BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (TheStreet) -- It's been a perilous few years for American restaurants, enduring the financial storm of constrained consumers preferring cheaper meals or business travelers on scaled-back expense accounts. But a few restaurants and select chefs have not only weathered the financial storm but thrived to emerge on what could be the other side with ambitious restaurant openings, second locations and concept eateries.
In San Francisco, chef Dominique Crenn has wowed the food scene from one-star Michelin-rated Luce at the
San Francisco since the hotel's glitzy opening in the city's SoMa neighborhood. Having made the move from well-known Los Angeles chef to darling of the San Francisco food scene, Crenn has leaped into a venture at
that puts her name literally on the door. Located in the haute Fillmore neighborhood in the former home of locally beloved Plumpjack Restaurant, Atelier Crenn offers a more spare visual aesthetic -- concrete floors, teak tabletops and chairs of Danish modern detailing. The French-born chef with Egyptian roots struts a locally sourced, almost poetic menu of Monterey Bay abalone with pamplemousse sorbet, chanterelles with slow-cooked egg and nettles and signature foie gras that rivals the best in Paris.
Chef David Myers brings the Comme Ca brand brasserie to Las Vegas.
In New York a familiar hotel name, Mondrian by
Morgans Hotel Group
, is set to make an impressive debut in Soho today with a destination eatery called
led by chef Sam Talbott. While most every travel aficionado is familiar with Mondrian locations in Miami and Los Angeles, the Soho outpost of the sustainable-seafood eatery replaces white minimalism with Cocteau-inspired ethereal opulence, including a dining room of white lacquered princess chairs and glass roof ceiling. Leading the kitchen is Talbott, the former head of Brooklyn's Black Duck and a
Season 2 contestant, fresh off well-publicized cooking gigs in the Hamptons to lead a be-seen dining room where he'll undoubtedly be one of the star attractions.
New Yorkers that prefer to not leave the West Village will appreciate a 19th century carriage house transformed into a distressed gastro-pub playground called
. Exposed-brick walls and oh-so-stylish bistro chairs with a glossy shellacking are arranged throughout a series of dining rooms connected by four-step staircase with open-style kitchen and brasserie-inspired bar with distressed white marble crown. A rustic seasonal menu by chef Wes Long, who arrived in the city via Savannah, Ga., brings a meat-loving mindset to even meatless dishes such as vegetable fritters with herb risotto as well as carnivorous delights such as cured pork belly with polenta, crispy duck breast with squash puree and -- my recommendations -- heavy sides of potato-cauliflower gratin or creamed arugula with white cheddar bechamel straight out of the good ole south.
Those that know the ins and outs of the Meatpacking District dining have watched the growth of Fig & Olive, the beach-chic Mediterranean-inspired dining room with three NYC locations that's now branching-out to the West Coast.
is taking a spot on Los Angeles' La Cienega Avenue at Melrose Place in a space that's struggled in recent years as a supper club, dance club and sometimes both. The massive corner location puts it walking distance to such boutiques as Alberta Ferretti and Marc Jacobs and makes it neighbor to perennial restaurant hotspots such as Koi and Nobu. The 8,000-square-foot space will be home to a 50-foot tasting bar and open kitchen with beach-chic vibe of basket-weave chandeliers and communal tables.
With many restaurants even by notable chefs struggling to stay afloat in Los Angeles, several of the city's longtime standards are doing whatever it takes to win back diners still burdened by a struggling economy, a film industry in retraction and by Soho House, which lured many high-end diners to its membership club.
, long the beloved standard for celebrity diners such as Nicole Kidman and Ellen Degeneres, closed its doors recently to undergo a massive renovation to the dining room and patio, hopefully wooing back customers with a new look and familiar Italian menu scheduled to debut before March.
The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas is home to the latest eatery in the David Myers Group, which began in Hollywood with Michelin one-star Sona Restaurant and his
. Along the third-floor restaurant corridor of the main hotel, Comme Ca Las Vegas managed to score the best restaurant space in the house (that includes two eateries by Jose Andres) for its sexy French brassiere. A moody space with Parisian undertones is divided between a sexy front lounge, strip-view dining room lined in chalkboard walls and a massive outdoor terrace. It's here Myers finds his Las Vegas stride with a handpicked staff and menu of signature raw bar specialties, impeccable steak frites and perhaps the best burger in the city.
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Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com, a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in InStyle, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine and on ITV and the BBC.