Zanze XVI, Venice, 3/1/19

outside
outside

Zanze XVI is a medium sized place with exposed wood beams in the ceiling and brick on the top part of the walls.  The building was a restaurant all the way back to the 16th century.  When re-modeling the last paperwork they found referenced Zanze which was a nickname for Angela who had the building in 1940.  On the side are bench seats to match with small bare wood tables and a non-seated bar is at the front.  The windows on one wall look out to the street and canal.  They have been open just 1 year and 8 months but were doing a lively business.  There was no music the first part of the evening but it started up during the evening, however the acoustics were very good for talking.  They offer only surprise tasting menus, one with 8 dishes, one with 5 courses from the sea or one with 5 courses from the land.  Wine pairings are available for all.  If you prefer al la carte that is also a surprise and then you can order as many courses as you wish.   A lot of ingredients were named with each dish but as nothing is in writing, I’m sure I left some things off.  I apologize for any oversights but regardless, the food is really good and it’s a fun place with nice people working there.  I’d put it on your list.  Service was efficient and super friendly as well as speaking good English, but pacing was a tad slow. Continue reading

Locanda Cipriani Torcello, Venice, 3/1/19

building
building

Locanda Cipriani is on the island of Torcello, a short water bus ride from the main island of Venice.  You enter into a tiny old looking lounge room with seating around a fireplace that is used for cooking and warmth.  From there you move into a large open room surrounded by windows to the outside gardens and views of the local churches.  The place backs to 1935 and is still owned by the Cipriani family.  Hemingway stayed at the associated inn and brought much fame to the place who was then followed by a number of famous visitors such as Queen Elizabeth II in 1938 and in 1985 the Prince and Princess of Wales, Charles and Diana (who came for a private lunch a year after the Queen had brought the Queen Mother there), Maria Callas in 1952 and Marc Chagall in 1948 who left behind one of his drawings.  The list of famous people and acclaimed artists goes on and on throughout their 70 year history.  The nice sized tables are fairly closely spaced and covered with white linens with many of the smaller tables having a draped service table adjacent. Continue reading

Ristorante Local, Venice, 2/28/19

exterior, daytime
exterior daytime

Local is a fairly large place with very modern design.  Wood beams in the ceiling are opposite the place’s logo made into the terrazzo floor.   Many items also worked in the circular logo including coasters and seals on the toilet paper.  Bare wood tables are appointed with some bench seating and chairs.  No music was in the background until later in the evening and the lighting is lowered.  A counter area fills much of the first room that’s underneath portion is made of woven wood and it has a few seats that would have the best view through the window into the kitchen.  It also had windows to the street outside.  A second room for seating led into the bathrooms and window to the large wine cellar.   Service was friendly, helpful and they spoke good English.  They have an a la carte menu but we had pre-ordered the surprise tasting menu, which was not available in printed form.  The menu had good pacing and portion control.   Continue reading

Gelateria Artigianale La Mela Verde, Venice, 2/28/19

exterior
exterior

There are a lot of gelato shops in Venice and some with wild colors and flavors so it was a treat to find La Mela Verde or the Green Apple where they make their own gelato in house with fresh, real and Italian ingredients.  They even have a video running on a loop in the store showing how the gelato is made and the ingredients they use.  It is a nice option to the garish colors and poor textures found in so many other shops.  Flavors vary with what is available each day.  They are only open part of the year.   It’s a really tiny shop  but you can get 1-5 scoops in cones or cups as well as Nutella dressed.  They have recieved a lot of press due to their quality and I thought Frankie should give them a nod for their creamy texture and flavor choices.  The flavors are on the mild side but the smoothness makes up for that.  Also knowing that no artificial ingredients are used to enhance the flavors gives you a good feeling, as well as being owner driven.  Check it out! Continue reading

