Rookery Pub Fine Dining, Cable, 1/4/19 & 2/8/19

building
building

Bill Brakken opened the Rookery Pub Fine Dining restaurant in 2008.  The building originally was constructed in 1978 and had the restaurant on the upper levels.  Bill made those areas into the lodge when he bought it in 2005 and then renovated the downstairs to become the Rookery Pub Fine Dining, named for the breeding colony of Blue Herons nearby and to signify a general place for social gatherings.  Interestingly, Bill worked as a bartender at the original Kliszcz’s Karczma, the Polish Palace as it was known then, the first year it was in business.  Now as you enter the place you see a building on your right with stairs and that is to the lodge and the lower sidewalk goes to the restaurant.  You enter into the large bar area and to the right is a hallway, opening onto a row of 4 booth seats, which leads to the small main dining room.  The walls are lined with prints of animals (most of which have prices if you want to buy one) and in the corner is a fireplace.  The bare wood tables are good sized and well spaced.  The menu covers a good breadth of choices with some changes for seasonality and the wine list is better than most.  You can have cocktails at your table or enjoy them at the bar before you are seated.  Service was efficient and super friendly.  Portions are large. Continue reading

Carrollton Market, New Orleans, 12/28/18

from outside
building

Carrollton Market is a medium sized place out in the suburbs that has been open 4 years.  The entry is into a bar area that is not very well separated from the main dining room.  The small marble tables are set closely together, a tin ceiling, wood floor and wood and painted walls all add to the loud noise level in the room, even without background music.   Windows along the front wall look out onto the street but otherwise there are no windows except for the interior one that looks into the open kitchen and the general light level is low.  They offer only a small a la carte menu.  The staff were friendly and helpful but the food was mostly unexciting and the overall ambiance is ear numbing, yet it was packed with people.  There is no subtlety in the food, it tends to be over-seasoned with large portions of heavy food.   Continue reading

Restaurant A ma Vigne, Lyon, 12/15/18

exterior
exterior  (23 Rue Jean Larrivé, 69003 Lyon, France)

A ma Vigne is a small place with just 2 dining rooms, one containing the bar, and a tiny kitchen in back.  The closely spaced small tables are set with nice white tableclothes and napkins and then covered with white paper.  The casual atmosphere is heightened with the array of art, photos (done by the server Alex) and mirrors along with windows to the street decorating the walls.  They had a large menu that was not translated and served all day and a set menu of 2 or 3 courses that featured their famous steak in butter and fries.  They had wine by the bottle as well as by centiliter, as well as lots of cocktails.  It didn’t take long at lunch for the place to be packed and most seemed to be repeat customers and having a good time.  Service was really friendly, welcoming and helpful yet staffing was minimal – one guy sat people, took orders, dispensed the food, took care of billing and cleaned the tables and one guy did all the cooking and kitchen cleanup. The guy who did all the cooking was actually Chef and Owner Stéphane Giraud, whose grandparents started the place.  His grandmother Josephine,  perfected the amazing French fries.  Food was great as was the ambiance.  It was really reasonable for the quality of flavor.   I would go back here in a heartbeat – check it out if you can.  The server told us that Paul Bocuse ate steak and fries there every day  for years and showed us the table he always sat at.  I can see why. Continue reading

L’Arcane (update), Paris, 11/28/18

exterior
exterior

We visited L’Arcane for the first time about 18 months ago and they hadn’t been open long (opened June 2016).  On this re-visit pretty much every thing that bothered me about the place has been corrected and food remains outstanding.  Get it on your list as soon as you can.  The tables are still small but well spaced and the lighting is at a good level.  Soft music is in the background and some decorative changes, like wide planked wood floors and nice artwork, have been made that are all for the better.  They now have a well deserved one Michelin star rating.  Chef Laurent Magnin is now married to Sophie Keller who runs the front of the house.  They offer a tasting menu only with the option of 3, 4 or 5 different courses, but there are a couple of amuse bouche to add to it.  There is no printed menu.   Portion control was good and pacing on the slower side but nicely regular as opposed to having long gaps. Continue reading

Monteverde Restaurant, Chicago, 11/17/18

entrance
entrance

Monteverde is a large place on a corner so two sides have windows to the street.  Walls are decorated with pizza peels and mirrors and a really long bar adds seating.  High top tables sit opposite the bar, that is decorated with hanging pasta, TVs and windows into the rest of the kitchen.  On one end is the pastry chef and cabinets of their labors.  The main dining room is filled with closely set small bare wood tables, benches and chairs as well a good sized area of pasta and cookware items for sale.  The menu is all a la carte and many items are designed to be shared.  We ordered a lot of things to try and intended to share all.  Some were quite good but others were really lacking.  Pacing for all was extremely rapid and plates and flatware were not replaced between several of the courses.  Service tried hard and they did refund the price of 2 unacceptable items as well as bring a complimentary dessert.   This place was really bustling, so more is good than not but they also have some kinks to work on. Continue reading

Lucia, Dallas, 10/31/18 and 11/24/18

exterior
exterior

Lucia is in the Bishop Arts District in Dallas, a small chef owned Italian restaurant.   It was opened in 2010 by Chef David Uygur and his wife Jennifer, who also serves as wine coordinator.    There are just 32 seats in the place and is still a hard reservation to come by but there are 4 seats at the counter that are reserved for walk-ins, on a first come first served basis.  Parking is another issue, as there is no valet, only street parking and a few spaces in a lot to the side of the building.  If you don’t get dropped off make sure and allow time to circle around looking for a place to leave your car.  Inside you’ll find a cozy place with benches and pillows lining the walls and small bar wood tables fairly close together.  A couple of windows are on one wall that look out onto the busy street.  Lights are lowered and there is no music but the hum of a full house provides plenty of background noise to keep table conversations private.  Memorabilia line the walls along with jars of preserved foods.  The counter seats look at the salad and cold appetizer preparation are and workers there are friendly when they have a minute.  Service is efficient and helpful with fairly quick pacing.  We have visited many times but for the purposes of this entry we visited twice. Continue reading

Macellaio, Dallas, 9/23/18

building
building

Macellaio was opened in the end of June 2018 by David and Jennifer Uygur, the owners of the ultra popular Lucia.  It is also in the Bishop Arts district but a more casual place with lots of small plates to share.  There are a limited number of tables available for reservations and a large bar and patio seating available for walk-ins.  Bare wood tables are set with a nice cloth napkin and the ceiling is open to expose the ductwork.  Lots of hard surfaces are ready to create a significant noise level but it was not a problem when we were there as the place wasn’t full yet.  The menu is printed daily with a good number of choices, half of which are the salumi offerings.  They do offer a family style dinner for the table where the chef will make your selections for you but we opted to pick our plates and utilized some advice from our friendly server.   Continue reading