Restaurant Le Cheval Blanc, Basel, 10/24/19

hotel exterior

Le Cheval Blanc is the other restaurant in the Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois but this one has 3 Michelin Stars.  It is a large elegant room with a candelabra or single candle on each double clothed well spaced table set with huge linen napkins.  The ten tables vary in size and the smaller ones have a little service table adjacent to them to hold wine or whatever.  Purse stools are available, the lighting is lowered, there is no music (but the piano playing in the lobby did bleed into the room), there is a patio, windows look out onto the water and crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling with the largest being over the center marble service table.  They offer a tasting menu as well as an a la carte menu.  The larger version of the tasting menu comes with 4 starters whereas a slightly smaller tasting comes with just 2.  The prices include service and VAT.  Service was friendly and efficient and the staff spoke great English.  Chef Peter Knogl came out toward the end of service to greet and talk with his guests.  He has been with this restaurant 12 years.  You also could see him in the kitchen through the window in the hall that you pass on the way to the bathroom.  His awards line one of the windows.  Before service begins they brought around a warm moist cloth to wipe your hands, always a nice touch. Continue reading

St. Alban Stübli, Basel, 10/24/19


St. Alban Stübli is a small place that has been in business for 2 years and is very popular.  It is in a building that is more than 100 years old with bench seating along 2 of the wood walls.  The double cloth covered tables were of various sizes and set with medium starched matching napkins.  The painted white wood ceiling added to the light in the room as well as windows to the street on one wall.  No music is in the background but with the number of people there was a low hum, however conversation was very easy.  We were lucky to get a server that spoke good English.  At lunch they offered a special meal or menu of 2 or 3 courses, with 2 choices for each course.  We chose the 3 course menu but picked different options.  The food here is simple but very good and the staff was exceptionally friendly.  I would recommend it. Continue reading

Restaurant Les Quatre Saisons, Basel, 10/23/19

outside entrance

Les Quatre Saisons is a one Michelin star restaurant in the Pullman Hotel.  The hotel is lovely as is the restaurant dining room.  The large room is filled with well spaced, good sized tables that are covered with nice cloths and large well starched matching napkins and set with comfortable stuffed chairs.  Brown wood cabinets are along some of the perimeter and from the ceiling hang many large chandeliers covered with concentric circles of strung beads that provide a nice amount of light.  There are less than 15 tables, faint music is in the background (in fact it was really quiet), some of the floor has carpet but tile is around the edge and the walls are decorated with mirrors.   The menu offers a la carte options and vegetarian and degustation tastings.  The staff spoke great English.  We chose the degustation menu and the pacing was very slow but portion was control good, that tended toward large.   Continue reading

Fauna 2.0, Dallas, 1/4/20

hotel exterior

This entry is coming out of chronological order and in Dallas not Basel, but that’s because I don’t know how long you have the opportunity to try out Fauna 2.0 and its innovative and tasty food.   Stephen Pyles decided to close Flora/Fauna just after the first of the year where Chef Peter Barlow had been in charge of the Fauna space that offered only a tasting menu on Friday and Saturday nights.  He wanted to honor all those who had made reservations and here’s where you can now get in on it.  The old venue was not available so in about 36 hours Barlow and his crew made arrangements to have the meals offered at the new (opened in December) Hall Arts Hotel on 1717 Leonard St. in the Dallas Arts District.  It’s not far from the old location but it’s a fabulous opportunity to see this new modern and stylish hotel.  Couple details still to work out, but the drink service is presently provided by Ellie’s the restaurant in the Hall Arts Hotel.  They came up with some fun off the menu bottles of wine that were reasonably priced or offered a selection of wines by the glass or of course there is water, tea, etc.  This portion of the meal can be paid by credit card, however because of the quick transition Fauna 2.0 was only taking cash but it was the first night in business.  Valet parking is available at the hotel and it is complimentary if you are having dinner there.  There is also a fun bar where you can enjoy a cocktail while you wait to be ushered into the dining room.  The 10 course tasting menu is $150 per person with tax included but not service and the menu is not printed (thus I tried to get the best description written down, but with many ingredients I may not have them all or have mis-interpreted my scribbled notes).  This system is through the end of February because in the spring Barlow and his team are going to Copenhagen to work and get new inspirations.  The large dining room had 3 good sized white clothed tables set next to each other with 4 diners at each table.  Lighting was lowered, music was in the background and art was on the walls.  Chef Barlow came out to explain each course and helped serve.  Pacing was good as was portion control.  To make a reservation call 214-454-4915 or email <>. Continue reading