Osteria Sant’Elena “Da Pampo”, Venice, 2/28/29

exteroior
exterior

Osteria Da Pampo is a tiny place near a park in the southeast end of Venice, that opened in 2009.  It has a totally different feel to the area than the more visited mid section.  This became a family run (mother and 2 daughters) place with a small menu and a couple of daily specials three years ago.  Service was attentive and friendly and delivered by the baker of the restaurant, who also spoke great English.  You enter on the side of the building into an area that looked like a place where you could get to-go items.  Inside the limited dining area were 12 small closely spaced bare wood tables, but there appeared to be a space for outdoor dining depending on the weather.  The room looked like it was a porch that had been enclosed as there were windows on the 3 exterior walls.  The light green walls and tile floor contributed to the very casual feel of the place.   A couple paintings were on the walls and one corner housed a display of blue and white dishes on elevated crates.  It definitely felt off the beaten tourist path. Continue reading

Bistrot de Venise, Venice, 2/27/19

exterior
exterior

Bistrot de Venise is a large place made up of a number of small rooms.  It offers a huge menu featuring Historic and Modern Classic Venetian cuisine including several tasting selections.  It must be a common tourist destination as the brochure on the table offered a number of the items from the place for sale.  However the food is amazing and the number of people in attendance showed that, that was known.  The room where we were was colored with red and gold, with decorative gold fish candleholders on each table to supplement the already well lit room.  The red velour walls were accented with strips of antiqued gold where recessed lighting was.  Red bench seats matched red chairs on the other side of the table.  The walls were decorated with drawings, paintings and photos.  Tables are closely set and some of the 2-tops were pretty small but all were covered in nice linen cloths embossed with a leaf design and matching napkins.  It was a casual crowd in a fairly elegant setting.  Waiters spoke good English and were helpful, friendly and willing to direct your meal plan.   Classical music played in the background and they were happy to split dishes or have us split them at the table, even bringing extra plates. Continue reading

Da Ivo Restaurant, Venice, 2/27/19

exterior
exterior

Da Ivo is an institution in many eyes.  Opening in 1976 it is an elegant, old school setting frequented by the rich and famous, like George Clooney, Elton John, Naomi Campbell, Tom Cruise, and Barbra Streisand to name a few.  Its location allows clients to arrive by water taxi or gondola rather than walking there.  The small tables are fairly close and covered with salmon covered clothes with the name prominently printed in the middle, and the napkins are the same.  Tables are set with little birds or cats that turned out to be the salt shakers.  Photos, wine bottles and other memorabilia cover the walls which have stained glass partitions between diners and the street and the kitchen.  The wait staff all spoke great English and were very helpful and friendly, but plenty of Italian was being spoken by other guests.  They offer a huge menu but where to order is off the small chalkboard of daily specials that is brought to the table on a swivel pedestal.   Continue reading

Mac’s Bar-B-Que, Dallas, 3/8/19

exterior
exterior

Mac’s Bar-B-Que has been a regular spot in my Dallas dining scene and somehow I forgot to take Frankie and photograph. So when we  last visited I got some photos to include on this series of Dallas posts.  Chef and owner Billy McDonald put Mac’s up for sale (2015) but that’s been a while and based on the crowd it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere fast.  The restaurant opened in the mid-50’s and moved to this spot, very near the main Baylor Hospital, in 1982 when his dad and mom still had the place.  It’s a plain little place that you’d easily drive by but there is parking on the side and in back.  Inside the tables are good sized and spaced nicely.  Customers line up at the window and the menu is posted on the wall beside you.  While your order is being prepared you can chose from a nice selection of condiments, including pickle relish, onions, lemons, banana peppers, dill pickles and jalapeños.

