Coque (update), Madrid, 3/7/20

IMG_4163
exterior

We visited Coque a little over 3 years ago and 2 years and 7 months ago they moved to a new location.  It still has a similar format to the older place in that you move to different locations in the building to eat and drink various offerings.  This 2 star Michelin restaurant serves everyone the same tasting menu.  It is a modern, stylish set up but it does not allow you to make personal connections with staff or other diners.  There are lots of bites on the menu but it is not a stuffing meal, despite that.  I also found the timing to be off with some rooms lingering too long while others were sped through.  They offer drink pairings for purchase and then some courses come with a beverage.  We selected our own wine which you do while in the large wine room.  They have a large list but not much help in selection.  It would have been nice to have the list while in the bar area where we spent a good amount of time with just one bite and  a cocktail.  In this new location they have changed the dining room chairs I objected to in the original place, which is a huge plus in my opinion.  One of the most memorable parts of the place is it’s amazing collection of plates and serving dishes. Continue reading

Antiqvvm, Porto, 3/5/20

IMG_2252
museum on the top, restaurant below

Antiqvvm was located on the basement level of a large building that housed a museum on the floors above.  There was a terrace off the back that had amazing views of the water and city but weather was not with us that day however the table we had was next to floor to ceiling windows which felt about the same.  The white cloth covered tables were well spaced and music was in the background.  The room we sat in looked like it was an enclosed porch but now had carpets on the concrete floor however the stone details of the walls and windows were still intact.  A timber ceiling had been painted over and some the the seating was in a bench format.  They had been open for 5 years last October and received their one Michelin star in the first year they were open.  They offered 3 tastings, one of which was vegetarian and one was entirely seafood.  They also had an a la carte menu and a special lunch menu of 3 or 4 courses (for 3 you chose between fish or meat and with 4 you get both).  They had a number of wines by the glass and we ordered some of them to go with the lunch menu.  Service was efficient, super friendly and our server spoke great English. Continue reading

Restaurante Pedro Lemos, Porto, 3/4/20

IMG_1862
exterior

Pedro Lemos, located on a really narrow little street, opened in 2009.  The downstairs level had wine storage, the bathroom and a large dining table for big groups.  In 2015 they did a major renovation and made the upstairs a room with more widely spaced  tables and took out a bar area and fireplace to make this additional space between tables.  The nice sized tables were set with white clothes, napkins, purse stools and armless padded chairs.  There were windows to the outside on 2 walls and a beautiful old wood floor.  A decoration of swallows crossed the ceiling and on to the upper part of the dark walls.  Music was in the background and the lighting was lowered.  They offered two tasting menus of 8 or 10 courses and optional wine pairings.  We chose the 10 course tasting.  Portions were on the large side and pacing was good.  The staff were quite friendly and spoke great English.  It has one Michelin star. Continue reading

La Scene par Stephanie Le Quellec, Paris, 12/7/19

IMG_6003
exterior

La Scene par Stephanie Le Quellec opened on October 9.  You enter on the street level and there is a stunning bar counter and a few tables.  To go to dinner you head down the stairs to the totally stylish dining room.  Banquette seating is along both of the long walls in the rectangular room.  One end of the room is the open kitchen  and opposite that are a couple free standing tables.  The tables are marble topped  and appointed with lovely linen napkins.  The walls of the room have curved wood pieces and lighted opaque glass between them. It is truly striking but very difficult to describe, so look at the pictures below.  The tables are on the small side and fairly closely set but each had lovely flowers in an unusual vase on them.  Music is in the background and the room is softly lit.  There are a couple seats at the kitchen counter and carpet is on the floor, so noise was not an issue.  Chef Le Quellec was in the kitchen and did come out to the room to visit with all the guests.  They offer several tasting menus (3, 4 or 7 courses and a truffle menu) and a la carte selections.  Since we were there they have been awarded 2 Michelin stars. Continue reading

