tasting menu Archives - Page 2 of 12 - Please The Palate
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The last time I had dinner in Encino was in 2016 at Chef Phillip Frankland Lee's Scratch|Bar, a restaurant on the second floor of a strip mall that offers nightly tasting menus featuring seasonal ingredients. Two years ago, hidden behind Scratch|Bar, he opened up Sushi|Bar, an Omakase Speakeasy that serves a 17 course sushi meal for $125 per person. I love sushi and am always game to try a new place and added this to my list. And finally I made it for dinner. Sushi|Bar is not your typical sushi bar and much more like a speakeasy. We made our reservation for 6pm and were told to arrive 30 minutes early for a welcome cocktail. We arrived at the mall, took the escalator to the second floor and found an unmarked door with a doorbell. We rang the bell, gave our names, and were invited in to a small room with a bar and some tables. We had arrived promptly at 5:30pm and we were the first people there. We were welcomed with a drink of sake, lemon juice and ginger. And, as we enjoyed our drink, a few more guests arrived took seats and had their drinks. Promptly at 6pm, we were invited to follow the hostess into Sushi|Bar. There were a total of six of us. Sushi|Bar can accommodate a total of eight people at a time. There are actually two sushi bars, one with reservations at 6pm and 8pm and one with reservations at 5pm, 7pm and 9pm.
Sometimes there are meals that defy words. A meal that is an experience beyond your imagination and yet rooted in something you love, food and wine. That was my experience at Daní Maison, a two-star Michelin restaurant on the island of Ischia in Southern Italy. While traveling around Campagna, I headed out to Ischia for a couple days of relaxation. I had heard about the thermal baths and thought that I would just lay low for a couple days. But while at dinner at the one star Michelin restaurant Il Buco in Sorrento, Chef Beppe Aversa told me I must check out Daní Maison. Of course, when I heard it was a two Michelin star restaurant, I figured the chance of me getting in only two days later was more than unlikely. However, I was wrong. Perhaps it was because I was looking at a Sunday night, just after the last weekend of summer and most people were starting to head home to get back to work. But I went online while sitting at dinner my first night in Ischia to read a bit more about the restaurant and see if I might find an email to inquire about a last-minute spot. I entered my name and email and said I was looking for one seat the following night. Unexpectedly, and promptly, I received an email confirming a seat! I was excited! I hesitated for a moment, thinking about what the evening might cost me, but then thought, why not? I was on vacation. This might be my only chance. And, if I was able to get a reservation with only one day's notice, perhaps it was meant to be.
Seeking out memorable meals is something that pleases my palate. So, after an amazing week in southern Italy, which included winery visits, historical tours and a boat trip down the Amalfi coast, I capped off the week with a meal in Sorrento at Il Buco, considered one of the best restaurants in Sorrento. Located in the heart of Sorrento, near the sea, Il Buco has been serving food worthy its Michelin Star. Open for more than 20 years, Il Buco has held its Michelin Star for 14 years! I arrived for my 8pm reservation and was taken down a few steps into the the dining room which used to be the wine cellar of an old monastery. My table was waiting for me, set for one person. Unlike in some restaurants where I am given a funny look when I ask for a table for one, the staff at Il Buco made me feel welcome immediately.  I was offered an aperitivo of sparkling wine or a cocktail but decided to pass as had read about the large curated wine cellar and was planning to do a wine pairing. Before I was given the menu, I was presented with an amuse of marinated anchovy with tomatoes and sliced toasted almonds. The sweet fresh tomato against the salty fish woke up my palate and the toasted almonds added a nice touch.
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