Continue reading

Alamo Club, Dallas, 2/21/19 and 3/4/19

exteriuor
exterior

Our first visit was the fourth day in business for Alamo Club and the place was packed.  It is located on lower Greenville in the space where the Blind Butcher had been.  It is the brainchild of Austin Rodgers who has worked in the restaurant industry for many years and run several of Nick Badovinus’ restaurants.  There is a large bar that spans most of the depth of the restaurant and the other side is filled with small and medium sized closely set, bare wood tables.  Along the opposite wall is a bench seat that meets up with chairs and a string of 2-top tables.  The floor is wood, lighting is low, the ceiling is tin with exposed ductwork, music is in the background and exposed bricks make up the walls and are decorated with mirrors and old photos.  The noise level is loud, not due to music but instead due to all those people enjoying themselves in the relaxed, clubby atmosphere.  Austin wanted a neighborhood feel to the place and thus they are open every day with a ‘happy hour’ around 5:00.  A window at the end of the room provides a limited view into the activity in the kitchen.  The menu is small, simple and affordable, filled with American standards and the wine list is nicely chosen.  The service was good and fairly speedy but we never felt rushed even with a crowd waiting for your seat (right now there are no reservations).  The servers were friendly and helpful.   Continue reading

Bullion (update), Dallas, 2/20/19

IMG_2998
bar area

It’s been about a year since Frankie visited Bullion.  The place has held up well and is still an elegantly appointed setting. It is really one of the prettiest places in Dallas to dine.  Last time we encountered service issues and for the most part they were much better, however there were still some timing issues with our main course being presented while the salad plates were still on the table.  This happened even without a full room and plenty of servers.  Even so, the servers were friendlier and generally better trained and the sommelier did come and visit with us when we requested – so better than the first visit.  The food is lovely looking but not the most flavor loaded. Continue reading

Herrera’s Café, Dallas,1/25/19

entrance
entrance

Herrera’s Café has been around since 1971 and been in many locations.  There are now a number of similarly named places but this is the original that started on Maple St.  I have eaten there for years but don’t get to this “new” location as often as it’s not real convenient.  They were a staple for a long time because they had a really spicy salsa with warm really corny chips.  They still have that and some of the original family are around too.  At this location there is a fairly good sized parking lot but it naturally leads you to a door that is not the entrance, so go around the building to where it faces Sylvan and you’ll find the proper entrance as well as a large area for outdoor dining.  Inside a wall of press about the place greets you and the desk that takes names as well as check you out when you’re through.  To the right are the bathrooms and kitchen and to the left is a large dining room.  If you go straight ahead you’ll be in another dining room with the bar and a doorway to another smaller dining area.  At lunch it was bustling with people but we didn’t have to wait long for a table to become free.  Service is friendly and efficient. Continue reading

Avila’s, Dallas, 1/24/19

building
building (4714 Maple Ave., Dallas, 75219)

Instead of enjoying retirement, Anita and Octavio Avila opened a restaurant featuring family favorites in 1986.  They have added new items as well as expanding their selection of beers since that time.  They are at 4714 Maple Avenue in Dallas, near where “Little Mexico” still holds many locations but neighborhood change has brought a more diverse population to the area. Located in a little house they have 2 main dining rooms, one much small than the other.  Along the walls they utilize bench seating to work in the maximum number of tables.  There is a mix of 2 and 4 top tables and they seemed to turn over quickly, as lunch sometimes has a short wait.  They do have an adjacent parking lot as well as a few spaces in front.  They have only had this location but now a sign on the table refers to a second location in the planning for Casa Linda in East Dallas.  The menu has lots of options but I generally go here for the tasty Tex-Mex food and the fairly spicy salsa on the table.  Service is friendly and efficient and they have lunch specials which are delivered fast enough to be able to fit a meal here on a lunch hour.  They do have lunch specials but nothing on the menu is over $20. Continue reading

Rookery Pub Fine Dining, Cable, 1/4/19 & 2/8/19

building
building

Bill Brakken opened the Rookery Pub Fine Dining restaurant in 2008.  The building originally was constructed in 1978 and had the restaurant on the upper levels.  Bill made those areas into the lodge when he bought it in 2005 and then renovated the downstairs to become the Rookery Pub Fine Dining, named for the breeding colony of Blue Herons nearby and to signify a general place for social gatherings.  Interestingly, Bill worked as a bartender at the original Kliszcz’s Karczma, the Polish Palace as it was known then, the first year it was in business.  Now as you enter the place you see a building on your right with stairs and that is to the lodge and the lower sidewalk goes to the restaurant.  You enter into the large bar area and to the right is a hallway, opening onto a row of 4 booth seats, which leads to the small main dining room.  The walls are lined with prints of animals (most of which have prices if you want to buy one) and in the corner is a fireplace.  The bare wood tables are good sized and well spaced.  The menu covers a good breadth of choices with some changes for seasonality and the wine list is better than most.  You can have cocktails at your table or enjoy them at the bar before you are seated.  Service was efficient and super friendly.  Portions are large. Continue reading

