Pizzeria Da Attilio, Naples, Italy, 12/18 & 12/21/19

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exterior

Naples is the home of pizza and Da Attilio served the best pizza I’ve ever had.  It’s a medium sized place in a touristy area but packed with people speaking Italian.  The red cloth covered tables are topped with plastic and set with paper napkins.  A large pizza oven is at the entrance to the restaurant where there is room for a few people to wait for a seat.  The wait was not bad.  The counter keeps a list and calls outside when it is your turn.  Inside there are a couple rooms with fairly close tables and lots of decorations on the walls.  No music is in the background just the hum of people happily eating pizza with friends.  When you get to your table there is a large menu and sometimes a special pizza of the day.  After you finish there is a counter up front where you can pay.  They serve wine and beer but I didn’t see hard liquor.  The staff were very friendly but pretty much in a rush as they have lots of people to attend to.  It was so good that we came back for a second visit.  Chef Attilio is the third generation of ownership of this business, named for his grandfather who started the restaurant.  He started helping his mother at the age of 6. Continue reading

La Scene par Stephanie Le Quellec, Paris, 12/7/19

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exterior

La Scene par Stephanie Le Quellec opened on October 9.  You enter on the street level and there is a stunning bar counter and a few tables.  To go to dinner you head down the stairs to the totally stylish dining room.  Banquette seating is along both of the long walls in the rectangular room.  One end of the room is the open kitchen  and opposite that are a couple free standing tables.  The tables are marble topped  and appointed with lovely linen napkins.  The walls of the room have curved wood pieces and lighted opaque glass between them. It is truly striking but very difficult to describe, so look at the pictures below.  The tables are on the small side and fairly closely set but each had lovely flowers in an unusual vase on them.  Music is in the background and the room is softly lit.  There are a couple seats at the kitchen counter and carpet is on the floor, so noise was not an issue.  Chef Le Quellec was in the kitchen and did come out to the room to visit with all the guests.  They offer several tasting menus (3, 4 or 7 courses and a truffle menu) and a la carte selections.  Since we were there they have been awarded 2 Michelin stars. Continue reading

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

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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

Le Bon Georges (update), Paris, 12/6/19

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Frankie shared the restaurant information

It’s only been a year since we were at Le Bon Georges but this time we went for dinner and sat in a different room, but it was still the most fun place with absolutely fantastically friendly staff.  I can’t stress how welcoming and gracious the staff are.  Helpful, fun and efficient,  they really make you want to come back and eat again.  This visit we sat in the lower room, that doesn’t have the bar.  It has a higher ceiling, a tile floor but like the other room has windows to the street, small bare wood tables closely spaced and set with large paper napkins and a chalkboard menu to order from.  After a fancy vegetable heavy lunch we wanted simple meat and potatoes. They sell Polmard beef by the gram and this night they had strip steaks ranging from 700 to 1000 grams.  This special beef is aged, which is rare in France, with a cold air system.  We added some of their fabulous fries to go with it.   Continue reading

Arpège (update), Paris, 12/6/19

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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

Le Pré Catelan, Paris, 12/5/19

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building

Le Pré Catelan is in a rental conference building that dates back to 1935.  It was a casino in the days before it became a restaurant that now holds a 3 Michelin star rating.  The elegant room is set with large tables covered first with a floor length beige satin cloth and then covered with a white linen one.  Music is in the background, heavy drapes are beside the windows that look out on the lighted landscaped grounds.  The green carpet makes a nice contrast with the white marble parts of the wall.  Lots of sculpted plaster adorns the walls with lowered lighting in the room and an huge chandelier hangs in the center of the room over the small service table.  Candlelight is from the long stemmed candles on each table.  A couple of the tables near the windows are set with rounded couches opposite the chairs but otherwise the tables are appointed with comfortable arm chairs.  The room exudes class and only holds 10 tables, but the service is nicely friendly and welcoming, not stiff or too formal.  Perhaps they detected my preference?  The menu is a la carte with one tasting menu option. Both pacing and portion control were good. Continue reading

