The Blue Door Kitchen & Inn, Flint Hill, VA., 4/3/21

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The Blue Door Kitchen & Inn has been the collaboration of Chef Andrea Pace in the kitchen and his partner Reem Arbid directing the front of the house for almost 3 years.  Located in a 100 year old schoolhouse, now the dining rooms take 2 downstairs rooms and 4 suites accommodate guests upstairs.  Their refurbished large patio out back would make a lovely place to eat or read.  The place gets its name from the highly polished blue front door and an additional blue one decorates one of the dining rooms.  Lots of parking is available out front and clear plastic partitions divide the various tables.  Polished wood tables, lots of mirrors, large cloth napkins and decorations of building materials make up the dining areas which are separated by the bar/reception area.  Service was well masked, helpful, well paced and super friendly.  The food is in generous portions that you won’t want to leave any of on the plate. Continue reading

Claire’s at the Depot, Warrenton, VA., 4/3/21

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Claire Lamborne started her restaurant in 2004 by replacing a Mediterranean restaurant with Claire’s at the Depot serving delicious food with a southern twist. The building used to be the town’s railway depot built in the 1850s and features a patio as well as indoor dining.  In the patio area are beds where many of the fresh herbs they use are grown.  Inside you’ll find brick walls, wood floors, paper on top of the  cloth covered well spaced tables, music in the background and a large bar area.  Lots of windows kept it well lit for the lunch service.   They serve lunch, dinner and brunch and offered a couple of lunch specials.  They have a small wine list with some by the glass and many cocktails.  Servers were friendly and well masked. Continue reading

The Inn at Little Washington; Washington,VA.; 4/2/21

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The Inn at Little Washington is a 42 year old restaurant about 70 miles east of Washington DC.  It is the only restaurant in the area to have been awarded 3 Michelin stars and the chef, Patrick O’Connell received the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to American food.  The town with a population around 200 and the oldest of the 28 cities in the U.S. with that name, got the nickname Little Washington due to its proximity to DC.  The Inn/Restaurant had to overcome some resistance in the town but now most of the town seems to revolve around it.  The main inn has 18 bedrooms and suites and now there are a number of buildings in town that it also has rooms in, with one under construction across the street that will be a casual restaurant. Continue reading

Mama Chang, Fairfax, VA., 4/2/21

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Mama Chang opened early in 2019 in Fairfax, VA.  It focuses on family dishes from the Hubei province, where Peter Chang is from, ones his mother and other females in the family cooked.  There is less pepper than in the traditional Szechuan dishes.  The large interior is filled with light from the many windows and white walls.  Textured ropes hang from the ceiling, the well spaced light wood tables are bare and tons of green plants surround the room.  It feels open and spacious but a bit sterile.  Portions are generally large – we way over-ordered but wanted to try a number of the dishes.  The server was masked and willing to give advice. One note is about their to-go containers which were nice plastic dishes with good locking lids not the usual leaky styrofoam containers. Continue reading

Breakfast Republic, San Diego, 3/25/21

Liberty Station

Breakfast Republic is part of a chain of places in southern California.  They serve innovative breakfast combinations surrounded by tons of fun, almost kitsch decorations.  We visited the location in Liberty Station built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style which was the site of the Naval Training Center in 1923.  The chain supports composting of uneaten foods and recycling.  This location had 2 good sized heated patios to dine on.  They are open daily from 7 to 3.  Service was friendly, masked and efficient.  While the food sounded great in the menu I would rate it acceptable + with generous portions. Continue reading

Addison Restaurant, San Diego, 3/24/21

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Addison, San Diego’s only Michelin starred (one) restaurant, has been on the property of the Fairmont Grand Del Mar for 15 years.  Chef William Bradley is in charge of the kitchen where they offer 5 and 10 course tastings featuring California gastronomy.  Wine pairings are available but there is a huge wine list also.  Due to Covid the recently renovated indoor area is closed but there is seating on the large heated outdoor terrace.  It you stay at the Fairmont it is a bit of a hike to get up the hill so the hotel graciously provides car service up for you and the staff call for a pick up when you are finished.  It’s little touches like this that make it a lovely experience.  The staff anticipate your needs – like bringing a glass of ice for my water or a stool for my purse -and yet it never feels stuffy, and there is the beautiful back drop of the hotel’s golf course with bubbling streams.  We chose the 10 course menu and got bottles of red and white to pair with courses as we chose.  In addition, it is a surprise menu but they were kind enough to email a copy of what we had that actually did have the courses detailed.  There was only one supplement offered that night and that was to substitute A5 Wagyu for Barbecued Squab.  I chose the supplement and my husband had the pigeon. Continue reading

