Cristinas, Ketchum, Idaho, 9/5/20

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Cristina’s was opened in 1993 by Cristina Cook, 5 years after she moved here from Italy.  She has written 2 cookbooks.  The place is open for breakfast, lunch and brunch and is using their large outdoor seating area rather than the interior.  You enter into the small salmon colored house to find a counter filled with sweet and savory foods which are available for purchase.  There were a couple room inside but outside they have a large tent complete with chandeliers over the wood deck and individual tables with umbrellas on the lawns around the house.  The white cloth covered tables were well spaced and set with white cloth napkins.  Lots of plants and flowers surround the diners.  No music is in the background.  The small menu has the daily specials written in.  Chef Cook was in the kitchen but she never came out to greet guests.  Seating was only by reservation or waiting a couple hours.  Servers wore masks, were friendly and all seemed to work together to take care of the tables. Continue reading

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

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

Grumpy’s, Ketchum, Idaho, 9/4/20

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Grumpy’s opened in May 1978 in Ketchum, Idaho and is a favorite of tourists and locals.  It’s a simple menu but it has evolved to now offer tuna, salmon and ham & cheese sandwiches.  It’s frequented by many ski folks as well as the bike crowd in summer.   The walls and ceiling inside are covered with items that each have a story.  You order inside and then can choose one of the booths inside or tables outside.  Inside there is a plexiglass between each booth and outside the tables are distanced and many have umbrellas.  We got there around 3 in the afternoon and there were no empty tables outside.  It’s popular and does not take reservations but does do to-go orders.  They now even have a phone which apparently they didn’t for some time.  They are open daily 11 – 8.  Inside the first thing you notice are the beer cans lining the walls and up the ceiling.  You can easily spend the time waiting for your order checking out all the interesting items or finding obscure cans. Continue reading

Hudson House (Lakewood), Dallas, 9/2/20

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Hudson House recently opened their third Dallas location in the Lakewood area.  The restaurant is owned by Vandelay Hospitality and is said to be known for it’s East Coast oyster happy hour and burger.  It is open for lunch , dinner and brunch.  They offer curbside pick up as well as indoor dining.  Seating is in booths, tables and at the bar.  It is a pretty large place and people at the bar were well spaced but booth seating didn’t seem to be limited.  They also have a “Pineapple Room” available for parties and it was empty.  Reservations were necessary and there is plenty of parking in the lot out front.  All staff wore well fitting masks and were friendly and helpful.  Service was efficient but I didn’t feel rushed.  Inside there was a wood floor with bare wood tables.  Around the bar was a path of the tiniest tiles – very striking.  The walls held a lot of New York and sports based art.  Music was in the background and the place was well lit. Continue reading

Harbor House Inn, Elk, CA., 8/13 & 14/20

Harbor House Inn

The property where the Harbor House Inn is today was used as a place for the families brought in to work in the lumber industry in the late 1800’s. Goodyear Redwood Company bought the lumber mill and land in 1916 and hired Louis Christian Mullgardt to build a home that would showcase the beauty of the redwoods. Elk Redwood Company bought it in 1932 and from then it changed hands a number of times. In 2005 Jin and Eva Lu purchased the Inn and then closed it in 2013 when they did a 5 year renovation project. They have 6 traditional rooms in the main house and 5 standalone cottages that are on the grounds. We were lucky to stay in the Redwood Room of the main building. Normally I don’t post hotels on this blog but last post here was of the restaurant in the inn and I wanted you to also see the breakfasts that come with the rooms.

