Coneflower Creamery, Omaha, 5/8/22

exterior – 3921 Farnam St, Omaha, NE 68131

Coneflower Creamery is the inspiration of Founder/Chef Brian Langbehn and Katie Arant Chef/Co-Owner.  They had both worked as pastry chefs in various kitchens and dreamed of opening a farm to table ice cream shop featuring small batch artisan ice cream.  Their website even lists the local farms where they get the flavoring ingredients for their ice cream.  Their flavors have the Classics that are always on the menu as well as Signatures which highlight seasonal ingredients and plays on favorite foods and drinks. They also have sauces, toppings, floats, sundaes and the ice cream can be in a cone or a cup.  Their waffle cones were especially great.  One thing that impressed me was the way the end was folded over so no leaking while you’re eating occured.  The rich, thick and smooth ice cream is perfect in one of these cones.   The end of March they announced that a second location is pending in the Ashton Building.  If you can, try this place. Continue reading

Au Courant Regional Kitchen, Omaha, 5/7/22

exterior – 6064 Maple St, Omaha, NE 68104

Au Courant offers a 6-course chef’s tasting menu that changes weekly.  Chef/co-owner Benjamin Maides works with local producers to find and feature the freshest ingredients.  Maides partnered with local restauranteur Carlos Mendez to open Au Courant in Nov. 2016 and now “Chovy” Caniglia is the Chef de Cuisine with “Barnie” Barnard serving as Sous Chef.   They serve some really fine food.  It’s a long space with the front half taken up by a U-shaped bar surrounded with stools.  Art and mirrors decorate the unfinished walls on either side and lots of plants are everywhere.  The high tin ceiling has lighting that was pretty bright and then turned down midway through out meal.  The small tables are topped with marble and set on an old wood floor.  They have an a la carte menu at the bar whereas the dining room is offered the tasting with an optional addition of oysters on the halfshell.  They also offer wine pairings.  We got a half dozen of the oysters and our own wine.  One quirk was that you could buy a ’round’ for the kitchen and then they’d ring a bell in back. Continue reading

Petit Louis Bistro, Baltimore, 5/1/22

building – 4800 Roland Ave, Baltimore, MD 21210

Petit Louis offers classic French bistro dishes with emphasis on seasonal and regional ingredients.   It opened in June 2000 and was the second restaurant of Tony Foreman and Chef Cindy Wolf.   They chose the location of a former neighborhood hot spot in a 1897 era Tudor style building that was the country’s first strip mall.  There were not many French bistros in Baltimore then and it was popular as soon as the doors opened.  They re-did the interior and hired Chef Chris Scanga to run the kitchen. It has 2 indoor rooms and a large covered patio area.  Inside the small marble topped tables are closely set and lots of windows to the street add natural light.  A large bar is part of one room, no music is in the background and there is a parking lot our front as well as street parking.  It had a fun ambiance with attentive service as well as good food.  I’d go back. Continue reading

Magdalena, Baltimore, 4/30/22

exterior – 205 E Biddle St, Baltimore, MD 21202

Magdalena is in Mt. Vernon’s Relais & Chateaux Ivy Hotel and run by Chef Scott Bacon.  Closed for about 7 months during Covid the historic mansion did a major re-design to the restaurant.  Now it is labeled as a Maryland Bistro rather than the former fine dining concept.  The color tones of all 4 of the dining rooms now are similar and there is a more variation in the cost.  Patio dining is available and one of the rooms is in the wine cellar.  Exposed brick walls have some display cabinets of historic objects and rugs to fit each room are on the floor.  Music is in the background and well spaced small tables are now marble topped yet still set with nice white cloth napkins.  The lighting was fairly bright but pleasant and staff were knowledgable about the menu.  Valet parking is available and there were a few specials offered that evening.  It was good. Continue reading

