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jca76

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About jca76

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  1. but that's exactly what makes it so impressive -- they're accomplishing that with tofu! (as a pescatarian who remembers meat as delicious, a successful facsimile of a meat dish manages to evoke the satisfying textures and flavors that are often difficult to get in vegetarian dishes.)
  2. from my stalking of the menu to check for new items, it seems like the menu updates intermittently over the course of the afternoon. there have definitely been days where one pizza sells out but another option is added later in the afternoon that wasn't on the menu initially, so it's worth checking back. also, they space out pizza orders and you can select pick-up time (unlike orders that don't include a pizza), so no need to wait until you're ready to come pick up to put in an order.
  3. i would argue that they are the third and fourth best, although it's an honorable bottom half of the ranking. i think the tofu gyro was the tastiest thing i ate in 2019 -- not necessarily the "best" or most creative or difficult-to-make -- but the dish that was the most deliciously satisfying, which i could eat indefinitely. being able to eat it while stuck (mostly) at home has been a small bright spot in the last week. and the celeriac reuben is also pretty great.
  4. Do you mean the gyro? It's made with tofu skin, not mushrooms. I didn't notice a particularly charred smell (we ate it last night). For anyone who did the Happy Gyro tasting either time last year, fyi, the take-out gyro is a little smaller, I believe, but still absolutely delicious.
  5. the bf and i had a spur-of-the-moment dinner at annabelle last night. the makeover of the old nora space is lovely, although i do find kind of funny/sad that notwithstanding what i assume to be a target clientele of older, more formal diners, rows of tiny photography-friendly lights above the tables are apparently de rigueur these days. the wine list is very classic, the cocktail list only slightly less so. the sancerre and chablis by the glass were both perfectly satisfactory exemplars. a scofflaw* cocktail was good, but the pencillin was surprisingly mediocre -- quite sour, with very little discernible sweetness, ginger, or peat to balance it. the laminated brioche was delightfully flakey and salty; i was disappointed that our basket contained only one. seed-dusted rolls were unexceptional but made for good soup mops. *i have long loved this cocktail, not least for its delightful origin story: the term "scofflaw" won a contest sponsored by a prohibitionist who wanted a new, pejorative term for those who defied prohibition by drinking. harry's bar in paris promptly thumbed its nose at the endeavor by creating the new cocktail. for our first course, we shared the yukon gold potato gnocchi (rogue river smokey blue, hazelnuts, balsamic compressed pear), kabocha-organic barley soup (pickled maitake puree, yuzu koshu, pumpkin seeds), and caesar-esque (little gem, puntarella, pickled mackerel, piave, baguette). our clear favorite was the gnocchi, which balanced smokey richness with a hint of heat from slivers of red chili, crunch from the nuts, and sweetness from the fruit (which looked like bits of mushroom, confusing me on the first bite). my only quibble was a desire for the few chili rings to have been halved so that they could be spread around more bites. in second place was the soup, which varied pleasantly from bite to bite depending on whether you scraped up a bit of the yuzu or mushroom. the salad was a beautiful mix of green and pink leaves that made excellent use of capers and cheese, although the concentrated fishiness of a few slices of pickled mackerel wasn't an improvement over the traditional anchovies. less exciting were our main selections: organic salmon with korean pepper crust* (radish kimchi, purple potato puree) and savory oatmeal (fennel bulb granitee, coddled egg, sorrel froth). when the waiter explicitly asks whether medium rare salmon is okay -- my preference, so great -- the salmon shouldn't come out with the same solid shade of opaque pink all the way through. it wasn't overcooked, so i wouldn't have noticed but for the expectation-setting of the medium-rare inquiry, but more disappointingly, the dish was kind of boring. the spiralized radish on top only whispered of spice, not remotely approaching the funky heat that "kimchi" evokes. the pretty potato puree was well seasoned and creamy, but salmon and mashed potatoes wasn't my goal with the selection. the savory oatmeal was less a porridge and more a plate of grains studded with chunks of vegetable (onions, beets, fennel) and topped with an egg. tasty, but as the bf correctly noted, one of those vegetarian entrees that won't let you forget that you are eating a vegetarian entree. if this had been a brunch dish, i would have thought that it was a creative take on breakfast food, but as a dinner entree, it didn't feel sophisticated or cohesive enough. *our menu contained a slightly different description than the currently online menu in how it referred to the pepper tuile on top. things picked back up with dessert: goat cheese cake (caramelized puff pastry, huckleberry-balsamic sorbet, spicy urfa honey) and pine nut tart (cornmeal crust, rosemary-mint semifreddo, lemon cream, port reduction). [i'm not sure whether the tart description from the website varied slightly from what we had.] the cheese cake was light and distinctly goat-y, the honey was an excellent pairing, and while i didn't get any balsamic tang from the sorbet, it was very nice. surprisingly (given my love of goat cheese), i preferred the tart, with its sweet chess pie underlayer -- think pecan pie subbing pine nuts. paired half-moons of two semifreddo flavors had a kulfi-esque texture, and the rosemary was pleasantly prominent. while i'm not the ruta devotee than many on this board are -- only one meal at palena before it closed, a few good meals at the grill room, one disappointing dinner at mirabelle -- i was happily anticipating annabelle's opening, and i'm glad that we tried it. i'll keep an eye on the menu for churn, but am unlikely to rush back until there are some additional options.