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Harbor House Restaurant, Elk, CA., 8/13/20

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Harbor House Restaurant had a 25 seat dining room but now offers seating on its back deck overlooking the Pacific coastline.  The Inn is in a 1916 logger’s retreat that has 9 rooms which were restored in 2018 by a 5 year remodeling.  Chef Matthew Kammerer uses exceptional local products based on the season to produce a seafood based tasting menu that is cooked with fire and steam.  The restaurant has one Michelin star and Chef Kammerer was named as a Best New Chef in 2019 Food & Wine Magazine.  They serve only a tasting menu of 9 savory and 2 sweet courses, with wine pairings available.  It is a pre-paid menu and not available on Tuesday and Wednesday.  There is plenty of parking out front and a selection of accommodations if you wish to stay there also.  The view is as magnificent as the food and they have a couple large awnings to provide some shade when the sun is up.  Later in the evening they roll those back and turn on the lights that are strung above and the portable heaters.   Staff were all friendly, helpful, masked and gloved and I noticed even during prep time in the kitchen the staff all wore masks.  Chef Kammerer does come out to serve some of the courses and visit with guests.  It appeared to have only one seating and the pacing was good but plan to spend about 4 hours, although it never lagged it was a nice relaxed pace.  Portion control was good.

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

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

Wild Fish, Little River, CA., 8/12/20

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Wild Fish was opened on November of 2011 by a British couple, Liz and Kelvin Jacobs, who had relocated to California.  She was a food writer and he a chef and they wanted to create a restaurant that served local, seasonal  and sustainable seafood and organic produce.  They have an additional place in Pacific Grove, CA.  They have been offering take out options but in Little River they also had a small patio behind the restaurant  that overlooked the ocean and greenery leading up to the shore.  There were only 6 small bare wood tables and one actually was on the parking lot.  The restaurant was behind a gas station/convenience store/post office and there were no umbrellas for shade but heaters were there for later in the evening.  There was music in the background, a small bottle of hand sanitizer on each table and  lots of plants on the patio.  Servers were friendly and wore masks.  They had a small but well chosen wine list and many wines were offered by the glass (a good pour) as well as by the bottle.  Each food item had a suggested wine to go with it and we chose to try their suggestions, creating our own tasting. Continue reading

Mission Ranch, Carmel, 7/31/20

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entrance on road

Mission Ranch dates back to the 1800’s.  It covers 22 acres with views of the Pacific Ocean, Point Lobos, Santa Lucia Mountains and the beach and Clint Eastwood, former Mayor of Carmel and longtime Carmel resident, rescued the property from developers and turned it into a resort location.  The 10 buildings on the property include 31 hotel rooms and a restaurant featuring Classic American cuisine where you can watch the sheep graze while you eat your dinner.  There was a piano bar but it is now closed due to Covid-19.  The restaurant does not take reservations but you can go by and get on a list and they will call you when your table is about ready.  Masks are required and tables are well spaced.  There were 2 large patio areas for dining with a few standing heaters in each area.  As the night wore on and the temperatures dropped they could have used a few more heaters.  Once we made it to the table service was prompt and friendly.  The menu and wine list are all available through the scan square and there is a wifi network if you don’t have service.  You can bring your own wine with a corkage of $25. Continue reading

Nepenthe, Big Sur, 7/31/20

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Nepenthe is 808 feet above sea level in Big Sur on the site of The Log House that was built in 1925.  Nepenthe, named for a plant ancient writers described as inducing a pleasurable sensation, was designed by Rowan Maiden, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright using native materials of red wood and adobe so the building became one with the landscape.  It is a facility on several levels with the main dining area on the top, the gift shop on the first and a more casual dining spot on the second level.  You can drive up much of the hill but then there are several sets of stairs to climb to the top.  Each level has magnificent vistas to take in of the water and tree covered hills.  The main dining room for Nepenthe was a large room with a long counter that now serves as a staging area for the plates to be served on the outside seating on the balconies around it and the large patio in front of it.  There was music inside the room but none outside.  You need to walk through the room to get to the bathroom.   It is really busy so we got there before they opened and checked in to get a beeper that went off when they were ready to seat us. Continue reading

