Maní Manioca, São Paulo, 9/11/19

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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

Churrascaria Boi na Brasa, São Paulo/ 9/11/19

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entrance

Boi na Brasa is one large room in a corner building with open windows to the street on two sides.  Ceiling fans try and move the air in the large space.  The room had a long bar for service and cooking, no stools and a grilling area.  The closely set tables are wood with marble tops set with plastic placemats.  The menu has pictures of some of the dishes which is helpful since most of the staff spoke little English but were very friendly.  The tables have condiments and a dispenser for tiny paper napkins.  It feels very old school with waiters dressed in white jackets and providing tableside service.    The tap beers are served in hollowed aluminum mugs which are supposed to keep it colder.   Continue reading

Churrascaria Vento Haragano, São Paulo, 9/10/19

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Exterior

Vento Haragano is a huge place with a massive “salad bar” in the middle of the place.  The bar has about 5 counters and contains fruit, salad, ham, vegetables, cheese, breads, sushi, and salad.  It is all you can eat bonanza.  In addition carvers roam the room with skewers of different cuts of meat.  You have a coaster like thing that says stop here on one side and no more on the other.  There were supposed to be over 20 cuts of beef, pork, chicken, lamb and fish, but it seemed to have repeats of about a dozen options instead.  The large tables are spaced nicely and set with white tableclothes and napkins.  The room has a domed ceiling in the center that has beams soaring up accent the salad bar area below.  There was plenty of noise in the room and lots of big groups making a party of the meal, but it was still easy to have a conversation at the table.  Most of the guests were men (about 70% to 30% women).  The servers were all friendly. Continue reading

A Casa do Porco Bar, São Paulo, 9/10/19

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entrance

A Casa do Porco is Portuguese for House of the Pig and this good sized place is all about pork.  They even offer a pig tasting, which features pork in all 9 courses (some just one bite),  that takes about 2 hours and an a la carte menu.  Pacing of the tasting was good as was the portion control.  A small newspaper is at your seat which describes in detail (in Portuguese) the pork tasting.  If you have the opportunity I highly recommend the place.  A large open kitchen is in the back of the space and there are pig decorations everywhere.  Music was in the background and the lighting varied depending on where you sat.  They did have good air conditioning, the bare wood tables had a red checked mat like in the center and the cloth napkins were the size of  dish rags.  The place quickly filled with people, in fact there was a line outside to get in when it opened.  Service was friendly but with limited English.  One interesting thing was that the bathrooms had dental floss dispenser – which was totally handy after a meal of meat. Continue reading

GW Fins Restaurant, New Orleans, 8/28/19

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exterior

GW Fins is a large place in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  At the entrance there is a large bar area to the left and a several tiered dining space to the right, separated by a huge fish sculpture.  Booths are set in arcs around the room and tables are in the middle.  Wood pillars break up the huge space and art is on the walls, except for the one wall that is windows to the street.  No music is in the background and the lights are lowered in the room but spots accent many of the tables.  While there is noise in the room from the many diners, conversation at the table seemed easy and private.  Double white clothes and folded napkins are set at the good sized tables.  They have been in business for 17 years.   They have an a la carte menu but also offer a fixed price meal where you chose from 3 options for 3 courses.  Service was helpful, friendly and opinionated.  Various personnel stoped by often to check on everything.  It was nice, not intrusive. Continue reading

Suomi Restaurant, Houghton, MI, 8/19/19

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exterior

Suomi is a large place with counter seating as well as tables in two rooms.  They are a Finnish place that sells meals as well as baked goods to go.  The restaurant building dates back to 1869, but was first used as a furniture store.  Since then it has changed hands a number of times with the most recent owners taking over in 2015.  It now serves daily breakfast and lunch but closes at 2 -3:00 pm.  They are famous for their thin pancakes that fill the plate but the table had a special add for their Raspberry Pannukakku which is a baked pastry.  A peek in the kitchen spied several dishes of stuff ready to bake.  Service was friendly and efficient and the place was packed with people. Continue reading

The Fitz, Eagle River, MI, 8/18/19

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wind surfers outside

Fitzgerald’s is most commonly known as ‘The Fitz’ and is the restaurant in the hotel of the same name.  It is located on the shore of Lake Superior where you can watch boats in the distance or wind surfers right out the windows of the restaurant.  The hotel only has about a dozen rooms but it’s the way to go where the sound of the waves will lull you to sleep after a heavy meal and a trip to the bar that offers a huge selection of Scotch and other whiskeys.    The bar is on a slightly raised level from most of the small dining room and there are tables outside.  A lower ceiling, lots of wood, a few photos and some music in the background make up this casual dining room.  The bare tables were set with paper napkins and based on the food, the server should have brought extras to the table.  The check in counter for the restaurant and hotel are at the entrance to the room.  The menu is a la carte and while it has some sandwiches it is all about the barbecue.  One special note is that they do not accept American Express, so have cash or another type of credit card.  The plates are served with fresh vegetables but a side salad or soup will cost you an extra $5.   Continue reading