Restaurant Chez Allard, Paris, 12/5/19

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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

Pierre Gagnaire (update), Paris 12/4/19

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exterior

It’s been 5 years since we ate at Pierre Gagnaire, a long standing Paris restaurant with 3 Michelin stars.  While Chef Gagnaire moved his talents to Paris in 1996, he now has many restaurants but this one in the Hôtel Balzac is his flagship, where it has been there 15 years.  It has a separate entrance from the hotel and a small bar area where you enter.  It is a medium sized place spread over several rooms.  The main dining room was redone by Carolyn Quatermaine who used pages of books to cover the walls with recipes some of which were handwritten by Pierre Gagnaire’s father who was a cook.  The well spaced large tables are draped with double long white clothes and set with fine linen napkins.  The lighting is lowered and there is no music in the background.  Along with the carpet, many wood surfaces and padded chairs the noise level is low and because of the spacing conversations remained private.  The menu offers a la carte options, a tasting menu and the night we were there a truffle tasting menu.   Wine pairings are available for the tasting menu.  We opted to start with a cocktail, order our own wine and have the tasting menu.  Service and pacing were excellent and portion control generous.  They did bring the truffles by to tempt you to add them to something or order that menu.   Continue reading

Maison, Paris, 12/4/19

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building

Maison opened in September run by Chef Sota Atsumi who rose to fame working at the Clown Bar.  The place is interesting in that the ground floor only has lounge furniture and the bathroom, all the dining is on the second story that is open to the area below.  Most of the diners sit at one long table in the middle of the room.  There are a couple tables next to the edge and 7 seats at the bar looking into the long open kitchen.  Chef Atsumi was in the kitchen cooking and looking over plates but never came out to visit with guests.  The restaurant serves only a tasting menu chosen by the chef and it changes regularly.  At lunch it was a 5 course tasting and there was a supplemental cheese course offered.   There is a large skylight above the area so in the daytime between that and the windows from below that open to the street, there is plenty of light.  I do wonder what the temperature variations might be, though.  The tables are bare wood set with a white cloth napkin and comfortable chairs and music is in the background.  The walls and floor are tile and the kitchen has a wood burning oven.   Continue reading

Eventide Oyster Co., Portland, ME., 11/30/19

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exterior

Eventide Oyster Co. is a large place and was super busy even in the late afternoon.  There were a couple rooms, one more with tables and the other with a large bar with stools, window counter seating and a couple tables.  There was art on the walls, lots of light (but also lots of windows to the street) and an area where the fresh oysters were on ice.  The counters along the bar and in the windows are made of concrete, the floor is wood, there is exposed ductwork and above is a tin ceiling.  The server came to get our drink order and we talked about what food to order but were advised to wait till you get your drinks and they were right.  Food service is very fast and so it is wise to make sure you have a drink when it arrives.  Service was additionally very friendly, efficient and helpful.  The food is really good in a casual setting.  They do offer a number of draft beers, few wines and a couple drinks. Continue reading

Hugo’s Restaurant, Portland, ME., 11/30/19

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exterior

Hugo’s opened in 1988 and had a major rennovation in 2012.  There are booths along a brick wall, a couple tables by the windows to the street and lots of seats at a curved counter that wraps around the open kitchen.  The lights are quite low (spots highlight each table and the bar) with lots of wood and dark leather upholstery make up the interior.  The tin ceiling, music in the background and decorations made of local organic material finish out the stylish and striking design of the interior.  In fact they strived to make all the interior from materials found in Maine.   The red bricks are from Moose Head Lake, the slate plates from Monson, and a huge painting at the end of the room is by local artist Eric Hopkins. They offer an a la carte menu and also a chef’s tasting of about 10 courses.  The tasting offers items not on the menu and the whole table must participate.  For the tasting they have wine pairings available.  We chose the tasting but ordered our own wine after a cocktail and they did give me a list of what we had after the meal. Continue reading

