Tricycle Ice Cream, Providence, 5/26/22

building – 70 Battey St., Providence, RI., 02903

Tricycle Ice Cream opened in 2014 selling ice cream out of a 3 wheeled     vehicle at markets and such.  The storefront opened in Jan. 2019.  They were inspired by childhood memories and wanted to craft amazing ice cream sandwiched between excellent cookies.  They have regularly changing flavors and combinations ready made at the storefront.  There is a patio next to the building with picnic tables where you can enjoy your treats.  As you enter the small place there are counters you could eat at also.  At the counter you order and pick up your treats and then you just have to wait a few minutes for them to thaw enough to eat.  They now also offer fruit push pops made of sorbet and ice cream filled ‘tacos’ that are made with cone shells.  It is worth a stop if you are in the area. Continue reading

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

exterior – 10390 Kasten St, Mendocino, CA 95460

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

Rollerville Café, Point Arena, CA., 3/12/22

building – 22900 Shoreline Hwy, Point Arena, CA 95468

Rollerville Café is a classic café serving lunch and breakfast in Point Arena, CA.   It opened in 2007 and is adjacent to a Lighthouse Pointe Resort that both claim to be the last stop before going to Hawaii and for fueling up to tour the nearby lighthouse attraction.  The interior is small but there is a patio with additional seating outside.  Some of the well spaced tables have fun salt & pepper sets as decorations.  There was faint music in the background – possible a radio in the kitchen and plenty of light in the room from all the windows.  There were daily specials for breakfast and lunch but serving time seemed to be divided by 11:00 am or noon on the weekend.  Service was friendly and efficient. It’s worth a visit. Continue reading

Eaton St. Seafood Market, Key West, 1/28/22

exterior

Eaton St. Seafood Market is in an old gas station building where in the market you can buy and take home to cook, or order from their menu.  Things like fish sandwich, tacos or salad can be made from any fish in the sales case – all with the same price from the menu.   Most items come with plantain chips but you can substitute potato chips or fries for an upcharge.  After you order and pay, you grab your number and beverage and wait out on the patio in front.  There’s lots of shade from tenting and umbrellas.  Beverages include wine and beer as well as soft drinks and juices.  On the patio you’ll find a station with extra hot sauces and utensils as well as roosters and chickens roaming the area.  Some music was in the background from a radio somewhere.   The counter person was very friendly and helpful in making selections. Continue reading

Louie’s Backyard, Key West, 1/27/22

exterior

Louie Signorelli started Louie’s Backyard in 1971 in his ocean front Victorian home that seated just 12 people.  In 1983 Phil and Pat Tenney renovated the place and transformed it into what is there today.   The chef of 30 years prepares each dish to order using locally caught seafood and produce specifically grown for them from Island Farms.  That commitment to quality makes them quite popular but there are many tables in the house and a huge patio overlooking the water to accommodate guests. The back of the house is where the dining rooms are and the back is a wall of windowed doors that allow everyone to enjoy the view and fresh air.  Even so, the tables are set with white tablecloths and napkins.  Service was very friendly, helpful and efficient. One small room in the front serves as an interior bar.  The lunch menu is slightly smaller than the dinner menu but also less expensive.  There was one special and it’s a place I would happily go back to. Continue reading

Seaside Cafe at the Southern Most House, Key West, 1/27/22

Southernmost House / hotel

The Seaside Cafe is on the grounds of the Southernmost House just a few steps from the Atlantic Ocean.  The Queen Anne style mansion looks over the large outdoor area with the walk-up cafe.  There are several seating areas and a large bar.  Some umbrellas and other cover are available.  Once you are seated the server will come take your order.  Meanwhile you can watch the ocean and be entertained by the roosters, chickens and other birds that visit the area.  They have a number of options but are primarily known for their lobster pizza or lobster salad on honey butter biscuits.  We chose the latter but did not sample the menu further.  Service was efficient and the view was nice.  The food was interesting but once was enough for me. Continue reading

