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  1. "Exquisitely awful!" "Astonishingly ill-chosen!" "Really bit the big one!" "There... That wasn't so good now, was it?" ** Our so-far fruitless quest for a TkPk/SS breakfast joint led us to to the egg place with the incredibly horrid name in downtown Silver Spring: Eggspectation. The menu is lengthy, and chock-full of the most eggregious (sorry) puns. Scott ordered the "Eggsuberant" breakfast which included "two eggs, pancakes, grilled potatoes, choice of sausages, ham, Canadian bacon or bacon, served with grilled tomatoes and chef’s fruit garnish." Sounded ok on paper, but he left half of it - a very unusual occurrence. The eggs benedict was Holiday Inn-quality, with whites underdone enough to make me gag. (it normally includes gruyère cheese, which would have really made me gag). We ordered bacon for the kids to go with their child portions of french toast, and were brought two adult-sized orders - far more than we wanted. We would have appreciated knowing that there was no kid-sized order. It was cold, greasy, about 1mm thick, and definitely not worth $8. $53 with two average coffees, three juices, tax and tip. I think Canada deserves a little retaliation for foisting this chain on the unsuspecting American public. "Stunningly bad!" "Couldn't be worse!" We won't be back. ** I'll buy a drink at the next dr.com happy hour for the first person to get the reference.
  2. I'm amazed that there's still no thread for Fig & Olive, a week after opening! Well, time to correct that. I can report that their second public evening, June 26, was a huge success--in contrast to Space-X's Falcon 9 launch that morning. My wife made a reservation for us a few weeks in advance. Good thing, because our excellent bartender, Carlos, informed us that they had 500 reservations on opening night the day prior, and the place was nearly full at 6:30pm despite some of the most torrential rains I've seen in a while. For a few more days they open a 4pm daily, but soon they'll be open for lunch--I think starting July 6. Background: You can read about the restaurant group's concept on it's website, but in short it's "Mediterranean cuisine" and features, fresh, seasonal ingredients and olive oil cooking. The menu has dishes inspired by Spain, Italy, Greece, and so on. They make a point that they don't use butter in the kitchen (except for a puffed pastry dessert). They focus on fresh ingredients and slowing things down. To that end, there's a liberal array of pillows and comfy chairs and couches set up for dining on the first floor, in addition to the main bar. They also pointed out power strips under the bar, saying it's to encourage getting some work done (likely not during happy hour!). There's a patio dining area, which is on the Palmer Way and is shielded from main streets by the City Center buildings. On the second floor is a more traditional dining setup, with pillows and a second bar. The decor reminds me of upscale Pottery Barn, but not in a bad way. There's also a private dining room, where Ashton Carter and wife (and security) enjoyed an early dinner before we spotted them on the way out. Bar: The bar service is fantastic. Crostini! Ok, couldn't write any more without saying it. There about 10 crostini options, available in 3 or 6-piece orders. They are hands down the best crostini I've ever had anywhere. I would eat 3 or 6 of every one I tasted. We spit 6, asking for chef's choice (as long as we got the Burrata). Each one comes on a toasted piece focaccia about 3x1.5" and nearly .25" thick. You can cut most in half to share. One of the most interesting was "heirloom carrot, shaved thinly, with spicy charmoula and tapenade. Amazing. So was the Burrata, Prosciutto, Pata Negra, Shrimp & Avocado, and others. Carlos told us the staff had been training for about 2 months, and he was familiar with all the menu items which we asked about. I enjoyed a seasonal cocktail which started with muddled celery & arugula, added lemon juice, rum and fresh pepper. Very refreshing. My wife enjoyed Champagne. They have four beers on tap, one of which is Port City Optimal Wit. Kudos to Bill Butcher for landing that. Dinner: When we sat for dinner we had attentive, competent, knowledgeable service. The "spring" menu is great, front and back. I had the Paella del Mar (looks smallish, but filling and delish), others had Chilean Sea Bass (marinated w/ lemon thyme, carrot, asparagus, celery root purée, roasted potato, charmoula mascarpone harissa olive oil emulsion) and Truffle Risotto. The Sea Bass was probably the best. The presentation of Rosemary Lamb Chops is notable. They arrive sliced on a plate under glass, which is then removed to great fanfare, allowing the aromas and some steam to escape. Focaccia bread is served with dinner, accompanied by three olive oils: a Spanish, an Italian, and a Greek-style (which is actually from California), all available for purchase. Wines: You can review the list here. By the glass feature mostly European wines with a few from CA. Oddly, the upstairs bar was adorned with quite