The 300 Grill, Iron River, 1/3/19 and 2/7/19

exterior
exterior

The 300 Grill is the restaurant attached to the bowling alley, all owned by the Carignans.  It is a small place with about 3 booths and some assorted sizes of tables.  They serve burgers, pizza, sandwiches and Henny-Penny broasted chicken.  It is extremely casual.  The walls are adorned with framed old photos from people and places in Iron River, Wisconsin.  A window into the kitchen is on one wall and the check out counter is at the back.  The tile floor and bare wood tables are set with rolled up flatware and napkin dispensers, along with some fresh flowers.  Service is friendly and efficient.  The food is good but not compelling.  Our first visit was pretty good and it made me want to go back and check out more things.  Maybe if you hunt around the menu you’ll find just the right thing for you but otherwise I think it may be a good place to snack if you’re bowling. Continue reading

Compère Lapin, New Orleans, 12/30/18

sign outside
sign outside

Compère Lapin is French for brother rabbit.  It was a large place with low lighting, music in the background, exposed brick walls, bare polished wood tables, windows to the street on one long side, and a number of paintings on the walls.  Some other walls were lined with bench seating to be one side’s seat for the majority of small tables for 2.  They are located in a hotel with a long bar and oyster counter for different seating options. The ceiling held some noise reduction panels but with the hard walls, the concrete floor and being packed with people the noise level was high.  They offer a small menu which has lots of plates to be shared and we were told they prefer you put in your whole order at one time rather than as you go along.  Service was friendly but not overly so, leaving you feeling no connection to the place.  Some of the food was pretty good but a lot of it was way mild for the style of cooking. Continue reading

Gabrielle Restaurant, New Orleans, 12/29/18

exterior
exterior

Gabrielle Restaurant is a good sized place with one dining room.  It reopened in 2017 after 12 years closed as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Greg Sonnier is the chef owner and he named it after his daughter who currently runs the front of the house.  One side is windows facing the street and another is a long bar with additional seating.  The small cloth covered tables are set with some space between them on a tile floor with faint music in the background.  The walls are decorated with paintings and photos with some spots on the art but overall the lighting is quite low.   Lots of lights hang from the low dark ceiling but it still has a feeling of privacy.  They offered an a la carte menu of New Orleans’ style Cajun food as well as Reveillon menu the night we were there.  We chose the a la carte option.  Service was friendly and helpful, the food was wonderfully flavorful but the pacing of the dishes was rushed. Continue reading

Galatoire’s Restaurant (update), New Orleans, 12/29/18 and 12/30/18

postcard of building
postcard of building

Galatoire’s Restaurant is definitely a favorite of mine.   That’s not hard to discern considering in a gastronomic place like New Orleans, I will chose to go there twice rather than try something new or repeat another place.  This time we had two lunches with slightly different themes.   Our first visit was most of our traditional favorites, most including seafood and on the second visit we tried all non-seafood items.  The seafood visit was definitely my favorite.  The place has two levels for dining with the downstairs large room being noisy and full of a combination of locals and tourists, with no reservations possible.  Upstairs is divided into smaller rooms, some filled with one party and other filled with those wanting a reservation and assured seating.  It is quieter but somehow doesn’t have the same ambiance of the bright bustle downstairs. Service is amazing here and if you go take time to interact with your server.  They can customize any order to make it fit your desire.  There will be a charge, but I like to top things with a more of that jumbo lump crabmeat. Continue reading

