We're back. And I wanted to give you some feedback (my computer was indisposed when I came home - it is now only partially indisposed after 4 hours of tech work - I am catching up - so I'll be brief). Best meal in a serious setting: Providence. Kind of traditional setting - but excellent fish. Outstanding service. Picked many courses and kitchen arranged them into a tasting menu for 3. Not especially convenient to BH but worth the trip.
Best meal in a non-serious setting: Bazaar. Most fun trip of the meal. Food surprisingly good considering the scene. Service extremely competent (we picked lots of dishes and server arranged them in logical courses for 3 people). Loved the drinks (especially my "gin and tonics"). I recommend going very early (we did 6:30) if you're interested in eating because - even on a Wednesday - it was a madhouse by 9 pm (we were on dessert by then - didn't leave until about 10 pm). The late night "scene" isn't conducive to fine dining.
Church & State: Very loud (we wound up dining outside so we could talk with our dining companions - good thing it was a pleasant night).. Not worth the trip from BH (took us almost an hour to get there). Service somewhat worse than laid back (3 gougeres for 4 people? - we had to ask for a 4th). Not bad - but - like I said - not worth the trip.
Tavern - Decibel level was unbearable. Food was ok but would not recommend unless one were dining alone or on non-speaking terms with one's dinner companion(s).
Asanebo - Excellent. Go with a friend who knows how to order there (we did) or ask for suggestions about the best way to order. Also get a friend who knows how to drive over the hills :) (we're from flat as a pancake Florida - driving over hills like that isn't something we do every day).
Rancho Bernardo Inn (Veranda) - Pleasant patio where one can have lunch with elderly aunt who lives a mile away. No other reason to go there.
Gardens (Four Seasons) - Civilized place to meet and chat and dine with old friends. Food was quite good for a high end Four Seasons (where we were staying) restaurant (we were there the first night they had a new menu - there were probably some kinks to be worked out). Four Seasons Bar and patio also have a nice tasting menu - 3 "small" dishes (although not all that small) for $45. Plenty for 2 people. We did that twice (night of arrival and night we returned late from San Diego).
I'll note that we had breakfast included at the Four Seasons. Since we were on eastern time - breakfast there was early lunch for us. So we did it just about every day. 20+ choices - each excellent. Real power scene breakfast on a lovely patio. Great way to start the day. If you're staying at the Four Seasons - use a Four Seasons Preferred Partner Agent to book to get the breakfast included.
Overall - if there's one not to miss restaurant here IMO - it would be Bazaar. Close second - although it's pretty much a tie because they're such different types of restaurants - would be Providence if you love fish (we do).
What are your impressions? Robyn
P.S. Best little known new tourist attraction: Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City. Opened in the spring. Great exhibit running now (best photojournalism of the last year). Must see.