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About seanvtaylor

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  • Birthday 08/12/1970

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    Rockville, MD

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  1. My 5-year old loves the steamed pork bao here, and usually eats one or two XLB--last night he finished off an order of each by himself. The spicy seafood hot pot was really top-notch. This is one of our go-to dishes when we go to JDS, and while we always like it, it seemed even better--the numbing nicely combined with the spicy to make just the right balance. We visit JDS about once a month, and are almost never disappointed--the bao are generally worthwhile, and the other dishes well-prepared. We have had a few of the beef wraps that were nothing special. Service has always been very friendly and prompt (a nice extra with a 5-year old in tow).
  2. We went to the Rockville location, and it was not good. Most concerning, the place didn't seem very clean. The food was sloppily prepared. We have no interest in going back.
  3. We had a group dinner at Jim Thompson restaurant in Bangkok. This is a mostly touristy affair, with a gift shop across the pathway from the actual restaurant. But the silk fabrics are nice, and they aren't pushy, so it was relatively innocuous. As was dinner. The plated dishes were quite beautiful, and flavorful. The use of pea flower to dye some of the dumplings in the first course, and the sticky rice (with mango) at the end was a nice touch. A pomelo salad with river prawn in an ornately carved pomelo shell was for me the clear highlight. I can't really complain much. But after having dinner at Paste, and after grazing on street food for a few days, this dinner was kind of like going to a concert where you respect the musicianship but aren't really so excited by the music.
  4. Dinner at Paste Bangkok was fantastic. Service was efficient, and while English was clearly not the first language of any of the servers they did fine in describing the dishes, and were very polite and welcoming. I didn't feel like having wine with this dinner, so I opted for a "Phraya sour," one of their 'signature cocktails." It was great, nicely tangy and refreshing after a walk through the hot Bangkok night. While their menus online suggest that they will only do tasting menus for parties of 2 or more, they offered me (as a single) a nice tasting menu. The amuse bouche of spanner crab on top of a rice cracker was a promising start, though not nearly as interesting as everything to come after. A trio of starters (watermelon/ground salmon/galangal, roasted duck/nutmeg/coriander, and scallop/mangosteen/young coconut) were each really nice, with the scallop dish being the clear highlight. It was sweet, sour, creamy and a little crunchy, absolutely amazing. The soup course of watermelon rind, dish roe and dumplings was flavorful and interesting, and I used the leftover broth to flavor the first helping of jasmine rice. These courses were followed by two 'main' courses (sour sausage/crunchy rice balls/kaffir lime/'weeds', and a southern-style yellow curry with spanner crab). The sour sausage dish was incredibly flavorful--the jasmine rice that was provided wasn't to tone down the spiciness, but to provide a counterpart to the intensity of flavor, in my view. A small dessert trio was almost too much--almost, but a very nice riff on the salty cream coffee. I'd love to go back, but with so much else to experience in Bangkok, that's not too likely. Nonetheless, this is Thai cuisine done at such a high level. I was very impressed.
  5. Dinner at Paloma in Mougins, France was really spectacular. It's a charming, intensely polished restaurant with some of the best service I've encountered; the service team truly made you feel that you were in the best hands, but were also completely unobtrusive. Dinner was a multi-course affair, starting with an array of small bites before jumping into a Jose Andres dish (I believe), a direct steal from him (but who cares, really?): foie gras cotton candy. Absolutely a flawless homage (if Andres created the dish, or if somebody else has) and a fun way to move into the menu. The bread service was very good, featuring three nicely flavored butters, and then came a tomato dish that was, in a word, crazy. The menu describes it as "Heirloom Tomatoes with Provence Strawberry: Tomato garnished with a creamy centre and delicately chopped Green Zebra tomato with lemon thyme flavours, accompanied by a carpaccio and little strawberries." But while that technically describes it, this was something like a tomato that had been hulled out, maybe roasted, the inside coated with white chocolate, which was then filled with green tomato and a lemon thyme sauce and serve with delicately sweet strawberries. It was unclear to me how one would even begin to prepare such a dish, and it was heavenly. The main course is described on the menu as "Brittany Lobster Marinière: Lobster medallions preserved with salty butter, accompanied by a lobster sauce with orange and basil flavours and artisanal linguine served with a creamy seafood emulsion." Again, that's right, but it doesn't convey how much of a spectacle this dish was, the seafood emulsion arising out of the cupped plate like a foamy soufflé. Original and delicious. Speaking of soufflé, in fact the dessert course was an apricot one, served with a nice sorbet. One dessert was enough; too was indulgent but too delicious to say no. The typical 'sweets' finish was nice, and small This was a really, really good meal; it should be, of course; what was surprising to me was that the tasting menu was only 98 Euros/person--an absolute bargain for food (and a restaurant experience) done this well.