Sushi Ota, San Diego, 3/24/21

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Sushi Ota Restaurant is in a nondescript strip shopping center in San Diego.   They have some indoor tables that are well separated with wood partitions and have also built an outdoor dining area that has plastic roofing and some sides.  At the entry is the large sushi counter that due to Covid has no seating but fresh seafood is in the counter.  The large menu has many options for ordering – lunch specials, the traditional check list or there are 3 plates of sushi combinations.  The combination “C” contains the local sea urchin for which Chef Ota is known, and that was the one we chose.  With the combination plates you also get miso soup and ice cream. Service was well masked, efficient and friendly and tables were distanced and thoroughly cleaned between customers.  The menu offers a good number of beers, wine and saki. Continue reading

Stanley, New Orleans, 3/20/21

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Stanley is on a corner in Jackson Square by St. Louis Cathedral.  In a tribute to Tennessee Williams their location is near the restaurant Stella that closed in 2014.  They feature all day breakfast/brunch as well as sandwiches and desserts in a casual location.  They are open Thursday to Monday from 8 am to 4 pm.  Outside is a lot of outdoor seating and some well distanced seats inside the place.  It is really popular so be prepared for a wait in popular times.  Service was efficient and friendly.  No reservations are accepted. Continue reading

Coquette (update), New Orleans, 3/19/21

sign outside

Frankie last wrote up Coquette in Sept of 2015 and it remains a favorite of hers.   The lovely corner building has 2 floors for dining, with well spaced small wood tables, lots of dark wood, fun tile floors, lowered lighting and high ceilings.  Downstairs has mirrors on many walls, music in the background and a large bar that is used just for storage now.  The evening menu offers a la carte options as well as a 5 course surprise tasting menu -composed of things not on the menu.  Wine pairings are available.  We chose to do the tasting and pairings and were very happy with the choice.  The staff who brought the food out from the kitchen were knowledgable about the food and happy to share information.  Servers were masked and also very friendly and efficient. Continue reading

Clancy’s Restaurant (update), New Orleans, 3/19/21

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Frankie has been to Clancy’s many times but always finds a good meal there with excellent service.  It is important to ask to sit in the main dining room as the vibe is much better.  Tables have more space between them, due to Covid, and all the staff wear masks, as do guests when they are away from their table.  They have a bar in addition to the wine list and we enjoyed a Negroni as we decided what to have.  The servers are usually opinionated if you can’t decide and guide you in ordering, but you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Continue reading

Mosquito Supper Club, New Orleans, 3/18/21

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Mosquito Supper Club is a cajun restaurant that wanted to celebrate all the bounty of local fishermen and farmers.  Starting as a family style place at large farmhouse tables, Covid has had them shift to single party, well-spaced tables with a fixed price 5 course menu for all diners. They are open Thursday to Sunday with 2 seatings and offer wine pairings to go with the meal.  After our cocktail we chose to try their wine pairings with the meal.  They were nice and appropriate pairings but no refills were offered.  Located in an older house, there are many rooms where dining service takes place with wood floors, plaster walls and high ceilings.  A bar is in the first room where there are stools if your table isn’t ready.  Rock music plays in the background and lighting is lowered.  Diners are pre-paid with reservations but cocktails and wine can be paid for at the restaurant.  If you pre-buy the wine pairings you will also pay the 25% gratuity added to your meal charge whereas at the restaurant you can determine your own.  Staff was friendly but not overly. Continue reading