Geronimo, Santa Fe, 11/1/19

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building

Geronimo is a large place in an old building spread over several rooms.  The tables are fairly close and set with white cloths and napkins.  The lighting is lowered, music is in the background, candles are on the tables and in the old fireplaces, art and mirrors decorate the walls and bench seating is on some walls.  There is a room with a bar at the front of the place with a couple tables and bar seating, but it was quite crowded when we got there.  They offer an a la carte menu or a vegetarian tasting, that has optional wine pairings.   They also had some nightly specials.  Service was helpful, extremely friendly and well paced. Continue reading

Canlis, Seattle, 11/9/19

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entrance

Canlis is a large place on a hill overlooking Seattle.  The interior and view from the windows is spectacular.  The interior is filled with stone and wood with windows along many sides to enjoy the view.  The tables are on different levels so all can look out.  The well spaced good sized tables are covered with white clothes and matching napkins.  Lighting is lowered and live piano music is in the background.  The piano is in the bar which is the first part of the building and short barriers provide privacy as well as good sound dampening, but the lovely sounds surrounds all.  The menu is a fixed price for 4 course with a 20% service charge added to all bills.  Each of the 4 courses has 5 choices.  Service was excellent, attentive without being intrusive and the meal pacing was good – not too fast or too slow.  Portion control was also good. Continue reading

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

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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.

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sign on the stairs

Continue reading

Willows Inn (update), Lummi Island, 11/8/19

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dining room

It’s been about 2 years since we visited Willows Inn and this time it was late fall as opposed to summer.  The physical place hasn’t changed but the fall means shorter days and disrupts the view from the dining room.  It also means you can’t have the starter courses outside on the porch and instead everyone piled into the area by a large fireplace with seating being very varied.   Some were on benches, some sat at the bar on stools and there were a couple of sets of chairs by small tables, which I preferred.  The lighting was much darker as the room only was lit by candles and the fire – and that also made it quite warm.  Otherwise the system is pretty much the same.  You start with a series of snacks and then move into seafood and then protein to dessert.  It seemed like a lighter menu this time.   The dining room had just 12 tables with a painted wood  ceiling, narrow planked wood floor, music in the background with a sliding door to the kitchen at one end of the room.  In an adjacent room was a larger table for 6. Continue reading

Kate’s Greek & American, Everett, WA./ 11/8/19

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exterior

Kate’s Greek & American restaurant is a medium sized colorful place on a busy street near lots of shops.  Booths are on two long sides of the space with tables in the middle.  The chairs are mostly different as are the table cloths.  Windows to the street are on one end and the kitchen and prep area are opposite that.  Above there were 2 large boards with the specials on them.  Lots of art is on the walls and much of it was for sale.  They serve only breakfast and lunch, both all day.  The server was really friendly and offered good advice when ordering. Continue reading

The Compound, Santa Fe, 11/3/19

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building

The Compound is a large old building with the sign on Canyon Road, but you have to walk/drive down a little ways.  The adobe structure is made up of several rooms with one room having a wavy plaster ceiling and another having squares of different colors.  (One of the fun features is the painted snake that runs over the waves of plaster.)  The walls hold lots of art and press coverage for this long running restaurant that opened over 50 years ago.  Chef/Owner Mark Kiffin has run the place almost 20 years and won the James Beard Best Chef in the Southwest award in 2005.  Music is in the background, the lighting is lowered and the white clothed tables are widely spaced.  Bench seating is around some of the walls which is opposite the comfortable chairs on the other side of the table.  Service was excellent with good pacing.  The menu is all a la carte. Continue reading

Cafe Pasqual, Santa Fe, 11/3/19

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building

Cafe Pasqual is almost an institution in Santa Fe.  They don’t take reservations so be prepared to wait an hour for a table.  They have a list that you get on at the door and they call your name when it’s your turn to enter the medium sized place.  The tile walls add to the colorful interior that is decorated with lace things hanging from the ceiling and t-shirts and calendars.  There is a large communal table in the center of the downstairs and a few tables are up a couple steps at the front of the place.  At the front counter they have desserts to go but also sell many souvenirs.  Tables are of unvarnished wood, there is music in the background and the floor is wood and tile.  Tables are closely set and relatively small and set with paper napkins.  Service is efficient but it takes a while as the crowd is pretty much non-stop.  When we ate there years ago the food seemed worth the wait but now I’m not sure I’d wait again for it.  It was good, it just didn’t have the soul that some of the other New Mexican spots we visited. Continue reading

