Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

With Julian Serrano

on February 15th, 2012
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Julian Serrano with Sophie Gayot

Some of the restaurants I have dined at in Los Angeles have appeared in movies. On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I found myself at a restaurant where superstar Julia Roberts tells George Clooney that he is a thief and a liar in a movie scene. If you’re a fan of “Ocean’s Eleven,” you’ll want to visit Picasso restaurant by the fountains at the Bellagio. I asked chef Julian Serrano for some details, as he has been cooking there since it opened in 1999. The restaurant, filled with actual Picasso paintings, has been named one of’s Top 40 Restaurants in the US since 2004.


Here’s the scoop: if you want to sit at the actual table where the action went down, you still can. The table known as table 34 is still there; it has no official name, but if you ask for the “Ocean’s Eleven Table,” the staff will know what you mean. Since there are so many requests for the table, it is wise to reserve it well in advance. Visit the photo gallery of the restaurant if you can not get there…

(Sophie’s hair & makeup by Hair by Violette. Photo by Joseph Switzer.)

With Randy Jackson

on February 08th, 2012
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Randy Jackson with Sophie Gayot


I was not the only one dining at über-chef Wolfgang Puck’s new restaurant at Hotel Bel-Air last night (luckily for the restaurant). The multi-talented Randy Jackson, who has been a judge on American Idol since 2002 — longer than anyone else — was sitting next to me. I had dined with him before, and know he is a gourmet, so I was not surprised to see him there. As we know, he is a tough judge, nice and fair but tough…
My judging of the dinner: very good California cuisine, with precise execution that grants the restaurant a rating of 16 out 20. Here is the explanation of the rating system.
For more about Hotel Bel-Air, read my October blog post which I wrote after touring the hotel a few days before it opened.

With Pascal Sanchez

on February 07th, 2012
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Chef de cuisine Pascal Sanchez with Sophie Gayot

When I am in Las Vegas, besides dining at the restaurants, I also like to tour them and say hello to the chefs to learn more what’s going on in this exciting restaurant city. So here I am with Pascal Sanchez, the chef de cuisine at Twist by Pierre Gagnaire. The restaurant is perched on the twenty-third of the luxurious Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas hotel. The view is great, as you can imagine.


After the restaurant opened in 2009, it made the 2010 list of Top 10 New Restaurants in the US. The following year, we named it one of’s Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S.


The 2012 honorees will be announced on March 5th. Subscribe to our free Restaurant Issue Newsletter to be one of the first ones in the know.

(Sophie’s hair & makeup by Hair by Violette. Photo by Joseph Switzer.)

At Restaurant Guy Savoy

on February 04th, 2012
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Sophie Gayot in the kitchen at Restaurant Guy Savoy Las Vegas

Last week I dined at Restaurant Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and was lucky enough to enjoy my meal at the chef’s table in the restaurant’s kitchen. The dinner went so late into the night that the mignardise cart had been put away back in the kitchen. On the way out, seeing all those sweet, little morsels, I couldn’t help serving myself straight from the cart!
Restaurant Guy Savoy is a perfect place for an evening to remember, so we just named it to’s list of Top 10 Special Occasion Restaurants in Las Vegas.

(Sophie’s hair & makeup by Hair by Violette)

With Ben Flajnik & More…

on February 02nd, 2012
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From left to right: Ben Flajnik, Sophie Gayot, Eric Greenspan, Danny Fay, Michael Bezinger

Last week I interviewed the owners of Sonoma County’s Envolve Winery who were in Los Angeles. They are three childhood friends: Danny Fay, Michael Bezinger, and Ben Flajnik, whom you may know better as The Bachelor on this season’s ABC television series. Intimidated a little by the thought of meeting Flajnik, I wanted to find a cool place that felt romantic and sexy. Hey, you never know; if by the season’s final episode, he had not found a future spouse, maybe I had a chance!

Immediately, Eric Greenspan’s new restaurant The Roof on Wilshire at The Hotel Wilshire came to my mind as a great spot to meet. Chef Greenspan kindly welcomed us. Thank you, Eric! But I’m still waiting to be asked out for a second date.

For all about wines, go to’s Wine section.

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