Brasserie Les Trois, Basel, 10/23/19

hotel exterior

Brasserie is the casual restaurant in the Les Trois Rois Hotel.  It is a good sized L-shaped place with one wall made up of windows overlooking the Rhine River. Another wall has murals painted on it to back up a long bench seat.  Music is in the background and the nicely spaced tables are covered in a double ecru cloth and matching napkins.  The room was lovely and peaceful to watch the various sizes of boats go by.  At lunch they offered an a la carte menu as well as a 2-3 course menu with glasses of wine to go with the plates.  We chose the lunch 3 plate menu and got glasses of their featured wine.  Each course had several options to chose from.  Service was friendly, helpful and the server spoke great English. Continue reading

Nom Wah Tea Parlor, New York City, 10/17/19


We went for dim sum to Nom Wah Tea Parlor, a no frills place with plastic coated menus.  It has a long history, first opening in 1920 and moving to the present location in 1968.  It has had several movies and TV shows film segments there.  A paper ticket is given to each table where you mark off the dishes you want to receive and they bring them out as they’re ready. The large tables are formica and set with good space between and there a few booth tables.  One side of the room is a service area and the kitchen is in another room.  Windows to the street form one wall of the room.  It is an old looking place but clean with an old tin ceiling , an old tile floor  and there are lots of coat hooks on the interior columns and booth dividers.  Photos and framed reviews decorate the walls.  No music is in the background but you can hear the sound of an exhaust fan.  They do offer wine and beer as well as a selection of teas.  Tables are set with some condiments but interestingly enough there didn’t seem to be any pepper in oil sauce. Continue reading

Rezdôra, New York City, 10/16/19


Rezdôra is a small, really crowded place with bare wood closely set small tables.  Music is in the background, lighting is really low and the noise level is high.  Walls are brick and the wood cross-hatched ceiling is lowered.  A few dried flowers make up the decorations.  Even with a reservation we had to wait 45 minutes for our table and there were no seats at the bar.  They did give us a glass of Lambrusco but it was a long time to wait, standing with little space to be in.  They are a hot ticket right now but if they don’t manage it better, they won’t be for long.  There is one dining room on the entry level that has the bar counter on one side and bench seating on the opposite wall fitted with lots of small tables.  Up a few stairs there was another really small room with tables in it.  The menu offers Italian food and a regional pasta tasting (5 pastas) with optional wine pairings and a couple nightly specials.  While that was a tempting option we chose to order our own choices and bottles of wine.  Portions are small and the pacing of the meal was really rushed (so why the long wait?). Continue reading

Gramercy Tavern (update), New York City, 10/16/19


It’s been 5 years since we ate at Gramercy Tavern Dining Room, a large 2 room place fronted by the Gramercy Bar.  The dining room offers a tasting menu as well as a la carte and takes reservations whereas the bar is snacks and no reservations.  It is far more relaxed in the one Michelin star elegant dining room with lots of seasonal flowers decorating the white cloth covered tables set with large white napkins, lowered lighting and soft jazz music in the background.  Lots of art is in the room as well as nicely padded seating and wide plank wood floors.  Excellent friendly service attends the customers and they were willing to make some changes to the tasting menu which was our choice for the lunch.  Pacing of the tasting was spot on and portion control was great.  The food is wonderful as was the total experience there.  Don’t know why I waited so long to go back.  I recommend it. Continue reading

Atomix, New York City 10/15/19


Atomix is a tasting menu only for 14 people at a lower level u-shaped counter.  It has only been open one year and was recently elevated to a 2 Michelin star rating.  The lighting is lowered in the room and small spots shine on the granite counter and light wood ceiling and walls.  The bar is upstairs where you enter and then down the stairs is a small lounge area.  Modern music plays in the background.  Each course is presented with a corresponding card that talks about the dish and has an illustration associated with it.  The dishes have a Korean influence and wine pairings are available.  The menu changes 4 times a year.  Without knowing what was to be served we opted to try the pairings for the meal.  The service was pleasant (there seemed to be more staff than guests), portioning light and pacing moved along nicely but I never got a commrodery at the counter.  Explanations are more from the cards than the staff and while I found the dishes artistic, precise and thoughtful they were mostly on the bland side of things but with very clean tastes. Continue reading

