James Hook and Company, Boston, 6/12/21

sign on building

James Hook and Co. started in 1925 with a father and his 3 sons trucking their catch to Boston.  It is still a family run business with 4 of the third generation siblings.  Somewhere along the line they developed retail outlets while still selling to restaurants and shipping across the U.S.   We visited a retail site near the water that also had a food truck on premises selling options.  Inside the little house were a couple tables to eat but mostly had tanks containing various sizes of lobsters and shelves with memorabilia and cooking supplies.  The retail counter had a number of fish and shellfish but also the lobster rolls, which they are famous for.  They come in 2 sizes and are cold with mayo or hot with butter.  Outside at the truck you could get the mayo variety and whole cooked lobsters as well as soups and some sides.  There is a large outdoor seating area to enjoy your selections. Continue reading

Santarpio’s Pizza, Boston, 6/12/21

building

Santarpio’s Pizza in east Boston is in a corner building that was a bakery in 1903.  In the 30’s the Santarpio family began selling New York style pizza from there and they still are along with barbecued lamb, beef and sausage.  It is open daily and accepts only cash.  Walls are adorned with boxing paraphernalia and posters.  There are 2 main rooms filled with booths and tables along with a long bar divided from the rooms by a partition.  The grill area is at one end of the bar whereas the pizza oven is in the back of the two dining rooms.  The bar sells beer and wine, which is also available by carafe.  The lighting is lowered and no music is in the background.  Staff was friendly and helpful. Continue reading

Stages at One Washington, Dover, N.H., 6/11/21

building

Stages at One Washington is in the small town of Dover, NH on the third floor of an historic mill building.  Chef Evan Hennessey offers just 6 seats for his fixed price tasting menu Thursday thru Saturday evenings.  There are 2 seatings each night but he recently added “the Living Room” which is not only a place to wait for your seating but also where you can get some of his fabulous food and drinks in a no-reservations setting resembling a living room.  It is in the room adjacent to the kitchen where for nine years the lucky few are seated at a counter and can casually converse with the chef while he prepares your food and/or pours your wine.  Pairings are available as are a number of cocktails and bottles of wine.  The meal is 8-10 courses and no menu is provided as he often changes as he goes along with a menu that features local farms and foraged ingredients. (I wrote as fast as I could but apologies if I didn’t get all the ingredients or preparations written down.)  It is full of interesting combinations and lots of flavors in the foods.  Definitely off the beaten path, but if you have a chance to eat with this native chef of Dover, I suggest you jump on it. Continue reading

Mac’s Bar-B-Que, Dallas, 7/27/21

Frankie was sad to learn that her friend Billy McDonald closed Mac’s Bar-B-Que where she loved to eat!  She tried to come by and say goodbye to Billy and Debra (who worked there)  but the line was out the door and wrapped into the parking lot yesterday.  (Today it was locked up tight when we drove by).  We wish them fun and good times in retirement and hope our paths will cross in the future!

Frankie wanted to share the article in the Dallas Newspaper.

page one
page two

Thanks for many delicious meals!

Earl’s Steak Sandwiches, Dover, N.H., 6/11/21

exterior (99 Oak St., Dover)

Earl’s Steak Sandwiches is family owned and specializes in shaved beef sandwiches.  Wife Mo (Maureen) Donovan works the floor, husband Jim cooks and their daughter Sophie, who is 10, makes rings and bracelets to sell in one of the booths.  Opening in October, in a location that had previously been a diner,  during the Covid pandemic they rose to the challenge by concentrating on take-out until indoor dining resumed.  The decor features a ‘vintage car theme’ with old hot rod magazines at the table and the walls decorated with oil signs and car parts.  The inside area is small, with a few counter stools, but there also is a good number of outdoor tables.  Behind the counter is a window to the kitchen where you can see, hear and smell the owner’s cooking.  One of the booths is “reserved for Earl” which is where the daughter assembles and sells her jewelry.  Earl has a photo but it is actually not a family member, they just liked his name.   They cure their own meats and make their own sauces. Continue reading

E Bar Tex Mex (update), Dallas, 5/27/21

 

building

Our last visit to E Bar Tex Mex was in 2018 and I wanted to update it as I was not wowed by the food on that visit but speculated that you had to find the items that spoke to you.  They continue to get crowds and now I know why cause I’ve found my item – Jorge’s Tacos.  The place is physically about the same except they’ve added a non-enclosed tent next to the enclosed one and their name is on a nearby parking lot to provide additional parking. Service is good, helpful and friendly. Continue reading