Gris-Gris, New Orleans, 3/18/21

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Gris-Gris is in a two story corner building in the Garden district (where the restaurant Square Root had been).  Downstairs is the open kitchen enclosed by a stainless steel bar.  Many wanted to sit upstairs but I preferred to watch the kitchen action.  Music is in the background and light from the many windows filled the room.  Upstairs is a large bar and tables as well as a balcony for seating.  The staff all wore masks but the kitchen was mostly too busy to engage in much conversation with those at the bar.  The waitstaff was happy to help guide your choices and split items from the menu, which is similar at lunch and dinner. Continue reading

Herbsaint Restaurant (update), New Orleans, 3/17/21

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We last visited Herbsaint in the end of 2018 and it is just as good as before.  They still have white paper on top of the white tablecloths but now the well-spaced tables are also placed in the bar area.  Two walls of the front rooms are glassed looking out on the street with lowered lighting inside.  No music is in the background but there is a hum of conversation.  Service was masked, attentive and friendly. Continue reading

Galatoire’s (update), New Orleans, 3/17/21

It’s been a year since we visited (and 2 since I’ve written up) Galatoire’s and we were excited to be vaccinated and out once again.  The food is just as good but a few changes include well spaced tables, masked staff and required reservations – even for dining on the first floor.  Even with 75% dining capacity the room still got really noisy but part of the place is the energy in the room.  Less waitstaff are on for each shift so you also may need to stray from your usual person.  The menu is on line and in past write-ups but it hasn’t changed except for a price increase here and there.  The fresh catch is updated daily and the food and service is consistently excellent.  One caution, don’t fill up on the hot bread and butter while waiting, which is really easy to do. Continue reading

Invasion, Dallas, 3/9/21

exterior, 4029 Crutcher St., Dallas. 75246  (214-272-7312)

Invasion is a “fast food”, gourmet restaurant in at the corner of Haskell and Crutcher in Dallas created by Chef Airric Heidelberg.  Unfortunately,  Heidelberg along with his business partner Agon Raka planned their opening at the same moment that Covid-19 hit and restaurants were shuttered.  They kindly donated much of the food to charity and to this day dedicate a percentage of their profits to prepare and deliver meals to homeless.  I am happy that they are once again up and serving food and have a wonderful patio as well as tables inside.   It is a tiny place containing limited tables but a good sized patio outside and they do a lot of take out business.  You can call your order in ahead of time or line up at the counter and order.  Either way, pick up is at the same spot – the order area which leads to a bit of a bottleneck situation but staff may re-think routing once they’re open a bit with actual walk in traffic.  Currently they offer lunch and dinner Tuesday through Friday and Brunch and dinner on Saturday.  We only tried a couple things but they were fresh, well done and nicely seasoned to provide that ‘invasion’ of taste. Continue reading

Lucia at Macellaio (re-visit), Dallas, 11/21/20

We visited and wrote this one up just a couple weeks ago but were fortunate to get back and try again.  In Dallas we finally have the perfect weather to eat outside and the Lucia folks do such a nice job of distancing and masking that it feels almost like a bit of normal in what has been a crazy restaurant blogging year.   Tasting menus are not for all but I sincerely urge all to give this one a chance, especially because during pre-Covid times you could hardly get a reservation to Lucia.  This is the opportunity to eat the fabulous Lucia food only on the patio of their sister restaurant Macellaio.  The menu really changes weekly as you’ll see below but the portions are generous and tasty.  I even enjoyed the wine pairings.  Frankie slept through the meal but urges her followers to check this one out.

menu

Continue reading

Encina, Dallas, 11/7/20

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Encina opened one month ago.   Chef Matt Balke previously worked at York Street, Bolsa Mercado, SMOKE and finally at Bolsa, which previously occupied this location.  He combined his talents with Corey McCombs (last at Flora Street), who coordinates the beverage program and was very present on the floor of the place.  Together they created Encina a restaurant that stresses fresh, seasonal ingredients presented in a simple, consistent quality driven style.  They have a good sized interior but the real plus is the large open air patio out back.  There are screens on the openings and covers if it gets too cold but they have installed heating so guests can still enjoy the well spaced outdoor wood tables.  Plenty of light is in the room so the table candles are mostly for ambiance but music is provided by noises from the outside streets.  A large bar window opens into the interior so it can service both side.  A parking lot is adjacent to the building as well as available street parking.  Service was well masked, friendly and willing to serve things one at a time so we could share.