Via Carota, New York, 10/15/19


Via Carota is a good sized place that takes no reservations so be prepared to wait.  When you arrive check in with the front person to get on the list.  They have some outdoor seating but that was surrounded by scaffolding while we were there. There are a lot of seats at the long inside bar/counter as well as a couple other rooms off the main one which can also accommodate larger groups.  Inside are brick walls, steel columns, wood flooring, tin ceiling and bare wood tables set with paper runners and cloth napkins.  The wood chairs at the closely set small tables have an opening on the back where the menus are stored.  Some interesting light fixtures add light to the well lit room which has one wall of windows to the street.   Wine bottles serve as decorations and a long center table shows off dessert options.  Despite the room being packed and many hard surfaces the noise level was not a big problem.   They have 2 uni-sex bathrooms.  The menu was supplemented by a couple daily specials presented by the server.  The name comes from the name of the street where one of the chefs was born.  Don’t be deterred by the wait – the food it well worth it! Continue reading

Petra and the Beast (update), Dallas, 9/28/19

Frankie checked the herb in the cocktail

It’s been a year since we tried the tasting menu offered only on Saturday nights. The rest of the week they serve off a chalkboard menu.  Reservations for the tasting are hard to come by, there is a waiting list for most every one of them, since the little restaurant and Chef Misti Norris have been getting lots of critical acclaim and notice in national publications.  The interior has added more tables and seats.  The little alcove that was the cocktail stand now contains tables too.  This is good for the public but it does create a lot more noise in the interior that makes conversation difficult and hard to hear any presentation by the server.  Water is still provided but if you want wine or other flavored beverage with your meal you need to bring your own.  They have opened up a few more parking spaces in an adjacent lot but a lot of guests appeared to be dropped off by a car service.  In general my impression was that the food had less intense flavor than the last visit but everything was good it just didn’t cross over to the great that I had first sensed.  I got more of that intensity when visiting other nights but the service is far less refined with most dishes being presented in plastic coated cardboard boxes. Continue reading

Restaurant Haerlin, Hamburg, 9/21/19


entrance from hotel

Haerlin is one large dining room right off the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel in Hamburg. Ecru floor length cloths drape the good sized tables that are set with matching napkins and stuffed armchairs.  Music is in the background of this elegant room.  Windows overlook the street outside on one end of the room.  While the setting was nice the service was stiff and cold.  (They were most upset when we poured our own wine but they continually passed the table and left our glasses empty.  They actually took away one of the empty glasses with the bottle still half full.)  Even with a 2 star Michelin rating it was not a particularly comfortable atmosphere unless you wanted to pose.  They offered 2 tasting menus and wine pairings are available for each, but do not pair wine with each course.  We chose the “Big Palate Party” and ordered out own wines.  Pacing was on the slower side but portion control was good.  Overall the food was on the bland side even with a lot of ingredients on the plate and the dishes chosen often proved to be distracting/clashing to the food presented.  On the table was a card holder where they would place a written description of what you are having.  It was a nice touch. Continue reading

Tschebull Restaurant, Hamburg, 9/21/19


Tschebull spans several rooms and is upstairs in a building of small shops.  It has a large bar area with bare wood tables where you can eat.  The main restaurant in in one of the rooms and has white tablecloths and monogrammed red tone cloth napkins.  Lots of antlers, animal heads and horse pictures serve as decorations and there are windows overlooking the busy street below.  The dining room has bench seating around the edges and facing them are padded armless chairs.  Some faint music was in the background and the wood floor was made from narrow short pieces of wood.   They offered a menu of mostly traditional Austrian food.   Continue reading

Louis C. Jacob Restaurant, Hamburg, 9/20/19


Louis C. Jacob Restaurant is in the hotel of the same name.  It is an elegant large room overlooking the water in the small boutique hotel and has a rating of 2 Michelin stars.  The building dates to the 1700’s with the last major renovation in 1990’s.  The restaurant had one star by 1995 and its second in 1997.  The building has always been a restaurant or bar.  The beautiful hard wood floor is set off by two massive crystal chandeliers overhead.  Sage green velvet arm chairs are at the white cloth covered tables and gray plush velvet chairs are at the bare polished wood tables.  All the large tables are nicely spaced and set with well starched large cloth napkins. Service was excellent and most of the staff were very conversant in English.  Music is in the background.  They offer two tasting menus, 4 or 6 courses, with pairings offered and a la carte. Most of the a la carte dishes were available to substitute on the tasting but there could be a surcharge.  We chose the longer tasting and ordered our own wines. Continue reading