Suraya, Philadelphia, 5/22/21

building

Suraya is a Lebanese restaurant in Fishtown that started as a bakery and market.  In 2018 it opened a huge dining room and large outdoor patio for evening service.  Across from the seated area is the large open kitchen, surrounded by bar seating that was not used probably due to Covid.  Sections of the dining room have partitions between them.  Booth seating is matched with armed chairs with music in the background.  It is a striking, stylish place.  On weekends they have a brunch menu where you get a set of cold mezze served with pita and then chose a mashawi for a fixed price.  They also offer 2 possible sides and whatever pastries you want from the bakery.  A server brings your food, wine and whatever you might need but you order and pay through the QR code on the table. Continue reading

Vetri Cucina (update), Philadelphia, 5/22/21

mural on the outside of the building

Vetri Cucina opened in 1998 through the collaboration of Chef Marc Vetri and business partner Jeff Benjamin.  In 2005 Chef Vetri was named Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic by the James Beard Awards.  Frankie last visited here in 2014 and although the menu has changed the format is still the same and the giant mural of Chef and others is still on the side of the building. The 3 story building has the Vetri dining room on the first floor with private parties, classes and events taking up the higher 2 floors.  The lights are lowered, music is in the background, old wood floors are opposite Italian chandeliers with the glasses on the table also being Italian. They offer all diners a 4 course fixed price menu where you choose from several options.  You can add an add several supplements for a fee.  Wine pairings are available but the sommelier was able to help us pick a great bottle to go with our meal.   Service is fabulous with great pacing and portion control.  I highly recommend this place. Continue reading

Vernick Food & Drink, Philadelphia, 5/21/21

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Vernick Food & Wine (2031 Walnut St., Philadelphia) opened in 2012 by Chef Greg Vernick, who won the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic by the James Beard Foundation in 2017.   He serves “an honest, no-fuss menu featuring his version of new American cooking.”  The menu is divided into small and large plates with some sides to supplement.  This is a place where a tasting menu would be fun – to have more dishes in smaller quantities.  There are a couple outdoor tables but otherwise dining is in a relatively small room upstairs across from the 2 windows to the kitchen.  They offer dinner only with a few seasonal specials and you have a 2 hour window for your reservation. The full bar downstairs offers lots of cocktails to those at the small light wood tables in lowered lighting.  Music is in the background.  Service was helpful and friendly but pacing of service felt hurried with the small table getting crowded. Continue reading

Cleavers, Philadelphia, 5/21/21

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Cleavers opened in March 2016 near Rittenhouse Park (108 S. 18th St., Philadelphia).  They use 100% domestic ribeye meat in the Philly Cheesesteak sandwich creations and freshly baked bread.  The menu has a chicken version made from fresh chicken breasts or a vegetarian option from Portobello mushrooms.  Also they have salads, sides and a full bar. They are open 7 days a week, do take-out and have dine in and out seating.  We chose to sit inside near the bar to enjoy their wonderful air-conditioning on a warm day in Philadelphia.  The bar has multiple cocktails and an amazing number of tap beers.  We tried one of the latter. Continue reading

DanDan, Philadelphia, 5/21/21

exterior

DanDan (126 S. 16th St., Philadelphia) serves Sichuan and Taiwanese dishes along with having a full bar.  It is a smaller place in Rittenhouse Square that also offers some outdoor seating.  Inside the downstairs has counter seating around the bar and in the window.  Upstairs are multiple tables in different combinations of sizes.  The spheres that are the light fixtures hang from the ceiling and give it a fun view from upstairs.  They appeared to do a lively takeout business but were not busy at any of the tables, but we were early. Music is in the background and some paintings are on the walls.  It is a large menu but several favorites had been suggested by local magazines and we got most of them.  This place got rave reviews but we seemed to hit it on an off day. Continue reading

Friday Saturday Sunday, Philadelphia, 5/20/21

building

Friday Saturday Sunday is a small restaurant that is actually open Thurs. through Sat. evenings.  Chef Chad Williams offers only an 8 course tasting menu and 5:00 and 8:00 seating times.  He and his wife Hanna took over the Rittenhouse Square restaurant in 2017.  Covid has restricted dining to the second level (no elevator) of well spaced tables and the bar on the first floor only makes drinks.  The couple tables outside are for cocktails.  Benches line the walls of the second floor and face the tables set with armless chairs. Fairly loud music is in the background and there are dampening panels on the ceiling.  One wall holds a number of large paintings of lush scenery with a large metal palm tree in the middle while the opposite wall has windows and mirrors.  No wine pairings were offered so we ordered our own bottles of wine.  The meal had good portion control and pacing. Continue reading

