El Vecino, Dallas, 7/28/19

exterior
exterior

El Vecino is a good sized place in a small shopping center in the Casa Linda area.  The bare wood tables are well spaced and set with cloth napkins wrapped around the flatware.  The colors are bright and the place is too, but there are windows all across the front to the outside free parking lot.  They offer a good sized menu with lunch specials for weekdays, special selections for brunch on weekends and some summer specials.   They have a second location that has opened in Travis Walk but we were at the original.  They have a full bar and you will see it when you first enter.  It has stools so you could probably eat there if they were full.  There are benches on the covered patio out front, I’m guessing for waiting.  The name “El Vecino” translates to neighbor and they want to be a neighborhood place, opening in the fall of  2017.  The owners, the McBride family, have Mexican restaurants in their blood with his grandfather starting El Fenix and he working in NYC’s Rosa Mexicano.   Service was efficient but did try to ‘upsale’ extra stuff to order several times. Continue reading

Pepes & Mitos, Dallas,7/26/19

exterior
exterior

Pepes & Mitos is a large place in Deep Ellum.  The tables are covered with oilclothes and well spaced and good sized.  The restaurant has several rooms and an enclosed outdoor patio with fans.  In the entrance room you can see through to the kitchen and a counter houses a large selection of cold drinks.  The next room has a large bar where you can also sit and eat or just have drinks.  A concrete floor, brick walls and exposed ductwork in the ceiling give it a casual feel.   Lots of art is on the walls.  Even with all the hard surfaces noise was not a problem.  A number of large groups were there at lunch so it seems to be a good place for work people to lunch together.   They have a good sized menu and do offer lunch specials for weekdays.  Service was helpful and very friendly.  Parking is on the street by meter or in a paid lot. Continue reading

Cafe 43, Dallas, 7/24/19

entrance
entrance

Cafe 43 is the dining spot in George W. Bush Presidential library.  It is a good sized place and you don’t need to pay admission to the library to gain entrance to the cafe, but you will have to pay for parking on the SMU campus.  The nice sized tables are slightly spaced and bare dark wood set with mats.  Art is on the walls, some by Bush, and large windows look out onto the campus and surrounding grounds.  Service was attentive and very friendly and content for us to take a long visit with lunch. Continue reading

Fauna, Dallas, 6/22/19

exterior
exterior

Fauna is the newest addition to Stephan Pyles Flora Street Cafe in the Dallas Arts District.  It only seats 16 in the smaller dining room off to the side.  The setting is dressier and quieter than the larger front room, with nice sized tables draped in lovely linens and appointed with comfy padded chairs.  The tables are slightly close but it is a small room and there is adequate space between them.  They have purse stools, music in the background, art on the wall, a tall candle on each table, dark curtains on the windows and TV screens above the serving window with scenes of fire and water.  It has the southwestern touches, that Pyles is known for, like antlers above the monitors and branches in the ceiling fixture.  The room is completely enclosed when the meal starts and serves only the same tasting menu of about 12 courses to everyone there.  Pacing is a little slow but portion control is good.  The doors nicely shut out the hum of the front part of the place.  They do pass out a printed menu for you to take home at the end of the meal.   The pass through window to the kitchen is below the monitors and everyone is served at the same time.  Plan to spend a couple hours.  When we went they had only been open 3 weeks, so I’m sure some changes have been made to the set up. Continue reading

Homewood, Dallas, 5/7/19

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exterior

Homewood is Matt McCallister’s newest venture following the closure of his successful FT33.  It is more centrally located and has a more casual feel.  When we first visited he had only been open a couple weeks.  It is a bright and modern spot with large windows looking out on the patio and the busy street beside it.   Wood and tile are the surfaces and the open ceiling has painted wood rafter joists with acoustic tiles.  A low counter bar is the bar but also a place for walk-ins to have dinner.  It is appointed with stuffed chairs.  There is also a high counter bar where you can get a reservation as well as the many small, closely set tables around the room.  A few larger booths are along the windows that look out on Oak Lawn Ave. and some booths for 2 people face the low bar area.  A short wall separates the 2 sections of dining tables.  The section that also houses the higher bar is open to the kitchen.  McCallister can be seen in the kitchen as well as coming out to visit with guests and friends.  They have valet parking if you want to be in the lot adjacent to the  building.  Service was efficient, friendly and directive.  The menu changes regularly and features many locally sourced items as well as those that have been preserved, pickled, etc. by the restaurant staff.  They are happy to have you share things. Continue reading

Raymonds (re-visit), St. John’s, NL, Canada, 6/29/19

inteiror
interior

The second time we went to Raymonds we went for the smallest tasting menu, the 3 course.  This one you get more a la carte sized servings.  My impression of the place was even better the second time around.  It was earlier in the evening so it was still light outside and that changed the room and really brightened things.  Music still played in the background and I think we got the same table but it was different to see the harbor outside and have a shorter meal experience.  For each of the 3 courses you have 3 options to pick from.   We also opted for our own bottle of wine this visit.   Continue reading

