Le Vent d’Armor (update), Paris, 12/7/19

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We had dinner at Le Vent d’Armor just over a year ago and so this time went for lunch.  The food was as good as last time and this time we had the wife of the chef working the front room and she was super friendly too.  It is a lovely place and a good value.  Seriously, everything we ate was terrific, with great clean tastes – you need to put this place on your list to go to soon.  The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming.  The room is brighter in the daytime, obviously because the windows let in the sunshine but otherwise the physical layout had not changed.  The nicely spaced tables are set with white cloths and napkins and no music is in the background.  They do offer two lunch menus of 2 to 3 courses, however we wanted to eat off the a la carte menu, that is like what they have at dinner. Continue reading

Arpège (update), Paris, 12/6/19

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It’s been 3 years since we visited Alain Passard’s Arpège and while the interior hasn’t changed the prices have continued to creep up and the surprise tasting lunch now contains no major meat course, that is to be ordered separately off the a la carte menu.  It’s still cheaper than dinner but it’s definitely more expensive.  They also have more expensive tastings and the a la carte menu if you so chose.  We took the surprise tasting and added the roast guinea fowl (lunch took about 4 hours).   I was surprised to find so many dishes that were similar to our past visits.  Another change was when we arrived they tried to seat us downstairs.  Mind you it’s a nice room downstairs and it is on the same level as the bathroom but it feels a little like you’ve been banished to the non-French room.  We asked to sit upstairs and they had to deliberate a bit which considering that no one was seated there seemed off-putting.  Chef Passard was in the house and worked the room and was most gracious when he visited with us, but I felt for those others who meekly took the table they were guided to.   Another change was that vegetables no longer adorn the tables as decorations and instead new plates add color to the table. Continue reading

Restaurant Chez Allard, Paris, 12/5/19

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Chez Allard opened in 1932 and is a large place spread over several rooms. The tiny tables are closely placed and set with white clothes and napkins.  French music is in the background of this old style restaurant.  The lower half of the walls is dark wood and the top half is covered in fabric where there aren’t windows.  Red velvet bench seating lines the walls that serve that tables that have wooden chairs opposite.  Art is on the walls, the floor is tile and service is friendly and efficient.  They offered a special 3 course lunch menu or an a la carte menu.  The lunch menu is a good value at 34 euros but we wanted to try some of the items on their regular menu so chose to order a la carte.   Continue reading

Matt’s in the Market (update), Seattle, 11/9/19

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It’s been 2 years since we visited Matt’s in the Market across form Pike Place Market.  The nice sized bare wood tables are set with paper napkins and fairly well spaced considering that the place is not that large.  At lunch they did have a couple specials to supplement the a la carte menu as well as wine specials (but they couldn’t locate any of the bottles).  Music is in the background, 2 sides of the place are windows and an open kitchen is in one corner of the space.  They have been there 24 years and prior to they were in a smaller space.  The food is wonderful and the service friendly and efficient.

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Palacio Cafe, Santa Fe, 11/2/19

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Palacio Cafe is a small family run place.  Windows to the street bring in lots of light to the colorful room.  Art is on the walls and a counter is opposite the street windows for service and pass through to the kitchen.  Some tables were also out front if weather cooperates.  Music was in the background, plants were hanging from the ceiling that had wood logs crossing it – the room had a good feel.  Service was efficient, friendly and the portions generous.  The food was well seasoned, not fancy but really good. Continue reading

Restaurant Hasenburg, Basel, 10/26/19

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Hasenburg was in a small old building with lots of wood on the walls with art above and a newish brick floor.  The bare wood tables were spaced closely and set with paper placemats and napkins.  Windows to the busy street were on one wall and no music was in the background.  Service was friendly and efficient.  They offered a lunch menu, even on Saturday, or offer their regular menu items.  We ordered off their regular menu and the food was simple but delicious.  It was really busy and they do have a couple outdoor tables. Each entree came with a house salad and sliced bread. Continue reading

Roots, Basel, 10/25/19

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Roots is a large place located down by the waterfront.  The fairly well spaced pedestal tables were covered by white cloths and appointed with bench seating opposite chairs.  The room is filled with art and signs with funny statements about food and beverage.  Music was in the background and the room was well lit but there were 3 sides full of windows.  You can watch the boats and joggers go by.  There is a patio but no one was out there the day we went.  They have been in this location for 2 years and already have one Michelin Star.  At lunch the offered a business lunch of 2 or 3 courses offering options from the dinner menu and a ‘rootilicious lunch’ of 3 to 4 courses.  They had specials on wines by the glass to go with the menus.   We chose the business lunch and some of their wine by the glass.  The pours were small.   Service was effecient and friendly and the chef did come out but he did not visit with every table. Continue reading

St. Alban Stübli, Basel, 10/24/19

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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

Brasserie Les Trois, Basel, 10/23/19

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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