  6. a close friend and i went to rose's on monday night (which was where we first met at a group dinner about five years ago), and after my last few visits, i'm just not that into it anymore. (i've eaten there literally dozens of times since they opened, and it used to be one of my favorite places.) less innovation -- we ate many of the same dishes more than three months ago -- and less balance in the menu, which skews heavy. (is it my imagination, or is the menu also shorter than it once was?) we showed up at around 8:00 p.m. and were quoted an hour wait. our your-table-is-ready text arrived about 55 minutes later, so well done on the estimate. we were seated at the back bar, where, when we asked for descriptions of the three skin-contact wines by the glass, the very nice bartender just poured us both a splash of the three. (as we watched her and other staff polishing glassware as the evening wore on, i particularly felt the generosity of the additional six dirty glasses!) the bf loved the cacio e pepe monkey bread on our last visit, but both times i've been underwhelmed compared to their past bread offerings. while tons of cheese and black pepper would be good eaten on a spoon, much less on carbs, the texture of the bread is a bit too dense and uninteresting (kind of like a just-okay garlic knot). we ordered the green tomato panzanella (kean's sourdough & anchovy), the lumaconi alla norma (eggplant, anchovy & tomato), and the family style salt & pepper catfish (caviar tartar sauce, pickled melon rind & hush puppies). i've had the panzanella before (back in september) and thought it was good -- nice briny-brightness -- but we mostly ordered it because it was the only fresh vegetable dish on the menu. this is what i mean about lack of balance. (we let the last bites go when a serve came by to clear because we thought she was replacing it with our pasta, but it turns out the dish she was holding was for another table.) the meal felt like it had a lot of downtime, which was particularly frustrating because we were hungry and it was late on a monday. the lumaconi was by far the best thing we ordered; rich, acidic, salty, spicy. just wonderfully bold; we scraped that dish. we were also gifted the whole wheat reginetti (mustard greens & baby kale), a dish i've enjoyed many times before. maybe it was the contrast with the norma sauce, but the reginetti just tasted flat. (and while i appreciate the gesture of an extra dish that rose's and other places frequently make, it just seems wasteful when we've ordered a sufficient quantity of food and then another pasta arrives. we were basically full before the fish arrived.) the catfish was the most disappointing dish of the night. the hush puppies were excellent, well seasoned and light in texture (for hush puppies). while the batter on the fish was nicely seasoned, it wasn't as crispy as i would have liked, and the whole dish was just a lot of fried heaviness. a tiny pile of pickled watermelon rind on the side was insufficient (both in quantity and integration) to add acidic balance. the caviar tartar sauce was a little dollop of roe in the middle of a pool of . . . perfectly ordinary tartar sauce. granted, i'm not a huge tartar sauce fan in general, but this tasted totally generic. (come on, rose's, get creative! add some lemon! add some herbs! go nuts and mince up that pickled rind into the tartar sauce! do something!) the leftovers were decent with a lime-yogurt-tahini sauce that i had around, confirming my belief that a better sauce would have helped. (sadly, the pickled rind didn't make it into our to-go boxes.) we left very full, but in that weighed-down-but-not-quite-sated way that i get when i eat too much heavy food that i didn't really love -- a feeling i'd also had on our last visit. sadly, i think rose's will be out of my rotation for awhile.
  7. the bf and i had dinner at mama chang on christmas, and happily, all three dishes were excellent. (we, too, have experienced disappointingly inconsistent meals at his restaurants, although i've never had one that i'd call truly bad.) green beans with pickled cabbage did not have the discernible chunks of cabbage that i'd expected, but the whole dish was wonderfully garlicky, very umami, well seasoned, and the beans maintained a good crisp texture. as noted above, the dry fried cauliflower was very good. similar to the dry fried eggplant that we routinely get at his restaurants, it was well fried and studded with chilies. the cauliflower was chopped into reasonably small florets, which avoided bland centers. the farmer's stir fry (tofu skin/egg/chinese leek/green pepper) was a big bowl of lots of vegetables, studded with extra-savory bits of delicate tofu skin and scrambled egg. one of those dishes that has so much green that you can kid yourself that it's healthy. (pay no attention to all that oil that is making it so tasty!) our total before tip was under $40, and we had leftovers to take home.