Aubergine (update), Carmel, 7/30/20

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L’Auberge Hotel

We visited Aubergine one year ago but currently California does not permit indoor dining.  Luckily Carmel has great weather for this change and the L’Auberge Hotel has a beautiful courtyard to move the restaurant guests to.   The polished wood tables are well spaced from each other and set with placemats and large linen napkins.  The patio has a brick floor, lots of plants and is punctuated with various lighting sources and heat lamps.  It is a lovely place to sit in the lighted hours as well as after the sun sets.  Various benches and chairs on the perimeter are used by people who ordered a separate drink from the bar.  All staff wore masks and were extraordinarily welcoming (as are all the staff at the hotel), especially Chef Justin Cogley who served some of the courses and visited with guests.  They now offer just one tasting menu to all and wine pairings are available.  You can view the wine list on your smart phone with the link provided.  Portion control was good and pacing was leisurely but never lagged.  It started quicker and then slowed slightly.  It still has one Michelin star but I see this place moving to 2 stars soon.  Put it on your list of places to go. Continue reading

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

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

Flying Fish Grill, Carmel, 7/29/20

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entrance and patio

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

Dametra Café, Carmel, 7/29/20

IMG_6596Dametra Café specializes in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food.  The small cafe opened in 2008 and is even smaller now having only outdoor dining due to Covid 19 restrictions of California.  The same table set up runs along the street in front of the building with tables divided by planters and heaters and separated from the street by a wooden fence.  The narrow, small tables are covered with bright yellow oil-cloth tableclothes and set at street level rather than sidewalk.  It makes some difficult to get in and out but didn’t seem to keep the crowd away.  It’s reputation is that there is often a line for walk-up guests but we were lucky and got a table when we arrived. They offer the same menu at lunch and dinner but add sandwiches to the lunch offerings.   They also have a more limited menu for curbside pickup.  Service was friendly, helpful and efficient.  Even with an ever-changing supply of table guests they did not rush us to finish up our wine so they could reseat the table. Continue reading

Restaurant Beck (re-visit), Depoe Bay, OR., 6/26/20

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reception area

Our third visit to Restaurant Beck we were a few minutes early and so had some time to explore old photos of the hotel, Whale Cove Inn, that has been its home for the 11 years it has been open.  The Inn has just 8 suites but all are spacious and have private balconies overlooking the Whale Cove.   We were lucky to secure one of the suites and that made it an even more fun experience to just walk down to dinner.  We were given a different table that changed the view slightly, but there is not a bad table in the place.  While looking over the menu and listening to the 70-80’s music in the background we got to talk with the wonderful server.  We wanted to do another 5 course tasting but wanted to make sure and have different things than we’d had the previous nights.   The previous night Stormee Wills had suggested another wine to try so we were not going to partake of the wine pairing options.  As with every night, portion control was on the generous side and pacing was well done – no lapses or rush. Continue reading

Ainslee’s, Depoe Bay, OR., 6/26/20

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Ainslee’s was started in 1947 in Depoe Bay, Oregon by Graham and Helen Ainslee as a salt water taffy kitchen.  They sold the business to Dale and Cindy Nelson in 1978.  It’s a large store where customers are led down an aisle that passes the large selection of salt water taffy and other candies.  Across from this line is the large machine that makes the taffy and wraps it.  You can also see the end of the machine from one of the windows in front.  They also have a large mixer going that makes the taffy that is poured into the machine for pulling and wrapping.  It is a nice diversion as you wait your turn for service.  Their caramel corn uses a normal air pop variety that produces a smaller piece.  They also have cheese popcorn and a combination called Riptide.  I’ve had combos before (often called Chicago popcorn) but theirs was different in that the cheese popcorn is secondarily coated with the caramel – so each piece has both flavors.  It was really good but a much greasier corn than sold down the street.  It was not as sweet, probably because of the addition of cheese but I was surprised how much I liked it and kept going back for another piece. Continue reading

