Los Angeles: Boxwood Cafe

Afternoon tea? I have always wanted to do that. Being a British colony for years, Hong Kong have many places for afternoon tea. The most famous one has to be at The Peninsula Hotel. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to try it yet. Someday for sure…

Back in Los Angeles, Bryan and I saw a sign about afternoon tea in The London Hotel a year ago. I knew that I would love to try it. Last Saturday was my birthday, I suggested to have afternoon tea in Boxwood Cafe for my celebration. Bryan and I went with my sister. We all had a good time. It turned out to be a great idea.

Boxwood Cafe is owned by Gordon Ramsay. It only opens during the day and afternoon time. At night, Boxwood Cafe turns into Gordon Ramsay the restaurant for dinner. Since Gordon Ramsay is British, I think his restaurant may be one of the best place for afternoon tea.

When we sat down at our table, we were given a wood box which contained many small bottles of tea leaves. There were the basic, like jasmine and English breakfast, but there were also some unique flavors, like life through water and tangerine. We can smell each bottle and pick what tea we wanted. It was tons of fun. At the end, we all picked something fruit related. My sister and Bryan got mountain berry. The tea color was purplish red. It smelled amazing. It was sweet with a hint of berry flavors. It tasted great by adding a little bit sugar. I got cassis. It was aromatic. I liked it without sugar. At the end of the sip, I got a hint of bitterness which was perfect with the sweet treats on the table.

Tea choices

Enjoying my cassis tea

Afternoon tea food is a pre-fix menu. The only thing we got to choose was the tea. It was perfectly ok with me, because there were tons of different things on the pre-fix menu. There were two kinds of scones, four kinds of savory sandwiches, and four kinds of sweet treats. The scones were ok, nothing too spectacular. The savory was one of the best part! Our favorites were the roast beef with red onion marmalade and the curried chicken with golden raisins. They were so tiny, but packed with so much flavors. Delicious! For the sweet treats, my favorite was the berries tart. It was sweet and tart. The peach crumble was good too. But I wish there was something chocolatey. Then, I will be even more happier.

Food!!!

Overall, it was a fun experience and something different. The food was fine. I had a great birthday. I would love to come back soon. Maybe when they change the menu? Also, we saw a few groups of people having bridal shower and baby shower. Boxwood Cafe sounds like a perfect place to have small parties. I would love to do that someday.

Boxwood Cafe at The London (1020 N San Vicente Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069)

Recommend: Mountain berry tea, cassis tea, roast beef sandwich with red onion marmalade

Price: $28 per person ($40 per person with champagne)

Lokness’ Rating: ★★★★

Tip: Remember to make reservation ahead of time.

Boxwood Café  on Urbanspoon

Los Angeles: ‘Lette Macarons

‘Lette Macarons Assorted Flavors

French macaron is one of the trendy dessert in Los Angeles. I have also seen many macarons recipes in many food blogs. The little expensive finger sandwiches look amazing and delicious. I never had macarons before, and I always wonder whether these sandwiches are as good as they sound.

I saw that ‘Lette Macarons have a high rating and many good reviews on Yelp. I believe that will be a good place to see what macarons are all about. On Saturday, I got a box of 12 macarons. The macarons were beautiful and tasty. I expected the macaron to have a crunchy texture, but the sandwich actually had a slightly crunchy shell with a soft center. There were a lot of fillings in each macaron, and the filling was like ganache and very creamy.

Our favorite flavors are rose, lychee, colombian coffee, and raspberry. The rose one was very memorable. It was like a rose water cookie. If you like rose water, you will love this macaron. Lychee has a delicate taste, but the lychee flavor definitely came through in the macaron filling. It was good. The coffee one reminded me of a coffee popsicle that I used to eat when I was a kid. Even though Bryan doesn’t like coffee that much, he liked this macaron. Bryan and I love raspberry, so with no surprise, the raspberry macaron was great. It was slightly tart, but still sweet.

The least favorite had to be the sweet wedding almond. It had a strong taste of almond extract. Bryan and I don’t like almond extract at all, so that macaron was not for us for sure. The salted caramel one was not that great either. The filling started to melt a bit and it was too sweet. All the other flavors were good, but they were not as memorable.

‘Lette Macarons have lived up to its reputation. I like their macarons, and I will go back for sure. I wish I can eat them every week. But can they be less expensive?

‘Lette Macarons (Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Larchmont Village)

Recommend: Rose, Lychee, Colombian Coffee, Raspberry, Coconut

Lokness’ Rating: ★★★★★

'Lette Macarons on Urbanspoon

Las Vegas: Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill

Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill was Bryan’s and my last dinner in Vegas for CES week. We didn’t plan on going there at all. We were in MGM Grand walking around, and we wanted to eat. We almost went to Rainforest Cafe. Fortunately, we didn’t! Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill was an excellent surprise!