Parc, Philadelphia, 5/20/21

entrance

Parc is an all day restaurant designed to represent a French sidewalk café.  It is a large, extremely popular place with inside dining in many rooms and more than 75 outdoor covered and uncovered spaces to dine.  Restaurateur Stephan Starr brought this place to a corner lot in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia.  Inside dark wood tables are well spaced and set with red napkins to match the red booth seating along the walls.  Old wood floors are juxtaposed with elegant tile ones, especially around the large bar that was currently not in use.  On the table are a special set of directions about Covid and their policies – notably that you have just 90 minutes for your table, that you are not to move any of it and must wear a mask when not seated. We also found that they would not seat you until your exact reservation time.  It felt stiff but the lovely server soon relaxed the vibe.  The menu has a good range of things but there are even more drink options.  We got a bottle of sparkler to go with our meal. Continue reading

Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia, 5/20/21

Market exterior

Reading Terminal Market is one of America’s oldest and largest public markets in a National Historic Landmark building. They have produce, meats, fish, flowers, cheese, bread and sweets to create your own meal or they have a number of restaurants. While we enjoyed walking the aisles and seeing what was for sale we tried two of the most famous sandwiches there -Tommy DiNic’s and Hershel’s East Side.  Both often have a line but we got there early and were able to easily buy from both and find a table in the center dining area, where all the tables are separated by plexiglas. Continue reading

Laurel, Philadelphia, 5/19/21

exterior

Laurel is an American restaurant with French influences. They have 2 rooms, one of which housed a large bar and the other the well-spaced tables and opening to the kitchen. There was also patio dining available. The bare wood tables are set with armless chairs in a room with lowered lighting and wood floors. Assorted rock music is in the background but sound panels on the ceiling help keep the noise level down. They offer only a surprise tasting menu and had one addition offered that evening- a 3oz Japanese A5 Wagyu beef for $75 designed to be split. The wine list was limited but they do offer pairings and limited bar service. We added the supplement and opted for the pairings (which turned out to be pretty small pours). Portion control and pacing of the menu were great. Chef de Cuisine that evening was Alex Beninato and the menu changes seasonally. Continue reading

HUDA, Philadelphia, 5/19/21

exterior

HUDA is “fast casual concept by Philadelphia based Chef Yehuda Sichel” who loves sandwiches. The sandwiches come on homemade milk buns and sourdough and they also offer salads. It’s a small shop with one indoor table and 4 outside ones. They do a lot of takeout. The menu uses seasonal and local ingredients and the staff were all super friendly. You go inside to place and pay for your order and then they bring it to your table. We went there for a late afternoon snack to split and it was perfect and really tasty. I’d go often if I had the chance. Continue reading

Le Bernardin, New York City, 4/12/21

entrance

It’s been several years since Frankie visited Le Bernardin, Chef Eric Ripert’s 3 Michelin starred restaurant.  It’s an elegant interior with lots of wood, windows, flowers and a massive wave art piece at one end.  In the daytime, light flows in through the windows but at night the lights are lowered and windows are shaded.  Now plexiglas partitions are between the tables and servers are masked.  Every table was full and turned by regulars and those celebrating something, but it was still easy to talk at the table.  Heavy white linens drape the smallish tables and service is excellent.  The menu offers 2 longer tastings, one seafood and one vegetarian, or a 4 course fixed price where you choose from a large selection in each section with an optional addition of a cheese course.  Wine pairings are available for the tasting.  In the front part of the restaurant is the Lounge with a limited menu. We decided on the Chef’s tasting menu and ordered our own wines. Continue reading

Keens Steakhouse, New York City, 5/11&12/21

front door

We last visited Keens Steakhouse in May of 2018 and this trip we made a visit to the pub for a late snack and had a full lunch with friends in the main dining room the next day.  It is dark wherever you sit so photos are harder but it is worth the visit.  The dark woods, white table clothes, tile floor in the bar and pipes on every square inch of ceiling, give it the feel of a classic.  For the pandemic they have erected individual pods outside that are still there even though NYC is now allowing indoor dining.  Inside the tables and bar stools are all separated by plexiglass barriers and seating is spaced.  The nice thing about that is that it made conversation very easy as did the relaxed pace our server gave us both  days.  The food was all very good and nicely prepared in generous portions.  They are famous for their mutton chop and this time we were smart and split one. Continue reading

Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, New York City, 5/11/21

exterior of building

We were last at The Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare in May of 2019 and not much has changed in the physical place but Covid 19 has made spacing between guests larger (50% capacity).  Brooklyn Fare is the grocery that is the front of the building and the Chef’s Table is in the rear.  Chef César Ramirez was in the kitchen and doing much of the plating of courses.  It is a tasting menu only with seats around a large C-shaped wood counter and booth seating around the perimeter.  The open kitchen is the center of the well lit room with older rock music in the background.  Wine pairings are available or bottles can be individually purchased.  There are a lot of staff and all are very friendly with guests but Ramirez is more about cooking than visiting with diners.  The beautifully presented luxury foods are filled with flavor and texture, but many of the courses were quite similar to what we had 2 years ago. Continue reading