<https://www.encinadallas.com&gt;, 614 W. Davis, Suite 100, Dallas, 75208 Continue reading

Macellaio/Lucia (update), Dallas, 10/31/20

Borrowed this pic from Macellaio page. Thanks!

Covid 19 has caused restaurants to adapt if they want to survive.  Frankie has previously visited both of these fine restaurants, co-owned by Chef David and Sommelier Jennifer Uygur, but now the options for getting their good food have changed.  Lucia is not offering dine-in service but is doing take out only with a weekly changing menu on Thursday through Sunday with 24 hours advance notice.  Dinner for 4 is just $100 and includes bread, salad, choice of entree and dessert.   They are located at 408 W. Eighth St., #101 with a phone of 214-948-4998.  Trust me, it will be a great meal.  Their sister restaurant is Macellaio, just around the corner at 287 N. Bishop Ave.  A much larger place, it also has a patio that wraps around the indoor dining room.  While indoor is not open they are taking advantage of the nice weather in Dallas to offer “Pasta on the Patio” featuring Lucia’s pastas.  Seating is distanced and patio heaters are near every table.  It is a fixed price of $100 per person for 5 courses plus their delicious bread and butter.  You can make reservations on their website <macellaiodallas.com>.  This is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss if you are in the Dallas area.  Jennifer has chosen wines for pairings at $50 pp or there is a list of bottles and by the glass or you can describe your tastes and she’ll find something for you.

Continue reading

Cosmo’s Bar and Restaurant, Dallas, 9/29/20 and 10/10/20

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Cosmo’s Restaurant and Bar (1212 Skillman St., Dallas, 75206, <cosomosbar.net>) is a medium sized neighborhood lounge that has been in business for years.  My understanding is that it started as a bar with a small pizza kitchen and several years ago the manager/chef Jackson Tran (now part owner) wanted to expand the menu with Vietnamese specialties from his family, to see how that would impact business.  It was a terrific idea that has really caught on with more than just the locals.  It’s a small kitchen so food may take a bit of time but while you wait there is a full bar with well made drinks.   The interior has lots of vintage furniture and decorations.  They were ready for Halloween the evening we went.  The heavily tinted windows to the street along one wall keep it dark inside even before sunset.  Tables are well spaced and there is hanging plexiglass between seating areas.  A large u-shaped bar has spaced stools for eating and/or drinking.  Music was in the background and there was a patio.  Besides the tasty Vietnamese items the menu features pizzas.  Unfortunately the night we were there they were out of the Beef Pho, but I will definitely go back to try it and some of the other things on the menu.  Service was friendly, helpful and well masked. Continue reading

The Peak Inn, Dallas, 9/25/20

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The Peak Inn opened in November of 2019 and then closed for much of Covid till it re-opened in late May.  It is on a street corner and we entered around 5:30 in the afternoon and the drop in lighting was dramatic.  The sun outside was full force but you’d never know it inside where some colored lights give most of the glow.  It wasn’t crowded, with just 3 guys playing pool in a back room but we were there to check out the patio for Covid outside dining options.  It was also empty with a variety of chairs and picnic tables.  A TV screen was on but made no noise as music was in the background.  We ordered beers at the bar on our way in and a server came out after a bit to give us menus.  On the way in we passed through the pool table room and another lounge area that had a fake fire place going.  All was pretty dark with lots of music.  They state that all their food is cured, ground and made in house.  People were friendly and masked. Continue reading