Tidal Raves (re-visit), Depoe Bay, OR., 6/26/20

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We liked Tidal Raves enough to come back again the next day for lunch.  Once again the view was spectacular and we were seated on a different end of the place so it gave us another perspective, too.  This day was sunnier and the waiter pointed out some gray whales that were making water spouts in the water in our view.  I thought the service was good yesterday and today’s was even better.  He was kind enough to let us order leisurely and enjoy the food and wine while we took advantage of the view.  I should have taken his photo but in these times I’m not sure how much personal handling Frankie wants or people want to partake in.  Since the virus looks to be with us for some time to come, I’ll have to figure out delicately how to proceed with things I took for granted before.  Nevertheless we were equally delighted with our lunch and highly recommend this spot if you are ever anywhere near by.   Continue reading

Tidal Raves, Depoe Bay, OR., 6/25/20

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Tidal Raves has been in business since 1990 on a beautiful spot on the central Oregon coast. Whales are a regular sight out the large windows that frame the good sized dining room.  They do have a tint on them that keeps the sun from being too intense but will also tint some of your outdoor photos.  It is primarily a seafood restaurant but a few meat choices are there for the those not in the mood.  The a la carte menu was supplemented by a fresh catch special that was on the chalkboard on both our visits.  The long room has well spaced large bare wood tables along the windows and another series of tables on a second level (separated from below by a plexiglass barrier)  that is just high enough to afford them a good view also.  Instrumental music was in the background, carpet was on the floor, ceiling fans helped to keep it a nice temperature, additional light fixtures add to the incredible day light and the friendly, efficient staff wore masks. Continue reading

Restaurant Beck, Depoe Bay, OR.,6/24/20

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Chef Justin Wills and his wife Stormee operate Restaurant Beck at the Whale Cove Inn on the coast of Oregon.  The restaurant, named for their son Becker, has been open 11 years.     Chef Wills has been a James Beard nominee twice and recognized in Food & Wine magazine and Best Chefs in America.  Stormee runs the front of the restaurant and manages the wine service.  Depoe Bay is about 2-3 hours from Portland but worth the trip for the beautiful scenery.  The boutique hotel, with just 8 rooms, sits above a small cove where whales (mostly gray) love to visit and the dining room has windows on 3 sides overlooking this magnificent view. White cloth covered tables were well spaced, music was in the background, the natural light was supplemented by candles, servers were friendly and wore masks and tables were disinfected and re-clothed between seatings.  The menu changes slightly each day based on what is fresh (Oregon, Washington and Idaho suppliers) with a la carte options as well as 3 and 5 ($95) course tastings.  Optional wine pairings ($35 for 5 course) are available but the wine list was interesting and well priced.  Cocktails and liquor are offered. We got the 5 course tasting and chose our own wine.  Portions are generous and pacing was at a good rate, but then Covid was mandating that they stop service by 10:00 pm. Continue reading

Gracie’s Sea Hag, Depoe Bay, OR., 6/24/20

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Gracie’s Sea Hag opened in 1963 and promotes itself as having the finest and freshest sea fare on the Oregon coast.  Gracie Strom and her husband Dic started the place but he died a few years after it opened.  From the reviews I read, she sounded like quite a character – playing the bottles behind the bar to create tunes and greeting all guests like they were long time friends.  Sadly in 2006 she sold the place and I’m not sure it has the same fun vibe, however that is hard to judge in this time of Corona virus.  It is a large place with large tables, booths on one side of the room and tables on the other.  The booths were all separated by panels of stained glass windows of sea life above the stuffed benches and got extra lighting via a hanging stained glass light fixture.  The bare wood tables on the other side are set with unstuffed wood chairs.  The floor is a mix of carpet and tile, the ceiling is of wood with exposed duct work running down the middle of the long room.  A counter at the front of the room had menus, souvenirs and a person who greets you and takes you to a table.  The other end of the room is a service area that leads into the kitchen.   Continue reading