a few bottles of Dom Pérignon. A DP Rosé (2003) is available for $625. Desert: I can only remark on the Caramelized Apple Tart; it was very good but merits no more discussion. My only complaint was that the coffee (normalé) was marginally warm. A refill was so tepid I asked for fresh, which was soon brewed. Still not as hot as I'd expect but ok. Espresso-drinks are prepared in the largest Nespresso machine I've ever seen, by the upstairs bar. I would normally scoff at this, but I recently read coffee uber-brain James Hoffman's piece on how specialty coffee can no longer just scoff at Nespresso. So it was interesting to see that kind of equipment in a place like Fig & Olive. Final notes: All in all, this is a different experience from most DC dining. We had a great time and plan to return soon. My main concern now is getting a reservation. When I need to write at some point in the future, I look forward to hangin' at the bar writing with a Manhattan, rather than a latte in a coffee house. Another interesting note on atmosphere: a DJ begins spinning tunes in the lounge about 8pm. Very tasteful and cool vibe. The music doesn't intrude into the upstairs.
  3. #SavePhillyEats I posted about this effort to raise funds for Philly area restaurants back in March. Since then, additional chapters have been created. Now there is #SaveDCEats as well as #SaveCharmCityEats All three campaigns offer unique dining experiences, and discount gift cards.
  4. I'm shocked no one has started a topic on Preserve. This place easily is one of the best in the area, and I include DC metro. After having their chef's 5 course tasting menu there last weekend, it is no surprise that they are included in the Washingtonian list of best restaurants. It is in a great location right on Main Street directly across from Chick and Ruth Deli. We had a large group and a fabulous meal with great service. The place is rather small only 40 or so seats in total including a bunch of bar seating. There is an open kitchen right in the back of the long narrow dining room. It is a husband (chef) and wife (FOH manager) team. We started with a round of cocktails - my gin-based one was great accompaniment to the first snack course. $65 for 5 courses (not including drinks/taxes, etc.) was a steal as each course was really 3-4 items with sides. First, we had the Chicken Caesar Skins which was very inventive and delicious. You make your own sandwich of small strips of fried chicken skin, mini romaine lettuce leaves, and spread a bit of Caesar dressing on it (I think I'm forgetting one component too). Also in the first course was their potted, soft goat cheese with warm slices of bread. This was one of the few items that was only good, not great. Most were great. The cheese is topped with oil and possibly some pickled vegetables. ALSO for the first course was a great variety of different quick pickled vegetables - radish, carrots, and 3 more I can't remember. Each one had been brined in a different way - some sweeter, some spicier. I'm a pickle lover and maker and these were superb. Second course was individual bowls of pan-seared scallops with a bit of sausage in a fennel broth and family style plate of head on shrimp with butternut squash salad with a lime-serrano vinaigrette. I don't eat shellfish so I didn't try this course but everyone loved it. Third course was three family style dishes: 1) glazed porcini trumpet pasta with roasted mushrooms, preserved lemons, capers and parmesan - great for mushroom lovers and rich, 2) cheese and potato pierogis with caramelized onions and sour cream - very well made but a bit bland compared to the other bolder flavored dishes, and 3) crispy kale with cumin yogurt, sweet pepper jelly and red onion. This last one is their twist on Rasika's crispy spinach (or Bombay Club's crispy kale) with more mid-atlantic/PA dutch flavorings. The kale was awesome and like Rasika worth a trip. Fourth course was a bucket of delicately fried catfish, with various sides - creamy mashed potatos, Brussel sprout and carrot slaw, bread and butter tomato pickles, cornbread with honey butter and 4 different sauces - regular remoulade, spicier remoulade, and a green and red hot sauce (all house made). The fish and hot sauces were very nice, the pickles were excellent and the cornbread also really decadent with the honey butter. Mashed potatoes were good, but nothing special. Fifth course was dessert - individual portions of Tandy cake and shoo-fly mousse pie. The tandy cake is dense yellow cake with a rich chocolate/peanut butter icing. It was only ok. The shoo-fly was better with sweet but not cloying mousse on top of a thin crust. We also had them pair a white wine with the first 2 courses and red for the second two. I didn't catch the names but they were good and paired nicely. I highly recommend going to Preserve if you are near or passing through Annapolis. Despite the overwhelming amount of food described above, they are mostly an a la carte menu and have a nice mix of vegetarian and meat/seafood items. If nothing else, go for the pickled items and crispy kale.