Market Steer Steakhouse, Santa Fe, 11/2/19

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building

Market Steer Steakhouse is in the St. Francis Hotel in downtown Santa Fe.  It is a good sized room and has an additional entrance if you don’t want to cut through the hotel. The bare wood square tables are set with room to get between the large chairs and there are a couple booths along one wall.  At the end of the room is a stone wall with a large mantle and fireplace.  Windows to the street occupy 2 other sides of the room.  The floor is a wide plank wood one and the noise level was fairly high.  They had been open just over a year when we visited.  They serve all prime beef that has been age 24 days and it looked to be a success, as it was busy.  It’s interesting that 2 women run the place,  Executive Chef and co-owner if Kathleen Crook and General Manage and co-owner is Kristina Goode.   Everything is a la carte, so with your steak you can order separate sauces and all vegetables are by separate order.  Service was helpful and friendly. Continue reading

Palacio Cafe, Santa Fe, 11/2/19

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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

La Choza, Santa Fe, 11/1/19

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building

La Choza is the sister restaurant of the ever popular The Shed, located in the old town square.  La Choza is out of town but not a bad distance and way less crowded, but plenty of people still are there.  They have their own parking lot behind the adobe building.  The dining areas take up several rooms and there is also a large bar area.  Beams of wood line the ceilings and colorful art adorns the walls.   The tables are bare wood, there are lots of windows to the outside and a large variety of tequila, margaritas and mezcales to chose from as well as draft beers.  Service is friendly, efficient and helpful.  Portions are large and the food is wonderful, with a good amount of flavor and texture in every bite. Continue reading

Restaurant Bel Etage, Basel, 10/26/19

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exterior of hotel

Bel Etage is the one Michelin Star restaurant on the second floor of the Der Teufelhof Hotel.   It is made up of several rooms of well spaced tables covered with ecru cloths and coordinating striped napkins.  Windows to the street were in the room which had a lovely old wood floor and crystal chandeliers.  No music is in the background and the rooms are mostly quiet except for the creaking of the old floors.  Lots of art adorns the walls.  Service was not polished but mostly friendly and English was limited.  They never re-offered the bread tray and didn’t pick up some dropped flatware that was on the floor. They offered 3 different tasting menus as well as an a la carte menu.  Wine pairings are available as well a a liquor of the month.  We thought the smallest tasting sounded best and so chose it and our own bottle of wine. Continue reading

Restaurant Hasenburg, Basel, 10/26/19

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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

Restaurant Stucki – Tanja Grandits, Basel, 10/25/19

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building

Tanja Grandits or as it was called Stucki is spread over several rooms in a large mansion in a residential neighborhood of Basel.  The restaurant was named for Hans Stuki who opened it in the 1960s and ran it until passing away in 1998.  Chef Tanja Grandits took over in 2008 and has since obtained a 2 Michelin Star rating.  It is a modern looking place inside with gray walls and carpet.  The good sized tables are well spaced and set with white clothes and napkins.  There were votive candles and small flowers on the table but both had broken blooms included.  The lighting was slightly softened and the windows to the outside were covered with drapes.  There was no music in the background and the room had a small center service table.  They serve only a tasting menu of 8 or 12 courses and offer wine pairings as well as non-alcoholic pairings.   We got the longer tasting and ordered our own wines.  Pacing was awful, starting really slow, speeding up and then moving to painfully slow but portion control was good. Continue reading

Roots, Basel, 10/25/19

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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

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

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hotel exterior

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

St. Alban Stübli, Basel, 10/24/19

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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

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

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outside entrance

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

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

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

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building

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