  6. Chateau de la Begude is in Valbonne, about 25 km from Nice. It's a good golf resort, and also has a very nice restaurant La Ciste. We had Le Menu du Chateau, a 4-course affair that did a nice job of showcasing creative cooking. The amuse bouche was not the greatest beginning, a somewhat wan crab meat/radish combination that didn't do much for me. My tuna/watermelon dish was fantastic, a mini Stonehenge of perfectly seared tuna wedges, with watermelon 'squiggles' and an interesting but not overpowering fruit sauce. The pig chest (poitrine de cochon) was great, a cube of slow cooked pork belly with nicely caramelized skin. Desserts were good, though not the highlight. Service was smooth and friendly. If you are here, go here. If you are close, it's also worth the trip.
  7. We had a nice dinner at Dorona, a 'modern' steakhouse in a rather non-descript strip mall, one of a thousand that covers a good part of the territory in and around Naples, FL. The wine list was not long, but the reserve list had some nice bottles that were worthwhile, including a Jordan Cabernet. We ordered some appetizers for the table, and the highlight was a grilled octopus, beautifully presented and very worthwhile. The fried calamari was, well, calamari. I had a NY Strip, served with potatoes, if I remember. It was good--nothing spectactular--and served with a pepper sauce on the side. The other showstopper entree that another in my party had was a pork milanese, a gargantuan portion of nicely prepared thin pork cutlet on top of a nice arugula salad. The chocolate cake, described by the server as being 'very chocolate-y' and housemade, was not very chocolate-y at all. Service was friendly and professional enough.
  8. We enjoyed our dinner here--it was definitely "American with Southern accents", in my view, and not "Southern with Nordic accents". But still well done. The duck confit risotto was absolutely delicious, a rich and creamy dish that was extremely comforting. We also had a beef short rib with grits that was fantastic. I would happily go back here regularly, if given the opportunity.
  9. We had the duck and were very much blown away by it. Our whole meal was impressive--the rugbrod perhaps a less showy dish but nonetheless so flavorful and with great mouthfeel. The mushrooms dish was really well put together, and we loved it. But the duck was splendid--the fennel pollen seasoning adding a perfect compliment to a roasted duck that I would eat monthly if I could (and I guess I could); it's almost too rich and decadent to think about eating it more regularly.
  10. I had a business dinner at the Top of the Hub about 6/7 years ago, and the dining was unremarkable (as was the view, unfortunately, on a hazy night). In fact, and unfortunately, I'd completely forgotten about it until I saw your post!
  11. Growing up in rural NW Pennsylvania didn't provide a large number of fine-dining options, but when I was very young--maybe 6 or 7--I stayed with my aunt and uncle in Pittsburgh and they took me for lunch at the Top of the Triangle, at the top of the US Steel Building. It was the first restaurant with white tablecloths, waiters wearing ties, and of course an incredible view--it fit the definition of ultra-luxe in 1970s Pittsburgh, I think. I had a barbecue ham sandwich, and distinctly remember the sweet onion slices on the sandwich and the nicely sliced slivers of ham. It was several years before I visited another restaurant like that.