Arpège (update), Paris, 12/6/19

IMG_5219
building

It’s been 3 years since we visited Alain Passard’s Arpège and while the interior hasn’t changed the prices have continued to creep up and the surprise tasting lunch now contains no major meat course, that is to be ordered separately off the a la carte menu.  It’s still cheaper than dinner but it’s definitely more expensive.  They also have more expensive tastings and the a la carte menu if you so chose.  We took the surprise tasting and added the roast guinea fowl (lunch took about 4 hours).   I was surprised to find so many dishes that were similar to our past visits.  Another change was when we arrived they tried to seat us downstairs.  Mind you it’s a nice room downstairs and it is on the same level as the bathroom but it feels a little like you’ve been banished to the non-French room.  We asked to sit upstairs and they had to deliberate a bit which considering that no one was seated there seemed off-putting.  Chef Passard was in the house and worked the room and was most gracious when he visited with us, but I felt for those others who meekly took the table they were guided to.   Another change was that vegetables no longer adorn the tables as decorations and instead new plates add color to the table. Continue reading

Le Pré Catelan, Paris, 12/5/19

IMG_4801
building

Le Pré Catelan is in a rental conference building that dates back to 1935.  It was a casino in the days before it became a restaurant that now holds a 3 Michelin star rating.  The elegant room is set with large tables covered first with a floor length beige satin cloth and then covered with a white linen one.  Music is in the background, heavy drapes are beside the windows that look out on the lighted landscaped grounds.  The green carpet makes a nice contrast with the white marble parts of the wall.  Lots of sculpted plaster adorns the walls with lowered lighting in the room and an huge chandelier hangs in the center of the room over the small service table.  Candlelight is from the long stemmed candles on each table.  A couple of the tables near the windows are set with rounded couches opposite the chairs but otherwise the tables are appointed with comfortable arm chairs.  The room exudes class and only holds 10 tables, but the service is nicely friendly and welcoming, not stiff or too formal.  Perhaps they detected my preference?  The menu is a la carte with one tasting menu option. Both pacing and portion control were good. Continue reading

Pierre Gagnaire (update), Paris 12/4/19

IMG_4092
exterior

It’s been 5 years since we ate at Pierre Gagnaire, a long standing Paris restaurant with 3 Michelin stars.  While Chef Gagnaire moved his talents to Paris in 1996, he now has many restaurants but this one in the Hôtel Balzac is his flagship, where it has been there 15 years.  It has a separate entrance from the hotel and a small bar area where you enter.  It is a medium sized place spread over several rooms.  The main dining room was redone by Carolyn Quatermaine who used pages of books to cover the walls with recipes some of which were handwritten by Pierre Gagnaire’s father who was a cook.  The well spaced large tables are draped with double long white clothes and set with fine linen napkins.  The lighting is lowered and there is no music in the background.  Along with the carpet, many wood surfaces and padded chairs the noise level is low and because of the spacing conversations remained private.  The menu offers a la carte options, a tasting menu and the night we were there a truffle tasting menu.   Wine pairings are available for the tasting menu.  We opted to start with a cocktail, order our own wine and have the tasting menu.  Service and pacing were excellent and portion control generous.  They did bring the truffles by to tempt you to add them to something or order that menu.   Continue reading

Restaurant Bel Etage, Basel, 10/26/19

IMG_1629
exterior of hotel

Bel Etage is the one Michelin Star restaurant on the second floor of the Der Teufelhof Hotel.   It is made up of several rooms of well spaced tables covered with ecru cloths and coordinating striped napkins.  Windows to the street were in the room which had a lovely old wood floor and crystal chandeliers.  No music is in the background and the rooms are mostly quiet except for the creaking of the old floors.  Lots of art adorns the walls.  Service was not polished but mostly friendly and English was limited.  They never re-offered the bread tray and didn’t pick up some dropped flatware that was on the floor. They offered 3 different tasting menus as well as an a la carte menu.  Wine pairings are available as well a a liquor of the month.  We thought the smallest tasting sounded best and so chose it and our own bottle of wine. Continue reading

