L’Arcane (update), Paris, 11/28/18

exterior
exterior

We visited L’Arcane for the first time about 18 months ago and they hadn’t been open long (opened June 2016).  On this re-visit pretty much every thing that bothered me about the place has been corrected and food remains outstanding.  Get it on your list as soon as you can.  The tables are still small but well spaced and the lighting is at a good level.  Soft music is in the background and some decorative changes, like wide planked wood floors and nice artwork, have been made that are all for the better.  They now have a well deserved one Michelin star rating.  Chef Laurent Magnin is now married to Sophie Keller who runs the front of the house.  They offer a tasting menu only with the option of 3, 4 or 5 different courses, but there are a couple of amuse bouche to add to it.  There is no printed menu.   Portion control was good and pacing on the slower side but nicely regular as opposed to having long gaps. Continue reading

Smyth, Chicago, 11/17/18

exterior
exterior

Smyth has a large open kitchen (with a wood fire), a small waiting area and 2 Michelin stars.  Upstairs from it is a ‘sister’ restaurant with a more casual mode.  Lighting is lower with plenty of candles in the room.  A variety of music plays in the background, including rap, on a real turntable.   The polished wood bare tabes were well spaced and set on a concrete floor with a wood ceiling overhead.  A couple of large wood columns are in the room, but they appeared to be structural.  It serves only a tasting menu which you designate the length of when you make your reservation.  Ours was the Omaha tasting.  Wine pairings were available, as are non-alcoholic pairings, but we ordered our own wines.  Service was excellent and friendly and pacing was good.  This meal started strong and never let up the quality – put it on your list if you’re in Chicago. Continue reading

Oriole, Chicago, 11/16/18

entrance
entrance

Oriole is located on an alley that the Uber driver didn’t want to go down because he was sure that a 2 star Michelin restaurant wouldn’t be ‘down that little alley’.  However it was and worth walking those extra 20 feet to the subtly lit door.  Once inside there is a small waiting area where we were served a warmed spiced drink.  They actually sent us home with the herbs and recipe to recreate at home if desired.  After we had chatted with the hostess and checked out coats she opened what looked like an old elevator door and we were led into the nice dining room.  There were only about ten 2-top and two 4-top tables, so I wouldn’t call it large, but the tables were well spread out and good sized.  The lighting was lowered and the exposed brick walls were lined with bench seating equipped with pillows.  From the wood ceiling with exposed ductwork,  a number of  light fixtures hung that came in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Some glass bricked windows, jazzy music in the background, an open kitchen, lots of candles, some  interesting art work and wood columns completed the decorative elements.  There was a definite hum in the room but no noise problem.  They have been here for 3 years and offer one tasting menu that is full of wonderful flavors for all guests.  Wine pairings are offered (2 levels as well as non-alcoholic) but we chose to order our own wines.  Pacing was great and portion control perfect. Continue reading

Roister, Chicago, 11/16/18

entrance
entrance

Roister is a good sized place that opened in 2016 with a large bar surrounding the open kitchen that also has seating in addition to the dining room. It has been awarded one Michelin star.  It is a part of the Alinea group but the food is under the supervision of Chef Brochu.  We were there for lunch/brunch and I noticed the dinner menu offers some different  options.  The casual atmosphere had fairly loud background music and comfortable bar seating.  In the back was a pile of wood that is used in some cooking.  The lighting is subdued but spot lights provide plenty of light at each seat.  The staff was exceptionally friendly and helpful, however the prep people that stood right in front of us seemed to have no interest in interaction with guests.  The menu had a number of interesting sounding dishes so we ordered a series of plates to split. Continue reading

Alinea, Chicago, 11/15/18

Entrance
entrance

Alinea opened in 2005 and is Chicago’s only 3 star Michelin restaurant.  This is a second visit for us, but we read about their big redo around 2015 and thought maybe things had changed, especially since Alinea means “the beginning of a new train of though.”  Grant Achatz is still the chef and he is no more personable than he was before, however most of the staff were very friendly and exceptionally attentive.  What I objected to before has just become even  more prominent.  If you’ve read many of my write ups, you know flavor is most important to my dining experience.  This place is all about the theater and show of your dinner.  You move around, lots of props are in play (music, smoke, ceiling art, etc.) and there is really a show of all the staff moving about servicing the tables.  Flavor is too far down on their list of priorities for me, but if you’ve never been to a place with so much show and innovative cuisine, it is worth one visit.  But be forewarned, you will leave with a lot less money and still hungry. Continue reading

Werneckhof by Geisel, Munich, 10/27/18

building
building

Werneckhof is a good sized place that spreads over 2 rooms.  Marble tile is on the floor and the lots of dark wood makes up the walls and seating.  Benches line most of the walls that match up with comfortable chairs at the well spaced large tables.  Low lighting, white tablecloths and napkins, no background music, leaded glass windows on one wall and an enormous chandelier are other features to the room.  They have achieved a 2 Michelin star rating because of their great food and superior service.  Twin brothers fill the rolls of sommelier, Toby Klaas, and manager, Markus Klaas.   They were both totally welcoming and helpful as well as keeping the pacing spot on while attending to your every need.  In fact all the service people we dealt with there were outstanding.  Chef Tohru Nakamura has been here since 2013 and was also very personable.  If you get the opportunity to go, do so cause he makes food you don’t want to miss.  The menu offered 2 tastings with 5 or 7 course options with optional wine pairings.  The table didn’t all have to get the same thing so we opted to have both of the 7 course options and order our own wines.  Some of the courses did overlap.   Continue reading

Schuhbecks Fine Dining, Munich, 10/27/18

building
building

Schuhbeck’s Fine Dining is made up of 2 rooms with shiny wood tables and windows along one wall looking out on the street.   An elegant atmosphere with plush banquette seating along the walls and arm chairs for those facing.  Paintings, mirrors and fancy plaster work decorate the walls and reflect the elaborate chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.  The bar area in one room is gold material behind the lighting reflecting the glassware.  Music in the background is 60’s American songs,  They opened 2 years ago and already have one Michelin star.  For lunch they offered an a la carte menu or a 2, 3, 4 or 5 course menu with wine pairings available for the 3 – 5 course options.   There were at least 3 choices to pick from for each of the courses and I’m guessing for the 5 course you just chose 2 from one section.  Service was attentive and super friendly and welcoming.  We chose the 3 course menu and ordered our own wine. Continue reading