Bavette La Boucherie, Milwaukee, 12/1/21

building

Bavette started out as a butcher shop and evolved into a restaurant.  It still has the butcher shop concept and procures the whole animals raised on local farms and then uses the entire carcass to generate less waste.  Now the consumer can buy retail cuts and/or prepared foods from the counter or sit back and enjoy the food in a restaurant setting.  Most of their produce also comes from local farms mandating a seasonal type menu.  Also available are craft beers, wines and cocktails.   It’s a medium sized place with music in the background, a high wood ceiling with exposed duct work and plastic partitions between tables. Although currently in the trendy Third Ward section, the word is that they want to move to a larger location soon, so check their website before going <https://bavettelaboucherie.com&gt;.  Service was relaxed and very friendly and the food was excellent. Continue reading

Little Fox, St. Louis, 11/17/21

exterior

Little Fox is a medium sized place with brick walls, lower lights, wood decorations and music in the background where you are given 2 hours to complete your reservation.  This might be due to the increased popularity since the restaurant was listed in the The New York Times article on the Restaurants for 2021 to be excited about.  Lucky as they opened in Dec. 2019 just before the pandemic closed many places and they had to adapt business to new restrictions.  Now the kitchen is on one end of the room and plexiglas dividers are between each table even though the use a shared bench for one side’s seating.  Along the opposite wall are more small lightwood tables that also accommodate 2 people.  There is a full bar in the other room and tables are set with cloth napkins.  It is a small menu of mostly small plates that sound more interesting than they are. Continue reading

Gioia’s Deli, St. Louis, 11/17/21

exterior

Gioia’s Deli on ‘The Hill’ opened in 1918 and the new owners took over in 1980 but they are still serving the original recipe of hot salami.  The Food Network named their hot salami sandwich as “one of  the best sandwiches in America.”   In 2017 they won the James Beard American Classic Award.  The meat is never frozen and once cooked stays warm till it’s served.  They go through 10,000 pounds a month and now that I’ve tasted the hot salami vs. one of their other sandwiches I can see why.  It is a delicious product and worth trying if you’re in the area.  It’s a small place with a line to the order counter aside a rack of chips and area for drinks.  There are seats inside as well as tables outside.  Windows to the street make up one wall.  Staff were all friendly and helpful.  When you get to the counter you have an option on bread, cheese, garnish and condiments.  The order person helped us with a recommended version and our food was ready with only a very short wait. Continue reading

The Silver Skillet, Atlanta, 11/11/21

exterior

The Silver Skillet has been in business since 1956 has been featured in many movies, television shows, magazines and newspapers.  Their homemade lemon ice-box pie was voted one the “5 Best Pies in the the USA” by Life Magazine.   It is a 50’s style diner that serves breakfast all day and is considered an Atlanta landmark.   Inside you’ll find lines of booth seating with a few stools at the counter that look into the kitchen.  Windows to the street are on two sides and memorabilia and items for sale decorate the other walls.  Country music is in the background, acoustic tile makes up the ceiling and old linoleum serves as the floor.   Lots of parking is around the building and inside you are greeted by friendly, helpful staff.  The menu breaks no food barriers but it is well done using quality ingredients.  I was skeptical to go there but it was well worth the visit and if it was closer, I’d go back. Continue reading

Buena Gente, Atlanta, 11/10/21

Buena Gente is a Cuban bakery and sandwich shop in Decatur that opened in Aug of 2020, that started running out of a camper in 2016.  Now it has found a home in a strip shopping center filled with many ethnic restaurants.  It is takeout only and masks must be warn at the counter when making your order.  You wait outside with a buzzer to go back inside and get your food.  The food is well seasoned and really tasty.  It’s hard to chose what to get but the counter person guided us.  All sandwiches and pastries are well filled and it didn’t take long to get the hot sandwiches, whereas you can walk out with the pastries. Continue reading

First Chinese B-B-Q, Dallas, 10/28/21

exterior

First Chinese BBQ has been around a long time but somehow never got a visit from Frankie. I’m sorry cause this is a gem of a place located in the corner of a strip shopping center in Richardson.  There is an adequate parking lot out front and also one behind the building.  As you enter through the double set of doors you’ll see the hanging chickens and roasted ducks on your right as well as various cuts of beef and BBQ pork.  On busy days you’ll hear the chef out there hacking up the meats to serve to the tables or use in take out orders.  The menu is large and filled with many tasty Cantonese options, meant to be served family style.   I particularly like their noodle dishes and fresh greens.  Inside there are booths along both walls of the dining rooms and bigger tables as well a few smaller ones in the middle.  At the table you’ll find various condiments but the food is well seasoned.  The staff speak limited but usable English, lighting is bright, no music is in the background and they only take cash for payment. Continue reading

