Arborvine, Blue Hill, ME., 8/28/21

building

Arborvine is a large restaurant in Blue Hill, Maine that has been serving locally sourced American cuisine for 21 years.  They have turned an 1823 farmhouse into a fine dining establishment with fireplaces, area rugs, memoriabilia and cozy window filled rooms.   Music is softly played in the background and there’s lots of flowers.  A large outdoor patio is covered but open air for those that want to eat outside, but I thought it was too bright compared to the soft lighting inside. Continue reading

Catelli’s Restaurant, Geyserville, CA., 7/22/21

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Catelli’s has been around since the 1930s in Geyserville, CA.  Opened by Italian immigrants, it is now run by third-generation siblings in the Catelli family.  They feature local ingredients, hand-craft their ravioli and have many local wines.  They currently offer patio and indoor seating as well as takeout on Wednesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. Located in a two-story brick building on the main drag of Geyserville, it is a large place.  The entry room contains a long bar and the other 2 rooms have bench seating around the walls with bare wood tables  and some center tables and chairs.  Tables are set with a cloth napkin that contains the flatware.  Music is in the background, acoustic tiles are in the ceiling and windows are uncovered to the street.  Some decorations and art are placed about as well as historic photos.  Service was friendly and efficient, but be aware of numerous upcharges on innocently offered personalizations. Continue reading

Restaurant Beck (update), Depoe Bay, OR., 6/24-26/21

sign at the inn

We visited Restaurant Beck and stayed at the beautiful Whale Cove Inn about one year ago.  The facility hasn’t changed but the town of Depoe Bay has revitalized with the dispersal of a vaccine for Covid.  Since there are the previous entries on this lovely place I thought I’d make one post of the 3 dinners we had there.  They still offer three and five course tastings as well as an a la carte menu (wine pairings are available). The first night we enjoyed the 5 course tasting menu, but last year we realized that with their small menu, changing what we get every night is not possible.  So the second two nights we ordered a la carte.  I will post pictures of the items but not repeat pictures if we had the same item another night.  They still have a limited bar as well as bottles of wine.  It is a beautiful and tasty place to stay and/or eat. Continue reading

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

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

Parc, Philadelphia, 5/20/21

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

Merchants Restaurant, Nashville, 4/15/21

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

Claire’s at the Depot, Warrenton, VA., 4/3/21

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Claire Lamborne started her restaurant in 2004 by replacing a Mediterranean restaurant with Claire’s at the Depot serving delicious food with a southern twist. The building used to be the town’s railway depot built in the 1850s and features a patio as well as indoor dining.  In the patio area are beds where many of the fresh herbs they use are grown.  Inside you’ll find brick walls, wood floors, paper on top of the  cloth covered well spaced tables, music in the background and a large bar area.  Lots of windows kept it well lit for the lunch service.   They serve lunch, dinner and brunch and offered a couple of lunch specials.  They have a small wine list with some by the glass and many cocktails.  Servers were friendly and well masked. Continue reading

Herbsaint Restaurant (update), New Orleans, 3/17/21

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We last visited Herbsaint in the end of 2018 and it is just as good as before.  They still have white paper on top of the white tablecloths but now the well-spaced tables are also placed in the bar area.  Two walls of the front rooms are glassed looking out on the street with lowered lighting inside.  No music is in the background but there is a hum of conversation.  Service was masked, attentive and friendly. Continue reading

Grill at Knob Hill, Ketchum, Idaho, 9/5/20

outside of hotel

The Grill at Knob Hill is a restaurant featuring Northwestern food in the Knob Hill Inn.  It has a large dining area including an indoor/outdoor terrace dining room with floor-to-ceiling glass folding doors and lawn seating on the large area on the side of the inn.   Otherwise the inside is just the bar where you can enjoy a craft cocktail while you wait for your table.  They offered a regular menu that would suit any taste and also a few daily specials.  We were on the lawn just outside the terrace dining room and it was a beautiful setting with a large display of flowers along the exterior wall.  The white cloth covered tables were small and set with black napkins and well spaced.  There was good lighting while the sun was up but it got a good bit darker when the sun went down.  The many tables covered with umbrellas and set further from the terrace got pretty dark with only a small candle.  Servers were friendly, helpful and masked. Continue reading