El Zarco Restaurant and Cantina, Grand View, WI., 6/4/21

front

El Zarco is on US Highway 63 in Grand View, WI.  It offers “homestyle fresh Mexican Cuisine and hand crafted margaritas. “  They have been open 4 months in a building with 2 rooms, one of which is dominated by a pool table and bar and the other having a combination of tables and booths. The website said they open at 11:00 but the sign out front said noon however, the owner was kind enough to let us come in and start early. On weekends they open earlier and have brunch options. Inside are tile floors, wood ceiling, AC, music in the background and walls decorated with photos and memorabilia. Two TVs were in the bar area but both just streamed scenery visuals and they have free Wi-Fi. Talking with the owner he asked if it was our first visit and when we said yes he pulled out 3 flavors of tequila and said we were due a complimentary shot to welcome us. He was so nice and friendly it felt like we had been coming for years. I know I’ll be back. Continue reading

Delta Diner (update), Delta, WI, 5/3/21

exterior with coffee shop showing

Almost 2 years ago we visited the Delta Diner and that was an update on their new addition of a Chicken Shack and Tin Tap House to the left as you look at the Diner. Five years ago we looked at a lot of the food and some of my consistent favorites to order there, like the Deli sandwich.  But today we visited on a Burger Monday and that’s what they serve all day every Monday.  There are a number of ways to have your fresh meat patty prepared or you can enjoy the vegetarian option of a black bean burger.  All are served on soft, fresh griddle toasted buns.  After a long year of Covid closures and curbside service the Diner is finally open for limited inside seating.  New additions of partitions are between booths and stenciled with a drawing of the Diner.  They are incredibly tasteful and fit right in.  No plastic partitions and the staff are all properly masked and vaccinated. The counter stools are limited and space is left open between customers.   There are plenty of picnic tables with beautiful settings if you want to order and carry your food outside. Continue reading

Buskey Bay Resort, Iron River, 4/30/21

exterior

Buskey Bay Resort was previously Hyde’s and before that the Hermitage.  Deciding to make a change from their city lifestyle Chris and Brenda Diesing and Valerie and Kevin Zimmerman purchased it the first part of 2021.  Next to the restaurant/bar building are cabin rentals and across the highway is an available dock for your boat or pontoon rental.  Covid-19 has made it a challenging time to open but they are gradually being able to open back up with in house dining Wed. thru Sunday and specials most night.  Inside now you will find 2 rooms decorated with numerous animal head mounts shot by the owners and muted TVs.  The entrance room is surrounded by windows and the more interior room houses the large bar that does have stools available for drinking and/or dining.  Fun instrumental music was in the background and Chris was at the bar making cocktails.  Tables were well spaced and staff wore masks.  We went on a Friday which is fish fry and had good martinis to go with it.  The server was slow in getting our order but once it was in, service progressed rapidly. Continue reading

D’Andrews Bakery & Cafe, Nashville, 4/17/21

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D’Andrews Bakery and Cafe in downtown Nashville was opened by David Andrews after studying his craft in NYC. It offers pastries, breads, coffees and sandwiches.  Everything in the restaurant is house made, even the meats are roasted and seasoned there and the mayo, etc is also made there.  Pastries are in the counter, and they will heat them for you.  There is a patio out front and some tables inside for dining.  Lots of folks got items to go.  Masks are required to enter and the line forms by the pastry counter.  It is well lit and you can watch Andrews making hot items on the stove behind.  Staff was friendly and helpful and the food was fantastic. Continue reading

Bastion, Nashville, 4/16/21

exterior

Bastion is a little different during Covid.  They are a 24 seat restaurant with dining Wed through Sat and a special small bar for restaurant guests however that is currently not open so dining is in the well spaced big bar and there is no chef counter.  I suspect that the set up will change as Covid becomes more under control.  Either way it is a comfortable place to sit and eat tasty food while listening to actual records being played.  Chef Josh Habiger serves a selection of seasonal, creative dishes in a casual atmosphere.  The ‘big bar’ area has a long bar counter and some tables, all well spaced.  Exposed duct work, brick walls, hanging lights and lots of art make it a visually interesting place to be.  The staff all worked together to give a fun and interactional dinner. We chose to have their wine pairings with the tasting. Continue reading

Manny’s House of Pizza, Nashville, 4/16/21

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Manny’s House of Pizza is in the historic Arcade Building in downtown Nashville.  As you walk up don’t be surprised to see a line out the door but be assured it moves quickly and as you wait you can watch Manny toss the pizza dough and spread the tomato sauce.  Born in Sicily, Manny started in a Brooklyn pizzeria where he learned the skills needed to open his shop in the mid-80’s down in Nashville.  (His brother has a shop in Brentwood).  You can also get calzones, pastas, subs and pastas there but the majority in line with me were just getting a slice.  They are open weekday from 11 am to 4 pm.  When we went it was cash only. Continue reading