Carrollton Market, New Orleans, 12/28/18

from outside
building

Carrollton Market is a medium sized place out in the suburbs that has been open 4 years.  The entry is into a bar area that is not very well separated from the main dining room.  The small marble tables are set closely together, a tin ceiling, wood floor and wood and painted walls all add to the loud noise level in the room, even without background music.   Windows along the front wall look out onto the street but otherwise there are no windows except for the interior one that looks into the open kitchen and the general light level is low.  They offer only a small a la carte menu.  The staff were friendly and helpful but the food was mostly unexciting and the overall ambiance is ear numbing, yet it was packed with people.  There is no subtlety in the food, it tends to be over-seasoned with large portions of heavy food.   Continue reading

Herbsaint Restaurant (update), New Orleans,12/28/18

building
building

It’s been a couple years since we went to Herbsaint, but this visit we went for lunch.  White tableclothes are covered with paper on the nicely spaced large tables.  There is background music in this corner building location.  The two walls of windows give lots of light in the daytime.  We were in the front of the 2 rooms, which is my preference, and snagged a good table with a direct line of site into the busy kitchen.  The first part of the restaurant that you come into is a large bar with lots of bar seating and additional counters.  They also had a fairly large patio out front.  It’s not a huge menu but everything we had was very good, packed with flavor, and nicely they seem to be open continuously so matter what time you hit town you can go, but reservations would be recommended for any prime time.  We ordered a number of items with the intention of splitting them, so we could try as much as possible.  Portions are well sized and service was very good. Continue reading

Restaurant A ma Vigne, Lyon, 12/15/18

exterior
exterior  (23 Rue Jean Larrivé, 69003 Lyon, France)

A ma Vigne is a small place with just 2 dining rooms, one containing the bar, and a tiny kitchen in back.  The closely spaced small tables are set with nice white tableclothes and napkins and then covered with white paper.  The casual atmosphere is heightened with the array of art, photos (done by the server Alex) and mirrors along with windows to the street decorating the walls.  They had a large menu that was not translated and served all day and a set menu of 2 or 3 courses that featured their famous steak in butter and fries.  They had wine by the bottle as well as by centiliter, as well as lots of cocktails.  It didn’t take long at lunch for the place to be packed and most seemed to be repeat customers and having a good time.  Service was really friendly, welcoming and helpful yet staffing was minimal – one guy sat people, took orders, dispensed the food, took care of billing and cleaned the tables and one guy did all the cooking and kitchen cleanup. The guy who did all the cooking was actually Chef and Owner Stéphane Giraud, whose grandparents started the place.  His grandmother Josephine,  perfected the amazing French fries.  Food was great as was the ambiance.  It was really reasonable for the quality of flavor.   I would go back here in a heartbeat – check it out if you can.  The server told us that Paul Bocuse ate steak and fries there every day  for years and showed us the table he always sat at.  I can see why. Continue reading

Guy Lassausaie Meilleur Ouvrier de France 1993, Lyon, 12/15/18

exrterior
exterior

Guy Lassausaie, located 13 miles from Lyon, is a large modern building with a good sized parking lot across the street.  It seemed to have been built in a circular design with various size dining rooms off the center circular hallway surrounding the kitchen.  A large comfortable waiting area holds small tables, deep chairs and wood floor whereas the dining rooms have large widely spaced tables on carpet.  No music  is in the background, tables are set with white clothes and napkins, some display cases and art decorate the rooms.  Noise level is non existent and yet your conversation feels private. It is well lit with a combination of ceiling lights and wall fixtures.  One large table is in the center of the room for service and ours was decorated with beautiful large red flowers.  Our room had two mantels but no fireplaces underneath.  The windows to the outside were covered with shades.  Service was good and the greeters even came out to the car with umbrellas as it was raining.  The menu offered 4 tastings as well as an a la carte section.  We chose the Discovery Menu which was a surprise tasting of 5 seasonal courses chosen by the chef, not necessarily on the menu.  Pacing was a little slow and the portions size was variable.  They have a 2 Star rating with Michelin.   Continue reading