Restaurant Stucki – Tanja Grandits, Basel, 10/25/19

IMG_0880
building

Tanja Grandits or as it was called Stucki is spread over several rooms in a large mansion in a residential neighborhood of Basel.  The restaurant was named for Hans Stuki who opened it in the 1960s and ran it until passing away in 1998.  Chef Tanja Grandits took over in 2008 and has since obtained a 2 Michelin Star rating.  It is a modern looking place inside with gray walls and carpet.  The good sized tables are well spaced and set with white clothes and napkins.  There were votive candles and small flowers on the table but both had broken blooms included.  The lighting was slightly softened and the windows to the outside were covered with drapes.  There was no music in the background and the room had a small center service table.  They serve only a tasting menu of 8 or 12 courses and offer wine pairings as well as non-alcoholic pairings.   We got the longer tasting and ordered our own wines.  Pacing was awful, starting really slow, speeding up and then moving to painfully slow but portion control was good. Continue reading

Roots, Basel, 10/25/19

IMG_0674
exterior

Roots is a large place located down by the waterfront.  The fairly well spaced pedestal tables were covered by white cloths and appointed with bench seating opposite chairs.  The room is filled with art and signs with funny statements about food and beverage.  Music was in the background and the room was well lit but there were 3 sides full of windows.  You can watch the boats and joggers go by.  There is a patio but no one was out there the day we went.  They have been in this location for 2 years and already have one Michelin Star.  At lunch the offered a business lunch of 2 or 3 courses offering options from the dinner menu and a ‘rootilicious lunch’ of 3 to 4 courses.  They had specials on wines by the glass to go with the menus.   We chose the business lunch and some of their wine by the glass.  The pours were small.   Service was effecient and friendly and the chef did come out but he did not visit with every table. Continue reading

Restaurant Le Cheval Blanc, Basel, 10/24/19

IMG_9408
hotel exterior

Le Cheval Blanc is the other restaurant in the Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois but this one has 3 Michelin Stars.  It is a large elegant room with a candelabra or single candle on each double clothed well spaced table set with huge linen napkins.  The ten tables vary in size and the smaller ones have a little service table adjacent to them to hold wine or whatever.  Purse stools are available, the lighting is lowered, there is no music (but the piano playing in the lobby did bleed into the room), there is a patio, windows look out onto the water and crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling with the largest being over the center marble service table.  They offer a tasting menu as well as an a la carte menu.  The larger version of the tasting menu comes with 4 starters whereas a slightly smaller tasting comes with just 2.  The prices include service and VAT.  Service was friendly and efficient and the staff spoke great English.  Chef Peter Knogl came out toward the end of service to greet and talk with his guests.  He has been with this restaurant 12 years.  You also could see him in the kitchen through the window in the hall that you pass on the way to the bathroom.  His awards line one of the windows.  Before service begins they brought around a warm moist cloth to wipe your hands, always a nice touch. Continue reading

Restaurant Les Quatre Saisons, Basel, 10/23/19

IMG_9617
outside entrance

Les Quatre Saisons is a one Michelin star restaurant in the Pullman Hotel.  The hotel is lovely as is the restaurant dining room.  The large room is filled with well spaced, good sized tables that are covered with nice cloths and large well starched matching napkins and set with comfortable stuffed chairs.  Brown wood cabinets are along some of the perimeter and from the ceiling hang many large chandeliers covered with concentric circles of strung beads that provide a nice amount of light.  There are less than 15 tables, faint music is in the background (in fact it was really quiet), some of the floor has carpet but tile is around the edge and the walls are decorated with mirrors.   The menu offers a la carte options and vegetarian and degustation tastings.  The staff spoke great English.  We chose the degustation menu and the pacing was very slow but portion was control good, that tended toward large.   Continue reading

Gramercy Tavern (update), New York City, 10/16/19

IMG_8722
exterior

It’s been 5 years since we ate at Gramercy Tavern Dining Room, a large 2 room place fronted by the Gramercy Bar.  The dining room offers a tasting menu as well as a la carte and takes reservations whereas the bar is snacks and no reservations.  It is far more relaxed in the one Michelin star elegant dining room with lots of seasonal flowers decorating the white cloth covered tables set with large white napkins, lowered lighting and soft jazz music in the background.  Lots of art is in the room as well as nicely padded seating and wide plank wood floors.  Excellent friendly service attends the customers and they were willing to make some changes to the tasting menu which was our choice for the lunch.  Pacing of the tasting was spot on and portion control was great.  The food is wonderful as was the total experience there.  Don’t know why I waited so long to go back.  I recommend it. Continue reading