  8. i believe we've discussed this in the past, but little serow exceeds the bib gourmand price cap and is therefore ineligible (although i think that it should have a star anyway, and komi more than one). the omission of 2 amys from the bib gourmand list is ridiculous.
  9. Don: I'm not sure what the convention is when a thread covers two locations of a restaurant and then one restaurant changes name, but can you edit this thread title or let Anju have its own thread?
  10. i'm pretty sure the pizzas are in addition to everything else, although i'm not entirely sure how they're doled out. my impression is that they lack the capacity to make them a standard part of the menu for everyone, unfortunately.
  11. second the rave for happy gyro! i've never been to chicago diner or fare well, but to me it's basically vegetarian greek little serow. (if johnny and anne want to open this concept as a third restaurant, i am so there for it.) as washingtony notes, the mini black walnut taco is playing on some serious childhood nostalgia vibes. think ground beef texture -- how do they do that with walnut?! -- shredded iceberg lettuce, crunchy shells, old el paso seasoning. the souvlaki was two bites of excellent umami, layers of crispy-edged mushroom with a bit of chew in the center. the beet "morcilla'" was probably my least favorite dish of the night -- which is still a pretty decent floor -- because while i loved the sweet corn puree accompanying it, i found the crunchy, fried beet fritter to be a bit dry. greek salad (tomato, cucumber, onion, caper) was elevated by a delicious whipped feta. two outstanding cold salads came at the same time: the first a mix of white and green asparagus, baby potatoes, and dried olive bits that were almost bacon bits-y in their salty umami. in the second, roasted summer squash and really crispy halloumi were dressed in a lovely herby green sauce. both had excellent acidity. mini belgian waffles topped with tzatziki, radish, and tiny purple allium flowers was as beautiful as it was tasty -- a balance of carby crunch, creaminess, brightness, acidity, and something sweet. the tofu gyro was fantastic; they manage to get an amazing texture out of the thinly sliced tofu (compressed? tofu skin? not sure), and of course anyone who has done the normal menu knows how great the tzatziki and especially the pillowly komi pita are. but the chicory cheese steak was a sleeper hit for me; i'm not usually a bitter vegetable fan, but the bitterness was mellowed by cooking and balanced by the gooey cheesiness, while still having a nice char. strawberry ice cream had vivid berry flavor, and the sweet-salty-crunchy polenta topping provided a great contrast. an excellent meal and really great value, especially for the quantity of food. i'm definitely going to return before the end of the month!
  12. it's been about five years since the bf and i went to the inn, but our impression of the ambiance was that it wasn't to our taste. it's a bit too ornate/stuffy/like the home of my fictional very-rich-and-slightly-eccentric spinster great-aunt. perhaps unsurprisingly, we also aren't fans of the old school european service/ambiance that michelin seems to favor; our tastes run much more to the komi/copenhagen model of fine dining, where the service is warm, the decor is minimalist, and the (interesting!) food is the star of the experience. (not only do i not care about a white tablecloth, i actively prefer to see a gorgeous bare wood table.) we've debated going back to the inn for years, especially as it continues to rack up accolades/stars (although we don't really put much stock in michelin's comparative rankings), but newlywed friends on a mini-moon just had a "we're not rushing back" experience this month. as mtureck observes, my impression of the food was that it was very good but nothing was spectacular. my strongest memory of the experience is how much i disliked that mooing cow cheese course performance; i couldn't now tell you a single dish that we ate. so for those with more experience with the inn than i have: what are we missing? i don't mean to sound snarky; i'm genuinely interested in understanding what it is that makes the inn so beloved. (is it possibly a bit of a generational thing? i don't mean that to sound age-ist. my friends and i are in our mid- to late thirties. we're not your stereotypical dinner-instagramming millennials, but nor do the guys want to be required to wear suits to experience dinner. i can't imagine ever wanting to go back to a restaurant where the actual food was secondary to the ambiance.)
  13. apparently jaleo is a finalist for the "outstanding restaurant" beard award, which strikes me as . . . a publicity coup for the brand? an appreciative nod for jose andres's humanitarian efforts? i like jaleo well enough, and i realize that this award turns into a bit of a process of elimination as truly great restaurants are weeded out by winning (or great new restaurants wait to hit the ten-year mark), but come on.
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