Arnold’s Country Kitchen, Nashville, 4/16/21

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Arnold’s is an institution in Nashville.  Opened in 1982 by Jack and Rose Arnold, now their children run the place.  It has received acclaim from many publications like Southern Living, SAVEUR, and Bon Apetit and been featured on Diners, Drive in and Dives.  They received the James Beard Award in 2009.   It is a cafeteria style restaurant but don’t let that mislead you.   Food is made in house and in real southern style with fresh ingredients.  Their most popular order is meat and 3 sides.  The roast beef is a signature offering but the vegetables are well regarded.  We got there early to avoid the line but there is a parking lot adjacent to the building if you drive.  Presently they are only at 50% capacity due to Covid and there are less tables available. Cutlery is plastic, napkins are in a dispenser and salt and pepper are in packets as are other condiments.  They now have a bar where you can get cocktails or other alcoholic beverages but it didn’t appear to be open yet.  Servers on the line were helpful and friendly and well masked. Continue reading

Catbird Seat, Nashville, 4/15/21

entrance

We last visited the Catbird Seat in Sept of 2017 and they have changed teams since.  Chef Brian Baxter now leads the u-shaped kitchen of 22 lucky people who scored a seat at the serving bar.  His last cooking positions were at Husk and Bastion.  A ‘chef’s table’ has been added which is a booth for a party of 3-4 in the back corner of the room, but the counter does not get all 22 seats filled due to Covid restrictions.  When you arrive you see a wood door next to the Catbird sign but it is locked.  You can not enter until it is the exact time of your reservation.  Up the short flight of stairs is a ‘speak-easy’ bar that is a fun place to have a cocktail while you wait. Staff will come for you and then you can enter that door and ride in the elevator, complete with a bench, to the large room that houses the restaurant.  All diners are served a 10-12 course tasting and when you make your reservation you can request an extended tasting.  Pairings are available but you don’t have to decide on beverages until you arrive. We ordered the extended tasting and bought our own bottle of red wine and a glass of white to begin with.  Older rock music played in the background. Continue reading

The Patterson House, Nashville, 4/15/21

entrance

The Patterson House is a dark, cozy seated cocktail bar in Nashville.  Classic and modern cocktails are supplemented by a small food menu.  In fact it was Nashville’s first craft cocktail bar.  Opening in 2009 it pioneered fresh-squeezed juices and twice filtered ice.  A real speak-easy vibe.  We had evening reservations for the Catbird Seat which is next door and knew there was a bar in the building but this looked more like someone’s home.  It most assuredly is not.  Tons of people were in and out with most not going to the adjacent restaurant.  You enter into a waiting area that is curtained off from the bar.  A huge 30 foot bar sits in the center of the bar room with booths and tables lining the walls.  Lots of old fashioned chandeliers provide the low lighting.  They also serve beer, wine and snacks.  Service was friendly but not too fast.  They did coordinate with the restaurant to call you when they were ready to seat you.   I would easily go again. Continue reading

Merchants Restaurant, Nashville, 4/15/21

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Merchants Restaurant is in an historic building in downtown Nashville.  The 3 story building has a casual bistro and bar on the first floor, a steak house on the second level and private dining on the third story.  In 1988 Ed Stolman opened the restaurant as an upscale dining establishment.  In 2010 on the brink of closing again, Benjamin and Max Goldberg assumed control and started to make changes, but never closed. This 19th century building (1872) started as a 3 story pharmacy but has hosted a restaurant for 125 years now.  We ate lunch on the large street level floor which has 2 rooms divided by a large u-shaped bar.  Dark painted wood floors are well worn and complimented by black booths/chairs and the dark wood bar.  Brick is on many of the walls and there are lots of windows out to the street.  Oscillating fans hang from the ceiling, the tables and bar are topped with white marble, music is in the background and there is some wonderful old tile on some of the floor.  Booths are divided by plastic partitions for Covid 19 and the staff is well masked. Service was super friendly and not rushed. Continue reading

Henrietta Red, Nashville, 4/14/21

sign at door

Henrietta Red is the dream of Nashville born Julia Sullivan with a focus on fresh, simple ingredients and a variety of raw oysters and seafood.  The name is in honor of her grandparent’s low-country hospitality.  It is a fairly large place with widely spaced tables over 2 rooms and an overall modern feel.  The entry room contains the large bar as well as a few tables in a less lit space.  The second room has more lights, lots of windows, sound panels in the ceiling, the opening into the kitchen, a large center table for service and the oyster shucking area.  There is a wood fired oven in the kitchen and a patio for seating.  The menu has a number of smaller plates, larger main course plates – but all seemed fine to split.  Our friendly server was helpful in making selections and willing to bring out in a spaced format to create our own tasting of sorts.  Overall the food was delicious and full of wonderful flavors with good attention to textures and fun compositions. Continue reading