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

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

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

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building

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

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

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restaurant

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

Flying Fish Grill, Carmel, 7/29/20

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entrance and patio

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

Sylvain, New Orleans, 2/21/20

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exterior

Sylvain is named after the first opera done in New Orleans which was a raucous comedy and they wanted to emulate that in their atmosphere.  Located just off Jackson Square it is  in a late 1700’s carriage house in the French Quarter.  It has one long dining room that ends in windows to the street out front and some patio seating in the back.  Inside there is a long bar where guests can eat and/or drink.  Small bare wood tables are set with a variety of chairs and the distressed concrete walls are decorated with art.  The lighting is lowered, there is music in the background and the floor is very old wood.  They specialize in southern style food and lots of cocktails.  It was a lively crowd but service was a bit slow.  We started with Sazeracs which were well made but took a while to get to the table.  In fact they didn’t get to the table before we started to order including wine and almost cancelled their order because the timing was off for the meal but they did arrive and everything moved forward at a leisurely pace. Continue reading

Geronimo, Santa Fe, 11/1/19

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building

Geronimo is a large place in an old building spread over several rooms.  The tables are fairly close and set with white cloths and napkins.  The lighting is lowered, music is in the background, candles are on the tables and in the old fireplaces, art and mirrors decorate the walls and bench seating is on some walls.  There is a room with a bar at the front of the place with a couple tables and bar seating, but it was quite crowded when we got there.  They offer an a la carte menu or a vegetarian tasting, that has optional wine pairings.   They also had some nightly specials.  Service was helpful, extremely friendly and well paced. 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

Claude Bosi at Bibendum Restaurant, London, 4/25/18

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building

Bibendum has been open for about a year and Chef Claude Bosi, previously with Hibiscus, already has two Michelin stars.  Fitting, in that the restaurant is on the second level of the Michelin building and heavily decorated with Michelin paraphernalia.  Even the exterior of the building has tires and the Michelin man incorporated into its design.  The first level is a casual seafood bar and has a tiled car mural around the ceiling.  The elevator lets you off into a far more formal dining area with 2 huge stained glass Michelin man windows.  The club chairs are comfy and set at tables draped with long gray clothes and huge matching gray napkins. American music plays softly in the background and dies out as the room becomes filled.  Natural light from lots of windows fills the room but some of the light coming through the stained glass can cast some different colors on your food.  The room has a nice feel and service is friendly and helpful.  The kitchen offers a set lunch option as well as a la carte service.  Most of the food was in a lovely French style.  We ordered a la carte.   Continue reading

Ondine Restaurant, Edinburgh, 9/21/17

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front door

Ondine is on the second floor of building that has a hotel and some fast food restaurants. It is fairly large with a very modern decor and windows on two sides overlooking the street activity below.  Tables are on the small side but not too closely spaced and soft music plays in the background.  The walls are decorated with seafood art, which also adorns the menus, and photos of the various staff members.  Service is attentive and friendly.  Our waiter was helpful in directing our choices and spot on with his advice.  At lunch they offer a 2 or 3 course fixed price menu (which they also offer for an early dinner) with a couple choices for each course.  We chose to order off the regular menu.   Continue reading

Brigtsen’s, New Orleans, 8/8/17

entrance
entrance

Opened in 1986, Brigtsen’s is located in an old house in the Garden District, about 20 minutes by cab from the French Quarter.  It is worth the trip!   Owner Marna Brigtsen greets you at the door and guides you to your seat.  Music plays in the background, lighting is low and the nicely spaced tables are appointed with lovely linens. Painted wood walls, fireplaces and many windows give the relatively small adjoined rooms a very cozy feel.  The several rooms are packed with people and tables turnover throughout the evening, but the noise level is not bad at all.  Marna’s husband and co-owner Frank Brigtsen is the chef in the kitchen.  They offer a fixed price 3 course menu, with several choices for each course, an a la carte menu and a few specials of the day.   Continue reading

Union Square Cafe, New York City, 5/23/17

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front

Union Square Cafe has been in this new location for 6 months after having been closed a year for the new building to be readied.  It is a huge attractive place with multiple levels and seating configurations.  There is also a large bar area with stools and tables that accommodate walk-ins.  The tables are nicely spaced and there is a lot of art on the walls.   No background music keeps the noise level at a good level, which is surprising with the high ceilings and many hard surfaces.  Service was excellent, which is one of the things the restaurant stresses.  Our nice waiter Tomas, was happy to give advice and serve or split dishes as we desired.   Continue reading

Le Coucou, New York City, 5/21/17

exterior
exterior

Le  Coucou is a large place spread over several rooms, with one of those having the open kitchen.  It has been open for just under one year.  It has a pretty dressy feel with nice linens and lots of candlelight, however the small tables are fairly close together and there is a slight level of noise to contend with.  There is a combination of seating arrangements with some tables and chairs and also some bench seating along partitions.  There was no background music.  Service was nice but not overly friendly.  Reservations are a must and they do turn the tables.  All the food was rich with tasty sauces, but do go hungry as it is heavy food.   Continue reading