  12. Ponce de Leon Market Food Hall is new, new, new, but set in an old building that provides the automatic atmosphere. But what I had there was generally great. I was too late for lunch and too early for dinner at Root Baking (story of my life, I suppose), but had heard such good things that I grabbed one of their afternoon snacks; in this case the Labneh with GREAT olive oil, mint, and some nicely neutral wheat crackers. A perfect afternoon snack, if I had eaten lunch it would have been plenty. This place feels like an old grange hall, replete with the wooden folding chairs--if said grange hall was in the middle of San Francisco (or Atlanta, I guess). Downstairs I sat down at Ton Ton Ramen (after wandering around indecisively with so many interesting choices) and had a nice tonkatsu ramen and a few yakitori (Japanese sausage and pork belly; both were just okay). This was good--the broth was creamy and filling. I ended my adventure at Five Daughters bakery, with a nice selection of cupcakes and croissant donuts (one of which is sitting in my hotel room for later-night consumption. I don't know how the local Atlantans feel about this place, very newly developed, but I enjoyed the food and would happily return.
  13. Dinner at Foro Romano (on the Rue Joseph II, not so far from the Courtyard by Marriott) isn't groundbreaking, but this restaurant has a short but worthwhile menu of first and pasta courses, and then one or two entrees and a 'classics' dessert menu. We skipped the first courses and all went for pastas--all were very good to great. My strascinati with eggplant and cherry tomatoes was a classic preparation, while one of my dining companions had a cheese ravioli that was beautiful and then covered--really covered--in black truffles. The other two pastas were similarly great--one served in a parmesan crisp bowl, the other a perfect pappardelle. These were filling and we went straight to espresso to end the night. Service was traditionally Italian, so we had lots of time to relax and talk, and enjoy the nero d'avola. I don't know for certain if they make all of the pastas in the kitchen--they might, or alternatively they just source great, great dried pastas (which isn't so hard to do in Brussels). I've now had dinner at Izakaya (Chasseurs de Vleurtgat, I think, not too far from Place Louise) several times, and have never been disappointed. It's smoky inside, from the grill, and it fills up fast (reservations are almost always necessary). The fish is extremely fresh, and everything that comes off of the grill is beautifully prepared. The sake collection is nice--I heard last night that they buy most of it from Tagawa , a market just a few doors down.
  14. Dinner last night at BaoGo was fine. This place calls itself an Asian fusion burger place, and does a pretty good job of it. The burger itself was good, as were the Xi'an spicy fries. I wanted the bao bun to be a bit less dry, and more like the somewhat squishy, moister bao buns that I'm familiar with, but oddly it wasn't too far away from a brioche bun. Paired with a nice La Chouffe, it was a good meal. This is right down in the middle of tourist central, just off of the Grand Place, and while it isn't the most adventurous menu, it's a nice evening alternative to the myriad moules et frites places that are down there, if you don't want to venture out to some of the more interesting places in Ixelles and are looking for a fairly inexpensive meal. After I walked over the grab a Brussels waffle, and it was the perfect cap to the night.
  15. Mumbai I spent a few days at meetings up in the Northern suburbs, right by the airport, in Andheri East. The pan-Indian cooking at the hotel (The Leela) was fine but unremarkable. But the last night I was there we wanted to venture downtown. We tried to get a reservation at Bombay Canteen, which had great reviews, but couldn't get a table. We called over to Masque and were able to get a reservation as they opened at 7:30. We didn't know much about it, but our luck was tremendous, as it was a remarkable meal. I've never been to Noma, but have had some great dining evenings, and this was really one of the best meals of my life. The chef comes from Jammu and Kashmir, and the tasting menu was sourced from his experiences there, and the garden/farm that the restaurant has in Pune and from which they source some of their produce. There were 13-14 spectacular courses, and among the highlights: --the chef's take on paani puri, filled with a charred corn/onion/tomato relish --barramunci ceviche with masala, chili oil, lime juice, and coriander --a rice pudding with chicken tashli, served with amaranth leaves and a sous vide egg yolk I found a reasonably close description of our dinner after I got back to my hotel room, head still spinning by what we'd experienced. I also then looked at the restaurant's website and found out what kind of pedigree the executive chef (who was in the kitchen and served a number of the courses to us) has (i.e., Noma, French Laundry, Le Bernardin, Alinea, among others). Through that lens, with that additional information, the night made perfect sense. It was a soulful, thoughtful, and beautifully executed menu, in a perfect setting, with gracious, friendly service. I wish that I could say that I'll be back, but who knows? It might be some time, if ever, that I'll have the chance. But if you get a chance--please try!
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