Atomix, New York City 10/15/19

IMG_8329
entrance

Atomix is a tasting menu only for 14 people at a lower level u-shaped counter.  It has only been open one year and was recently elevated to a 2 Michelin star rating.  The lighting is lowered in the room and small spots shine on the granite counter and light wood ceiling and walls.  The bar is upstairs where you enter and then down the stairs is a small lounge area.  Modern music plays in the background.  Each course is presented with a corresponding card that talks about the dish and has an illustration associated with it.  The dishes have a Korean influence and wine pairings are available.  The menu changes 4 times a year.  Without knowing what was to be served we opted to try the pairings for the meal.  The service was pleasant (there seemed to be more staff than guests), portioning light and pacing moved along nicely but I never got a commrodery at the counter.  Explanations are more from the cards than the staff and while I found the dishes artistic, precise and thoughtful they were mostly on the bland side of things but with very clean tastes. Continue reading

Restaurant Haerlin, Hamburg, 9/21/19

 

IMG_7278
entrance from hotel

Haerlin is one large dining room right off the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel in Hamburg. Ecru floor length cloths drape the good sized tables that are set with matching napkins and stuffed armchairs.  Music is in the background of this elegant room.  Windows overlook the street outside on one end of the room.  While the setting was nice the service was stiff and cold.  (They were most upset when we poured our own wine but they continually passed the table and left our glasses empty.  They actually took away one of the empty glasses with the bottle still half full.)  Even with a 2 star Michelin rating it was not a particularly comfortable atmosphere unless you wanted to pose.  They offered 2 tasting menus and wine pairings are available for each, but do not pair wine with each course.  We chose the “Big Palate Party” and ordered out own wines.  Pacing was on the slower side but portion control was good.  Overall the food was on the bland side even with a lot of ingredients on the plate and the dishes chosen often proved to be distracting/clashing to the food presented.  On the table was a card holder where they would place a written description of what you are having.  It was a nice touch. Continue reading

Louis C. Jacob Restaurant, Hamburg, 9/20/19

IMG_6596
building

Louis C. Jacob Restaurant is in the hotel of the same name.  It is an elegant large room overlooking the water in the small boutique hotel and has a rating of 2 Michelin stars.  The building dates to the 1700’s with the last major renovation in 1990’s.  The restaurant had one star by 1995 and its second in 1997.  The building has always been a restaurant or bar.  The beautiful hard wood floor is set off by two massive crystal chandeliers overhead.  Sage green velvet arm chairs are at the white cloth covered tables and gray plush velvet chairs are at the bare polished wood tables.  All the large tables are nicely spaced and set with well starched large cloth napkins. Service was excellent and most of the staff were very conversant in English.  Music is in the background.  They offer two tasting menus, 4 or 6 courses, with pairings offered and a la carte. Most of the a la carte dishes were available to substitute on the tasting but there could be a surcharge.  We chose the longer tasting and ordered our own wines. Continue reading

The Table Kevin Fehling, Hamburg, 9/19/19

IMG_5966
building

The Table Kevin Fehling can accomodate a couple dozen people whose arrival times are slightly staggered.  Inside the non-descript brick building is a modern interior with a serpentine bar for seating and high ceilings.  There is a small balcony that overlooks the dining room where guests can have cocktails prior to being seated.  Shades of gray dominate the room with colored pieces curling off the ceiling that are not only striking but also provide sound dampening. Spot lighting keeps each seat well lit while the room lights are dimmed.  The walls are concrete and the open kitchen is the focal point.  Art and flowers provide some softness for the interior.  They serve only a tasting menu and all guests have the same thing, except where allergies don’t permit.  The menu changes one course every 3 months.  Wine pairings (pours looked generous) are available.  The pacing of the meal was great as was the portion control.   They present you with a copy of the menu at the end to take with you.  The staff all spoke great English and were quite friendly.  The restaurant has been awarded a 3 Michelin star rating. Continue reading