Salum, Dallas, 5/16/20 and 6/6/20

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Chef Abraham Salum opened Salum in 2005 which could seat 84 people pre-Covid 19.  It has re-opened after sustaining itself with take out orders.   I’d been there a number of times for both dinners and lunches and honestly don’t know why I never visited with Frankie.  But it was well worth going back to and the food and service are especially appreciated now.  The nice sized white cloth covered tables are well spaced and waitstaff wear masks and gloves.  The kitchen area is shielded with a curtain now as it also serves as a staging area for take out orders.  The guests are a varied crowd but most are attired with a dressy casual look.  Windows to the street are covered with a darkening shade and the light fixtures that hang from the ceiling are covered with a gauzy fabric.  It all yields a lower lighting level but not so that you can’t see your food.  Also the extra spacing of patrons eliminated one of my objections from the past, that being noise when the room was full.  Music plays faintly in the background.  The restaurant has a full bar and so offers a specialty cocktail menu as well as a nice sized wine list.  There is no tasting menu but the menu does change regularly, with the “Build your own Burger” always on the menu, both lunch and dinner.  Service was attentive and friendly and the chef who was in the kitchen greeted all his guests.  There is a dedicated parking lot in front. Continue reading

Desert Racer, Dallas, 5/31/20

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Nick Badovinus opened Desert Racer in 2019.   The Covid 19 outbreak temporarily closed the place and when it recently re-opened several major changes happened.  A concrete wall surrounds the small restaurant and large 8,000 sq. ft. patio.  Wall signs point to the original entrance but now the exit and entrance are through the same break in the wall, under the motorcycle.  Inside is a long bar and tables with garage door type windows that roll up to let the outside in.  The menu is currently called Vantina and based on a pop-up food truck, which is now parked in the patio but the food comes from the kitchen.  That means the menu is much smaller than when the place first opened but fits the setting. (The only dessert offered  was soft serve ice cream).   Currently they have just 4 “indoor” tables and two groupings of 2 seats at the bar were open.  The large patio had various means of shade and fans but some did receive full sun.  Lots of plants are inside and out and outside the polished wood tables are mostly on artificial grass.  Inside the same tables are on rugs on a concrete floor.  There is lots of parking in a dedicated lot and the patio is smoke free.  Servers were friendly, efficient and wore masks. Continue reading

Coque (update), Madrid, 3/7/20

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We visited Coque a little over 3 years ago and 2 years and 7 months ago they moved to a new location.  It still has a similar format to the older place in that you move to different locations in the building to eat and drink various offerings.  This 2 star Michelin restaurant serves everyone the same tasting menu.  It is a modern, stylish set up but it does not allow you to make personal connections with staff or other diners.  There are lots of bites on the menu but it is not a stuffing meal, despite that.  I also found the timing to be off with some rooms lingering too long while others were sped through.  They offer drink pairings for purchase and then some courses come with a beverage.  We selected our own wine which you do while in the large wine room.  They have a large list but not much help in selection.  It would have been nice to have the list while in the bar area where we spent a good amount of time with just one bite and  a cocktail.  In this new location they have changed the dining room chairs I objected to in the original place, which is a huge plus in my opinion.  One of the most memorable parts of the place is it’s amazing collection of plates and serving dishes. Continue reading

Las Reses, Madrid, 3/7/20

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Las Reses opened in 1964 and is set below street level.  It is spread over a couple rooms and bright with lots of red walls covered with decorations.  The floors are wood and no music is in the background.  The tables have adequate spacing and are set with white clothes which cover the floor length beige ones and large white napkins.  The staff were friendly but spoke limited English.   It is mostly a restaurant dedicated to beef steaks for which they have carts to come around to the table and show you the cuts of meat.  It is all a la carte and some of the cuts are sold by the kilo.  There were several larger parties there and it looked like they took their remainder of the meat back to reheat it after the initial serving.  Continue reading

Café Santiago, Porto, 3/6/20

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Café Santiago was a new looking and bright place, but has been in business since 1959 .  Windows to the street were on one end of the long place that reached through to the next block where there was another entrance.  A wood floor and tile walls are the room that housed the ‘lower level’ with closely spaced veneer topped tables.  Photos are on the walls.  Up a few stairs was the kitchen and a bar along with more tables.  It had a large menu but they are known for their Francesinhas – sandwich original to Porto.  It is commonly made with ham, fresh sausage and roast meat and then covered with melted cheese and maybe an egg and served with french fries. The sandwich comes in many variations and that seemed to be what most came for.  There were a combination of obvious tourists as well as some regular locals, who were recognized by the staff.   Continue reading