Restaurant Cox, Hamburg, 9/20/19


Cox is a long place with many rooms on different levels.  The white cloth covered tables are additionally covered with paper tops and large paper napkins.  Nice bench seating lines various walls for the closely set tables to pair with wood chairs.  Jazz music plays in the background and empty dark wine bottles are used as wall decorations.  Windows to the street are on one end of the room and wall sconces provide plenty of light for the tables set further back in the restaurant.  They serve traditional German food and at lunch have a changing daily special and an a la carte menu.  Portions were generous but not to the point they stuffed you.   Continue reading

The Table Kevin Fehling, Hamburg, 9/19/19


The Table Kevin Fehling can accomodate a couple dozen people whose arrival times are slightly staggered.  Inside the non-descript brick building is a modern interior with a serpentine bar for seating and high ceilings.  There is a small balcony that overlooks the dining room where guests can have cocktails prior to being seated.  Shades of gray dominate the room with colored pieces curling off the ceiling that are not only striking but also provide sound dampening. Spot lighting keeps each seat well lit while the room lights are dimmed.  The walls are concrete and the open kitchen is the focal point.  Art and flowers provide some softness for the interior.  They serve only a tasting menu and all guests have the same thing, except where allergies don’t permit.  The menu changes one course every 3 months.  Wine pairings (pours looked generous) are available.  The pacing of the meal was great as was the portion control.   They present you with a copy of the menu at the end to take with you.  The staff all spoke great English and were quite friendly.  The restaurant has been awarded a 3 Michelin star rating. Continue reading

Fischereihafen, Hamburg, 9/19/19


Fischereihafen has been in business for 60 years.  It overlooks the port and feels very ‘old school’.  The food is simple yet tasty and satisfying.  The service was friendly and efficient with limited English.   The large place spans many rooms, most of it on the second level of the waterfront building.  The walls are painted dark red and lots of windows capture the view.  Many paintings are on the walls along with old photos of people who had been there.  The good sized tables were closely set and covered with a double white cloths and set with well starched napkins.  They offer a large menu and at lunch a special 3 course meal (which was only on the German menu), which we chose.  Otherwise, it is all a la carte.   Continue reading

Seven Seas Gourmet Restaurant, Hamburg, 9/18/19


Seven Seas Restaurant is in the Süllberg Hotel on top of a hill by the water.  It is a small elegant room with ten large, well spaced tables set with lovely linens and large napkins.  Faint music is in the background and the lighting is lowered.  The colors are gold and beige with heavy pulled back drapes.  The restaurant is named Seven Seas because they are at the harbor where all the ships arrive on their way to Hamburg.  The windows around the dining room allow you to watch all the ships and small craft that do pass by.  It was a lovely view even after the sun went down.  The round room has a center column that is decorated to look like a compass.  The room was re-done in 2002 when Chef Karlheinz Hauser took over.  They offer 3 tasting menu options with wine pairings available.  One tasting is vegetarian.   Servers were friendly, but kept their distance, with good English but the pacing of the meal was slow. Continue reading

Bugerlich, Hamburg, 9/18/19


Bugerlich is a large modern place that offers mostly hamburgers but also other options like pulled pork, steak, sweets and salads.  They have a full bar.  Their feature is that there is no server but rather the menus are on pop up screens that rise out of your table.  On that screen you select your choices as well as the options for the preparation of your burger, pay and then wait and they deliver the food to your table.  Some of tables are high tops but there are also regular height tables and some outside (where you must get a printed menu or order at the counter).   The logo is a heart in a circle and they are on the exterior of the building, the business cards and on the rough wood ceiling.  The walls are tile and there are windows to the street on a couple sides which allow the room to get very bright.  Flatware, napkins and condiments are on each table and music is in the background.   Otherwise the walls are decorated with drawings, sayings and liquor bottles.  They also have lots of draft beers. Continue reading