Seven Seas Gourmet Restaurant, Hamburg, 9/18/19

IMG_5114
exterior

Seven Seas Restaurant is in the Süllberg Hotel on top of a hill by the water.  It is a small elegant room with ten large, well spaced tables set with lovely linens and large napkins.  Faint music is in the background and the lighting is lowered.  The colors are gold and beige with heavy pulled back drapes.  The restaurant is named Seven Seas because they are at the harbor where all the ships arrive on their way to Hamburg.  The windows around the dining room allow you to watch all the ships and small craft that do pass by.  It was a lovely view even after the sun went down.  The round room has a center column that is decorated to look like a compass.  The room was re-done in 2002 when Chef Karlheinz Hauser took over.  They offer 3 tasting menu options with wine pairings available.  One tasting is vegetarian.   Servers were friendly, but kept their distance, with good English but the pacing of the meal was slow. Continue reading

Restaurante Tuju, São Paulo, 9/13/19

IMG_4311
exterior

Restaurant Tuju is a good sized modern looking place.  The large bare wood tables are well spaced on a tile floor with a wood ceiling overhead.  They are set with padded arms chairs and lovely cloth napkins.  Soft lighting is in the room and music is in the background.  An open kitchen is on one end of the room and opposite is a bar.  Spanning the two are a glass wall behind which is the plant covered wall opposite to a wall with mirrors.  It has a 2 Michelin star rating, has been open 5 years and offers 2 different tastings for 5 or 12 courses.  The menu changes every several months.  Wine pairings are available.  We chose the longer tasting and ordered our own wines.  The staff were efficient, friendly and spoke good English. Continue reading

DOM, São Paulo,9/12/19

IMG_3586
exterior

DOM is a small place with about 7 tables, one some being upstairs.  There is little marking of the place outside but the valet stand indicates something fancy is inside.  The front door is huge – maybe 10 feet tall.  It has been awarded 2 Michelin stars, has low lighting, music in the background and a center serving table under a decorative chandelier.  Some of the closely spaced large tables were a polished wood with linen placemats and others were cloth covered and some had bench seating while others had stuffed chairs.  The kitchen is in one corner of the room but mostly closed off from the dining room except for a small window.  They offered several different tasting menus, no a la carte, with one being vegetarian.  The menu stresses Brazil’s indigenous foods and flavors.  Wine pairing are available with the tastings.  The food has quality ingredients but mostly was underflavored for me.  This was their 20th anniversary of being in business. Service was attentive and the staff spoke good English.  Pacing and portion control were good. Continue reading

Maní Manioca, São Paulo, 9/11/19

IMG_2921
exterior

Maní Manioca has a one star Michelin rating.  It is a long fairly large place with a good sized enclosed patio in the back.  Upon entering there is a long hallway for waiting that has benches on either side.  The small tables are nicely spaced and set with white clothes and napkins, however they were too small to hold the dishes if you had the breads.  The stucco walls are decorated with mirrors and art.  Music plays in the background and lighting is lowered with lots of short candles in the rooms. They offered 3 tasting menus.  The 3 course allowed you to pick courses from the a la carte menu.  Wine pairings were available with the largest tasting.  Service was friendly and helpful with passable English.  Portions were generous but pacing was a tad variable.  We ordered the largest tasting menu which was by Chef Helena Rizzo, who was named Best Female Chef of the Year by Restaurant Magazine in 2014. Continue reading

Aubergine, Carmel, 8/9/19

interior
interior

Aubergine is a tiny place that received a one Michelin star rating in the newest California guide, a first for the central coast.  It is one smallish room in the L’Auberge Hotel, but they also have a table in the wine cellar and some lounge seating.  Two of the walls of the room have bench seating while the third wall is windows to the street that were mercifully covered with curtains – as they get the afternoon sun.  The white ceiling is decorated with dark beams and the flooring is  a gray wood.  The white tablecloth covered tables are small and surprisingly close, but it was a small room and they only had 9 tables.  The 5 waiters provided plenty of attentive service.  Pacing was good to relaxed and portion control good.  There was some music in the background, lowered lighting and constant flow of people in and out of the hotel.  They serve two tasting menus, seasonal and signature, and do offer wine pairings (2 levels).  We chose the signature menu and ordered our own bottles of wine.  The service included lots of the main dishes coming out on platter to be shown before preparing your portion.  It was usually before you were served the item but I’ve grouped the photos with their appropriate course.  The ambiance is different but the place is worth a visit if you have the opportunity. Continue reading