Snake River Grill, Jackson, WY., 9/11/20

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Snake River Grill was founded in 1993 and is a large place that offers spaced indoor seating (recently opened) and a couple of options for outdoor dining (as long as weather permits).  All the seating is on the second level with one patio directly adjacent to the indoor area and the other on a large rooftop across some stairs, but it’s covered by a tent and has heaters.  Inside you get the full ambiance of the place’s Western decor with the log walls, the candles hanging from antlers, skin wrapped light fixtures and a ceiling defined by logs and held up with log columns.  The lighting is lowered and carpet is on the floor.  The tables are well distanced and covered with white clothes and diners are given a matching cloth napkin once they’re seated.   Some of the tables have bench seating to match the un-cushioned wood chairs.   A bar is immediately in front of the entry, no music is in the background but there is lots of conversational hum and there are many windows on the walls of the various rooms. Service was slow to start but then was nicely paced and very friendly with helpful opinions.  Reservations are needed and to get a good time you need to do that at least a month ahead. Continue reading

Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, Jackson, WY., 9/11/20

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The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar opened in 1937 and is a landmark in Jackson, WY.  Everything I read about the place suggested you just have a drink and see the interior.  It is famous for the seats at the bar which are real horse saddles, complete with under blanket.  Our server said they were cute but she couldn’t sit and drink on them.  There are no reservations and often a line, but we went off hour and there was still a wait to get a saddle stool but you could have a table right away.  We opted for a table.  The place has lots of live music which thankfully wasn’t playing when we were there but recorded music filled the room.  There are Western decorations everywhere including stuffed animals, a huge round moving scene light, horns, and pictures.  The tables are divided by large wood pieces and tables are distanced now as well as some saddles are covered.  The pool tables were covered.  It is a place to see if you’re in town but not a peaceful place to drink and talk. Continue reading

Persephone Bakery, Jackson, WY., 9/11/20

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Persephone was a really popular place, that served excellent baked goods, coffee and sandwiches.  You line up to make your order and then can take it with you or eat at one of the tables on the outside patio.  There were tables inside but no one sat there.  We wanted to get stuff to take with us during our drive through the national park and so placed our order online and they gave us a time when we could pick it up at a separate window around the side.    They serve only breakfast foods until 10:30 after which they do offer lunch salads and sandwiches.  They also offer pre-packaged cookies, teas and other foods.  We scoped out the order counter one day and ordered from them the next day.  Later we got some cinnamon brioche to eat in the hotel the next morning but they did not work out as well as our other orders.  I don’t know if they came dry or just turned that way being held overnight.  Either way they found their way to the trash rather than our stomachs. Continue reading

Silver Dollar Showroom, Jackson, WY., 9/10/20

entance awning

We went to the Silver Dollar Showroom following our dinner for an after dinner drink.  It is part of the historic Wort Hotel.  As you enter you go to the left for the bar and to the right if you want to eat.  The bar is a large place with a curved bar covered with laminated silver dollars and well spaced tables.  They have live music on weekends but not while we were there.  We sat at the bar and after our first round the server told us it was Whiskey Wednesday so we tried some of those.  It’s a stretch to include in this blog but this way you’ll have the menu and an idea of what it looks like if you get the chance to go. Continue reading

Trio An American Bistro, Jackson, WY., 9/10/20

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Trio opened in 2005 by the two chefs that also operate Local.  They serve a seasonal menu with nightly specials in a relaxed atmosphere.  They have a number of specialty cocktails and cook primarily in a wood-fired oven.  It is a good sized place with the blond wood bare tables well spaced by taking the 2-top tables, setting them with candles and using them as spacers.  Therefore everyone gets a nice size table which are set with lovely large linen napkins.  One end of the very modern room is an open kitchen, with plexiglas in front of it.  There are seats at the bar in front and some tables outside.  Bench seats run along the walls with very comfy seating.  No-arm blond wood chairs are on the other side.  Art is on the wall and it’s for sale.  Music is in the background.  Eating outside is preferable regarding the virus but the inside here is very lovely and very well done, so I would chose sitting inside.  Service was really friendly, opinionated and timing was very nice. Continue reading

