Within a whitewashed façade with castle-like turrets, chefs at Le Petit Chateau craft rustic dishes reminiscent of French countryside fare. Traditional sauces such as béarnaise and velouté coat seafood and steak as diners start meals with hors d'oeuvres of foie gras and escargot. Whether couples savor a glass of hand-selected wine at the bar or share a chocolate soufflé for two in a booth, Le Petit Chateau's cultivates a romantic atmosphere without the need to vaporize a box of love letters.
Le Sanglier first opened its doors more than 40 years ago, and, according to Gayot, it still stands as "a delightful remnant from an era when French cuisine was strictly for special occasions." The low-lit, lodge-like environment is home to equally rustic, yet refined French classics, which are artistically plated and delivered to gourmands during dinner hours along with pours of a traditional French beverage, wine. The chefs spend their evenings searing wild-boar chops, spooning balsamic-vinegar sauce over free-range chicken, and filling pastry shells with savory blends of sautéed mushrooms.
The Riverside Cafe's cooks draw inspiration from European and American cuisine as they create a menu of bistro-style comfort fare. In addition to baking bowls of french onion soup topped with a shell of imported gruyere, they grill beef and turkey hamburger patties and load baked potatoes with a number of familiar, yet decadent, ingredients, including sour cream and bacon. On Thursday nights, they embrace seasonal ingredients by featuring a specially prepared menu item, which have previously included wild boar and Stilton steak.
Beyond the intimately sized dining room with its "rustic, wood-beamed ceiling," as described by Gayot, the restaurant can seat guests and their canine personal assistants at the outdoor tables. White picket fences and trellises enclose the outside area, and a small awning and robin-egg-blue umbrella protect guests from the sun's harsh rays and dive-bombing pigeons.
Jason Park’s connection to culinary ingenuity began before he was even born. His grandmother, a native Korean, began experimenting with blending Japanese and Korean cooking styles after she studied in Japan. She passed on her techniques and recipes to her daughter, who did the same to a young Jason.
From a young age, Jason showed his affinity for gourmet food by dutifully watching international cooking shows and sounding a trumpet whenever he bit into a perfectly salted popcorn. During college at UCLA, he dabbled in biology and psychology before returning to his true passion for cooking. After spending the next few years honing his skills in the kitchens of restaurants in Los Angeles and Osaka, he opened the doors of his own establishment as the executive chef.
At Maru, Jason draws on his grandmother’s principles of culinary fusion as he blends the flavors and textures of French and Japanese fare. He assembles dishes that range from Mediterranean risotto to sushi rolls using an ever-changing assemblage of seasonal ingredients, which he hand-selects each week at the Santa Monica farmers' market. He also has fresh fish flown in overnight from Japan’s seafood markets.
To complement Maru's continent-spanning dishes, sommeliers assemble balanced lists of local California wines, imported French blends, and Japanese sakes.
Since 1992, California Canteen has bridged the culinary and cultural gap between Californians and Francophiles with its tasty twist on French bistro Mediterranean fare. French favorites populate the menu. Sample the nicoise salad with tuna steak ($14), beef bourguignon ($17.50), or lamb shank osso bucco ($18.25). Meanwhile, enterprising diners and triumvirates can customize comestibles in the three-course Paris Bistro Menu dinner ($20.50 4 p.m.–7 p.m., Sunday-Thursday). Alternately, the lunch menu spins a lighter, two-course remix of the prix fixe ($12.95). The Hollywood Bowl picnic dinners ($44.95–$64.95) help concertgoers combine culinary and musical enjoyment with such offerings as roasted whole rosemary chicken and smoked salmon salad. These baskets must be ordered 24 hours in advance.
Chef Nadav Bashan's carefully constructed New American cuisine has earned accolades from the Los Angeles Times and a rating of "extraordinary to perfection" from Zagat. But diners won't have to traipse to a ritzy downtown restaurant to get it. That's because the chef opted to practice his elegant art in out-of-the-way Glendale, at a self-named eatery whose 40-seat dining room is overseen by Romy, his wife. There, the couple strives to give the fine-dining experience a mom-and-pop feel: "We treat everyone that walks through our door as if they are a guest at our house," Romy says on their website.
This commitment to pleasant service lets customers keep the focus where it should be: on the food. Though they constantly rotate, Nadav's previous menus of seasonally inspired cuisine have included wild mediterranean sea bass, sword-tip squid, and other dishes that highlight what Los Angeles magazine calls his "finesse with seafood." He also draws on his experience in high-profile kitchens at The Lobster, Michael's, and Providence to gather fresh ingredients from local markets for each dish. Such continuing attention to detail helped earned Bashan Restaurant a spot on Zagat's list of LA's best New American restaurants in 2012.
The Bashans' business "really is a labor of love," as Nadav told the Glendale News-Press, and they leave no aspect of it untouched. The restaurant's decor incorporates driftwood and grass wall accents that complement the naturalness of the cuisine. At the bar, custom walnut wine racks hold bottles from Australia, Chile, and Italy next to taps that can dispense craft brews or refreshing, locally sourced breezes.
Saddle Ranch Chop House allows diners to put together a feast from a menu loaded with steaks and salads, then rock and ride with the restaurant's "rock meets Western" theme. Chow on a sizzling steak, such as the charbroiled, marble-cut rib eye ($24.99), or chomp into the pineapple teriyaki burger, served with a wasabi cream sauce ($11.99). To wash down a full order of barbecue baby back ribs ($21.99), take part in the Texas Tea Party, a stiff concoction of vodka, gin, rum, tequila, sweet-and-sour mix, and Coke. Saddle Ranch Chop House's seasoned chefs also cook breakfast and brunchy grub, such as cinnamon swirl Texas toast ($9.99) and buttermilk pancakes topped with fresh fruit ($8.99), until 3 p.m.