Boca Restaurant, Cincinnati, 4/21/22

exterior – 114 E 6th St, Cincinnati, OH 45202

Boca came to being in October of 2001, the concept of Chef/Owner David Falk.  It opened in the Northside community featuring flavors of Italy and France, then moved to the Oakley neighborhood in 2004 and stayed for 9 years.  It moved to the heart of downtown Cincinnati (the former Maisonette space) in 2013, where it is today.  It’s a fairly large space with a few seats at the kitchen counter, stools at the bar and a second story.  Downstairs there is a combination of booths, various sizes of tables and bench seating with music in the background.  Lots of pillows were on the bench seats and lights were lowered.  The large open kitchen allows you to see some other foods as they come out.  Valet parking is available, otherwise it means using a paid garage.  Staff were super friendly and helpful.  We wanted to try lots of things and the server was willing to course them out for us.  Tables are close enough that conversation can happen between occupants.  I can see why many use this as a ‘special occasion’ place but if I lived closer, I’d go all the time – it’s that good. Continue reading

Jeff Ruby’s Precinct, Cincinnati, 4/20/22

exterior – 311 Delta Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45226

Note 7/19/22 – Just had a call from the customer service person at Jeff Ruby’s Precinct that saw my write-up and was concerned that we were unhappy.  Now that’s some incredible service.  She took the effort to find a phone number to reach me and that is impressive.  That said, so many people raved about this place, don’t be turned off by my experience.  I’d love to hear about your experience if you go.  If I ever get back to Cincinnati I would consider going myself.  They didn’t pay me to say this but honest caring is what can make a great restaurant and they do care.

Jeff Ruby’s Precinct started in 1981, in the former Cincinnati Police Patrol House Number 6 – a turn of the century Romanesque style structure – that holds the ‘longest, continuously running white tablecloth restaurant in the city.’  It has been recognized by a number of publications and is well known in the city.  They pride themselves on the excellent service, quality of food and overall dining experience. Some street parking is available nearby but they also offer valet service.  Inside the lights are lowered and there is lots of red upholstry to go with the brick walls.  Some stained glass windows are in the downstairs dining rooms and chandeliers.  Most notable are the large cut-outs of groups of policemen on the walls.   It feels clubby.  In the entry there are numerous awards and press along with photos of famous diners.  Although this place gets lots of praise our experience was not the best.  Our steaks were both overcooked and tasteless while the potatoes were undercooked.  In their defense they offered to cook others but I didn’t think they could do better.  They ended up comping the steaks which was more than gracious so I think the place has promise but I will never go back. Continue reading

J.C. Holdway (second visit), Knoxville, 4/14/22

entrance – 501 Union Ave SW, Knoxville, TN 37902

Back for our second visit to J. C. Holdway and it was a busier night at the corner restaurant.  The fairly large place goes fairly far back with tables in various places with an L-shaped bar taking up the first room.  On the way to the back portion we passed a couple cooking areas.  Exposed ducts run across the ceiling opposite the older wood floors.  Bench seating is along some walls and the tables are nicely sized bare wood set with large well starched towel shaped napkins. Lights are lowered but much light comes through the many windows before sundown, music is in the background and it was a bit noisy.  Service was once again very friendly but pacing was quite a bit slower probably due to the crowd and several large groups. Continue reading

J.C. Holdway, Knoxville, 4/13/22

exterior – entrance – 501 Union Ave SW, Knoxville, TN 37902

J.C. Holdway is named after Chef Joseph Lenn’s late uncle, Joe Holdway, who sought quality food adventures throughout his life.  Now Chef Lenn hopes to provide that sort of dining experience to his customers, and that he does.  His professional career has certainly readied him to meet the challenge.  A Knoxville native, he so enjoyed cooking for friends and family that he decided to attend culinary school, after which he went to work as an intern at Blackberry Farm and then the Peninsula Grill followed by working with Sean Brock to open the Capitol Grill in Nashville. An urge to return to east Tennessee took him back to Blackberry Farm where he became executive chef of the Barn restaurant and received the James Beard Award for the Best Chef Southwest in 2013.  He opened his own place in 2016 in downtown Knoxville using primarily wood-fire techniques.  Lenn’s attempt to provide an outstanding experience to guests succeeds so well that we cancelled out next evening’s reservation in order to dine with him again.  Strong recommendation for this wonderful place and look for another chronicle of luscious dishes on this site in a couple days. Continue reading

