La Bourgogne

Alvear Palace Hotel, Ayacucho 2023, C1112AAK CABA, Argentina • +54 11 4805-3857 • www.alvearpalace.com

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The Alvear hotel is an icon of Argentina, located at the end of one of the ritziest streets in the city, overlooking the cemetery where Evita is buried (I guess the truth is she did eventually leave them). Which is nowhere near as macabre as that sounds. In fact, they somehow mange to turn it into a selling point.

It’s like what The Drake is to Chicago or The Waldorf Astoria is to New York. Historic, grand and stupendous. So, it would only make sense that the restaurant within need live up to the reputation surrounding it. And live it did, with a veritable feast of greatness ranging across three appetizers, two entrees and three desserts. Oh, but this was not a tasting menu. This is actually how much we ordered to split just between two people. Not to mention two bottles of wine and a finale consisting of two glasses of their finest, most expensive 70-year-old port. It was truly a meal for the ages.

But surprisingly, the most remarkable thing about this meal was not the food, albeit excellent. It was the price in US dollars. Are you sitting down? Fifty. No, not fifty thousand. Fifty dollars a head. And this is with seared foie gras, filet mignon and the works. I mean, holy favorable exchange rates Batman! Ya know, I hate to use a cliché here, but at prices like these, you really can’t afford not to eat here. So book your ticket and your reservation at the same time and bon appe-gluttony!

5 teeth

Tocqueville

1 E 15th St. New York, NY 10003(212) 647-1515 • tocquevillerestaurant.com

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I haven’t been here in a while. Not since they were located where 15 East now resides, which is more of an indictment of myself, if anything, because I am a HUGE fan of this place. Just absolute perfection on every plate. So why haven’t I rushed back? I’m not really sure. Maybe chalk it up to the fact that I’m getting older and more forgetful. Or perhaps it’s that I’m like a kitten and thus easily distracted by new, shiny objects. My failings aside, there are very few, if any, at Toqueville, which was firing on all cylinders from my sashimi appetizer to the epic miso glazed kobe steak with wasabi mashed potatoes. Just simply phenomenal and a gnat’s eyelash away from being an Ultimate. Even the service was great.

In fact, the only exception to the awesome would be the decor. It’s a bit on the barren side. However, the more casual dining room at the entrance which was the non-reservation area was much more charming with its tile work, etc… Odd decision, in hindsight, but who cares- first, because the food is so damn good they could serve it in a black void and I’d still lap it up. And second, because they have since moved making the point relatively moo, as Joey from Friends once said.

5 teeth

Le Fumoir

Serdar-ı Ekrem Cd. Galata, Istanbul, TK • (0212) 244 2423 • http://www.georges.com/french-restaurant-istanbul-le-fumoir/
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Located on the roof of the very hip George Hotel in the Galata district of Istanbul, this place enjoys a very impressive view of Sultanahmet (an incredibly scenic and historic peninsula in Istanbul loaded with wonderful sights to see like The Blue Mosque, Aya Sophia, Topkapi Palace and The Grand Bazaar). But far more impressive than all of that is Le Fumoir’s Bloody Mary.

Really? In Turkey? Bloody yes! Up there with as good as I’ve ever had. First, they make it with fresh made tomato juice, no canned shit. Then they add roasted red peppers and if you tell them you like it “aci” (spicy), they will deliver in spades. But the heat alone isn’t what makes this cocktail shine, it’s the quality of the ingredients. So simple, yet so fresh, which even makes all the difference when it comes to hooch.

On the other side of the table, wifey enjoyed a gin-based variation on a mojito, made extra refreshing with the addition of cucumber. While also good, it was no Bloody Mary. Both, however were good enough that we felt very conflicted about leaving to go to our dinner reservation elsewhere. I mean, if they can do this with booze, I have to believe the food is something to behold. Note to self for my next visit to Istanbul.