On a Saturday night at 7pm, Bryan and I were seated right away. We ordered the Butter Lettuce “Caesar Salad”, Meatball Wood Oven Pizza, and House Made Spaghettini Pasta. The salad was fresh. The Humboldt Fog Cheese was too strong for Bryan and I. But it was a good salad.

The pasta had the simplest ingredients, which were tomatoes, basils, and garlic. It looked so simple that I didn’t even take a picture. But the dish was amazing! The pasta was fresh and al dente. The sauce was packed with flavors. I couldn’t stop eating. The meatball pizza was another surprise. The first bite was like a party in my mouth! There were layers of flavors, like the creamy Mozzarella, the sweet tomatoes, the fresh basil, and the tasty meatball. Everything went so well together. Bryan loved the pizza absolutely.

Even though we were a bit full, I just couldn’t pass the dessert. We got the Raspberry Chocolate Chip Souffle. Wow….. It was light, a little tart, and very chocolatey. It was the best souffle ever! That was the perfect sweet ending for our CES trip.

Overall, Bryan and I were very satisfied. The food was simple. It wasn’t some expensive ingredients, but everything was delicious. A simple meal can go a long way if food is seasoned well and cooked right. It was a very memorable meal. I couldn’t wait to go back. Maybe we can try the one in Los Angeles!

Meatball Wood Oven Pizza

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Souffle

Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill (3799 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109)

Recommend: Meatball Wood Oven Pizza, House Made Spaghettini Pasta, Raspberry Chocolate Chip Souffle

Price: $30 – 40 per person

Lokness’ Rating: ★★★★★

Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill (MGM Grand) on Urbanspoon

Las Vegas: Mesa Grill

Mesa Grill by Bobby Flay

I have always heard about good reviews about Mesa Grill. Finally, Bryan and I got an opportunity to go and try out. We made a reservation a month ahead. The interesting part was that Mesa Grill required the customers to provide their credit card numbers. If the customers didn’t show up on their reservations, they would charge the credit cards $50. That is quite an interesting policy. I don’t oppose it. I think if people really want to go to the restaurant, they would be willing to go through the trouble.

Mesa Grill is located in Caesars Palace. The restaurant is nicely decorated. I love the ceiling with the flaming painting. Nothing would match better with Bobby Flay’s cooking style, chili peppers and spices. Before going to Mesa Grill, I was very worried that I couldn’t get anything to eat, because I don’t eat spicy food at all. When we got there, I talked to the server. He said that most of Bobby’s food is not that spicy, and the chili add flavors. He gave a couple of suggestions, and I went with the Wild Striped Bass. Bryan got the New Mexican Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin. And, we shared Blue Corn Pancake for appetizer.

The Blue Corn Pancake is served with shredded duck pieces. The first bite definitely reminded me of the Chinese Peking duck. The duck was good and juicy. Even though there was Habanero (one of the most intense chili pepper in the world), it wasn’t spicy at all. It was very flavorful. Bryan loved it! Bryan’s pork tenderloin was placed nicely on the plate. The rubbed was definitely spicy. Bryan said it was a bit spicy for him, but it was edible. The sweet potato tamale was sweet and delicious. It was a perfect balance with the spicy pork. My bass was crispy on the outside, and cooked perfect on the inside. My favorite was the Piquillo Pepper Clam Chowder under the bass. It was packed with different layers of flavors, and it was not spicy! Fantastic!

Blue Corn Pancake

New Mexican

Wild Striped Bass

The meal was great. The food was very good. Bobby has lived up to his reputation. I definitely respect him more. I would love to go back again. This time, I will save some rooms for dessert!

Mesa Grill (33570 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109)

Recommend: Blue Corn Pancake, Wild Striped Bass, Sweet Potato Tamale

Price: $50 – 60 per person

Lokness’ Rating: ★★★★

Tip: Remember to make reservation ahead of time. The restaurant can get really busy.

Las Vegas: Mon Ami Gabi Restaurant

Bryan and I found out about Mon Ami Gabi Restaurant by accident last year during CES. It was a great discovery. Mon Ami Gabi is located in Paris Las Vegas Hotel, and it is right on the strip with outdoor seating. I think this is probably one of the most romantic restaurants in Vegas. The outdoor view is magnificent. Bellagio is right across the street, so you can enjoy the fountain show while having your meal. It is very cool.