Oliver Royale, Knoxville, 4/12/22

exterior – 5 Market Square, Knoxville, TN 37902

Oliver Royale is one of the two restaurants in the historic boutique Oliver Hotel. They serve new American cusine with a focus on seasonal and regional products in the more upscale and smaller of the 2 settings.  There is an entrance from the Market Square as well as within the hotel.  The building dates back to 1876 but has been very updated to include a bench seating along the walls with tables in the middle for the first 2/3’s of the place and a u-shaped bar with stools for the last third.  Windows to the street, faint music in the background, lowered lighting, acid washed mirrors on the walls, sound panels lining the ceiling, and a enormous skylight make up the room.. The small bare wood tables are set fairly close and there are a few tables available on a front outside patio section.  It’s nicely done but comes off a bit sterile.  Service was friendly but the pacing that started out so fast slowed way down as the evening wore on.  The food was mixed.  There is also an old ‘speak-easy’ in the hotel if you want more drinks afterward. Continue reading

Kilwins Knoxville, Knoxville, 4/12/22

exterior – 408 S Gay St, Knoxville, TN 37902

Kilwins has been in operation since 1947 and is now open in downtown Knoxville.  They sell 32 flavors of ice cream made from original recipes.  Waffle cones are available and also waffle bowls.  When you enter the long shop the front is filled with candies, caramel apples, fudges and other packaged sweets.  The ice cream is further in the back along with some stools and counters where you can sit inside and enjoy your treats.  The first time we visited they were making the waffles for the cones and cups as well as dipping Granny Smith apples in caramel.  The smell was heavenly and made you want to induldge.  We tried the Tennessee River Mud which is vanilla ice cream  mixed with chocolate chips and caramel and a praline pecan ice cream.  The praline pecan won the flavor contest, hands down, but both had excellent density and smoothness to the ice cream.  We tried the waffle bowl and it was a totally ingenious way to combine an often problematic yet very tasty cone.  The bowl was inside a plastic one so you could crack it up and eat with the tasty ice cream.  Get in there and try it.  I did try one of the caramel pecan candies but the pecans were on their way to rancid so be cautioned on the candies. Continue reading

Roots Southern Table, Dallas, 4/7/22

exterior – 13050 Bee St Suit 160, Farmers Branch, TX 75234

Roots Southern Table is all about Chef Tiffany Derry’s southern upbringing.  Eating with the seasons and never wasting anything were mantras of her family.  She has been nominated for James Beard awards in a couple categories.  The far north Dallas location opened in June of 2021 in a strip-like shopping center.  That means there is plenty of parking but it gives the place a slightly sterile atmosphere.  Reservations are a must and even with one we were kept waiting for 15 minutes as other guests were seated.  We were out with friends that evening so Frankie made less of an appearance and I didn’t make as many notes on our food.  Pictures will give you a good feel, though.  The food did have a nice amout of flavor but even with all the vegetables I left feeling heavy on the starch.  Our server could have helped with that but he was ‘all about the bread.’  They have a full bar, the noise level is high and portioning is variable. Continue reading

Second Empire Restaurant, Raleigh, 3/29/22

front – 330 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, NC 27603

Second Empire Restaurant is in the historic Dodd-Hinsdale House, whose architectural style is the Second Empire Victorian style developed in France under Napoleon III and marked by heavy ornate modification.  The home was built for Mayor Dodd and completed in 1879 but lost quickly due to finances.  Col. Hinsdale purchased it in 1890 and it remained in the family till 1971.  Till 1993 the house suffered vandalism and then Ted Reynolds and family bought it and started the restoration to transform it into a restaurant.  In Sept. 1997 the restaurant and tavern opened for business.  The structure retains its original exterior, heart pine flooring, masonry walls and windows.  Four main rooms of the main body now make up the restaurant and a tavern was made from additional rooms and a glassed atrium room.  There is a small parking lot by the back entrance and otherwise you’re on your own.  At the front entrance is a dramatic stairway lined with photos and awards.  High ceilings, soft music in the background, lowered lighting and art on the walls surround the widely spaced large white cloth covered tables.  Chef Daniel Schurr offered a couple specials in addition to the printed menu and offers many gluten free options.  His style was to stack multiple ingredients into each dish.  Service was friendly but the pace was slow. Continue reading

Pascal’s Manale Restaurant, New Orleans, 3/23/22

building – 1838 Napoleon Ave, New Orleans, LA 

Pascal’s Manale Restaurant was started as just Manale’s in 1913 by Frank Manale.  Pascal Radosta, Frank’s nephew, was part of the original crew and took the place over in 1937 when Frank died.  Many years later he wanted to add his name to the restaurant but still wanted to honor his uncle and thus it became Pascal’s Manale.  Pas died in 1958 and his youngest brother Jake took over.  They are famous for their BBQ shrimp and raw oyster bar.  It is a large place with 2 main dining rooms and the good sized bar area that houses the oyster shucking bar.  The dining rooms have white cloth covered tables and windows to the street.  Some art is in the dining rooms but the bar is covered with lots of framed photos.  They offer a separate lunch menu, a parking lot and great service. Continue reading

Brigtsen’s Restaurant (update), New Orleans, 3/22/22

exterior – 723 Dante St, New Orleans, LA 70118

Brigtsen’s was last written up here in 2017, but not much has changed here.  The small old home is quite a ways from the Quarter and it’s many rooms are filled with dining tables and happy people.  Chef Frank Brigtsen is still running the kitchen and his wife Marna manages the floor.  Frank apprenticed at Commander’s Palace and then worked under Chef Paul Prudhomme, who helped the couple open this place in 1986. He has since won numerous awards for his cooking.  The super friendly and efficient staff were all wearing buttons saying “I’m vaxed to the max.”  The polished bare wood tables no longer have cloths but white cloth napkins are still on the table.  Music is in the background, art is on the walls and a bottle of cold water is set on each table. Continue reading

Commander’s Palace (update), New Orleans, 3/21/22

exterior – 1403 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130

It’s been almost 7 years since I’ve been to Commander’s Palace.  The last meal was so disappointing I haven’t wanted to go back but enter Chef Megan “Meg” Bickford, who has worked in the kitchen since 2008 but in Oct. 2020 became Executive Chef, following the 18 year reign of Tory McPhail.  She has livened it up and tonight’s meal was the best I’ve ever had at Commander’s.   It has been in the Garden District since 1893 and is still owned by members of the Brennan family.  Chefs such as Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse have worked there to present leading-edge haute creole cuisine.  The large building has a patio/bar area in back which is overlooked by the upstairs Garden Room.  Downstairs is a more traditionally elegant room.  Service was great, attentive and friendly – something its struggled with in my past visits. Continue reading

Mandina’s Restaurant, New Orleans, 3/21/22

street exterior – 3800 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70119

Mandina’s Restaurant was first opened as a grocery store at 3800 Canal Street by Sebastian Mandina in 1898.  With the addition of his sons in the 1900s it became a pool hall that sold sandwiches to the many Italian immigrants and others living in the mid-city area.  By 1932 the sons turned it into Mandina’s Restaurant, with the family living upstairs. It is now in the hands of fourth generation family members and has benefitted from its proximity to the Canal St. streetcar.  Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters caused damage to the place and they had to close for 18 months to make repairs and now are trying to bring it back to the way it was in 1930.  Today the large pink house on a corner, has 2 huge dining room and a long bar with a footrail but no stools.  Windows to the street bring in even more light to the high ceiling room.  No music was in the background, posters are on the walls and some TVs run but are muted. Continue reading

Trillium Cafe and Inn, Mendocino, CA., 3/13/22

exterior – 10390 Kasten St, Mendocino, CA 95460

Trillium Cafe serves lunch and dinner Friday thru Tuesday with indoor and outdoor seating.  It is on the bottom floor of the Inn of the same name in the heart of Mendocino.  On the second floor are several hotel rooms for guests.  Small tables are well spaced in the interior dining room and the patio winds around with a good supply of seating.  When you make reservations you can specify indoor or outdoor.  As it’s in an historic home, there are lots of windows to the street and a fireplace.  Art for sale is on the walls and there ‘s plenty of street parking.  It has obviously been restored with the old wood floors in good shape and the light fixtures replaced with those made by local artisans.  A bar was in a room to the right, when we entered but I only saw 2 vacant stools in front of it.  Service was friendly and efficient but not particularly knowledgable about the history of the place.  There were no daily specials just the changoing soup of the day flavor.  However when I compared the menu we had to what was on line there were some changes. Continue reading

Café Marquesa, Key West, 1/27/22

exterior

Café Marquesa, serving contemporary American cuisine, seats just 50 people in the restaurant associated with the Marquesa Hotel.  The corner location had several tables outside with most of them inside along with bar stools that offered drinks and food for walk-ins.  The lights were lowered slightly but the numerous windows let in lots of street light.  No music was in the background and the small tables were covered with white cloths.  Chef Graham Dailey (from the Peninsula Grill) stood in the dining room in front of the trompe l’oeil painting that surrounded the kitchen window.  He looked over all the food before it was served but never came around to the tables.  Lots of mirrors and art were on the wall and bench seating was along a couple of the walls.  It had an elegant feel and efficient service.  I would recommend giving it a try. Continue reading

Latitudes, Key West, 1/26/22

exterior

Latitudes is Sunset Key Cottage’s signature restaurant – a 7 minute boat ride from Key West.   The boat ride is available about every 30 minutes and once there you have a choice of “island cuisine” in the interior Ernest Hemingway Room or al fresco on the huge grounds, both overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and the lighted palm trees.  Your reservation time is the same as your ferry time and parking is available for guests at their sister property Opal Key West Resort (remember to bring your ticket for the restaurant to validate).  It is a large place but reservations are a must and need to be made several months ahead for dinner.  The place has an elegant feel and great service but people were dressed fairly casually.  The view in the daytime is said to be wonderful but I enjoyed the lighted trees. Continue reading

Le Diplomate, Washington DC, 11/21/21

building

Le Diplomate is built in the image of a Parisian brasserie serving classic dishes in a well restored corner building.  It is a large place (300 seats) with a huge ‘enclosed’ garden room seating area on the sidewalk and unsheltered tables on the other sidewalk.  Inside you’ll find a combination of tables and bench seating and free standing small tables.  There is not much distance between them.  The red upholstery is dotted with brass as are the railings on the few stairs between levels, the columns are lit from within and the ceiling is high.  Windows are on 2 sides of the room and there may have been music in the background but it was hard to tell over the hum of the crowd.  Paper covers the wood table tops but it is set with a cloth napkin.  It’s been here 9 years and really popular so reservations are in order.  Service was reasonable but not overly friendly. Continue reading

MoMo Italian Kitchen, Dallas, 11/2/21

building

MoMo Italian Kitchen originated over 35 years ago and in 2017 Wende Stevenson and Aaron Gross bought it from a member of the Gattini family to carry on the tradition of Fernanda Gosetti’s (the Julia Child of Northern Italy) recipes.  Actually Wende worked at the original MoMo in 1988, but both have much experience working/managing wonderful restaurants in Dallas.  Now they have their own piece of history and continue to serve tasty Italian food in a comfortable, welcoming setting.  I have to admit, I’ve known Aaron through a number of restaurants where he’s worked and enjoy his humor and commitment to quality.  I ate a number of times at the previous MoMo and was glad to enjoy a lunch at the present day incarnation.  Service was excellent and there is a large patio out front. Continue reading

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

exterior

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

exterior

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

entrance

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

exterior

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

exterior

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

exterior

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