Capitol Grille, Nashville, 4/14/21

exterior of hotel (dining area along second floor windows)

The Capitol Grille is the restaurant in the Hermitage Hotel in downtown Nashville that originally opened as the Grille Room in 1910, serving traditional southern cooking.  Not associated with the chain of a similar name it is currently is being renovated and so is operating in the hotel lobby.  The hotel has partnered with Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who has restaurants in NYC, Paris, Shanghai and others to direct the food service once it re-opens in the fall.   The main dining room is on the street level and is currently closed so seating is on the second level enclosed terrace of the hotel, overlooking the 6th street entrance.  The present room has carpeting, coved painted ceilings, double clothed tables with coordinating napkins and music in the background.  They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Tables were well spaced and service was friendly but not especially polished. Continue reading

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

exterior

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

Michel’s Christiania, Ketchum, Idaho, 9/4/20

Michel’s Christiania Restaurant was opened around 1994 by Chef/Owner Michel Rudigoz.  The French raised chef actually moved to Ketchum to coach a Sun Valley Ski team.  He also coached Picabo Street the year she won her first Olympic Medal.  His love of classic French cuisine is the basis of this restaurant.  It is a large A-frame building with a good sized patio in the back.  The interior also has a bar and upstairs party room.  Tables were well distanced inside and out, covered with white clothes and set with black napkins.  The patio was even nicer than the outside, to me, with a center fountain (no music in the background to compete with the sound of trickling water) and a large awning over the section adjacent to the building.  Greenery surrounds the patio and a small wall separates diners from the street which was not that busy.  Lighting under the awning was better than further out, but that matters most if you want to take photos.  The menu features some local ingredients and also there were a couple nightly specials.  Servers wore masks and were friendly but service did not live up to the standard the place wants to be – timing was variable and after placing our champagne in an ice bucket the server never refilled our glasses without being requested to do so. Continue reading

Grumpy’s, Ketchum, Idaho, 9/4/20

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Grumpy’s opened in May 1978 in Ketchum, Idaho and is a favorite of tourists and locals.  It’s a simple menu but it has evolved to now offer tuna, salmon and ham & cheese sandwiches.  It’s frequented by many ski folks as well as the bike crowd in summer.   The walls and ceiling inside are covered with items that each have a story.  You order inside and then can choose one of the booths inside or tables outside.  Inside there is a plexiglass between each booth and outside the tables are distanced and many have umbrellas.  We got there around 3 in the afternoon and there were no empty tables outside.  It’s popular and does not take reservations but does do to-go orders.  They now even have a phone which apparently they didn’t for some time.  They are open daily 11 – 8.  Inside the first thing you notice are the beer cans lining the walls and up the ceiling.  You can easily spend the time waiting for your order checking out all the interesting items or finding obscure cans. Continue reading

Hudson House (Lakewood), Dallas, 9/2/20

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Hudson House recently opened their third Dallas location in the Lakewood area.  The restaurant is owned by Vandelay Hospitality and is said to be known for it’s East Coast oyster happy hour and burger.  It is open for lunch , dinner and brunch.  They offer curbside pick up as well as indoor dining.  Seating is in booths, tables and at the bar.  It is a pretty large place and people at the bar were well spaced but booth seating didn’t seem to be limited.  They also have a “Pineapple Room” available for parties and it was empty.  Reservations were necessary and there is plenty of parking in the lot out front.  All staff wore well fitting masks and were friendly and helpful.  Service was efficient but I didn’t feel rushed.  Inside there was a wood floor with bare wood tables.  Around the bar was a path of the tiniest tiles – very striking.  The walls held a lot of New York and sports based art.  Music was in the background and the place was well lit. Continue reading

Harbor House Inn, Elk, CA., 8/13 & 14/20

Harbor House Inn

The property where the Harbor House Inn is today was used as a place for the families brought in to work in the lumber industry in the late 1800’s. Goodyear Redwood Company bought the lumber mill and land in 1916 and hired Louis Christian Mullgardt to build a home that would showcase the beauty of the redwoods. Elk Redwood Company bought it in 1932 and from then it changed hands a number of times. In 2005 Jin and Eva Lu purchased the Inn and then closed it in 2013 when they did a 5 year renovation project. They have 6 traditional rooms in the main house and 5 standalone cottages that are on the grounds. We were lucky to stay in the Redwood Room of the main building. Normally I don’t post hotels on this blog but last post here was of the restaurant in the inn and I wanted you to also see the breakfasts that come with the rooms.