Mikes Restaurant, Ironwood MI, 8/19/19

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Mikes is a small restaurant of about 9 tables and some counter stools.  It bills itself as an Italian style place but they do serve breakfast all day.   It has been in business for 30+ years with the current owner having it for 20 of those.  Her name isn’t Mike but the name stuck with the place cause it was so well known in town.  The large menu offers lots of choices and portions are generous.  Service was super friendly and efficient.  It was a casual place and felt like it had a lot of regular customers.  The food was mixed but it was satisfying. Continue reading

Barnes Trading Post, Solon Springs, WI, 8/17/19

Barnes Trading Post serves breakfast,  burgers, chicken and pizza.  It was packed every time we drove by so we decided to stop in and try the pizza.  It’s a large place with lots of game machines.  There are stools at the large bar counter as well as various sized tables around the room.  A low ceiling, lots of light, many TVs, beer signs and lots of light wood make up the family friendly atmosphere.  Paper napkins and condiments are on the table.  Service was friendly. Continue reading

Il Grillo Carmel, Carmel, 8/10/19

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building

Il Grillo has a small indoor seating space and a larger patio outdoor.  The small light wood bare tables are set closely, but the night we were there most of the space was taken up by a giant party so I’m not sure what the normal spacing would be.  On the end of the room is a service counter with foods for sale or to be used in meal preparation.  Overhead are bottles of wine.  The white ceiling has painted white beams, the floor is tile and the walls are decorated with art.  Music plays in the background and service was friendly.  The menu here changes daily to reflect the availability of local products. Continue reading

Cultura, Carmel, 8/10/19

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entrance

Cultura is a large place whose entrance is down a pedestrian only street.  Lower light levels were accentuated by the dark bare wood tables set with black napkins and a dark wood ceiling.  Fairly loud music played in the background.  On weekends they serve brunch as well as a lunch menu.  The room with the bar had a lovely stained glass window in the ceiling and windows to the outside.  The small tables were widely spaced and service was friendly with fairly good pacing. Continue reading

Aubergine, Carmel, 8/9/19

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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

La Bicyclette, Carmel, 8/9/19

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building

La Bicyclette is on a corner in the busy shopping area of Carmel.  It is basically made up of 2 rooms, one having windows to the street on 2 sides, the pizza oven, a long bar and kitchen pass through and the other smaller room having a lot of hanging copper pots and glassware storage.  It seemed much more lively in the bigger room.  The small bare wood tables are placed fairly closely together and set with cloth napkins that are more like small towels.  The rooms had a number of eclectic decorations.  Music is in the background and the place is amazingly busy.  It is a fun spot with good food, friendly service and casual atmosphere. Continue reading

Two Fat Ladies at The Buttery, Glasgow, 8/3/19

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exterior

The Two Fat Ladies at the Buttery has been a restaurant for 60 years and it spreads over several rooms all filled with collections of decorative pieces.  The restaurant is not related to the television show of a similar name, that I could tell.  Our table was not ready immediately upon arrival so we sat at the bar area where the very friendly bartender told us tales of the history of the place.  When we were seated the very friendly staff were opinionated (in a nice way) about what to order from the a la carte menu.  The tables were fairly close and set with white tableclothes and napkins.  No music was in the background but the hum of people provided plenty of ambiance.  Lots of dark wood and some windows made up the walls and the floors were carpeted.  This place  serves pretty heavy food in large portions with rapid paced service.  They did ask if we wanted a break after the main course but we had already decided to skip dessert – it didn’t seem to have a good probability for success based on the rest of the meal. Continue reading

Ox and Finch, Glasgow, 8/3/19

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exterior

Ox and Finch is a medium to large place with 2 sides of the room being windows to the street.  It has a Bib Gourmand rating in the Michelin guide. and has been at this location 4-5 years.   They are located right next to a bus stop so it is ultra convenient if using public transportation.  Music plays in the background and the kitchen is open at the front of the place with a bar and a few seats.  The rest of the seating is a combination of high top tables, booths and regular tables with bench seating.  A wall of wine, with a few decorative items, frames one side of the place and also is the back wall on the stairs down to the bathrooms.  Other walls are made of stone and brick with an old wide plank wood floor and decorated plaster ceiling.  It’s a very casual feel with a friendly staff and really fast pacing on the service.  The dishes looked small but they were rich and fill you up.  Their dishes are recommended to be shared and the server suggested we order 5 plates for the 2 of us.  We did just that and with leaving a little there was still room for dessert.  We had some of their draft beers with the meal.   They did offer wine by the liter as well as bottle and some beer specials. Continue reading