Providence (update), Los Angeles, 6/1/19

exterior
exterior

It’s been 3 years since we visited Providence.  Since that time Michelin has issued a new California guide that reinstated the previous rank of Providence as a 2 Michelin star restaurant.  Also the restaurant has redone the dining space.  The new gray walls are in place of the patterned ones but are still decorated with the white flowers and the ‘netting material’ continues to cover the ceiling.  They retained an elegance in the room with a double white table cloth covering the large tables that are moderately spaced.  The bench seating is now covered with leather and dark velvet mated on the other side with comfortable chairs. Music plays in the background and service is friendly and very attentive.  They offer 3 tasting menus with optional pairings, additional options (oysters, caviar, uni, and spot prawns) and a full bar.  We chose the Chef’s tasting menu and ordered our own wines.  It was an excellent meal – full of wonderful flavors and textures.    This place gets 2 strong thumbs up from me.  Pacing started rapidly and then slowed down a bit.  Portion control was great. Continue reading

Somni, Los Angeles, 5/31/19

seating counter
seating counter

Somni means “dream” in Catalan and this place is the dream of Chef Aitor Zabala and Chef José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup.  It is inside the SLS Hotel Beverly Hills and offers a surprise tasting menu of about 20 courses.  The menu changes with the seasons and mostly as an individual item at a time and they did have a printed version of the tasting for you when you finished.  They received a 2 star Michelin rating in the new California Michelin Guide.  You entered into the hotel lobby, which felt more like a mini department store, where you waited to be ushered into the dining room.  The dining room is a lovely light wood curved counter with plush chairs for 10 people.  The large group of chefs work at the several counters in front of you and also in a back area that is less visible.  The white surfaces look pristine with the light woods and marble and small spotlights hang over every seat so you can enjoy the artistry of the dishes.  Some art is on the back walls but the real art is in the kitchen in front of you.  It felt elegant and serene.  Service was amazing along with questions easily answered by any of the chefs that served you.  It was a totally delightful and delicious experience.  I suspect that this is the work of manager Eric Jeffay (who we met at D.C.’s Minibar) and is well versed in providing the finest service.  I encourage you to go if you get the chance the food is gorgeous, as is the room, and explodes with flavor.   Continue reading

Momofuku Ko (update), New York City, 5/4/19

open kitchen
open kitchen

We visited Ko one year ago and the entrance changed positions but not much else has changed significantly.   The seats at the counter seemed better spaced but the loud music still makes conversation difficult.  They offer 2 seatings in a night and they are staggered slightly so waiting wasn’t a problem.  They offer only the same tasting menu to all and it was surprisingly similar to what we were served a year ago.  They probably offer wine pairings but we chose to order our own wines.  They do have a couple tables for larger groups but everyone else is seated at the wood bar in acceptable but not super comfy seats.  They have purse hooks under the counter but it was so far under you’d never be able to retrieve your purse if you need anything.  Pacing was uneven and portion control was on the light side.  You do receive a menu at the end but many of the things I well recognized from our last visit.  I mentioned this to the chef who was a bit defensive that they’d made changes but they were minor to the diner.  Unfortunately this similarity made the meal less exciting to me. Continue reading

Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare (update), New York City, 5/3/19

building
building

We were at Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare in the fall of 2015, back when it was in Brooklyn.  It has since moved into the city and relaxed a few of the rules.  Chef César Ramirez now allows note taking and photos but still does not permit jeans and requires coats for men in the dining room.  I was not a fan of such policies back then and still am not but was willing to try the new location that was more under my terms.  The new place in still in the back of a grocery store but the room is beautiful, softer than the old one with a lot less stainless steel and more woods.  It is also much larger with 20 seats at the counter and 20 at tables around the perimeter.  This allows larger parties to attend and the comfortable counter seats have backs and are now spaced between parties.  Shining copper pots hang above the large open kitchen that has lots of people making preparations.  The rock music in the background was a bit jarring for the otherwise elegant setting.  It still is a surprise tasting menu only but they do give you a copy of what you had at the end of the meal.  Pairings are available.  Pacing was good but portions tend to the large size and are fairly rich. Continue reading