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Harbor House Restaurant, Elk, CA., 8/13/20

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Harbor House Restaurant had a 25 seat dining room but now offers seating on its back deck overlooking the Pacific coastline.  The Inn is in a 1916 logger’s retreat that has 9 rooms which were restored in 2018 by a 5 year remodeling.  Chef Matthew Kammerer uses exceptional local products based on the season to produce a seafood based tasting menu that is cooked with fire and steam.  The restaurant has one Michelin star and Chef Kammerer was named as a Best New Chef in 2019 Food & Wine Magazine.  They serve only a tasting menu of 9 savory and 2 sweet courses, with wine pairings available.  It is a pre-paid menu and not available on Tuesday and Wednesday.  There is plenty of parking out front and a selection of accommodations if you wish to stay there also.  The view is as magnificent as the food and they have a couple large awnings to provide some shade when the sun is up.  Later in the evening they roll those back and turn on the lights that are strung above and the portable heaters.   Staff were all friendly, helpful, masked and gloved and I noticed even during prep time in the kitchen the staff all wore masks.  Chef Kammerer does come out to serve some of the courses and visit with guests.  It appeared to have only one seating and the pacing was good but plan to spend about 4 hours, although it never lagged it was a nice relaxed pace.  Portion control was good.

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Noyo Harbor Inn Restaurant and Tavern, Fort Bragg, CA., 8/13/20

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Noyo Harbor Restaurant is part of the historic Noyo Harbor Inn in Fort Bragg, CA.  They have a good sized multi level patio for outside dining that overlooks the active marina and flowing river.  Many of the metal tables, but not all, had umbrellas to provide shade, were set on the patio’s tile floor, had some heaters and no music was in the  background.  Servers wore masks and each table had a small bottle of hand sanitizer.   The bathroom was inside by the inn’s check-in desk.   The lovely view and multiple levels made it a very pleasant place to sit enjoy your meal.   The restaurant had wild caught and daily catch from the harbor as well as vegetables and herbs from the Chef’s garden.  We were there midday and they had a brunch menu as well as daily specials.  It offered the aforementioned seafood as well as a number of breakfast items.  They had cocktails, beer and wine by the glass or bottle.  Service was friendly but less refined (one of the servers splashed coffee on my blouse while pouring).  I saw some of the breakfast food come out and the plates looked generous. Continue reading

Wild Fish, Little River, CA., 8/12/20

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Wild Fish was opened on November of 2011 by a British couple, Liz and Kelvin Jacobs, who had relocated to California.  She was a food writer and he a chef and they wanted to create a restaurant that served local, seasonal  and sustainable seafood and organic produce.  They have an additional place in Pacific Grove, CA.  They have been offering take out options but in Little River they also had a small patio behind the restaurant  that overlooked the ocean and greenery leading up to the shore.  There were only 6 small bare wood tables and one actually was on the parking lot.  The restaurant was behind a gas station/convenience store/post office and there were no umbrellas for shade but heaters were there for later in the evening.  There was music in the background, a small bottle of hand sanitizer on each table and  lots of plants on the patio.  Servers were friendly and wore masks.  They had a small but well chosen wine list and many wines were offered by the glass (a good pour) as well as by the bottle.  Each food item had a suggested wine to go with it and we chose to try their suggestions, creating our own tasting. Continue reading

Mission Ranch, Carmel, 7/31/20

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entrance on road

Mission Ranch dates back to the 1800’s.  It covers 22 acres with views of the Pacific Ocean, Point Lobos, Santa Lucia Mountains and the beach and Clint Eastwood, former Mayor of Carmel and longtime Carmel resident, rescued the property from developers and turned it into a resort location.  The 10 buildings on the property include 31 hotel rooms and a restaurant featuring Classic American cuisine where you can watch the sheep graze while you eat your dinner.  There was a piano bar but it is now closed due to Covid-19.  The restaurant does not take reservations but you can go by and get on a list and they will call you when your table is about ready.  Masks are required and tables are well spaced.  There were 2 large patio areas for dining with a few standing heaters in each area.  As the night wore on and the temperatures dropped they could have used a few more heaters.  Once we made it to the table service was prompt and friendly.  The menu and wine list are all available through the scan square and there is a wifi network if you don’t have service.  You can bring your own wine with a corkage of $25. Continue reading

Nepenthe, Big Sur, 7/31/20

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facility

Nepenthe is 808 feet above sea level in Big Sur on the site of The Log House that was built in 1925.  Nepenthe, named for a plant ancient writers described as inducing a pleasurable sensation, was designed by Rowan Maiden, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright using native materials of red wood and adobe so the building became one with the landscape.  It is a facility on several levels with the main dining area on the top, the gift shop on the first and a more casual dining spot on the second level.  You can drive up much of the hill but then there are several sets of stairs to climb to the top.  Each level has magnificent vistas to take in of the water and tree covered hills.  The main dining room for Nepenthe was a large room with a long counter that now serves as a staging area for the plates to be served on the outside seating on the balconies around it and the large patio in front of it.  There was music inside the room but none outside.  You need to walk through the room to get to the bathroom.   It is really busy so we got there before they opened and checked in to get a beeper that went off when they were ready to seat us. Continue reading

