The Grill @ The Fairmont Miramar:

Excellent, Excellent, Excellent

Although the Grille Restaurant in the Fairmont Miramar Hotel will be undergoing a major renovation this November, I'd suggest you head their way immediately, post haste, for their

Executive Chef, Jean-Claude Plihon, is cooking up a storm of savory, delicious dishes at most reasonable prices. Add Grille-Chef  Joe Campo to the mix and you've got a dynamic duo!

You can dine inside in one of their booths or al fresco, overlooking their beautiful pool and gardens. Either way, the simple menu of seven (not-so) Small Plates, two (giant) Sandwiches, three Lifestyle Cuisine choices (read Spa), five (really) Large Plate offerings, three Certified Angus Beef cuts (stay with the 14 oz. KC cut striploin) and four Weekly Specials are there for your perusal.

Raul was quick on the draw with our water and bread basket. It featured both homemade sourdough and rye and La Brea baked cheese bread. Each one of the three were quite tasty but don't fill up on these for the food about to come is oh, so good.

Fran started with a large cup of butternut squash latte, accompanied by a "small batch" Camembert grilled cheese with a side of apple butter ($10). The soup, hot and flavorful; the toasted Camembert absolutely exquisite, melting in the mouth.  My Pacific Dungeness Crab Salad ($16) was a tuna-fish-can-size of sparkling crab, accompanied by a juice-glass size of chilled heirloom tomato gazpacho which I both drank and poured over the crab. Perhaps the finest crab salad I have ever eaten!

We skipped the Caesar salad ($11), the organic beet salad ($15) and the Ahi Tuna Crudo ($16) in order to save our appetites for our entrees.  My lovely wife selected the Pan-Roasted California Sea Bass ($29); a huge piece of firm, white-meat fish resplendent with cannellini beans, Speck proscuitto, spinach and Roma tomatoes. The two thumbs raised high indicated her overwhelming satisfaction.

My 14 oz. KC cut striploin, bone-in ($46), may well have been the finest steak I've had in some time: chewy, juicy, flavorful, tender and dipped in either their peppercorn or choron sauce, it is out-of-this-world good and can easily be shared.  It's served with house-cut truffled fries and I dare you to tell me these are not the finest you've ever eaten, anywhere, anytime.  Are you beginning to fully understand why I gave this report the title I did?

The coconut-flavored crème brulee ($12) concluding our meal was as light and creamy as a brulee can be. And the coffee came hot, fresh and was a lovely conclusion to this superb dinner.

They advertise the Grille as "Comfortably Californian, Globally Inspired". I call it simply "Excellent". Please remember the drill and tell 'em Joseph sent you.

The Grille @ The Fairmont Miramar Hotel   101 Wilshire Boulevard   Santa Monica 90401

Tel. 310-319-3111; Open 7 days for Lunch and Dinner; Dinner: Approx. $85 for two w/o alcohol.