The Adelaide Oyster House, St. John’s, NL, Canada, 6/29/19

exterior
exterior

The Adelaide Oyster House is a small place on a main street of town that opened in 2014.  They have one large picnic table in the window and lots of stools around the long bar and small, closely set tables backing up to the wall.  They offer lots of locally brewed tap beers as well as a full bar.  Loud, older rock music plays in the background, exposed ductwork runs across the ceiling, the walls are a combination of wood and brick and one end of the place houses the small open kitchen.  On weekends they serve brunch all day.  It’s a friendly and welcoming place but the server was not overly directive in how much or suggestions to order.  Plates are easily split which we did so we could try a number of things. Continue reading

Seto Kitchen and Bar, St. John’s, NL, Canada, 6/28/19

exterior
exterior

Seto is in an historic house, that predates the Great Fire of Newfoundland,  with 2 rooms set up for dining.  They seat just 36 people with 5 tables in front and 6 in the back.  The old wood tables are set with padded armless chairs and large paper napkins.  New age music plays in the background and the lighting is low with some also provided by candles.  The small menu has lots of dishes suitable for sharing and one special of the evening was introduced by the server.  This is the 4th year they have been open and they also operate a food truck.  Service was super friendly and helpful.   In a really small kitchen Chef Ken Pittman creates all the dishes, many inspired by his grandfather who was among the first Chinese immigrants to Newfoundland.  He uses fresh, local ingredients that are native to the province while adding an Asian twist to the dishes.  It was a fabulous meal and I urge you to try it if you can. Continue reading

Raymonds, St. John’s, NL, Canada, 6/26/19

from the front
from the front

Raymonds is one large rectangular room filled with large, well-spaced tables appointed with padded armless chairs, white tableclothes and large white napkins.  Three wrapped chandeliers and real candles provide the lighting when the sun goes down and the 3 sides of windows no longer let in light.  The windows looks out over St. John’s harbour and passing boats.  The floor is carpeted and the high ceiling is decorated with heavy crown molding.  The room feels elegant and the crowd is more dressed up, many celebrating special occasions.  However it is noisy when the room fills up.  The building dates back to 1915 and previously was home to a cable company.   They opened 9 years ago after a couple years of extensive remodeling.  The menu offers 3 tasting menus (3, 5 and 7 courses)  with the 3 course one having a la carte size portions and the others appropriately scaled.  All  the menus had optional wine pairings available and the server said they would accommodate allergies or aversions.  We chose the 7 course tasting with the wine pairings. Continue reading

Oliver’s Restaurant, St. John’s, NL, Canada, 6/25/19

exterior
exterior

Oliver’s is a small place with mostly padded and tufted booth seating.  The dining room has bare wood tables, low lighting, music in the background, art on the walls and windows to the street.  One wall mostly holds wine and above the racks are huge piles of corks.  The wine selection is limited but they have lots of cocktails available.  The menu has a number of local seafood offerings as well as some seafood shipped into the area.  There were several nightly specials.  Service was efficient, super friendly and happy to have us share things and bring them in courses. Continue reading

Providence (update), Los Angeles, 6/1/19

exterior
exterior

It’s been 3 years since we visited Providence.  Since that time Michelin has issued a new California guide that reinstated the previous rank of Providence as a 2 Michelin star restaurant.  Also the restaurant has redone the dining space.  The new gray walls are in place of the patterned ones but are still decorated with the white flowers and the ‘netting material’ continues to cover the ceiling.  They retained an elegance in the room with a double white table cloth covering the large tables that are moderately spaced.  The bench seating is now covered with leather and dark velvet mated on the other side with comfortable chairs. Music plays in the background and service is friendly and very attentive.  They offer 3 tasting menus with optional pairings, additional options (oysters, caviar, uni, and spot prawns) and a full bar.  We chose the Chef’s tasting menu and ordered our own wines.  It was an excellent meal – full of wonderful flavors and textures.    This place gets 2 strong thumbs up from me.  Pacing started rapidly and then slowed down a bit.  Portion control was great. Continue reading

Animal Restaurant, Los Angeles, 6/1/19

exterior
exterior

Animal is a medium sized place that serves lots of plates made for sharing.  It is the first restaurant of the group that also owns Jon and Vinny which is across the street down a couple lots.  The menu adds brunch items on weekends but the regular menu is still available.  They have been open 10 years and the menu was originally known for its interesting meat cuts but now mostly features meaty, hearty food.  The dishes were well flavored and fun, so I’d put this one on your list if you’re in town.  Rock music plays in the background but is dampened by the sound tiles in the ceiling.  Plain white walls host just a couple paintings and windows to the street are at one end of the place.  The opposite end is a counter with seats that face the bar and a small window into the kitchen.  The bare wood tables are set with large cloth napkins and ceiling skylights add additional light for daytime dining.  Service was super friendly and helpful.   Continue reading