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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. We had a group of 12 in one of their private rooms this week, and had a very nice meal. The polpette starter was two meatballs on top of a rich mascarpone polenta. The lemon cavatelli was not what I expected, but was very nice, a perfectly cooked pasta with a roasted tomato sauce (maybe?) with chanterelles and cherry tomatoes. It was really delicious. The branzino was a crisp-skinned delight. A nice chunk of tiramisu finished things off appropriately. Service was good, and we would happily return. Definitely a promising start for this rebranded spot.
  2. Nice group dinner here in one of the private rooms upstairs. Service was smooth, efficient and friendly. the passed canapés were okay--nothing really exciting but nicely executed salmon bites, gougeres, onion tarts (maybe?). The steak tartare and arugula salad choices for the 1st course were really good, as were the fish and steak entrees. Dessert was mixed berries with cream, or chocolate mousse. The berries were perfect; the chocolate mousse was okay, perhaps a bit overdone with too many additions. I'd happily come back to explore the regular menu based on this evening.
  3. Three dinners in Sacramento this week, plus a few other things.1st, a quick solo dinner at Osaka Sushi was fine. The pepperfin white tuna was an okay starter, albacore sashimi sliced a bit too thickly served with ponzu and jalapeños. The Katsu-don was good, albeit too large, with the cutlet being much bigger than necessary. A group dinner at Il Fornaio was just fine. the Italian caesar was a very large salad, but the dressing was very nice and the shaved parmesan ample and enjoyable. The penne con salsiccio was good, but nothing spectacular. The restaurant is very large, with a number of private rooms and semi-private booths. Finally, a dinner at Ella dining room and bar was the clear highlight. The house special gin and tonic was one of the better G&Ts I've had in recent memory; I'm typically more than happy with a nice gin, a nice tonic and some ice, but this complicated version was really impressive. The wine card was equally impressive and deep, as should be expected, in California, with lots of wines with vintages going back into the 70s (and prices going up in to mid triple digits). The steak tartare I had was very good, served with a large split open garlic popover (of which I would have happily eaten another). The scallop entree was really great, three perfectly seared scallops on a very fresh corn/mascarpone "chutney". It might sound a bit strange, but it really worked. Service was good and dealt with our slightly tight schedule very well. I'd happily go back to explore the menu and the wine list further. Coffee at Oblivion Comics and Coffee was really, really good. They use Chocolate Fish roasters, and do a great job. Small coffee shop with a comic book store (as implied by the name), and a fun place to hang out (or even work for a little bit). Grace Coffee Roasters made a top notch cappuccino as well--this small shop in a nondescript office building was a nice surprise; it doesn't look like much but they make a good coffee. Dumplings at Hao Bao were also good--these fast food-style dumplings are flavorful and satisfying.
  4. The Hampton Diner is either in Hampton or New Oxford, depending upon what you read, and is a small but friendly breakfast-only place. The food is solid, comforting, and well-made. The service friendly enough, at first, then by the time we left it was effusive and I felt like we were leaving the house of somebody that we'd known for some time. My 2/2/2--two pieces of French toast (slices of Italian bread turned into really good French toast with something like maple butter slathered on them), 2 strips of perfectly done bacon, and 2 eggs--was absolutely great. My wife had the sausage gravy and biscuits, which was a gargantuan portion of unhealthy but delicious eating. The homefries were from new potatoes, and a particular highlight. We ordered a side of scrapple, and while I'm not a scrapple aficionado, this seemed really good (to me; it was the first time my wife tried it, and probably the last). My 5-year old had the kids' eggs plate, and enjoyed it enough (though he enjoyed the lollipop they gave him much more, not surprisingly). We would almost certainly be back again, should we be within 20 miles of this place.
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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!
  15. 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.
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