So please read the knife count with an elephant-sized asterisk, because I am only judging it based on setting and drinks. If you eat here and hate it, I am absolving myself of all legal ramifications.

4 teeth

Le Moulin de Mougins

1028 ave Notre-Dame de Vie 06250 Mougins, France • 04.93.75.78.24 • moulin-mougins.com

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Moulin just might be the easiest three Michelin Star restaurant to get a reservation at in the world. We’re talking 24 hours notice on a Friday night kinda easy. Suspiciously easy. Like as in “is this place really as good as they say?” cause if it were, shouldn’t it be harder to get a table? Or is it simply the fact that Cannes goers don’t even have it on their radar? Thinking it’s too far or too expensive, neither of which are true.

Inside the décor is lovely with exposed parts of an antique mill poking through the walls here and there. However, the garden is truly the place to be, set on multiple levels with beautiful flowers triangulating every table. My one gripe would be on the lighting system, a lamp at the table’s center with the cord cutting across the top, dangling over one side. Can’t a brother get a candle up in this bitch? Or drill a hole in the center of the table and run the cord through? Or what about cordless lighting? Or overhead? I know I seem really distracted right now by something so seemingly trivial, but drawing even more attention to this problem was the fact that the lamp was attracting a horde of flies, which doesn’t exactly make for the most aesthetically pleasing centerpiece in the world. But dropping the subject since I can tell you’re annoyed, let’s get on with the review…

At the onset, things definitely started off cold, both figuratively and literally. The cold soup amuse bouche was so unimpressive I didn’t even bother to finish it, which had me nervous for a spell, but then a second amuse bouche hit the table and this one was very good. A spinach, bacon and cheese dip that when combine with their fresh baked fig bread was like a ballet of savory and sweet.

After that the hits were fast and furious with all three appetizers killing it! The seared foie gras with cherry compote and marinated slivers of cherry was excellent. As was the spider fish stuffed zucchini blossom and the asparagus risotto.

The two entrees I tried both rocked it as well. The duck, while served in an inventive, tubular presentation, was regrettably a touch on the dry side, but because it came with the dreamiest Ultimate mashed sweet potatoes, whipped into silk, this sidekick swooped in like Robin to its Batman, handily saving the day (and the dish).

Opposite the duck, the other main course was a moist, citrusy sea bass packed with favor and a touch of sweetness, also made special by it’s companion, an earthy black rice, that when placed together on the same fork was like a happy marriage between land and sea. Which, in a lesser-known ruling that the Supreme Court also legalized last week along with same-sex marriage.

Sadly desserts had the weakest showing of the night (other than the cold soup). The lemon tart was flat out terrible. The macaroon was okay and the chocolate, espresso tart was an imperceptible notch above the macaroon.

But all in all, one of the best means to be had in Cannesland. It’ll make you happier than winning a Grand Prix. Well, almost.

4 teeth

Tasting Kitchen

1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd. Venice, CA 90291(310) 392-6644thetastingkitchen.com

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One of my favorites in LA. Great décor. Great food. Great drinks. Great service. Which is a lot of greats. And why Tasting Kitchen is a home run no matter what you’re looking for. Dinner or drinks with a friend, a fun date night, it’s nice enough to take a client for dinner and it’s even casual enough to take your kids, mostly because the staff keeps it down to earth, unlike that blowhard next door, AKA G. Jelina. Speaking of which, since Tasting Kitchen is also right on Abbot Kinney, it makes a wonderful plan B should you not be able to get a table G. Jelina, which is probably all for the best since I like Tasting Kitchen better anyway.

Just about everything I’ve ever had there falls somewhere between good and awesome sauce. From the wonderfully fresh oysters to the simple, but brilliant pastas to a killer steak. everything walked that perfect line between inventive and effortless. And while I am tempted to call them a jack of all trades, it would actually be a bit of a slight, because they are better than that. So I’m going with a queen of all trades. Sorry, I can’t go king, but that would be an over promise, after all, there were no Ultimates. But perhaps that’s just a matter of time, because I can’t wait to go back.