Chinched, St. John’s, NL, Canada, 6/28/19

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Chinched is Newfoundland slang for being full and the tiny restaurant Chinched is good for that.  It is in an old house that has a small number of counter seats and a couple tables for about 8 people in the window that faces the street.  They do their own in-house chacuterie and make their own crackers and bread.  The small menu at lunch is mostly sandwiches and snacks with lots of beer choices.  At dinner they have a larger menu and also offer a happy hour menu.  Later in the day they have additional seating upstairs.  They also offer wine and a bar.  There is seating on a small patio out back when weather permits.   The super friendly staff were helpful in advising what and how much to order.  We way over ordered, but we wanted to try a number of their things.  Music plays in the background and there are a ton of pigs decorating the place.  It felt casual and cozy.   Continue reading

Angler, San Francisco, 3/14/19

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Angler opened in September 2018 and is the newest venture for chef Joshua Skenes, however he has chosen to be a creative force rather than the chef.  It is a large place and lots of mounted fish and mirrors cover the walls.  The front of the restaurant is windows to the busy street outside with perfect views of the Bay bridge.  Opposite the windows is the large open kitchen and another wall is used to house a long bar with some seating.  Seating at tables is at fairly close-set small bare wood dark tables, some of which are served by bench/wall seating.   Many chairs are draped with small blankets which could either pad the chair, keep you warm or could just be a decorative touch.  Lots of flowers soften the steel structures and exposed brick and the large white cloth napkin is a nice touch.  A second room has stuffed mounts of warm blooded animals.  Rock music from the 80’s era plays fairly loudly in the background and it felt a bit out-of-step with the casually elegant setting, but is a known touch of Skenes.  The menu was small at lunch but several types of raw oysters were available.  Otherwise for a restaurant that is focused on fresh, local seafood there were surprisingly few local seafood options other than one type of oyster.  In fact for main plate options, there were 3 seafood and 3 meat.  Service was friendly, helpful and efficient. Continue reading

Gustav Restaurant, Frankfurt, 9/28/18

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view to the street

Gustav is a medium sized place with small tables moderately spaced and gray walls covered with modern art.  It is on the corner of a building so 2 sides have windows to the street.  They have been there 5 years and have one Michelin star.  Service was friendly and efficient.  At lunch they offered a 2, 3 or 4 course menu with a couple choices on 2 of the courses and it changes every two weeks.  We chose the 4 course option.  Service was efficient and friendly.   Continue reading

Isa, Portland, 6/27/18

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Isa was a medium sized interior with additional seating available on the outdoor patio.  The patio was against the building on one side and fenced on the other along with being covered by awnings.  Inside there was a tin ceiling, a striking black and white tile floor and small bare wood tables with adequate space between them.  There were windows to the street on two sides of the building and the back wall had a large window into the kitchen where food was passed through.  Some faint music played in the background and nice sized cloth napkins were set at the tables.  It had a casual, friendly vibe and our server was particularly welcoming.  Chef Perez could be seen in the kitchen fixing plates as well as inspecting them before they were served.   Continue reading

LYLE’S, London, 4/28/18

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LYLE’S is a medium sized one star Michelin restaurant that served only a la carte when we were there for lunch.  At night they do a tasting menu.  They opened in April 2014 and the restaurant was named after the chef’s mother’s maiden name.  It has a large open kitchen on one side of the space and windows to the street on the opposite side.  Pop/rock music plays in the background and the bare wood tables are set with un-cushioned chairs.  It’s a casual atmosphere with white brick and tile walls, concrete floor, exposed ductwork and some seating at the bar.  The menu changes daily.  The kitchen was happy to split dishes or have you do so at the table and portion sizes lended itself to sharing.  Service was friendly and helpful.   Continue reading

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

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

Etto, Dublin, 12/16/17

IMG_5527.jpgEtto is a small front room with about 10 tables and a second room for a good sized bar and some counter seating.  Small tables are spaced closely, napkins are of paper and jazz music plays in the background.  For our reservation we were given a 2 hour window at which time you needed to be gone so the next wave could come in.  Service is efficient and so this works.  Lunch had a 2 or 3 course fixed price menu with multiple choices for each course or an a la carte menu.  The wine list also offered a selection of wines by the carafe. We had the 3 course menu and tried to order some different things to sample more of their foods.   Continue reading

Forest & Marcy, Dublin, 12/15/17

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exterior

Forest & Marcy is a sliver of a place with mostly counter seating and a couple tables. An open kitchen is at the end  and soft music plays in the background.  They have been open a year and a half and specialize in small plates and wine at dinner.  At the counter you can watch the preparation of numerous dishes.  We were there at lunch where they offered a 3 course tasting where you pick between two choices or a Chef’s choice 5 course menu, where the chef choses for you.  We opted for the latter choice.  Sitting at the bar is really fun as you not only get to watch the cooking show but you can interact with the chef there and as we were toward the back, those in the kitchen too.  All the staff were friendly and glad to answer questions.   Continue reading

