab great but a little oily

• Garlic bread was excellent and buttery

• The Burata, bacon with caramelized onions on their Italian bread was insane.

• The Spot prawns were amazing. Cooked and seasoned perfectly

• The pasta with an oxtail ragu was good, but was not great. When I hear that combination, I was wanting greatness and it turned out to just be good.

• Ricotta and egg yolk ravioli with brown butter sauce was outstanding. The sweetness from the brown butter sauce and the creaminess that comes out when you push your fork through the ravioli and the yolk comes out and mixes with the brown butter sauce. Wow. All I can say is wow.

• The Hanger steak was great and as cooked perfectly. Would I get it again? Maybe.

• The Polenta was just ok. Thought it was lacking in flavor.

• The spinach was a little bitter for my taste

• Carbonara was excellent. Everything you love for a carbonara to be, this was it.

• Quail marinated in honey sauce a good call. It was sweet and peppery and cooked perfectly. The stuffing was stuffing on point also.

• Ok, ok, ok. The doughnut with vanilla and lemon pudding was a perfect ending to great night with my wife and friends. Sweet, but not too sweet. The acid of the lemon balanced the whole dish. Will have again.

5 out of 5

Jason Ricks

Osteria Angelini Los Angeles

I’ve seen two features on the Food Network channel about their spinach lasagna. So I took my wife out to dinner and we walked in and it had a nice rustic atmosphere. I felt very comfortable and it was very inviting. Everyone has an Italian accent and they made you feel like you were eating at their house. They brought over a basket of bread, which had a nice variety. The flat bread was my favorite. Then I started with their caprese salad, which was very good. Then came to the table the famous Spinach Lasagna. Lets see if it lived to the hype…….. Oh Yes! By far the best lasagna I ever had hands down. It melted in your mouth. It tasted like Mother Mary made it. 100% amazing! I was still floating after finishing that plate of heaven. They brought over this meat of love. Roasted Pork belly with red cabbage & potatoes, Are you kidding me? This dish was beyond good. The pork belly was so tender and flavor pouring out of every bite. Cabbage and potatoes were cooked and seasoned to perfection.

This was definitely a 5 out 5 this night.

Jason C Ricks

Norma's at The Parker Meridian NYC

Was visiting New York with my wife and our Concierge suggested Norma’s for breakfast. It was a half a block up from where we were staying. It was a nice New York Mid-town atmosphere place. Service was good except when my wife’s food was cold. They took care of it right away. Now I had the duck confit hash and it was absolutely great. Everything about was spot on from the perfectly cooked duck, to the perfectly cooked potatoes. It was season great and looked amazing. I have to say that they gave me u enough to feed a small country. Will order that again, but next time I will invite a few friends and share.

4 out of 5.

Jason C Ricks

Mozza Scruola di Pizza

This place is the best. It’s a room that’s connected to the Mozza 2 Go that only do special events. They have Pizza night where they show you how to make different kinds of pizza. Then they do a themed family style dinner nights on Friday and Saturday. It’s one big table that seats 24 people and they serve 6 courses and the seating goes quick. My and my family went on a Friday and needless to say we had a crazy amount of fun and good eats. Mind you the menu changes every month.

The 1st course was cole slaw, salt fish polenta, marinated peppers

2nd course: Fried Calamari, prawns, Red Mullet

3rd course: Risotto Porcini with sea urchin, Cuttlefish and Clams

4th: Duck Ragu with Polenta

5th: Sausage, veal tongue, chicken, brisket, mash potatoes, spinach

Everything was cooked perfectly and was food at it’s best. The service and atmosphere was top notch. You felt like you were at someone’s house having dinner. The chef would come out to before each course is served to explain what the course is and give you detailed information about the region of Italy from where the course comes from. It’s a must go to place when you’re in LA.
5 out of 5.

Jason C Ricks


Modern Steak in Scottsdale,AZ

I started with the bacon bread and it was out of this world. You have to try it. I could have a mattress made of this bread and sleep like a baby. Then we all shared this huge Kobe hot dog and it was great. Tender, flavorful and had a wonderful texture. Then I finished up with the Kobe rib eye steak. Are you kidding me? The best piece of meat I ever had. Where do I start? You can eat the steak with a spoon. It was so flavorful that you want to just put a stick in it and suck on it lick a lollipop all day. It was cooked perfectly and I will have it again when I get back to Scottsdale.

4 out 5.

Jason C Ricks

II Mulino

II Munilo

You walk into this small intimate place that might seat 30 people. This place has such a welcoming feeling. The waiter are wearing tux and always waiting to serve you. Start u off with all kinds of bread, garlic bread, fried thin zucchini. I could have gone back to my hotel happy after that. Then we shared the following pastas. Flat pasta with sausage & tomato sauce was great. The flavor was spot on and I have to say that all of the homemade pasta was impeccable. Spaghetti in vodka sauce and lobster chunks was very good and the lobster was cooked perfectly. The Lagos e Fieno alla Papalina (cream, prosciutto, mushrooms and peas was hands down incredible. Everything was perfect from the presentation to the smell to the flavor. I had dreams about that dish. Over all, II Munilo has become my favorite restaurant in NY and on my top 10 over-all places to eat.

5 out of 5

Jason C Ricks

Hubert Keller's Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay

Was staying at the Mandalay bay Hotel and had to try Burger bar by Chef Hubert Keller. I looked on the menu and the Rossini burger with Kobe beef, sautéed foie gras, shaved black truffles, black truffle sauce on an onion bun called my name.
This $60 burger was great. The meat was flavorful, but I should have had it medium rare instead of medium. The foie gras was rich and creamy. The sauce was decedent and the black truffles were just a great finishing touch. The one thing I would say, that it needed something to break up the richness of the burger. Is it worth 60? Not sure, but will have it again to make that decision.

3 ½ out of 5.

Jason C Ricks