| 2454 Wilshire Blvd.

For many years the patio at Michael’s in Santa Monica was considered by many to be the most beautiful patio in town. And the top chefs in town for really high-end food by French trained chefs were at Michael’s and Melisse (including their owners).

Now there is serious competition for those top reputations at FIA on Wilshire. For me the patio at FIA is far and away the most beautiful in town, and there is no question that the chef there, Brendan Collins is among the finest French-trained chefs in town. Chef Collins trained in French technique in England, ran the kitchen at Melisse when it was considered one of the highest rated restaurants in Los Angeles by Michelin, and worked with Chef Alain Giraud at Anisette (when I was on the restaurant management team).

Now we get to the food. Remember the old joke, “always eat dessert first, you never know what might happen.” That’s not bad advice here because the desserts are spectacular. I’m so tired of seeing tiramisu and chocolate cake on the dessert menus. Where is a Tarte Tatin? What ever happened to cherry pie? But the level at FIA is way beyond that.

The chocolate bomb, set on fire at the table, is spectacular. And then a lemon creation, also created at the table, was wonderful. But we didn’t have dessert first.

Two of us shared a lobster risotto which was excellent and as so often the case with this chef, a bit different than usual, with some breadcrumbs on top, but lots of savory chunks of lobster. One of us ordered the rib eye steak, the best dish we had, but no one told us that it was meant for two people (we should have noticed that from the $140 price) so we had plenty of leftovers. A table-side Caesar salad prepared at the table next to us looked wonderful. I had a beef Wellington, mainly because it’s so rare to see it on a menu. This dish was “de-constructed” with the spinach on the side instead of inside the crust, and an onion confit on the side instead of mushroom deuxelle.

We also got, by error, several dishes intended for the table next to us, which did not appear on our bill (I hope not on theirs either). The fact is that we were confused by some of the dishes and didn’t know if they were ordered by us or not, so we ate them.

The raw yellowtail, Japanese style, was delicious but we didn’t order it. I assume all of the roasted corn and potatoes came with our meal but we were never sure.

All in all this was a great meal with every course above average. We understand why the service was so confused, since it was one of the first days the interior was open after the long COVID delay.

We hope the staff gets the training necessary to, at a minimum, get the right dishes to the right table. The only thing that was not above average was the wine list. With a $45 corkage fee I didn’t bring my own wine, which was a mistake. I ended up paying $120 for two bottles of Crozes-Hermitage which were below average and worth about half that. Whoever is in charge of the wine list needs to get to work.

All in all, this was a top-quality meal in a wonderful setting. We’ll be back soon.

Merv Hecht, like many Harvard Law School graduates, went into the wine business after law. In 1988, he began writing restaurant reviews and books. His latest book is “The Instant Wine Connoisseur” and it is available on Amazon. Or you might like his attempt at humor in “Great Cases I Lost.” He currently works for several companies that source and distribute food and beverages, including wines, internationally. Please send your comments to: