Harbor Cafe, Stonington, ME., 8/30/21

exterior

The Harbor Cafe is in a large white house on on the main street of Stonington, Maine. There were a couple rooms but mostly one was in use and it was lined with booths on the side and a couple tables in the middle. Art was for sale on the walls and maps were laminated on the table tops. The booths were divided with plexiglas but masks were not required for the vaccinated. It felt like a very local spot with people ordering ‘the usual.’  In addition to the menu they offered a ham and cheese omelette which we both chose. You could chose your bread product, cheese and potato preparation. We both took cheddar and the skillet then deep fried potatoes. I had an English muffin and my husband had white toast. The potatoes were crisp and really good and the omelette was filled with chunks of ham. The egg exterior was fluffy and good. Unlike the menu indicated (one refill only) they refilled your coffee numerous times. It was a good solid way to start a day of travel. Continue reading

Aragosta, Deer Isle, ME., 8/29/21

exterior

Aragosta is Devin Finigan’s fine dining restaurant on Goose Cove in Deer Isle, Maine. They opened in 2012 in Stonington but bought a 22 acre waterfront resort in January 2019 to be able to offer lodging as well as dining. A team of craftsmen transformed the property and now the dining room is a large open space with painted wood walls and ceiling. They also have outdoor seating overlooking the water but it gets pretty cool in the evening for that. Lighting is lowered and music is in the background. The place is noisy with so many hard surfaces but it was made worse as we were given a large table right next to the swinging doors to the kitchen. Up one step were more tables and a lounge area near the bar, in front of the fire place. Plenty of parking is close by but the walk to the restaurant is poorly lit. They offer only a tasting menu and also offer wine pairings if you don’t want to order your own bottle. Pacing was eratic, service was an issue for us and the food was mixed so I can’t give a solid recommendation for the place.  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

Captain’s Catch, Castine, 8/28/21

order window

Captain’s Catch is a little shack by the wharf area in Castine, ME.  The building was given by the Castine Community Partners for the greater good of the area.  It does a lot of ice cream and hot dog business but the also have an excellent lobster roll.   We found it walking around the shops and the boats for the Maritime School.  The roll came on a butter toasted piece of bread and was stuffed with lobster chunks in Mayo dressing.  The lobster tasted fresh and sweet and the butter on the bread added more flavor as well as texture to the sandwich.  Stop by if you’re in the area.  Can’t comment on any of their other items. Continue reading

Bagaduce Lunch, Penobscot, ME., 8/28/21

exterior

Bagaduce Lunch was opened as a roadside fish shack in 1946 in Brooksville Maine.  The original owner’s granddaughter and husband have run the place for 25 years.  They have a system where you order at the window and they call your number when it’s ready.  The area behind the restaurant is set up with picnic tables, outhouses and trash cans.  The site is on the water and so it is lovely backdrop.  The place states they serve only fresh and locally sourced seafood.  The cooking process has not changed since they opened and everything is fried.  It was a strange thing how each item worked differently with the same coating.  They won a James Beard Award in 2008 and are really popular. Continue reading

The Hichborn, Stockton Springs, ME., 8/27/21

exterior

The Hichborn is in a large historic house with bare wood tables, faint music in the background, lots of art on the walls (for sale), numerous plants, sound dampening panels on the ceiling and lowered lighting.  The house is named for Nathan Hichborn a prolific boat builder who was also a politician.   Owner Kirk Linder manages the front while his partner Charlie Zorich serves as chef in back.  They offer only a printed tasting menu (with a couple extras thrown in) with optional wine pairings for a capacity of about 30.  There is a full bar for cocktails as well as a wine by the glass or bottle menu.  We chose the pairings and while they were well matched with the courses they were small pours and not topped off, especially when they were meant to go with extra courses. Both the owner and chef did come by and introduce themselves, which was very nice. Continue reading

Tinder Hearth, Brooksville, ME., 8/27/21

front

Tinder Hearth is a wood fired bakery of pastry, bread and pizza.  The owners, Tim and Lydia Semmler, started the bakery in 2007 and they added making pizza a few years after that.  They currently make pizza on Tuesday – Friday nights (this will change when the weather gets colder) for take out and outdoor dining but reservations are required for either option.  You need to call (207-326-8381) on the Tuesday morning of the week you want to come and make a reservation – and they go fast.  They also offer salad, ice cream and beverages.  There was a good amount of on-site parking  and then you walk up to the check in booth where you will be assigned a table and given your water, glasses, plates and flatware.   A separate ‘building’ sold the flavored beverages including wine and beer.  The tables are spaced throughout the garden area and there is a good sized sand pile for the little ones to play in.  Hours are from 4:30 to 8:00 and the menu is posted weekly on their Facebook and Instagram pages. Continue reading

Perry’s Lobster Shack, Surry, ME., 8/27/21

service area

Perry’s Lobster Shack is in Surry, ME.   Everything here is outdoors with picnic tables on the grounds and out on a private peer.  Some have umbrellas for sun and others do not.  Parking is across the road. The place overlooks the waterfront and boats will pull up and sell their catch. This place seemed out in nowhere but was really popular.  The server brought a bucket to the table for shells and trash.  The seafood is outstanding, the service is efficient and the view is outstanding. Continue reading

Pentagoet Inn & Wine Bar, Castine, ME., 8/26/21

exterior of Inn

The Baron Pub and Wine Bar is in the Pentagoet Inn in Castine, Maine.   The place dates back to the 1800’s and is an old house with lots of rooms set up with tables.  On the wraparound porch are more tables.  Lots of art is on the walls as well as memorabilia, rugs are on the old wood floors, music is playing softly in the background, lighting is lowered and lots of windows let in light and/or view.   Fans were running because it was warm outside and there is no air conditioning.  It’s full of character and the food is good, although portions are on the small side.  The really friendly staff are helpful and friendly. Continue reading

F Street Station (update), Anchorage, AK., 8/1/21

exterior, 325 F Street, Anchorage, AK., 99501 / 907-272-5196

Frankie visited F Street Station almost 3 years ago and it hasn’t changed much. We saw the same chef in the kitchen and the place is very popular.  They have a number of beers, cocktails and wines by the glass and bottle.  The cheese hunk was back after having disappeared during the height of Covid, but it still wasn’t getting much action.  They offer lots of seafood and had our favorite fried halibut during our last trip and I’m here to tell you it is still excellent. Continue reading

Chugiak Cafe, Chugiak, AK., 8/1/21

drive through line

Chugiak Cafe is about 20 miles outside of Anchorage and worth the drive.  It started about 7 years ago (by my best information) in what was an old WWII barracks.  After about 3 years owner Trig Bjorklund had to expand to 2 more rooms to accommodate guests.  Then Covid 19 hit and they changed the system to drive-through only.  Tables outdoors are now set up, each set with a box of napkins, utensils and other needs and the front door is open if you want to eat inside.  However there is no staff to clean up after you or take orders, just put your trash in the convenient cans or take your food to another location.  To expedite the process a person is out front to take your order and hand it in to the kitchen who will then give it to the pick-up window.  The system works well and there are beautiful flowers and fun decorations for you to look at as you drive through the line.  Inside is a treasure trove of a lifetime’s memorabilia that is not to be missed.  Particularly the 1910 coffee roaster that roasts their coffee in small batches.  But the best part is the honest, wonderful food. Continue reading

Altura Bistro, Anchorage, 7/31/21

exterior

Altura Bistro opened in 2019 and serves New American cuisine in a less casual atmosphere.  Located in a strip shopping center outside of the downtown area they were still very much practicing Covid separation of guests.  Along one side of the room was bench seating for 2-top tables and opposite were booths.  A couple tables were in the middle of the room.  The tables were bare wood and set with black cloth napkins.  Windows to the outside were partially shaded but the sun streamed in for a good part of the evening, defeating the low light chandeliers.   The other room had the bar and a few stools facing the bar and a couple small tables along the wall.  It was not clear if these tables were for walk-ins.  Music was in the background.  Service was so-so, with timing issues, not clearing or wiping between courses and less than good advice on ordering. Continue reading

Denali Brewpub, Talkeetna AK., 7/31/21

exterior

Denali Brewpub is in the center of the small town of Talkeetna, nestled at the base of Denali. It is a large place with guests being those arriving by train, outdoor enthusiasts and families.  Dogs are welcome on the large outdoor patio.  Inside there is a log cabin feel with wood ceiling, walls and floor along with a large fireplace.  A bar dominates one of the several rooms and the kitchen is in back.  Lots of decorations adorn the walls, including some of the things for sale.  There is free wi-fi and music is in the background.  A large number of beers are from their brewery that is close by.  Service was good and very friendly but lunch does start at 11:00 not at 10:00 which was on the website. Continue reading

The Marx Bros. Cafe (update), Anchorage, 7/30/21

exterior

We last visited the Marx Bros. Cafe in 2018 and gave lots of history in the that write up.  The two rooms now seem to have less tables, probably to do with Covid.  Otherwise it looked very similar with music in the background and the front door open for ventilation.  It is a more elegant spot on the Anchorage dining scene and lots of special occasions were being celebrated the night we were there.  The food is good but seemed more tired this visit. Continue reading

The White Spot, Anchorage, 7/30/21

exterior
109 W. 4th Ave., 907-279-3954

The White Spot is in downtown Anchorage and even though the street out front was closed for repair the place was still packed with customers eating in and picking up to go orders. There are several tables but the best seats are at the counter overlooking the small kitchen show.  They are known for the halibut sandwich but you’ll find lots of house made, fresh options here.  The current owners have had the place five and a half years but it obviously goes way back.  An interim owner was an Italian lady that brought the place to notoriety according to the current owner.  The cook, Frank, was an amazing show to watch as he freshly breaded mushrooms, onion and the famed halibut for the sandwich all while grilling whatever.  The staff were all super friendly and it was such a fun tasty spot to have on our agenda, I recommend you try it when you’re in the area.  They are only open for lunch and breakfast (for which I could find no menu). Continue reading

Colony Kitchen/ Noisy Goose Cafe, Palmer, AK., 7/30/21

exterior

The Colony Kitchen started in 1985 in downtown Palmer as the Frontier Café and moved to the present location in 1989 and became the Colony Kitchen but is more often referred to as the Noisy Goose Cafe.  The name is representative of the casual and conversational nature of the guests and staff.  Portions of the home-style cuisine are large and service is efficient.  The food is well prepared but on the bland side for me but nevertheless, even with Covid the place was incredibly busy.  Large groups, couples and families from all walks of life found it the place to go.  The walls are covered with stuffed birds, antlers, photos of animals and signs.  Several wooden bears are also placed around as well as a stuffed real bear and faint music is in the background.  Many windows add to the light level inside.  Outside there is a wrap around deck and a combination of booths and tables fill the inside. A scrambler option was offered as a daily special. Continue reading

Club Paris (update), Anchorage, 7/29/21

Club Paris was visited by Frankie in 2018 for lunch so this visit we decided to have dinner.  It is an old school place but the interior has been changed quite a bit to deal with the Covid pandemic.  Tables are now separated by dividers and so room shots are difficult.  The building dates back 100 years and the current restaurant to the 1950s when I understand the owner married a French woman and he decorated the place with lots of Paris images to make her feel at home. The Selman family bought it in the 1970s with many of the staff having worked there for more than 25 years.  They are known for their steaks and seafood as well as their pink neon sign out front featuring an Eiffel Tower.  It is a long space with a curved bar taking up most of the front room.  Music is in the background, the lights are low and they did have one nightly special to add to the menu.  Their wine selection was not as appealing as their cocktails so we enjoyed martinis with dinner. Continue reading

Ray’s Waterfront, Seward, AK., 7/29/21

exterior

Ray’s Waterfront is a seafood restaurant that offers views of the Seward small boat harbor and mountains beyond.  It is a large place on a couple levels, to afford everyone a view.  The walls are decorated with lots of mounted fish in between the numerous windows that overlook the water. Seward is the sight for many day cruises to go see wildlife, icebergs, etc.  They take no reservations and are fairly popular so you can expect a line to get a seat, especially now that they are short staffed due to Covid.  Music is in the background and it seemed to be a place for gatherings.  In addition to seafood they also offer chicken and beef items and there were a couple of daily specials.  The food here is good but fairly ordinary however it is made up for with the fun view of the active harbor. Continue reading

Harbor House Inn Restaurant (update), Elk, CA., 7/22 & 23/21

exterior (5600 CA-1, Elk, CA, 95432 / (707)-877-3203)

The  Harbor House Restaurant is the Michelin starred restaurant in the Harbor House Inn in Elk, CA (Mendocino County).  Super talented Chef Matt Kammerer and his excellent staff continue to turn out innovative and delicious tasting menus and thus Frankie chose to re-visit.  The Inn is still lovely and they are now able to seat guests inside as well as outside, all over-looking the beautiful coast line.  We were lucky to eat there 2 consecutive nights and Chef Kammerer was kind enough to make changes for the second night’s dining.  They have a small kitchen so some dishes were repeated but there were a number of different dishes.  I’ll present the two night’s meals but may omit photos for repeats, depending on which night I got the better photo.  Frankie and I highly recommend visiting and if you can even stay at the Inn.  The staff will make you feel very welcome and do allow several hours for the meal. 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

Carte Blanche, Dallas, 6/29/21

exterior

Carte Blanche opened in mid-June in the space previously occupied by Mudsmith Coffee on lower Greenville Ave.  In the evening it offers a fine dining tasting menu and in the day it sells baked goods and coffee.  The 4 or 12 course tasting menus are offered Tues – Sat.  Husband and wife, Casey and Amy La Rue are the co-owners and chef and pastry chef, respectively.  The tasting menu features native Texas ingredients and wine pairings are available.  One interesting fact is that he doesn’t serve beef, focusing instead on smaller animals but the menu does stress seasonal items and will change regularly.  Inside the large area are well spaced fairly large bare wood tables divided into 2 sides by a huge bar, which holds the pastries in the morning.  Exposed ductwork runs across the high ceiling, art decorates the walls and music is in the background.  The tables are set with a nice cloth napkin and a wrap of flatware that you chose from during the meal.  We had the 12 course tasting and wine pairings however should I go back I would order my own wine.  Portion control was good as was pacing, however the meal was over 2 and a half hours. Continue reading

Nelscott Breakfast House, Lincoln City, OR., 6/26/21

exterior

Nelscott Breakfast House alternately called Nelscott Café is a small coastal cafe offering breakfast and lunch items. Located in Lincoln City, their patio welcomes dogs too and there are special items available just for our canine companions.  It’s in a strip of shops along the highway in what looks like a house and was started around 2009 by a couple with the names Nelson and Scott, but it has changed hands a number of times.  Inside you find a number of tables and stairs to another level of seating as well as a door to the patio.  Plenty were also getting food to-go.  A pass through window to the kitchen lets you get a small peek at the action, windows are all around, music is in the background and happy people are everywhere.  Service was outstanding – they promptly took our order and food was out quickly, which was great as we were on our way to the airport. The menu has a good selection of sweet or savory dishes but there are also specials, which were noted out front.  I would go back if I am ever anywhere close.    Continue reading

Local Ocean Seafoods, Newport, OR., 6/26/21

exterior

Local Ocean Seafoods specializes in sustainable wild seafood from Oregon and has a retail outlet downstairs with dining rooms upstairs.  Opening in 2005, the lively fish counter on the ground level notes which vessel caught the fish and the technique used.  Owner Laura Anderson is the daughter of a commercial fisherman and has a Masters degree in Marine Resource Management. The dining room has windows looking out on the working port (Yaquina Bay) with fishing boats coming and going.  When you visit know that there is dedicated parking in the lot adjacent to their building otherwise it is hard to find a free space.  In the dining room, small light wood tables are set with matching wood chairs, no music is in the background and there is a bar area with some high-top tables for seating. 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

The Schooner Restaurant & Lounge, Netarts, OR., 6/25/21

exterior

The Schooner Restaurant and Lounge is located at the boat launch for Netarts Bay on the Tillamook Coast.  The source of most of their oysters is from the bay next door and the rest of their seafood is mostly locally sourced.  During lunch we watched a number of small boats launch into the bay and clam diggers hunt for clams.  They are quite popular and there was a line when we arrived at the opening hour.  Most wanted to sit on the large outdoor deck but we chose inside where you could watch the kitchen and wood fired oven.  Indoor the bar is separate from the dining area that has a combination of copper topped tables and booths.  Service was hurried and poor – for example we were told when the server arrived that the daily special was all gone (15 minutes after they opened) then later were told it was still available but she could not change the order we placed. Continue reading

Side Door Cafe, Gleneden Beach, OR., 6/24/21

exterior

Side Door Café is in an old brick and tile factory building.  It’s the restaurant part of the 7,000 sq. ft. warehouse also home to Eden Hall that all opened in 2000.  Family owned and run it serves New American dishes in an eclectic space decorated with many re-claimed items from other Oregon buildings.  They have some daily specials to add to the already large menu.  Their hours are shorter now and tables well spaced due to Covid, so changes may be coming in those areas. Lots of windows in the building add to the lighting during daytime and instrumental music is in the background.  The high ceiling is filled with fans and decorations are everywhere.  There were 2 large rooms, the first one having some booth seating and the second strung with little lights. Continue reading

Tasting Counter, Somerville, MA, 6/12/21

exterior of building

Tasting Counter is a dining room/kitchen experience for the diner.  A 9 course tasting menu is offered to all diners with optional wine pairings and vegetarian options.  Choices are made when you book your reservation, offered Thursday through Sunday at 5:00 and 7:30 pm.   The pre-paid tickets include the menu, beverages, service and tax.  The menu is a surprise but guests receive a copy with their Parting Morsels.  Chef Peter Ungár opened the restaurant in 2015 and is in the kitchen and makes all the explanations of the courses.  The restaurant is located in a building that houses a large brewery.  We sat at some of their extra tables while we waited for the doors to open.   Inside there were 12 of us at the counter but I read they can seat up to 20, so I suspect they were still trying to keep people spaced for Covid-19.  Inside it is fairly bright, music was in the background and the walls are decorated with preserving foods and wine bottles.   Pacing was excellent and portion control was great. Continue reading

James Hook and Company, Boston, 6/12/21

sign on building

James Hook and Co. started in 1925 with a father and his 3 sons trucking their catch to Boston.  It is still a family run business with 4 of the third generation siblings.  Somewhere along the line they developed retail outlets while still selling to restaurants and shipping across the U.S.   We visited a retail site near the water that also had a food truck on premises selling options.  Inside the little house were a couple tables to eat but mostly had tanks containing various sizes of lobsters and shelves with memorabilia and cooking supplies.  The retail counter had a number of fish and shellfish but also the lobster rolls, which they are famous for.  They come in 2 sizes and are cold with mayo or hot with butter.  Outside at the truck you could get the mayo variety and whole cooked lobsters as well as soups and some sides.  There is a large outdoor seating area to enjoy your selections. Continue reading

Santarpio’s Pizza, Boston, 6/12/21

building

Santarpio’s Pizza in east Boston is in a corner building that was a bakery in 1903.  In the 30’s the Santarpio family began selling New York style pizza from there and they still are along with barbecued lamb, beef and sausage.  It is open daily and accepts only cash.  Walls are adorned with boxing paraphernalia and posters.  There are 2 main rooms filled with booths and tables along with a long bar divided from the rooms by a partition.  The grill area is at one end of the bar whereas the pizza oven is in the back of the two dining rooms.  The bar sells beer and wine, which is also available by carafe.  The lighting is lowered and no music is in the background.  Staff was friendly and helpful. Continue reading

Stages at One Washington, Dover, N.H., 6/11/21

building

Stages at One Washington is in the small town of Dover, NH on the third floor of an historic mill building.  Chef Evan Hennessey offers just 6 seats for his fixed price tasting menu Thursday thru Saturday evenings.  There are 2 seatings each night but he recently added “the Living Room” which is not only a place to wait for your seating but also where you can get some of his fabulous food and drinks in a no-reservations setting resembling a living room.  It is in the room adjacent to the kitchen where for nine years the lucky few are seated at a counter and can casually converse with the chef while he prepares your food and/or pours your wine.  Pairings are available as are a number of cocktails and bottles of wine.  The meal is 8-10 courses and no menu is provided as he often changes as he goes along with a menu that features local farms and foraged ingredients. (I wrote as fast as I could but apologies if I didn’t get all the ingredients or preparations written down.)  It is full of interesting combinations and lots of flavors in the foods.  Definitely off the beaten path, but if you have a chance to eat with this native chef of Dover, I suggest you jump on it. Continue reading

Earl’s Steak Sandwiches, Dover, N.H., 6/11/21

exterior (99 Oak St., Dover)

Earl’s Steak Sandwiches is family owned and specializes in shaved beef sandwiches.  Wife Mo (Maureen) Donovan works the floor, husband Jim cooks and their daughter Sophie, who is 10, makes rings and bracelets to sell in one of the booths.  Opening in October, in a location that had previously been a diner,  during the Covid pandemic they rose to the challenge by concentrating on take-out until indoor dining resumed.  The decor features a ‘vintage car theme’ with old hot rod magazines at the table and the walls decorated with oil signs and car parts.  The inside area is small, with a few counter stools, but there also is a good number of outdoor tables.  Behind the counter is a window to the kitchen where you can see, hear and smell the owner’s cooking.  One of the booths is “reserved for Earl” which is where the daughter assembles and sells her jewelry.  Earl has a photo but it is actually not a family member, they just liked his name.   They cure their own meats and make their own sauces. Continue reading

E Bar Tex Mex (update), Dallas, 5/27/21

 

building

Our last visit to E Bar Tex Mex was in 2018 and I wanted to update it as I was not wowed by the food on that visit but speculated that you had to find the items that spoke to you.  They continue to get crowds and now I know why cause I’ve found my item – Jorge’s Tacos.  The place is physically about the same except they’ve added a non-enclosed tent next to the enclosed one and their name is on a nearby parking lot to provide additional parking. Service is good, helpful and friendly. Continue reading

Suraya, Philadelphia, 5/22/21

building

Suraya is a Lebanese restaurant in Fishtown that started as a bakery and market.  In 2018 it opened a huge dining room and large outdoor patio for evening service.  Across from the seated area is the large open kitchen, surrounded by bar seating that was not used probably due to Covid.  Sections of the dining room have partitions between them.  Booth seating is matched with armed chairs with music in the background.  It is a striking, stylish place.  On weekends they have a brunch menu where you get a set of cold mezze served with pita and then chose a mashawi for a fixed price.  They also offer 2 possible sides and whatever pastries you want from the bakery.  A server brings your food, wine and whatever you might need but you order and pay through the QR code on the table. Continue reading

Vetri Cucina (update), Philadelphia, 5/22/21

mural on the outside of the building

Vetri Cucina opened in 1998 through the collaboration of Chef Marc Vetri and business partner Jeff Benjamin.  In 2005 Chef Vetri was named Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic by the James Beard Awards.  Frankie last visited here in 2014 and although the menu has changed the format is still the same and the giant mural of Chef and others is still on the side of the building. The 3 story building has the Vetri dining room on the first floor with private parties, classes and events taking up the higher 2 floors.  The lights are lowered, music is in the background, old wood floors are opposite Italian chandeliers with the glasses on the table also being Italian. They offer all diners a 4 course fixed price menu where you choose from several options.  You can add an add several supplements for a fee.  Wine pairings are available but the sommelier was able to help us pick a great bottle to go with our meal.   Service is fabulous with great pacing and portion control.  I highly recommend this place. 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

Cleavers, Philadelphia, 5/21/21

exterior

Cleavers opened in March 2016 near Rittenhouse Park (108 S. 18th St., Philadelphia).  They use 100% domestic ribeye meat in the Philly Cheesesteak sandwich creations and freshly baked bread.  The menu has a chicken version made from fresh chicken breasts or a vegetarian option from Portobello mushrooms.  Also they have salads, sides and a full bar. They are open 7 days a week, do take-out and have dine in and out seating.  We chose to sit inside near the bar to enjoy their wonderful air-conditioning on a warm day in Philadelphia.  The bar has multiple cocktails and an amazing number of tap beers.  We tried one of the latter. Continue reading

DanDan, Philadelphia, 5/21/21

exterior

DanDan (126 S. 16th St., Philadelphia) serves Sichuan and Taiwanese dishes along with having a full bar.  It is a smaller place in Rittenhouse Square that also offers some outdoor seating.  Inside the downstairs has counter seating around the bar and in the window.  Upstairs are multiple tables in different combinations of sizes.  The spheres that are the light fixtures hang from the ceiling and give it a fun view from upstairs.  They appeared to do a lively takeout business but were not busy at any of the tables, but we were early. Music is in the background and some paintings are on the walls.  It is a large menu but several favorites had been suggested by local magazines and we got most of them.  This place got rave reviews but we seemed to hit it on an off day. Continue reading

Friday Saturday Sunday, Philadelphia, 5/20/21

building

Friday Saturday Sunday is a small restaurant that is actually open Thurs. through Sat. evenings.  Chef Chad Williams offers only an 8 course tasting menu and 5:00 and 8:00 seating times.  He and his wife Hanna took over the Rittenhouse Square restaurant in 2017.  Covid has restricted dining to the second level (no elevator) of well spaced tables and the bar on the first floor only makes drinks.  The couple tables outside are for cocktails.  Benches line the walls of the second floor and face the tables set with armless chairs. Fairly loud music is in the background and there are dampening panels on the ceiling.  One wall holds a number of large paintings of lush scenery with a large metal palm tree in the middle while the opposite wall has windows and mirrors.  No wine pairings were offered so we ordered our own bottles of wine.  The meal had good portion control and pacing. 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

Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia, 5/20/21

Market exterior

Reading Terminal Market is one of America’s oldest and largest public markets in a National Historic Landmark building. They have produce, meats, fish, flowers, cheese, bread and sweets to create your own meal or they have a number of restaurants. While we enjoyed walking the aisles and seeing what was for sale we tried two of the most famous sandwiches there -Tommy DiNic’s and Hershel’s East Side.  Both often have a line but we got there early and were able to easily buy from both and find a table in the center dining area, where all the tables are separated by plexiglas. Continue reading

Laurel, Philadelphia, 5/19/21

exterior

Laurel is an American restaurant with French influences. They have 2 rooms, one of which housed a large bar and the other the well-spaced tables and opening to the kitchen. There was also patio dining available. The bare wood tables are set with armless chairs in a room with lowered lighting and wood floors. Assorted rock music is in the background but sound panels on the ceiling help keep the noise level down. They offer only a surprise tasting menu and had one addition offered that evening- a 3oz Japanese A5 Wagyu beef for $75 designed to be split. The wine list was limited but they do offer pairings and limited bar service. We added the supplement and opted for the pairings (which turned out to be pretty small pours). Portion control and pacing of the menu were great. Chef de Cuisine that evening was Alex Beninato and the menu changes seasonally. Continue reading

HUDA, Philadelphia, 5/19/21

exterior

HUDA is “fast casual concept by Philadelphia based Chef Yehuda Sichel” who loves sandwiches. The sandwiches come on homemade milk buns and sourdough and they also offer salads. It’s a small shop with one indoor table and 4 outside ones. They do a lot of takeout. The menu uses seasonal and local ingredients and the staff were all super friendly. You go inside to place and pay for your order and then they bring it to your table. We went there for a late afternoon snack to split and it was perfect and really tasty. I’d go often if I had the chance. Continue reading

Le Bernardin, New York City, 4/12/21

entrance

It’s been several years since Frankie visited Le Bernardin, Chef Eric Ripert’s 3 Michelin starred restaurant.  It’s an elegant interior with lots of wood, windows, flowers and a massive wave art piece at one end.  In the daytime, light flows in through the windows but at night the lights are lowered and windows are shaded.  Now plexiglas partitions are between the tables and servers are masked.  Every table was full and turned by regulars and those celebrating something, but it was still easy to talk at the table.  Heavy white linens drape the smallish tables and service is excellent.  The menu offers 2 longer tastings, one seafood and one vegetarian, or a 4 course fixed price where you choose from a large selection in each section with an optional addition of a cheese course.  Wine pairings are available for the tasting.  In the front part of the restaurant is the Lounge with a limited menu. We decided on the Chef’s tasting menu and ordered our own wines. Continue reading

Keens Steakhouse, New York City, 5/11&12/21

front door

We last visited Keens Steakhouse in May of 2018 and this trip we made a visit to the pub for a late snack and had a full lunch with friends in the main dining room the next day.  It is dark wherever you sit so photos are harder but it is worth the visit.  The dark woods, white table clothes, tile floor in the bar and pipes on every square inch of ceiling, give it the feel of a classic.  For the pandemic they have erected individual pods outside that are still there even though NYC is now allowing indoor dining.  Inside the tables and bar stools are all separated by plexiglass barriers and seating is spaced.  The nice thing about that is that it made conversation very easy as did the relaxed pace our server gave us both  days.  The food was all very good and nicely prepared in generous portions.  They are famous for their mutton chop and this time we were smart and split one. Continue reading

Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, New York City, 5/11/21

exterior of building

We were last at The Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare in May of 2019 and not much has changed in the physical place but Covid 19 has made spacing between guests larger (50% capacity).  Brooklyn Fare is the grocery that is the front of the building and the Chef’s Table is in the rear.  Chef César Ramirez was in the kitchen and doing much of the plating of courses.  It is a tasting menu only with seats around a large C-shaped wood counter and booth seating around the perimeter.  The open kitchen is the center of the well lit room with older rock music in the background.  Wine pairings are available or bottles can be individually purchased.  There are a lot of staff and all are very friendly with guests but Ramirez is more about cooking than visiting with diners.  The beautifully presented luxury foods are filled with flavor and texture, but many of the courses were quite similar to what we had 2 years ago. Continue reading

El Zarco Restaurant and Cantina, Grand View, WI., 6/4/21

front

El Zarco is on US Highway 63 in Grand View, WI.  It offers “homestyle fresh Mexican Cuisine and hand crafted margaritas. “  They have been open 4 months in a building with 2 rooms, one of which is dominated by a pool table and bar and the other having a combination of tables and booths. The website said they open at 11:00 but the sign out front said noon however, the owner was kind enough to let us come in and start early. On weekends they open earlier and have brunch options. Inside are tile floors, wood ceiling, AC, music in the background and walls decorated with photos and memorabilia. Two TVs were in the bar area but both just streamed scenery visuals and they have free Wi-Fi. Talking with the owner he asked if it was our first visit and when we said yes he pulled out 3 flavors of tequila and said we were due a complimentary shot to welcome us. He was so nice and friendly it felt like we had been coming for years. I know I’ll be back. Continue reading

Delta Diner (update), Delta, WI, 5/3/21

exterior with coffee shop showing

Almost 2 years ago we visited the Delta Diner and that was an update on their new addition of a Chicken Shack and Tin Tap House to the left as you look at the Diner. Five years ago we looked at a lot of the food and some of my consistent favorites to order there, like the Deli sandwich.  But today we visited on a Burger Monday and that’s what they serve all day every Monday.  There are a number of ways to have your fresh meat patty prepared or you can enjoy the vegetarian option of a black bean burger.  All are served on soft, fresh griddle toasted buns.  After a long year of Covid closures and curbside service the Diner is finally open for limited inside seating.  New additions of partitions are between booths and stenciled with a drawing of the Diner.  They are incredibly tasteful and fit right in.  No plastic partitions and the staff are all properly masked and vaccinated. The counter stools are limited and space is left open between customers.   There are plenty of picnic tables with beautiful settings if you want to order and carry your food outside. Continue reading

Buskey Bay Resort, Iron River, 4/30/21

exterior

Buskey Bay Resort was previously Hyde’s and before that the Hermitage.  Deciding to make a change from their city lifestyle Chris and Brenda Diesing and Valerie and Kevin Zimmerman purchased it the first part of 2021.  Next to the restaurant/bar building are cabin rentals and across the highway is an available dock for your boat or pontoon rental.  Covid-19 has made it a challenging time to open but they are gradually being able to open back up with in house dining Wed. thru Sunday and specials most night.  Inside now you will find 2 rooms decorated with numerous animal head mounts shot by the owners and muted TVs.  The entrance room is surrounded by windows and the more interior room houses the large bar that does have stools available for drinking and/or dining.  Fun instrumental music was in the background and Chris was at the bar making cocktails.  Tables were well spaced and staff wore masks.  We went on a Friday which is fish fry and had good martinis to go with it.  The server was slow in getting our order but once it was in, service progressed rapidly. Continue reading

D’Andrews Bakery & Cafe, Nashville, 4/17/21

exterior

D’Andrews Bakery and Cafe in downtown Nashville was opened by David Andrews after studying his craft in NYC. It offers pastries, breads, coffees and sandwiches.  Everything in the restaurant is house made, even the meats are roasted and seasoned there and the mayo, etc is also made there.  Pastries are in the counter, and they will heat them for you.  There is a patio out front and some tables inside for dining.  Lots of folks got items to go.  Masks are required to enter and the line forms by the pastry counter.  It is well lit and you can watch Andrews making hot items on the stove behind.  Staff was friendly and helpful and the food was fantastic. Continue reading

Bastion, Nashville, 4/16/21

exterior

Bastion is a little different during Covid.  They are a 24 seat restaurant with dining Wed through Sat and a special small bar for restaurant guests however that is currently not open so dining is in the well spaced big bar and there is no chef counter.  I suspect that the set up will change as Covid becomes more under control.  Either way it is a comfortable place to sit and eat tasty food while listening to actual records being played.  Chef Josh Habiger serves a selection of seasonal, creative dishes in a casual atmosphere.  The ‘big bar’ area has a long bar counter and some tables, all well spaced.  Exposed duct work, brick walls, hanging lights and lots of art make it a visually interesting place to be.  The staff all worked together to give a fun and interactional dinner. We chose to have their wine pairings with the tasting. Continue reading

Manny’s House of Pizza, Nashville, 4/16/21

exterior

Manny’s House of Pizza is in the historic Arcade Building in downtown Nashville.  As you walk up don’t be surprised to see a line out the door but be assured it moves quickly and as you wait you can watch Manny toss the pizza dough and spread the tomato sauce.  Born in Sicily, Manny started in a Brooklyn pizzeria where he learned the skills needed to open his shop in the mid-80’s down in Nashville.  (His brother has a shop in Brentwood).  You can also get calzones, pastas, subs and pastas there but the majority in line with me were just getting a slice.  They are open weekday from 11 am to 4 pm.  When we went it was cash only. Continue reading

Arnold’s Country Kitchen, Nashville, 4/16/21

exterior

Arnold’s is an institution in Nashville.  Opened in 1982 by Jack and Rose Arnold, now their children run the place.  It has received acclaim from many publications like Southern Living, SAVEUR, and Bon Apetit and been featured on Diners, Drive in and Dives.  They received the James Beard Award in 2009.   It is a cafeteria style restaurant but don’t let that mislead you.   Food is made in house and in real southern style with fresh ingredients.  Their most popular order is meat and 3 sides.  The roast beef is a signature offering but the vegetables are well regarded.  We got there early to avoid the line but there is a parking lot adjacent to the building if you drive.  Presently they are only at 50% capacity due to Covid and there are less tables available. Cutlery is plastic, napkins are in a dispenser and salt and pepper are in packets as are other condiments.  They now have a bar where you can get cocktails or other alcoholic beverages but it didn’t appear to be open yet.  Servers on the line were helpful and friendly and well masked. Continue reading

Catbird Seat, Nashville, 4/15/21

entrance

We last visited the Catbird Seat in Sept of 2017 and they have changed teams since.  Chef Brian Baxter now leads the u-shaped kitchen of 22 lucky people who scored a seat at the serving bar.  His last cooking positions were at Husk and Bastion.  A ‘chef’s table’ has been added which is a booth for a party of 3-4 in the back corner of the room, but the counter does not get all 22 seats filled due to Covid restrictions.  When you arrive you see a wood door next to the Catbird sign but it is locked.  You can not enter until it is the exact time of your reservation.  Up the short flight of stairs is a ‘speak-easy’ bar that is a fun place to have a cocktail while you wait. Staff will come for you and then you can enter that door and ride in the elevator, complete with a bench, to the large room that houses the restaurant.  All diners are served a 10-12 course tasting and when you make your reservation you can request an extended tasting.  Pairings are available but you don’t have to decide on beverages until you arrive. We ordered the extended tasting and bought our own bottle of red wine and a glass of white to begin with.  Older rock music played in the background. Continue reading

The Patterson House, Nashville, 4/15/21

entrance

The Patterson House is a dark, cozy seated cocktail bar in Nashville.  Classic and modern cocktails are supplemented by a small food menu.  In fact it was Nashville’s first craft cocktail bar.  Opening in 2009 it pioneered fresh-squeezed juices and twice filtered ice.  A real speak-easy vibe.  We had evening reservations for the Catbird Seat which is next door and knew there was a bar in the building but this looked more like someone’s home.  It most assuredly is not.  Tons of people were in and out with most not going to the adjacent restaurant.  You enter into a waiting area that is curtained off from the bar.  A huge 30 foot bar sits in the center of the bar room with booths and tables lining the walls.  Lots of old fashioned chandeliers provide the low lighting.  They also serve beer, wine and snacks.  Service was friendly but not too fast.  They did coordinate with the restaurant to call you when they were ready to seat you.   I would easily go again. 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

Henrietta Red, Nashville, 4/14/21

sign at door

Henrietta Red is the dream of Nashville born Julia Sullivan with a focus on fresh, simple ingredients and a variety of raw oysters and seafood.  The name is in honor of her grandparent’s low-country hospitality.  It is a fairly large place with widely spaced tables over 2 rooms and an overall modern feel.  The entry room contains the large bar as well as a few tables in a less lit space.  The second room has more lights, lots of windows, sound panels in the ceiling, the opening into the kitchen, a large center table for service and the oyster shucking area.  There is a wood fired oven in the kitchen and a patio for seating.  The menu has a number of smaller plates, larger main course plates – but all seemed fine to split.  Our friendly server was helpful in making selections and willing to bring out in a spaced format to create our own tasting of sorts.  Overall the food was delicious and full of wonderful flavors with good attention to textures and fun compositions. Continue reading

Capitol Grille, Nashville, 4/14/21

exterior of hotel (dining area along second floor windows)

The Capitol Grille is the restaurant in the Hermitage Hotel in downtown Nashville that originally opened as the Grille Room in 1910, serving traditional southern cooking.  Not associated with the chain of a similar name it is currently is being renovated and so is operating in the hotel lobby.  The hotel has partnered with Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who has restaurants in NYC, Paris, Shanghai and others to direct the food service once it re-opens in the fall.   The main dining room is on the street level and is currently closed so seating is on the second level enclosed terrace of the hotel, overlooking the 6th street entrance.  The present room has carpeting, coved painted ceilings, double clothed tables with coordinating napkins and music in the background.  They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Tables were well spaced and service was friendly but not especially polished. Continue reading

The Blue Door Kitchen & Inn, Flint Hill, VA., 4/3/21

exterior

The Blue Door Kitchen & Inn has been the collaboration of Chef Andrea Pace in the kitchen and his partner Reem Arbid directing the front of the house for almost 3 years.  Located in a 100 year old schoolhouse, now the dining rooms take 2 downstairs rooms and 4 suites accommodate guests upstairs.  Their refurbished large patio out back would make a lovely place to eat or read.  The place gets its name from the highly polished blue front door and an additional blue one decorates one of the dining rooms.  Lots of parking is available out front and clear plastic partitions divide the various tables.  Polished wood tables, lots of mirrors, large cloth napkins and decorations of building materials make up the dining areas which are separated by the bar/reception area.  Service was well masked, helpful, well paced and super friendly.  The food is in generous portions that you won’t want to leave any of on the plate. 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

The Inn at Little Washington; Washington,VA.; 4/2/21

exterior

The Inn at Little Washington is a 42 year old restaurant about 70 miles east of Washington DC.  It is the only restaurant in the area to have been awarded 3 Michelin stars and the chef, Patrick O’Connell received the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to American food.  The town with a population around 200 and the oldest of the 28 cities in the U.S. with that name, got the nickname Little Washington due to its proximity to DC.  The Inn/Restaurant had to overcome some resistance in the town but now most of the town seems to revolve around it.  The main inn has 18 bedrooms and suites and now there are a number of buildings in town that it also has rooms in, with one under construction across the street that will be a casual restaurant. Continue reading

Mama Chang, Fairfax, VA., 4/2/21

exterior

Mama Chang opened early in 2019 in Fairfax, VA.  It focuses on family dishes from the Hubei province, where Peter Chang is from, ones his mother and other females in the family cooked.  There is less pepper than in the traditional Szechuan dishes.  The large interior is filled with light from the many windows and white walls.  Textured ropes hang from the ceiling, the well spaced light wood tables are bare and tons of green plants surround the room.  It feels open and spacious but a bit sterile.  Portions are generally large – we way over-ordered but wanted to try a number of the dishes.  The server was masked and willing to give advice. One note is about their to-go containers which were nice plastic dishes with good locking lids not the usual leaky styrofoam containers. Continue reading

Breakfast Republic, San Diego, 3/25/21

Liberty Station

Breakfast Republic is part of a chain of places in southern California.  They serve innovative breakfast combinations surrounded by tons of fun, almost kitsch decorations.  We visited the location in Liberty Station built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style which was the site of the Naval Training Center in 1923.  The chain supports composting of uneaten foods and recycling.  This location had 2 good sized heated patios to dine on.  They are open daily from 7 to 3.  Service was friendly, masked and efficient.  While the food sounded great in the menu I would rate it acceptable + with generous portions. Continue reading

Addison Restaurant, San Diego, 3/24/21

exterior

Addison, San Diego’s only Michelin starred (one) restaurant, has been on the property of the Fairmont Grand Del Mar for 15 years.  Chef William Bradley is in charge of the kitchen where they offer 5 and 10 course tastings featuring California gastronomy.  Wine pairings are available but there is a huge wine list also.  Due to Covid the recently renovated indoor area is closed but there is seating on the large heated outdoor terrace.  It you stay at the Fairmont it is a bit of a hike to get up the hill so the hotel graciously provides car service up for you and the staff call for a pick up when you are finished.  It’s little touches like this that make it a lovely experience.  The staff anticipate your needs – like bringing a glass of ice for my water or a stool for my purse -and yet it never feels stuffy, and there is the beautiful back drop of the hotel’s golf course with bubbling streams.  We chose the 10 course menu and got bottles of red and white to pair with courses as we chose.  In addition, it is a surprise menu but they were kind enough to email a copy of what we had that actually did have the courses detailed.  There was only one supplement offered that night and that was to substitute A5 Wagyu for Barbecued Squab.  I chose the supplement and my husband had the pigeon. Continue reading

Sushi Ota, San Diego, 3/24/21

exterior

Sushi Ota Restaurant is in a nondescript strip shopping center in San Diego.   They have some indoor tables that are well separated with wood partitions and have also built an outdoor dining area that has plastic roofing and some sides.  At the entry is the large sushi counter that due to Covid has no seating but fresh seafood is in the counter.  The large menu has many options for ordering – lunch specials, the traditional check list or there are 3 plates of sushi combinations.  The combination “C” contains the local sea urchin for which Chef Ota is known, and that was the one we chose.  With the combination plates you also get miso soup and ice cream. Service was well masked, efficient and friendly and tables were distanced and thoroughly cleaned between customers.  The menu offers a good number of beers, wine and saki. Continue reading

Stanley, New Orleans, 3/20/21

exterior

Stanley is on a corner in Jackson Square by St. Louis Cathedral.  In a tribute to Tennessee Williams their location is near the restaurant Stella that closed in 2014.  They feature all day breakfast/brunch as well as sandwiches and desserts in a casual location.  They are open Thursday to Monday from 8 am to 4 pm.  Outside is a lot of outdoor seating and some well distanced seats inside the place.  It is really popular so be prepared for a wait in popular times.  Service was efficient and friendly.  No reservations are accepted. Continue reading

Coquette (update), New Orleans, 3/19/21

sign outside

Frankie last wrote up Coquette in Sept of 2015 and it remains a favorite of hers.   The lovely corner building has 2 floors for dining, with well spaced small wood tables, lots of dark wood, fun tile floors, lowered lighting and high ceilings.  Downstairs has mirrors on many walls, music in the background and a large bar that is used just for storage now.  The evening menu offers a la carte options as well as a 5 course surprise tasting menu -composed of things not on the menu.  Wine pairings are available.  We chose to do the tasting and pairings and were very happy with the choice.  The staff who brought the food out from the kitchen were knowledgable about the food and happy to share information.  Servers were masked and also very friendly and efficient. Continue reading

Clancy’s Restaurant (update), New Orleans, 3/19/21

exterior

Frankie has been to Clancy’s many times but always finds a good meal there with excellent service.  It is important to ask to sit in the main dining room as the vibe is much better.  Tables have more space between them, due to Covid, and all the staff wear masks, as do guests when they are away from their table.  They have a bar in addition to the wine list and we enjoyed a Negroni as we decided what to have.  The servers are usually opinionated if you can’t decide and guide you in ordering, but you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Continue reading

Mosquito Supper Club, New Orleans, 3/18/21

exterior

Mosquito Supper Club is a cajun restaurant that wanted to celebrate all the bounty of local fishermen and farmers.  Starting as a family style place at large farmhouse tables, Covid has had them shift to single party, well-spaced tables with a fixed price 5 course menu for all diners. They are open Thursday to Sunday with 2 seatings and offer wine pairings to go with the meal.  After our cocktail we chose to try their wine pairings with the meal.  They were nice and appropriate pairings but no refills were offered.  Located in an older house, there are many rooms where dining service takes place with wood floors, plaster walls and high ceilings.  A bar is in the first room where there are stools if your table isn’t ready.  Rock music plays in the background and lighting is lowered.  Diners are pre-paid with reservations but cocktails and wine can be paid for at the restaurant.  If you pre-buy the wine pairings you will also pay the 25% gratuity added to your meal charge whereas at the restaurant you can determine your own.  Staff was friendly but not overly. Continue reading

Gris-Gris, New Orleans, 3/18/21

exterior

Gris-Gris is in a two story corner building in the Garden district (where the restaurant Square Root had been).  Downstairs is the open kitchen enclosed by a stainless steel bar.  Many wanted to sit upstairs but I preferred to watch the kitchen action.  Music is in the background and light from the many windows filled the room.  Upstairs is a large bar and tables as well as a balcony for seating.  The staff all wore masks but the kitchen was mostly too busy to engage in much conversation with those at the bar.  The waitstaff was happy to help guide your choices and split items from the menu, which is similar at lunch and dinner. 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

Galatoire’s (update), New Orleans, 3/17/21

It’s been a year since we visited (and 2 since I’ve written up) Galatoire’s and we were excited to be vaccinated and out once again.  The food is just as good but a few changes include well spaced tables, masked staff and required reservations – even for dining on the first floor.  Even with 75% dining capacity the room still got really noisy but part of the place is the energy in the room.  Less waitstaff are on for each shift so you also may need to stray from your usual person.  The menu is on line and in past write-ups but it hasn’t changed except for a price increase here and there.  The fresh catch is updated daily and the food and service is consistently excellent.  One caution, don’t fill up on the hot bread and butter while waiting, which is really easy to do. Continue reading

Invasion, Dallas, 3/9/21

exterior, 4029 Crutcher St., Dallas. 75246  (214-272-7312)

Invasion is a “fast food”, gourmet restaurant in at the corner of Haskell and Crutcher in Dallas created by Chef Airric Heidelberg.  Unfortunately,  Heidelberg along with his business partner Agon Raka planned their opening at the same moment that Covid-19 hit and restaurants were shuttered.  They kindly donated much of the food to charity and to this day dedicate a percentage of their profits to prepare and deliver meals to homeless.  I am happy that they are once again up and serving food and have a wonderful patio as well as tables inside.   It is a tiny place containing limited tables but a good sized patio outside and they do a lot of take out business.  You can call your order in ahead of time or line up at the counter and order.  Either way, pick up is at the same spot – the order area which leads to a bit of a bottleneck situation but staff may re-think routing once they’re open a bit with actual walk in traffic.  Currently they offer lunch and dinner Tuesday through Friday and Brunch and dinner on Saturday.  We only tried a couple things but they were fresh, well done and nicely seasoned to provide that ‘invasion’ of taste. Continue reading

Lucia at Macellaio (re-visit), Dallas, 11/21/20

We visited and wrote this one up just a couple weeks ago but were fortunate to get back and try again.  In Dallas we finally have the perfect weather to eat outside and the Lucia folks do such a nice job of distancing and masking that it feels almost like a bit of normal in what has been a crazy restaurant blogging year.   Tasting menus are not for all but I sincerely urge all to give this one a chance, especially because during pre-Covid times you could hardly get a reservation to Lucia.  This is the opportunity to eat the fabulous Lucia food only on the patio of their sister restaurant Macellaio.  The menu really changes weekly as you’ll see below but the portions are generous and tasty.  I even enjoyed the wine pairings.  Frankie slept through the meal but urges her followers to check this one out.

menu

Continue reading

Encina, Dallas, 11/7/20

exterior

Encina opened one month ago.   Chef Matt Balke previously worked at York Street, Bolsa Mercado, SMOKE and finally at Bolsa, which previously occupied this location.  He combined his talents with Corey McCombs (last at Flora Street), who coordinates the beverage program and was very present on the floor of the place.  Together they created Encina a restaurant that stresses fresh, seasonal ingredients presented in a simple, consistent quality driven style.  They have a good sized interior but the real plus is the large open air patio out back.  There are screens on the openings and covers if it gets too cold but they have installed heating so guests can still enjoy the well spaced outdoor wood tables.  Plenty of light is in the room so the table candles are mostly for ambiance but music is provided by noises from the outside streets.  A large bar window opens into the interior so it can service both side.  A parking lot is adjacent to the building as well as available street parking.  Service was well masked, friendly and willing to serve things one at a time so we could share.

<https://www.encinadallas.com&gt;, 614 W. Davis, Suite 100, Dallas, 75208 Continue reading

Macellaio/Lucia (update), Dallas, 10/31/20

Borrowed this pic from Macellaio page. Thanks!

Covid 19 has caused restaurants to adapt if they want to survive.  Frankie has previously visited both of these fine restaurants, co-owned by Chef David and Sommelier Jennifer Uygur, but now the options for getting their good food have changed.  Lucia is not offering dine-in service but is doing take out only with a weekly changing menu on Thursday through Sunday with 24 hours advance notice.  Dinner for 4 is just $100 and includes bread, salad, choice of entree and dessert.   They are located at 408 W. Eighth St., #101 with a phone of 214-948-4998.  Trust me, it will be a great meal.  Their sister restaurant is Macellaio, just around the corner at 287 N. Bishop Ave.  A much larger place, it also has a patio that wraps around the indoor dining room.  While indoor is not open they are taking advantage of the nice weather in Dallas to offer “Pasta on the Patio” featuring Lucia’s pastas.  Seating is distanced and patio heaters are near every table.  It is a fixed price of $100 per person for 5 courses plus their delicious bread and butter.  You can make reservations on their website <macellaiodallas.com>.  This is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss if you are in the Dallas area.  Jennifer has chosen wines for pairings at $50 pp or there is a list of bottles and by the glass or you can describe your tastes and she’ll find something for you.

Continue reading