4 teeth

Chateau de la Chevre D’or

6 Rue du Barri, 06260 Eze, France • +33 4 92 10 66 66 • chevredor.com
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This is easily amongst my top five restaurants of all time. The setting is incomparable. The food is wonderful. And the experience is unforgettable, unlike anything before it, or since.

It starts with a winding drive up the side of a mountain, overlooking the crystal blue Mediterranean Sea. And with each and every switchback, you rise higher and higher until you ultimately arrive upon the idyllic medieval castle town of Eze, perched at the summit.

Taking up a sizable portion of this castle is a hotel and restaurant by the name of La Chevre D’or (The Golden Goat), and while a goat might not sound like the most luxurious of beasts to enshrine in 24 karat bling, you’ll feel like you were dipped in gold the moment you enter, that’s how special the setting makes you feel. Like royalty, you sit atop an expansive terrace taking in the sun and view almost as if it they were the realm over which you rule.

Yet, with such posh stature, they manage to show vital restraint, because while the service could easily be snooty, that would only serve to break the illusion. After all, what servant would ever turn their nose up at a king or queen? Thus the waiters are impeccable.

And speaking of flawless, the meal is like something out of a storybook. I’m not really sure what that even means now that I’ve just written it, but let’s just assume it means really, really good. For example a lobster tail served over a bed of turquoise salt. Turbot presented almost like the sails of a ship. And every bite as magical as if Merlin himself were in the kitchen.

If you are ever within a 90 minute drive of here, be sure to make a reservation. It’s worth every last kilometer. And if you can’t get a table, at least stop by for tea or cocktail. You get the same gorgeous view and impeccable service, along with some of the best snacks your mouth could ever dream of.

5 teeth

Juvia

1111 Lincoln Rd. Miami Beach, FL 33139 •  (305) 763-8272juviamiami.com

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The setting is an absolute showstopper (pictured). Clean modern lines and glass. Half outdoor, half in. Feels like something Mies Van Der Rohe might design. But here’s the kicker, it’s located on the top floor of a parking garage. To be fair though, it’s the most architecturally stunning parking garage I think I’ve ever laid eyeballs on.

And don’t be fooled by its Lincoln address. I know most of the restaurants on that strip are touristy bile, but Juvia is truly fine dining at its finest, right down to the high-end crowd. Juvia isn’t just a looker though, this beauty has substance, easily living up to the price tag with surprisingly deft, unpretentious service and equally skilled, inventively crafted plates.

Being in a cocktail mood, we both opted for the Juvia lemonade, which was equal parts refreshing and inebriating. Our mood also seemed to be trained on small plates, so we tried quite a few starters, but no entrees.

First up was the only miss for me of the night, the salmon sashimi. Served a touch too cold and thus a touch too chewy. Should’ve been room temp and should’ve been much better than it was.

But wow was the make up sex good. The chocolate unagi was just as unique as it was delicious. And the local buratta was drop dead gorgeous. Quite yummy to boot, albeit a touch lacking in the salt department, but you can always add that yourself.

The short rib gyoza on the other hand, was lacking nothing. Wowza! This Ultimate is so good I almost want to eat the part of my brain that’s thinking about it right now.

For dessert, you’re bound to be swayed by the chocolate candy bars floating to the tables surrounding you, and sure it’s crazy rich, but it’s not as crazy amazing as it looks. In my not-so humble opinion, the tres leche is tres times better. In fact, it’s an Ultimate. Up there with the likes of Animal in LA.

Well done Juvia. You’re the best thing to happen to a parking garage since Seinfeld.

4 teeth

ABC Kitchen

35 E 18th St. New York, NY 10003(212) 475-5829 • abckitchennyc.com

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After such incredible hype I’m afraid my expectations were virtually impossible to meet- damn you hype!!! That said, I did find the restaurant to be very good, just not worth all of the pomp and circumstance to get a rezzy.