Paul Bocuse – Le Restaurant Gastronomique, Lyon, 12/14/18

exterior
exterior

Paul Bocuse Restaurant is located a few miles out of town in colorful and well lit building on top of a small hill.   Doormen in red hats and coats (who also come in with the happy birthday cart where they grind out your tune) greet you as you look around a large patio painted with murals of other famous chefs (photos at end) and a large window into part of the huge kitchen.  It has 3 Michelin Stars, which they have had since 1965, but on our visit neither the service or food would merit that rating.  Mostly the staff seemed to be ‘cranking’ it out as fast as possible with little personalization.  It had more the feel of a business rather than an elegant dining experience.  The food is made with good ingredients and has lovely presentations but doesn’t sing at all and the place felt sterile.  The place is divided into several rooms that have wall paper, mirrors and lots of art on the walls.  One had a beautiful terrazzo floor another had marble (floors had to be smooth since their cheese/dessert carts don’t have wheels).  The ceilings are hung with chandeliers and with the additional lighting on the walls the place is well lit.  Well padded chairs and purse stools are set for you but no music is in the background.  The large widely spaced tables are covered with long white clothes and set with huge napkins in a paper ring covered with “PAUL BOCUSE”.  In fact, everything is well labeled with the ‘Paul Bocuse’ name – you won’t forget where you are.    The menu offers a la carte options and 3 different tasting menus.  We chose the Paul Bocuse menu that offered some of his best known dishes.  Pacing was good and portion control on the large side. Continue reading

Restaurant Daniel & Denise, Joseph Viola, Lyon, 12/14/18

building
building

Daniel & Denise is on the first floor of a corner building.  The 2 rooms are filled with things, hanging foods, items for sale, framed pictures and awards, cookware, etc., and the very close small tables are covered with red checkered cloths and topped with white paper.  White napkins are brightly embroidered with the Daniel & Denise logo, that match the bright red of the bench seating.  One room has a tile floor as well as some tile on the walls, whereas the other room had wood, but both are crammed full of tables.   One corner accommodates a bar area and the check out machine.  The large menu contains a couple tastings, daily specials and a la carte options.  They also offer wine by the carafe in additon to by the bottle.  Service was friendly and helpful but the English was limited.  We chose to order a la carte.   Continue reading

Restaurant La Mère Brazier, Lyon, 12/13/18

exterior
exterior

Restaurant La Mère Brazier is made up of a number of small rooms on a couple levels. Heavy drapes and carpet provide much sound dampening in the rooms decorated in 2 shades of gray, white and cream.  The nice sized tables are well spaced, covered with white clothes and set with very starched napkins and set with alternating dark charger with light bread plate or the opposite combination, all with silver accents.    The comfortable chairs are a swivel type.  They offer 2 tasting menus, with optional wine pairings and an a la carte menu.  We chose the 3 course Classical Menu and got our own bottle of white and half bottle of red.  The “3” course tasting also had a cheese course and choice of dessert.  The pacing and portion control were great as was the service.  The staff were all very friendly and helpful, along with speaking good English.  Chef Mathieu Viannay, who also became the owner in 2008, was in the house and came out to visit with his guests.  They did a re-model of the restaurant a couple years ago.  The restaurant has been awarded 2 Michelin Stars. Continue reading

Takao Takano, Lyon, 12/13/18

building
building

Takao Takano has about 9 tables, interesting light fixtures with embossing on the interior, old wood on the floor, nicely spaced small bare pedestal tables with good quality cloth napkins, wood decorations on the wall, no music in the background and windows to the street on two sides.  It has been recognized with two Michelin Stars.  They offered 3 tasting menus – one for a lunch special and 2 longer tasting menus.  We actually found the lunch tasting most appealing and so ordered it.  Interestingly, my menu had no prices.  Pacing and portion control were good as was the service, although not engaging. Continue reading