Bryan and I couldn’t wait to go back in this year CES. We ordered the Onion Soup Au Gratin to share as usual. It was still very delicious! The broth was light, and the cheese was tasty. It is one of the best French onion soup we had in our lives. Like last year, I ordered the Lemon-thyme Seared Salmon. It was slightly different, but it was good. It was well-seasoned, and there was a crispy crust. Bryan had Filet Mignon. The steak was so juicy and tender. It was cooked perfectly. The red wine reduction and merlot butter brought some extra sweetness to the meat. I liked the frites too. They were crispy! We ended our meal with Creme Brulee. It was very good too.

But nothing is better to complete a wonderful dinner with a nice fountain show and great music. This is one of the restaurant that Bryan and I will always visit when we are in Vegas.

View of Bellagio

Lemon-Thyme Seared Salmon

Filet Mignon

Mon Ami Gabi Restaurant (3655 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109)

Recommend: Onion Soup Au Gratin, Filet Mignon, Lemon-thyme Seared Salmon

Price: $30 – 40 per person

Lokness’ Rating: ★★★★

Tip: You can make reservation ahead, but that is only for indoor seating. For outdoor seating, you will have to walk-in. But if you can get there early, there shouldn’t be a long wait.

Las Vegas: Burger Bar

Burger Bar is in Mandalay Bay. It was our first stop of our Las Vegas trip. I did some research and found out that Burger Bar is owned by Hubert Keller. Bryan and I learned about Hubert Keller on Top Chef Masters. We couldn’t wait to try his food.

On a weekday afternoon, there was no line at all. Bryan and I were seated in a booth. Each booth has its own little TVs. It is very cute. I like the decor and environment a lot. While I was looking around the place, I saw Hubert Keller! Hubert was standing next to the bar and talking to the staff. Wow! Amazing! This was good, which means Hubert goes to check out his restaurants. Bryan and I expected to have some amazing food that day.

Quickly, the Nutella milkshake came to the table. I love nutella. When I saw Nutella shake on the menu, I know that I couldn’t pass it. The shake was delicious! It was pack with hazelnut flavor, especially the nutella whipped cream. That was a good start.

For main course, I ordered the Black Angus Beef burger. The meat was very bland, and it was lack of seasoning. Bryan and I had a lot of hope for Bryan’s American Kobe Beef burger. The kobe beef was like the black angus beef that was lack of flavors. The meat didn’t melt mouth, even the meat was cooked medium rare. Bryan and I had better kobe beef burger before, and it was cheaper. That was very disappointing.

On the sides, we had the buttermilk onion rings and buttermilk zucchini fries. The onion rings were just fine. The batter was flavorful, but the crust was too thick for the skinny onion rings. The zucchini fries had the same crust, but the crust was good on the zucchini. The zucchini fries were cut thick, so they can hold up the crust. It was a good combination.

I love my Nutella Milkshake

Black Angus Beef Burger with Buttermilk Zucchini Fries

American Kobe Beef Burger with Buttermilk Onion Rings

Overall, the food was just fine. I thought Hubert can do better, maybe his other fine dining restaurant would be better. For about $50 two person, Burger Bar doesn’t worth the money in my opinion.

Burger Bar (3930 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89119)

Recommend: Buttermilk Zucchini Fries, Nutella Milkshake

Price: $20 – 30 per person

Lokness’ Rating: ★★★

The Bazaar’s Experience

The Bazaar is probably one of the most upscale and trendy restaurant in Los Angeles. It is a Spanish tapas restaurant. Bryan and I are mainly interested about their deconstruct food. Deconstruct food is to reinterpret a classic dish, and recreate into a new form. We are very curious on how the food will look and taste.

Luckily, we got a reservation during Dine LA Week. Dine LA Week happens twice a year. There are set menus and set prices for all the participating restaurants. It is perfect for foodies who like to try out new places without breaking the bank.

The setting of Bazaar is really bazaar. Nothing really matches. Most of the tables and chairs were different. Bryan and I both agreed that we liked the food. Some were very surprising that can blow your mind, like the Philly Cheesesteak and Organized Caesar. These were both deconstruct food, and they were very interesting to look at. Some were very delicious that you never forget, like the Jamon Serrano Fermin with the tomatoes bread. The prosciutto was so yummy, and the bread was refreshing. Some are just fine that you may have it before, like the codfish fritters. I have had similar thing in Portuguese cuisine before. I believe we will go back. There is something that we definitely want to try, like the bagel and lox cone, and the cotton candy foie gras.

Organized Caesar @ The Bazaar

Philly cheesesteak @ The Bazaar

Bunuelos (codfish fritters) @ The Bazaar

Nobo Whole Fruit Tea (berries) @ The Bazaar

The Bazaar (SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills, 465 S La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048)

Recommend: Philly Cheesesteak, Organized Caesar, Jamon Serrano Fermin

Price: $60 – $80 per person

Lokness’ Rating: ★★★★★