Local, Jackson, WY., 9/10/20

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Local is a steakhouse and bar in the historic town square of Jackson.  It has many rooms, some of which are for dinner and some for lunch and others for both.  We sat in the room with the bar counter and it had plexiglass between the seats and bar as did the booths have plexiglas between them.  The black wood tables were set off by the brown wood floor and light wood walls with mirror insets.  The booths had a padded seat whereas the bar was set with dark wood chairs with backs that were unpadded.  Music was in the background and a TV was playing in the bar area but it was muted.  We made a reservation for lunch which the website recommended but when we showed up the person at the entrance seated the 2 walk-up parties ahead of us in line to get in.  Their lunch menu was mostly sandwiches, particularly burgers and they had one special of the day (a hot ham and cheese sandwich) as well as a soup that changes daily.  Service was helpful, opinionated and efficient. Continue reading

Glorietta, Jackson, WY., 9/9/20

old entrance (now go through the side door)

Glorietta is an Italian Trattoria with a focus on housemade pasta and wood-fired cooking.  Located in the Anvil Hotel they offer both indoor and patio seating.  Inside the medium room the tables have a lot of space between them, which is good for slowing the spread of virus but leaves the room feeling empty.  The focal point of the room is the large bar with the kitchen and wood burning fire behind it and another seating bar in front of it.  They finally seated someone at the front bar but without much overhang it looked pretty uncomfortable.  The floor is tiled, the ceiling is painted wood and bench seating is on many walls to match up with chairs on the other side of the good sized tables.  The bare wood tables are set with a large cloth napkin and lighting is lowered, but there are a number of windows in the room so that is only an issue after the sun sets.  Service was friendly but rushed.  We wanted to try a number of things and I specifically asked that it not be served on top of the last one but it was.  In fact the main plates came out before all the appetizer plates were cleared.  I realized with limited seating they want to turn the tables quickly but in these times we must find a way to make the experience pleasurable for the diner and profitable for the restaurant. Continue reading

The Bird, Jackson, WY., 9/9/20

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The Bird is a large place, located a bit out of town that opened in 2010.  Inside are 2 large rooms, one containing the oval shaped bar and outside is a good sized deck with a spectacular view of the mountains.  There are no umbrellas or heaters outside.  The bar offers all mixed drinks as well as a ton of tap beers.  The room with the bar is decorated with tap handles from those beers they no longer carry.  They are mounted on metal bars all over.  It’s mainly a burger bar but also is known for its wings.  Country music plays prominently and service is friendly.  They wore masks for the most part and limit the number of people that can be in at any time.  You must wait at the door to be let in by the server.  They don’t take reservations and are popular with locals. Continue reading

Grill at Knob Hill, Ketchum, Idaho, 9/5/20

outside of hotel

The Grill at Knob Hill is a restaurant featuring Northwestern food in the Knob Hill Inn.  It has a large dining area including an indoor/outdoor terrace dining room with floor-to-ceiling glass folding doors and lawn seating on the large area on the side of the inn.   Otherwise the inside is just the bar where you can enjoy a craft cocktail while you wait for your table.  They offered a regular menu that would suit any taste and also a few daily specials.  We were on the lawn just outside the terrace dining room and it was a beautiful setting with a large display of flowers along the exterior wall.  The white cloth covered tables were small and set with black napkins and well spaced.  There was good lighting while the sun was up but it got a good bit darker when the sun went down.  The many tables covered with umbrellas and set further from the terrace got pretty dark with only a small candle.  Servers were friendly, helpful and masked. Continue reading

Cristinas, Ketchum, Idaho, 9/5/20

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Cristina’s was opened in 1993 by Cristina Cook, 5 years after she moved here from Italy.  She has written 2 cookbooks.  The place is open for breakfast, lunch and brunch and is using their large outdoor seating area rather than the interior.  You enter into the small salmon colored house to find a counter filled with sweet and savory foods which are available for purchase.  There were a couple room inside but outside they have a large tent complete with chandeliers over the wood deck and individual tables with umbrellas on the lawns around the house.  The white cloth covered tables were well spaced and set with white cloth napkins.  Lots of plants and flowers surround the diners.  No music is in the background.  The small menu has the daily specials written in.  Chef Cook was in the kitchen but she never came out to greet guests.  Seating was only by reservation or waiting a couple hours.  Servers wore masks, were friendly and all seemed to work together to take care of the tables. Continue reading