Tordesilhas, São Paulo, 9/14/19


Tordesilhas is a large place inside with an additional covered patio.  The closely spaced small tables were set with white tablecloths and paper napkins.  Lots of photos cover the walls as well as mirrors.  A slightly vaulted wood ceiling and dark wood floor accented the off white walls.  A bar area is on the main level that seemed to offer communal dining for small parties.  No music was in the background but the setting felt very tasteful.  They serve pretty traditional, homestyle food and do offer a tasting menu at night.  At lunch it is all a la carte.  Our server was friendly and helpful but had limited English. The crowd indicated that it’s a popular place and I saw a real variety of age groups in attendance. Continue reading

Restaurante Tuju, São Paulo, 9/13/19


Restaurant Tuju is a good sized modern looking place.  The large bare wood tables are well spaced on a tile floor with a wood ceiling overhead.  They are set with padded arms chairs and lovely cloth napkins.  Soft lighting is in the room and music is in the background.  An open kitchen is on one end of the room and opposite is a bar.  Spanning the two are a glass wall behind which is the plant covered wall opposite to a wall with mirrors.  It has a 2 Michelin star rating, has been open 5 years and offers 2 different tastings for 5 or 12 courses.  The menu changes every several months.  Wine pairings are available.  We chose the longer tasting and ordered our own wines.  The staff were efficient, friendly and spoke good English. Continue reading

Bar da Dona Onca, São Paulo, 9/13/19


Bar da Dona is a large place located in a striking architectural building.  One side of the interior is a bar and service area opposite of which are windows to the street.  The bare wood tables are set closely with black napkins and padded armless chairs.  The large menu is supplemented by some specials written on a chalkboard above the bar that is decorated with illustrations and lots of decorated cats.  Also above the bar were windows to what looked to be a supplementary kitchen.  People were lined up to enter before it opened and were a group varied in age and dress.  Inside music was in the background, lots of photos and other decorative items on the walls and friendly servers with passable English bustled to service the many tables.  At the entrance was an open air patio that was also filled by the time we exited. It was a great lunch or dinner, if you wanted to eat it later.  Continue reading

DOM, São Paulo,9/12/19


DOM is a small place with about 7 tables, one some being upstairs.  There is little marking of the place outside but the valet stand indicates something fancy is inside.  The front door is huge – maybe 10 feet tall.  It has been awarded 2 Michelin stars, has low lighting, music in the background and a center serving table under a decorative chandelier.  Some of the closely spaced large tables were a polished wood with linen placemats and others were cloth covered and some had bench seating while others had stuffed chairs.  The kitchen is in one corner of the room but mostly closed off from the dining room except for a small window.  They offered several different tasting menus, no a la carte, with one being vegetarian.  The menu stresses Brazil’s indigenous foods and flavors.  Wine pairing are available with the tastings.  The food has quality ingredients but mostly was underflavored for me.  This was their 20th anniversary of being in business. Service was attentive and the staff spoke good English.  Pacing and portion control were good. Continue reading

Mocotó Bar e Restaurante, São Paulo, 9/12/19


Mocotó is a big open air restaurant with a large bar area attached.  There is also seating on an enclosed patio-like room in the back.  The orange walls are decorated with colorful murals and mirrors and the staff is super friendly but speaks limited English.  The large menu is available in English as well as Portuguese and that helps a lot.  They take no reservations and people line up and wait to get seated.  The small tables are closely set or combined to accommodate larger groups.  Windows to the street are open and the ceiling is covered with sound panels to keep the noise level down.  Fans are mounted on the walls to keep the air moving.  The bar offered a number of variations on the traditional Caipirinha cocktail and we tried a couple variations. Continue reading

Maní Manioca, São Paulo, 9/11/19


Maní Manioca has a one star Michelin rating.  It is a long fairly large place with a good sized enclosed patio in the back.  Upon entering there is a long hallway for waiting that has benches on either side.  The small tables are nicely spaced and set with white clothes and napkins, however they were too small to hold the dishes if you had the breads.  The stucco walls are decorated with mirrors and art.  Music plays in the background and lighting is lowered with lots of short candles in the rooms. They offered 3 tasting menus.  The 3 course allowed you to pick courses from the a la carte menu.  Wine pairings were available with the largest tasting.  Service was friendly and helpful with passable English.  Portions were generous but pacing was a tad variable.  We ordered the largest tasting menu which was by Chef Helena Rizzo, who was named Best Female Chef of the Year by Restaurant Magazine in 2014. Continue reading

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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