Cail Bruich, Glasgow, 8/2/19

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exterior

Cail Bruich has been in business for 11 years and is a medium sized place with bench seating on both sides of the wide room.  The bench is a little different in that they have back support cushions hanging from the top of the seat.  At the end of the room, opposite the entry, is the large service area that has a pass through into the kitchen and a bar with a few seats.  Music plays in the background and there are lots of plants decorating the brick walls.  There is a large rectangular ‘green’ painting (that turned out to be preserved rather than living) on one wall.  In addition a number of jars of vegetables and fruits line the counter tops.  They offer only a tasting menu on Friday and Saturday with some optional supplements (cheese, oysters) and wine pairings are available.  Tuesday through Thursday they also offer an a la carte menu and are open for lunch.  The staff spoke good English and were friendly. Continue reading

The Gannet, Glasgow, 8/2/19

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The Gannet is a medium sized place that opened in 2013.  It is named for the Gannet, a diving bird.  Sitting at the small wood tables guests can enjoy windows to the street, a wide planked wood floor and music in the background.  A corrugated steel bar is topped with wood and has some stools for seating.  The walls are a combination of stone and bricks and lined with a bench seat on the wall opposite the bar.  There is a second room in the back of the long narrow space.  The bathroom is downstairs.  At lunch they offer 4 and 6 course menus as well as wine pairings.  The menu changes regularly, but I hope Chef Ivan Stein, who is co-owner/chef with Peter McKenna, never change the dessert.  We got the 6 course menu and ordered our own wine.  The food here is fabulous in a comfortable casual setting.  Put it on your list. Continue reading

Bilson Eleven, Glasgow, 8/1/19

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exterior

Bilson Eleven opened in 2016 in a townhouse building that dates to the 1800’s.   It was set up like a house on a quiet street, utilizing several small rooms over a couple floors to seat less than 30.  The name is representative of Chef/Owner Nick Rietz’s 2 children and the number of tables originally.  He, with the help of his father did much of the renovation of the building.  Small bare wood pedestal tables are set fairly close and appointed with large cloth napkins and padded arm and armless chairs.  Windows to the street are along the front of one room and the floors are a wide panel wood.  Ceilings have ornate detailing and the fireplaces in the room are covered with decorative items.  Minimal art is on the walls, music plays in the background and there are no flowers on the table.  They serve only a tasting menu and you chose how many courses you want when you make your reservation.  We chose the largest, eight course and had the wine pairings to go with it.  Our server was nice enough to line up all the bottles at the end of the meal for one “group” photo.  The staff spoke great English and were super friendly.  Pacing of the meal was good as was the portion control. Continue reading

Number 16 Restaurant, Glasgow, 8/1/19

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exterior

Number 16 is a tiny restaurant with a few tables downstairs and even fewer upstairs.  Windows to the street are mostly blocked by the back of a booth bench seat.  The tables vary in design and the low ceiling is lined with wood beams.   Logs are decorations on the painted brick walls as are small mirrors.  At lunch they offered a 2 or 3 course menu as well as a la carte options.  They also have a changing house red wine available.   Service was friendly, helpful and efficient.  Open for ten years, the food here is good and a real value. Continue reading

Ubiquitous Chip, Glasgow, 7/31/19

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exterior

The Ubiquitous Chip is a large place on two stories within a maze of buildings.  You’ll see signs for it along the way, where you pass many bars and small restaurants.  Once inside, the stone and brick walls are decorated with plants and cooking/food related items.  Brick floors are in one room and then as you go up a couple steps there is a tile floor. Large farm tools are on one wall and the lighting is lowered.  Opening in 1971, it feels homey and rustic with a lots of visual interest on the interior.  For example a light fixture was composed of bottle stoppers and a light shade was made from crystal decanter with the bottom cut out.  The small polished wood tables are not set too closely so the noise level is not bad.  The entry room had wicker chairs whereas our side room had wood chairs with a padded seat.  The second floor was like an open balcony that framed the periphery of the room.  No music was in the background, just the hum of lots of people enjoying their time here.  The staff was friendly but not particularly efficient and the food was mixed. Continue reading

Crabshakk, Glasgow, 7/31/19

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exterior

The Crabshakk is a small 2 story place filled with closely set rustic wood tables of various sizes.  Music plays in the background and the bar takes up a third of the downstairs eating area.  The walls are of stone and tile, which has prices of some the daily specials on it, and the floor is concrete all in some contrast to the ornate ceiling.  A window to the street is set with a wide high top table.  The menu is mostly seafood and there are daily specials that are offered in small and large sizes.  Service was friendly and helpful and not at all pushy.  The place is very casual and open all afternoon.  It is perfect for a full meal or a mid afternoon snack.  The seafood was all wonderfully fresh and tasty.  Thumbs up here. Continue reading