For example, we went during Snowmageddon figuring there would naturally be cancellations and we could slip in.They did slip us in, but the “only” time they had available was 5:30pm. Let’s just say that less than 50% of the tables were filled during the entire duration of our meal which ended around 7:45/8:00. Hardly “booked.” And it’s this fake, manufactured- self induced-hard-to-get-into bullshit that I hate about places like this in NYC.

But beyond that, the decor is really quite something. Jean-Georges really does know how to jazz up a place. Casual and cozy, yet modern and hip. You feel like you are in a country barn that was renovated by a contemporary architect. The lighting alone is worth the visit.

As for the food, I did extensive yelping before going and I have to say that my fellow elites let me down a bit. We had the roasted carrot and avocado salad, the crab toast, the pizza special, the fried chicken and the sundae- all of which came highly recommended by multiple yelpers of the elitie variety. Of the dishes, the toast and the salad were good, the pizza was just okay and the sundae was a complete waste of calories and money. That said, there was one stand out- the chicken. Yes, chicken. I know it’s practically a cardinal sin to order chicken when you are out, but I am damn glad I did, because it was stellar. Far and away the best thing we had. Best fried chicken I EVER had. Almost done like fish and chips. But unfortunately, it was the ONLY thing that lived up to the hype.

Fortunately (for them), I went back for lunch and I have to say, what a difference a mealtime makes. They are SO much better at lunch time. I would seriously consider upping them to 4 stars, but if you can only do one meal time well, are you really a four star restaurant?

That said, everything we had, from the spinach salad to the pizza to the portobello sandwiches yielded not a single miss. Maybe they just get too tired of being awesome come dinner time and they start slacking?

3 teeth

Frasca

1738 Pearl St. Boulder, CO 80302 •  (303) 442-6966 • frascafoodandwine.com
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If you’re visiting Denver or anywhere else within an hour’s drive of Boulder, than I highly suggest you make a reservation at Frasca. The owner is the former Master Sommelier of all the Thomas Keller’s restaurants. And if you’ve ever seen the documentary Somm, you’d know just how impressive that is, because the Master Sommelier exam is one of the hardest to pass on the face of the earth. So hard, only 179 people have managed to pass it in almost 50 years.

So, suffice it to say that the wine pairing here is a moral imperative. And while it’s easily the best pairing I’ve ever had, the food is pretty damn impressive as well. The crudo was tops, only made infinitely better by a wine that was like a Renée Zellweger to its Tom Cruise.

Same goes for the poblano spiced wagyu, but the menu is constantly in flux, so rather than listen to what you can no longer eat, start trying to get your tush at a table.

5 teeth

Megu

62 Thomas St. New York, NY 10013(212) 964-7777megurestaurants.com

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If it were only a matter of decor and platings, this place would be off the charts, with it’s daily hand-carved ice Buddah set amidst an architectural tour de force. But that’s about all I can say that’s positive about Megu.

The service barely spoke a word of English, which would’ve been fine if we were in Tokyo, but in the United States, when you’re paying over 200 bucks a head,  I’m sorry, the least you could do is put someone in front of me who understands what I’m saying. After all,  you are in a service industry. And imagine if I was trying to tell him I had a nut allergy and he thought I was saying I had a nut affinity!

But that’s small stuff. Not the dying from nuts part. The language barrier part. What was most disappointing about Megu was the food itself. From a taste perspective not a single dish was exceptional and some things were down right inedible.

I mean sure, I like the novelty of drinking bone marrow foam out of an egg shell as much as the next guy. Eating foie gras terrine wrapped in gelatin so it looks like an old-school candy wrapper is pretty cool too. And the sheer inventiveness of cantilevering a smelt over a miniature bed of smoking coals is genius. But like I said, my eyes couldn’t have been happier, however, from my mouth to my wallet I was pissed.

I say skip it and go with a sure thing like Nobu. Especially if you’re going to spend this kind of money on Japanese.

2 teeth