La Degustation — Prague (5/2014)


La Degustation is a Michelin one-star restaurant that opened in 2006.  I didn’t know anything about the restaurant when I booked it.  When I decided to visit Prague, I searched for a molecular gastronomy/modernist cuisine restaurant and it came up as the result.  Their website (in Czech and English) described the experience as Czech cuisine prepared with modern techniques.  It was easy to make a reservation – I just filled out the on-line request form and they responded within a day to confirm.  And their location was conveniently located in the Old Town section, about a 10 –minute walk from my hotel near the Náměstí Republiky.  The 40-seat restaurant is simply decorated with a modern look and an open kitchen.

They seated me at a table right next to the kitchen, which was almost as good as if they had a counter overlooking the kitchen for me to sit at and watch.

For the full write-up, click here.

Vintage Cave — Honolulu (5/2014)



The Ala Moana Shopping Center is a most unusual place for an establishment like the Vintage Cave.  It opened a little over a year ago as a membership club for people who enjoy very good wine and wanted a place to store their collection.  It also houses a very expensive modernist cuisine/molecular gastronomy restaurant that is open to the public.  The owner is a Japanese-born real estate magnate who has lived in Hawaii for 50 years.  He turned the basement cafeteria of the Japanese department store Shirokiya at the mall into a wine club and a place to display his fine art collection.  He imported around 167,000 bricks from Pennsylvania and bricklayers from Romania to create the 15,000 square-foot place (the brickwork is amazing).

It was easy for me to get a reservation via phone (email is an option also) for dinner on short notice, even though the restaurant is not very big.  They will seat people at half-hour intervals, starting at 6 pm.  There are only two menus:  A seasonal menu of about 15 courses and a “classics” menu of about half that number of items.  I opted for the seasonal menu (while dining I notice that the shorter menu was not simply a subset of the seasonal menu, although there were some items that were served from the seasonal menu as part of the short menu dinner).

The food menu is just displayed as a list of major ingredients.  It was already at the table when I was seated, as they ask you when you make the reservation which menu option you wanted for the evening.

For the full write-up, click here.