Marea (update), New York City, 5/3/19

entry
entry

It’s been 4 years since we ate at Marea, a 2 star Michelin restaurant that specializes in seafood with an Italian influence.  The food here is all very flavorful with out dots or smears – just plain good and fresh.  It is a huge place, elegantly appointed but with closely set tables and some noise issues when it is full.  At lunch it was packed.  There is a lot of art on the walls and windows to the street on two sides of the large dining area.  They also have a long bar area with a beautiful yellow glass wall running behind the bar.  The wood on the walls is polished to a high sheen and you’re likely to spot some bold name people dining with you or in passage from one of the private dining rooms.  (I spotted Michael Douglas as he exited).  At lunch they offer a selection of primi and secondi courses with a fixed price of $63 for the two of your choice, however some selections will have a supplemental charge and a 5 course tasting menu for $99 with optional wine pairings offered.  The tasting includes dessert and although the menu is already set they were willing to make some changes for us and we did not have to get the same things, so that is the deal to get.  We ordered our own bottle of wine and had a cocktail and still beat the cost of buying the pairings, but just barely.  Service was excellent, friendly and efficient.  Put this place on your list if you can. Continue reading

Bozar Restaurant, Brussels, 4/27/19

one entrance
one entrance

Bozar is the one star Michelin restaurant in the Palais des Beaux Arts Museum.  Chef Karen Torosyan, the ‘Pie King’,  is noted for his pâté en croûte and in 2015 he was named the World Champion of Pâté en Croûte.  However be warned, if you want to try any of his crusts they must be order about a week ahead of time.  We ordered a Pithiviers a week before and tried to order a Millefeuille that evening and were told it was not possible.  They also offer 3 and 5 course tasting menus with wine pairings available.  It is a large place on multiple levels with bare marble tables closely set and appointed with bare wood armless chairs.  One end of the longer room is the open kitchen where there is a always a flurry of activity.  Karen Torosyan was there and very busy in the kitchen, with his name etched on the end of the huge stainless steel cooktop.   Lights are dimmed and the noise level is high.  Service was friendly, spoke good English and reasonably attentive.   Continue reading

Restaurant De Jonkman, Brugge, 4/27/19

entering
entering

De Jonkman was started in 2006 by Chef Filip Claeys and his wife Sandra Claeys.  It is a short train ride from Brussels to a shrubbery surrounded modern house in Brugge.   There are colorful and whimsical animals outside the windows and in some of the several dining rooms. Detailing of the interior and exterior design is lovely and lots of large windows to the lush grounds serve as walls for the dining rooms.  Art by Belgian artists and mirrors adorn other walls and the large white cloth covered tables are well spaced and fitted with comfortable chairs.  They have 2 Michelin stars and chef Claeys was on hand the day we were there to produce some wonderful dishes for us to enjoy.  He really stresses sustainable food sourcing and works to highlight local products that are not usually on menus, especially fish that would often be thrown back and he finds a way to turn them into something delicious.  It is worth a trip to Brugge; the food is outstanding.  The staff were all friendly and spoke great English.  The menu offered a la carte options as well as 5, 6 and 7 course tastings.  Working with the chef we were able to select a la carte options that would highlight what he thought looked best that day. Continue reading

La Paix (update), Brussels, 4/26/19

building
building

We last visited La Paix 2 years ago.  Since then they have been elevated to a 2 star Michelin rating.  The beautiful origami bird sculpture still graces the 1892 dining room built in a retired bank that processed the money from the meat slaughterhouses across the street.  Chef David Martin was in the kitchen and while he has changed the hours and days the food is still of great quality and flavor.  I recommend you visit here if you can.  The tasting menu changes every couple months but individual dishes  change with availability and seasons.  His staff, along with his partner Nathalie Obbiet, could not have made us feel more welcome.  They offer a 6 course tasting only on Thursday and Friday evenings and lunch Tuesday through Friday.  The large open kitchen is at the back of the room and one side is filled with an old bar that serves as a service area, not for seating, and stocks a full bar.  The large fish tanks have moved into the center of the room for all to easily admire the size of the crabs and lobsters.  The bare wood tables are nicely spaced and most include a side service table so crowding is not an issue.  The old wood floor is gorgeous and the lighting is lowered but far from dim.  Pacing was great as was the portion control of the tasting. Continue reading