El Vecino, Dallas, 7/28/19

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exterior

El Vecino is a good sized place in a small shopping center in the Casa Linda area.  The bare wood tables are well spaced and set with cloth napkins wrapped around the flatware.  The colors are bright and the place is too, but there are windows all across the front to the outside free parking lot.  They offer a good sized menu with lunch specials for weekdays, special selections for brunch on weekends and some summer specials.   They have a second location that has opened in Travis Walk but we were at the original.  They have a full bar and you will see it when you first enter.  It has stools so you could probably eat there if they were full.  There are benches on the covered patio out front, I’m guessing for waiting.  The name “El Vecino” translates to neighbor and they want to be a neighborhood place, opening in the fall of  2017.  The owners, the McBride family, have Mexican restaurants in their blood with his grandfather starting El Fenix and he working in NYC’s Rosa Mexicano.   Service was efficient but did try to ‘upsale’ extra stuff to order several times. Continue reading

Pepes & Mitos, Dallas,7/26/19

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exterior

Pepes & Mitos is a large place in Deep Ellum.  The tables are covered with oilclothes and well spaced and good sized.  The restaurant has several rooms and an enclosed outdoor patio with fans.  In the entrance room you can see through to the kitchen and a counter houses a large selection of cold drinks.  The next room has a large bar where you can also sit and eat or just have drinks.  A concrete floor, brick walls and exposed ductwork in the ceiling give it a casual feel.   Lots of art is on the walls.  Even with all the hard surfaces noise was not a problem.  A number of large groups were there at lunch so it seems to be a good place for work people to lunch together.   They have a good sized menu and do offer lunch specials for weekdays.  Service was helpful and very friendly.  Parking is on the street by meter or in a paid lot. Continue reading

Cafe 43, Dallas, 7/24/19

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entrance

Cafe 43 is the dining spot in George W. Bush Presidential library.  It is a good sized place and you don’t need to pay admission to the library to gain entrance to the cafe, but you will have to pay for parking on the SMU campus.  The nice sized tables are slightly spaced and bare dark wood set with mats.  Art is on the walls, some by Bush, and large windows look out onto the campus and surrounding grounds.  Service was attentive and very friendly and content for us to take a long visit with lunch. Continue reading

Beverley’s Bistro & Bar, Dallas, 7/23/19

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exterior

Beverley’s is a good sized place that opened in March of this year.  It  serves American food on bare marble tables set on a beautiful tile floor.  There are a few booths for seating but most is at tables with some spacing between them.  A patio offers a few tables off to the side of the place and some small tables are out front and I’m guessing they’re for waiting when the large bar area gets filled.  The dining room is divided between the main eating area and the long bar with stools and tables.  An open kitchen is opposite the entrance that is on a busy street.  Valet parking is out front.  Windows to the street provide additional lighting to the already well lit room.  Acoustic tiles are on the ceiling but unfortunately with all the hard surfaces and packed, lively crowd the place does have noise level issues to deal with.  The patrons vary in ages and dress level.  The staff is very friendly and helpful with ordering.  Ours was willing to bring the food in courses and split plates.  The menu features some locally sourced products and a couple nightly specials were presented by the server as well as the nightly fish. Continue reading

Homewood (update), Dallas, 7/9/19

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sign out front

We visited Homewood again and had different things as much of the menu had changed.  The menu this time was for summer rather than spring.  It was still really busy but with a reservation we had a table waiting for us.   Walk-ins were waiting for a seat and the noise level is a struggle.    It is a lively, varied aged crowd.  Chef Matt McCallister was in the kitchen and out visiting with his guests. Continue reading

Fauna, Dallas, 6/22/19

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exterior

Fauna is the newest addition to Stephan Pyles Flora Street Cafe in the Dallas Arts District.  It only seats 16 in the smaller dining room off to the side.  The setting is dressier and quieter than the larger front room, with nice sized tables draped in lovely linens and appointed with comfy padded chairs.  The tables are slightly close but it is a small room and there is adequate space between them.  They have purse stools, music in the background, art on the wall, a tall candle on each table, dark curtains on the windows and TV screens above the serving window with scenes of fire and water.  It has the southwestern touches, that Pyles is known for, like antlers above the monitors and branches in the ceiling fixture.  The room is completely enclosed when the meal starts and serves only the same tasting menu of about 12 courses to everyone there.  Pacing is a little slow but portion control is good.  The doors nicely shut out the hum of the front part of the place.  They do pass out a printed menu for you to take home at the end of the meal.   The pass through window to the kitchen is below the monitors and everyone is served at the same time.  Plan to spend a couple hours.  When we went they had only been open 3 weeks, so I’m sure some changes have been made to the set up. Continue reading