Farm Club, Traverse City, 9/30/21

front

Farm Club is a collaboration of several people to offer a restaurant, bakery, brewery and general store in one place on the Leelanau Peninsula.  The sales area and restaurant are in a modern barn with tons of windows that look out at the additional outside seating areas.  The brewery is on one end of the building and we didn’t go there but you can order their beer with lunch.  At the entrance are shelves of products and produce you can buy as well as breads, cookies, etc.  Light wood is on the tables, cabinets and bench seats, concrete is on the floor and music is in the background.  There is lots of outdoor seating and some tables have umbrellas.  Inside there is table service but for outside you make you order and come get it when your buzzer goes off. Staff were efficient and helpful, but the food was souless – good but not great.  Given its freshness things should have been more flavorful and some of the preparation was lacking. Continue reading

Chef’s Restaurant of Buffalo NY, Buffalo, 9/3/21

building

Chef’s Restaurant opened in Buffalo in 1923.  One of the neighborhood busboys worked his way up to restaurant manager and became the owner in 1954.  They started with a limited menu of Italian options which has expanded over the years, most notably to include ‘Chef’s Spaghetti Parm’.  A second dining room was added in 1966 with another addition 3 years later making their current capacity 325 persons and a banquet room for 125.  The owner’s daughter and her son now run the business.  The several bright rooms are filled with photos of notables who have eaten there and red-checkered cloth covered tables.  Music is in the background there are some windows to the street outside.  There is even a dedicated parking lot across from the building.  In addition to the regular menu there is a menu of specials for the lunch hour.  An announcer calls out numbers over the sound system, probably to alert the servers to pick up trays to serve.  Service was amazingly efficient and super friendly. 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Local, Jackson, WY., 9/10/20

entrance

Local is a steakhouse and bar in the historic town square of Jackson.  It has many rooms, some of which are for dinner and some for lunch and others for both.  We sat in the room with the bar counter and it had plexiglass between the seats and bar as did the booths have plexiglas between them.  The black wood tables were set off by the brown wood floor and light wood walls with mirror insets.  The booths had a padded seat whereas the bar was set with dark wood chairs with backs that were unpadded.  Music was in the background and a TV was playing in the bar area but it was muted.  We made a reservation for lunch which the website recommended but when we showed up the person at the entrance seated the 2 walk-up parties ahead of us in line to get in.  Their lunch menu was mostly sandwiches, particularly burgers and they had one special of the day (a hot ham and cheese sandwich) as well as a soup that changes daily.  Service was helpful, opinionated and efficient. Continue reading

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

IMG_5829
building

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

Antiqvvm, Porto, 3/5/20

IMG_2252
museum on the top, restaurant below

Antiqvvm was located on the basement level of a large building that housed a museum on the floors above.  There was a terrace off the back that had amazing views of the water and city but weather was not with us that day however the table we had was next to floor to ceiling windows which felt about the same.  The white cloth covered tables were well spaced and music was in the background.  The room we sat in looked like it was an enclosed porch but now had carpets on the concrete floor however the stone details of the walls and windows were still intact.  A timber ceiling had been painted over and some the the seating was in a bench format.  They had been open for 5 years last October and received their one Michelin star in the first year they were open.  They offered 3 tastings, one of which was vegetarian and one was entirely seafood.  They also had an a la carte menu and a special lunch menu of 3 or 4 courses (for 3 you chose between fish or meat and with 4 you get both).  They had a number of wines by the glass and we ordered some of them to go with the lunch menu.  Service was efficient, super friendly and our server spoke great English. Continue reading

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

IMG_5761
building

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

IMG_5219
building

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

IMG_4648
exterior

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

IMG_3017
signs

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.

IMG_3016
sign on the stairs

Continue reading

Palacio Cafe, Santa Fe, 11/2/19

IMG_2218
building

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

IMG_1417
exterior

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

IMG_0674
exterior

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

IMG_0037
building

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

IMG_9408
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

exterior
exterior

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

building
building

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

view to the street
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

building
building

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

building
building

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

building
building

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

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

exterior
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

exterior
exterior

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

exterior
exterior

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

IMG_3417
exterior

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

IMG_9940
building

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

IMG_9188
building

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

building
building

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

IMG_7692
restaurant windows

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