Locks Restaurant, Dublin, 12/14/17

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Locks is in a 2 story historic building across from a canal, where swans and ducks swim.  The medium sized place has sofa like seating on the sides of the room that are not the 2 filled with windows to the street.  Upstairs in this 100+ year old house is a room available for private parties. An old wood floor, 60’s rock music in the background and lots of art (some for sale) make up the cozy ambiance of the place.  Bare wood tables are small and fairly close which at lunch posed no problem. Being near Christmas they offered a 3 course lunch with some optional supplements and side dishes.  I believe they have the same menu at dinner. This is traditional hearty food with some interesting combinations of ingredients. I wouldn’t come close to calling the food subtle as it’s on the heavy side.  Not a bad thing but good to know going into it. Continue reading

Forest Avenue, Dublin, 12/13/17

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Forest Avenue is medium sized 2-story place owned by a couple, Chef John Wyer and his wife Sandy Sabek Wyer.  It is named after the street were Sandy grew up on in Queens, New York, but she has now lived in Ireland for 16 years.  John is from Cork.  They have had this restaurant for a couple years and have recently opened a second place, but John cooks at this one.  Soft rock plays in the background  and a wall of windows to the street lets in nice natural light.  Bare wood tables are nicely spaced and a large part of the kitchen is open to the dining room.  Service is friendly, helpful and efficient.  The menu offers several tasting options of 2, 3 or 6 courses with wine pairings available.  Portions are fairly generous and flavor abounds in everything.  The wine list also offers a “fine wine” option for bottles.   Continue reading

Le Roi Fou, Edinburgh, 9/23/17

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Le Roi Fou is a small 2 room restaurant serving French style food.  They opened in April of 2017 and were voted best new restaurant in Scotland in a local publication.  The front room has nice light from 2 big windows looking out on the street. The back room has nice windows but less light.  Eclectic music play in the background.  They offer a 2 course fixed price menu at lunch as well as an a la carte menu.  We chose to order from the a la carte menu.   Continue reading

All Purpose Pizzeria, Washington D.C., 9/9/17

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All Purpose Pizzeria opened a year ago last March and it is a fairly large place.  There are a variety of seating options  which are placed fairly close together.  Some seating at the bar is available.  It has a cool tile floor and wood slats in the ceiling to cover the exposed duct work.  At lunch it is pretty much a pizza and sandwich shop, whereas at dinner there are a few more options, so it was not surprising to find a number of families with children eating there.  We wanted wine by the bottle and the list is on the back of the dinner menu so I was able to get a photo of that to include with this.  Service was friendly, efficient and helpful.   Continue reading

Rasika, Washington D.C., 9/8/17

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Rasika bills itself as the “flavors of India” and the glorious aroma when you enter tells you it serves just that.  It is a large restaurant that was really busy at lunch.  It offered prompt and efficient service as it appeared that a number of patrons were on an office lunch break.  A portion of the kitchen is open and sits opposite the largest table which could accommodate a pretty big group.  The other polished wood  tables are nicely spaced and appointed with large cloth napkins.  Faint music was in the background and the noise level was not too bad considering it was full.  A wall of hanging crystals separate the bench seating of bar and dining room sides of the restaurant.  The good sized menu offers vegetarian and non-vegetarian options as well as 2 tasting menus (4 and 6 courses) with optional wine pairings.  The Chef’s Table tasting is 6 courses and basically gives you a nice sampling of their greatest hits.  Our helpful  waiter cautioned that it would take around 2 hours which was fine by us.   Continue reading

Snaps Bistro, Reykjavik, 7/28/17

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Snaps is a medium sized place on the bottom floor of a corner building.  They have a variety of tables inside as well as an attached greenhouse-like portion and bar counter seating.  The tables are fairly close and set with nice linen napkins and paper on top of the tablecloth.  Menus are in the form of a placemat and at lunch the prices are less than dinner.  There is some background music but noise didn’t seem to be a problem at lunch even though it was a large and lively crowd. Service is friendly and helpful.  They offer a ‘Catch of the Day’ which changes regularly.   Continue reading

Bord’eau, Amsterdam, 5/11/17

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Bord’eau is located in the De L’Europe Hotel which overlooks a busy canal in Amsterdam.  One wall of the lovely restaurant is floor to ceiling windows overlooking this canal – a great seat for a show with your meal.  The tables are good sized and well spaced with faint pop music playing in the background.  Service is friendly and helpful but pacing was too slow leaving lots of time between courses which seemed deliberate since there was no crowd.  The food seemed to be going for more visual punch than flavor.  They offer an a la carte menu as well as tastings of 3 – 6 courses and it is well detailed what is added with each additional course.  There is also an optional duck liver course that could be added to any of the tastings.  (We chose to add that to our 4  course tasting). Continue reading