Aubergine (update), Carmel, 7/30/20

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L’Auberge Hotel

We visited Aubergine one year ago but currently California does not permit indoor dining.  Luckily Carmel has great weather for this change and the L’Auberge Hotel has a beautiful courtyard to move the restaurant guests to.   The polished wood tables are well spaced from each other and set with placemats and large linen napkins.  The patio has a brick floor, lots of plants and is punctuated with various lighting sources and heat lamps.  It is a lovely place to sit in the lighted hours as well as after the sun sets.  Various benches and chairs on the perimeter are used by people who ordered a separate drink from the bar.  All staff wore masks and were extraordinarily welcoming (as are all the staff at the hotel), especially Chef Justin Cogley who served some of the courses and visited with guests.  They now offer just one tasting menu to all and wine pairings are available.  You can view the wine list on your smart phone with the link provided.  Portion control was good and pacing was leisurely but never lagged.  It started quicker and then slowed slightly.  It still has one Michelin star but I see this place moving to 2 stars soon.  Put it on your list of places to go. Continue reading

La Bicyclette (update), Carmel, 7/30/20

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restaurant

Frankie and I visited La Bicyclette just a year ago and while the food is still good it is a much smaller place as all the seating has moved to the outside (due to Covid 19 regulations of CA.)   They have built a small deck so that seating is at sidewalk level but there are not many tables (I counted seven 2-tops and two 4-tops) and they do not take reservations.  We lined up before they opened and snagged one of the first round of seatings.  The small wood tables were set with a hand towel for a cloth with some umbrellas  and heaters dividing the tables.  The heaters would be good in the evening but during the daytime they could use more umbrellas as it gets quite sunny on this less busy street.  The menu offered a couple specials as well as a daily soup.  Service was friendly and helpful with all servers wearing masks and trying to afford distance  between them and patrons when possible. Continue reading

Flying Fish Grill, Carmel, 7/29/20

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entrance and patio

The Flying Fish Grill website still lists Tina and Kenny Fukumoto as owners rather than Honza Prikryl who bought it 3 years ago but has not been able to get control of the website to change things.  The menu is correctly reflected on the website except they temporarily don’t offer Clay Pots as that was part of the indoor service.  It looked like a cozy place but currently dining was outside of the restaurant, along the bricked corridor of a shopping plaza, set off the street.  The good sized tables were unclothed metal ones some with umbrellas attached.   Service was friendly but with a few glitches, but then everyone is adapting to new rules and systems.  The inside restaurant was down a set of stairs so staff had to bring everything up to the “new” dining area.   The menu is all about Asian fusion seafood and a couple specials were also offered by the server. Continue reading

Dametra Café, Carmel, 7/29/20

IMG_6596Dametra Café specializes in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food.  The small cafe opened in 2008 and is even smaller now having only outdoor dining due to Covid 19 restrictions of California.  The same table set up runs along the street in front of the building with tables divided by planters and heaters and separated from the street by a wooden fence.  The narrow, small tables are covered with bright yellow oil-cloth tableclothes and set at street level rather than sidewalk.  It makes some difficult to get in and out but didn’t seem to keep the crowd away.  It’s reputation is that there is often a line for walk-up guests but we were lucky and got a table when we arrived. They offer the same menu at lunch and dinner but add sandwiches to the lunch offerings.   They also have a more limited menu for curbside pickup.  Service was friendly, helpful and efficient.  Even with an ever-changing supply of table guests they did not rush us to finish up our wine so they could reseat the table. Continue reading

Restaurant Beck (re-visit), Depoe Bay, OR., 6/26/20

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reception area

Our third visit to Restaurant Beck we were a few minutes early and so had some time to explore old photos of the hotel, Whale Cove Inn, that has been its home for the 11 years it has been open.  The Inn has just 8 suites but all are spacious and have private balconies overlooking the Whale Cove.   We were lucky to secure one of the suites and that made it an even more fun experience to just walk down to dinner.  We were given a different table that changed the view slightly, but there is not a bad table in the place.  While looking over the menu and listening to the 70-80’s music in the background we got to talk with the wonderful server.  We wanted to do another 5 course tasting but wanted to make sure and have different things than we’d had the previous nights.   The previous night Stormee Wills had suggested another wine to try so we were not going to partake of the wine pairing options.  As with every night, portion control was on the generous side and pacing was well done – no lapses or rush. Continue reading