Manteigueira – Fábrica De Pastéis De Nata, Porto, 3/6/20

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Manteigueira – Fábrica De Pastéis De Nata is another place where the Portuguese custard tarts are made on site so you can get them when they are still warm.  It is a bright and very new looking place with a coffee bar where they have lots of flavoring options.  Several large windows along the side wall as well as in the front give it a very open feel.  When you walk in, the large kitchen is on your left with pastel de nata in the counter and you can watch them being made.  They sell coffee or port to go with them. To go containers are available as well as boxes of coffee pods.  There are tables where you can sit and be waited on or you can stand at the counter and eat your tart.  We chose the counter and the fellow who waited on us said port was definitely the drink of choice to go with the tarts.  I’m not sure I agree.  While the port was just fine and went well, I think coffee is just as good an accompaniment.  These tarts had a wonderful buttery, crisp and flakey crust and the tart custard had a hint of cinnamon.  These were very good renditions but overall I found the place too sterile.  However, these were my second favorite tarts. Continue reading

Nata Lisboa, Porto, 3/6/20

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Nata Lisboa was the third of the places we found where you could get freshly made, warm Pastel Nata (Portuguese custard tart).  It was one of several restaurants with the same name.  This one had a small interior with only table seating and a good sized patio with tables out front.  While the tarts here could be had warm they were a small part of the large menu.  The staff was friendly but the ambiance was off to me – it felt too much like a chain restaurant.  Even though the tart was served warm there was no evidence of the tarts being made on site.  The tart’s crust did not taste as buttery as the others we tried but the custard had a good consistency.  These were my least favorite rendition and one I wouldn’t go back to. Continue reading

Fábrica Da Nata, Porto, 3/6/20

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Fábrica Da Nata is mostly a bakery where you can get fresh Pasteis De Nata or hot Portuguese custard tarts, coffee and other bakery items.  It has a few marble wall counters/tables where you can stand and eat and plenty of to-go containers.  The floor is tile and the walls have a tile scene opposite the counter where over which they post the menu and price options.  They also sold sandwiches and salads in a counter out front but this place is all about the custard tarts.  You enter by the person who is making the next batch of pies and then there is a long counter to order at.  They will place your order on a tray and the counter/tables had containers of sugar and cinnamon if you wanted to add it to anything.  But for me the pies were just the bill with a little cup of espresso.  If you’ve never had them they look a little burnt on the top but trust me there is no taste of burned things – it is the result of proper cooking and the flavor is excellent.  These tarts had a nice flakey buttery crust and a looser custard filling than others.  It was a perfect blend of goodness.  The filling was enough but not so it spurted out or didn’t fill the crust.  The coffee was nice and these were my favorite of all the tarts we sampled. Continue reading

O Paparico Restaurante, Porto, 3/5/20

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O Paparico can seat about 36 people in a couple rooms and has been open for 11 years.  The large white cloth covered tables have an ecru floor drape and are nicely spread apart and accompanied by small service tables.  After you knock on the door, the Butler lets you in and there is a small comfortable entry room with a bar counter and leather furniture for you to wait for your table.  Lights are lowered and the low wood ceiling works well with the stone walls and tile floor.  Soft music plays in the background and lots of candles and photos on the walls add to the cozy atmosphere.  Noise is not an issue for conversations.  The menu is presented in an envelope you must open to study the 3 tasting menu choices.  All are surprise menus so you chose between vegetarian, Portuguese or regional themes and they also offer optional wine pairings and a cheese course supplement.  All the menus change every couple weeks.  Originally they offered a la carte options but abandoned that choice several years ago. Pacing and portion control were both good and the staff spoke excellent English. Continue reading