Restaurant Le Neuvième Art, Lyon, 12/12/18

entrance
entrance

Restaurant Le Neuvième Art is a 2 Star Michelin with about 10 widely spaced pedestal tables with a large staging area in the middle of the dining area.  Some of the tables are in two pieces where the smaller one serves as a staging table.  The lighting is lowered as is the ceiling, gauzy curtains cover large windows on two sides of the room, an automatic sliding door opens to allow quick looks into the kitchen, “crumpled paper” covers are on the overhead and wall light fixtures, a box on the table turns into a flame for each table, no music is in the background, the purse stools are topped with cork and lots of friendly staff speak good English  in this comfortable yet elegant dining room.  Chef Chrisophe Roure was in the house and made the rounds of the tables.  He and his wife opened their restaurant in June 2014 and offer a couple tasting menus, with optional wine pairings, as well as a la carte options. We had the 5 course tasting that also includes cheese and dessert and ordered our own wines.  Pacing and portion control of the tasting were good and the food was really tasty. Continue reading

La Meunière, Lyon, 12/12/18

eterior
exterior

La Meunière is an old bistro with walls decorated with cooking implements and old pictures.  On a mirror is a daily special to add to an already good sized menu, which includes some combo menus.  The tables are close and bigger ones are shared by several parties.  The low ceiling, no music in the background, white tableclothes topped with paper and cloth napkins, and a large center serving table all set the casual ambiance of the place.  French is translated to English on the menu and the staff spoke various amount of English but plenty enough to make it comfortable to be there.  In fact the staff were very friendly and personable. Continue reading

SingleThread Restaurant, Healdsburg, CA, 12/5/18

building
building

SingleThread Farm, Restaurant and Inn opened in December 2016 and is a large corner building in Healdsburg, an hour and a half drive from San Francisco.  Upstairs they have some elegant rooms to stay in and downstairs they have a large kitchen and several dining areas.  There is a roof top terrance for some courses but it was not in use the night we were there.  The building is quite modern, with soft lighting  and music, set with large bare wood tables, a wood ceiling, gold wood tiles on some walls, some faux fire places, a bouquet of flowers and herbs from their garden on top of your napkin and lots of bench seating filled with extra cushions for back support.  They only seat about 52 people but some early diners’ tables were turned.  The reservation system is a pre-pay one with no refunds but you can try and re-sell tickets if you can’t use them.  Service was wonderful with most every person who approached our table addressing us by name.  Pacing is at a good rate and portion controls allows you to easily get through the surprise tasting (pairings are available) but will not leave you hungry.  At the end of the meal they do present you with a copy of the menu. Continue reading

Healdsburg SHED, Healdsburg, 12/5/18

building
building

The SHED was a large place that opened in 2013.  It sold cooking/kitchen supplies, take out food, produce, and had a dining area.  Unfortunately the owners, Doug Lipton and Cindy Daniel announced that it would shut its doors Dec. 31, 2018.  They intend to still have an online presence where you can buy things but no more dining opportunities or brick and mortar facitilties, according to several articles I read.  I have no other information about what did happen but decided to share the meal just in case they reopen or you find these folks developing another concept.  The seating area was divided by a service bar and the small space behind the bar had a wall of windows to some patio seating.  On the other side of the bar there were stools and some tables, but they had a lot more shoppers looking over their space.  We were there for lunch and so there was plenty of light due to the windows as well as the general bright lighting a store will tend to have.  There was some background music and the walls around us had shelves containing books, items and lots of jars of vegetables.  The small marble tables were set fairly close and mostly were suitable for 2 people.  The wine list was limited and did include carafes of wine.   Continue reading

Restaurant PAGES, Paris, 12/1/18

entrance
entrance

Restaurant PAGES only has 7 or 8 tables with much of the room being taken up with the open kitchen.   They have one Michelin star.  White clothed tables are widely spaced and set with a wooden container of potato chips.  Pale walls with some exposed brick, a stone floor, and lots of stainless around the kitchen and on some of the walls and ceiling, set the tone of the room.  A display case is in the back with meats they are aging and soft music played in the background.  It felt very modern but I wouldn’t call it a fun ambiance.  They have been open 4 years and offer only a tasting of 8 courses.  There were 3 supplements available the night we were there, caviar, truffle and/or Wagyu beef.  We opted to include the last one.  There are no menus before or when you finish.  They did bring a nice warm cloth to wash off before you started. Continue reading