  5. I hope this is the appropriate thread for the below post as Manresa is in Los Gatos. I believe the first time I heard of chef David Kinch was in the June 1996 Gourmet. In my opinion this was the first review were Gourmet did not just give a middle of the road description of a restaurant,but actually a review in the sense of the word. The first truly negative review they gave a restaurant was Atlas in NY, if I recall correctly. So this review of Sent Sovi [Reopened as Relish GastroLounge in 2016] sparked my interest in chef Kinch's work,and I recall calling the restaurant requesting a menu to review. Imagine my surprise when a few days later I found a whole press kit in my mailbox. This was almost ten years ago,and I have been reading all I can on the success of chef Kinch sense. So when I had the opportunity to visit the Napa Valley last weekend, I just had to fit in a visit to Manresa. The hours before our reservation were really kind of comical and for awhile seemed it was straight out of a sitcom. The ride down from Yountville went well as I never have seen a seven lane highway before. Something the east coast should consider. But we arrived a few hours early with some time to kill and dressed in shorts. And not knowing what kind of dress code Manresa had we were debating where we could change. Luckily we found a secluded parking lot at the edge of town were we attempted to change. Kind of gave the wife a wink and made a comment about being twenty years younger. We still had some time to waste so we walked around town a little bit. And I mentioned to my wife there seems something out of place here that I could not put my finger on. Like out of a Twilight Zone episode. After awhile I stopped in my tracks,looked at her and said I got it. There are no fat people here. All I saw was muscles and boobs! So I pulled in my gut and headed to the restaurant. I went in knowing I was going to enjoy this meal but after the first few courses I knew my expectations were exceeded. Chef Kinch's cuisine is bold and in your face, and makes you stop to take notice. I just love the dining room with it's well spaced tables and comfortable chairs. If there was one down fall in the evening it was we were pushed for time as we had to catch the Redeye out of SF airport. As each course was sat down, we likely finished it within minutes. And as I watched the dining room fill up I could not help but have a vision of chef Kinch yelling fire the next three courses for that S.O.B!! Maybe if I didn't work in kitchens all my life this would not have bothered me but I tend to work myself up as I know the efffort that must have been taken to keep the courses coming as smoothly as they did on a busy Saturday night. This is the menu we had: Amuses Petits fours red pepper-black olive Radis au beurre Santa rosa plum with hibiscus and strawberry Corn cromesquis Cioppino jelly Broccoli and foie gras royale Marinated fluke, local olive oil Strawberry gazpacho Crenshaw melon soup, almond tofu Dirty girl salad Rouget, anchovy and tomato sofrigit, lemon basil Abalone with pigs feet Cepes en papillote, slow egg Cranberry bean bouillon, foie gras, old rioja vinegar Sweetbreads, braised lettuce with corn pudding Roast farm poularde, delta crawfish Prime beef roasted in its own fat, foie gras Strawberries, raw cream, 30 year old balsamico Pain perdu, roast apricots and corn ice cream Chocolate marquis, condensed milk ice cream Petits fours chocolate-strawberry Again we had a wine pairing and again I failed to take notes. We started with a lovely champagne that my wife and I both felt was the best we tasted on our trip. Regarding the menu,there was not one dud in the entire dinner and I would be hard pressed to pick my favorites. But if I had to chose the roll back your eyes courses, it would have to be the Santa rosa plum with hibiscus and strawberry. Hands down the best amuse I ever had. A burst of flavor that just wakes up the palate. I looked at my wife and said I guess I never had plums before. They were also in the Dirty girl salad. Just wonderful!! The Rouget surrounded the table with a wonderful aroma the moment it was sat on the table. A terrific dish. The abalone with pigs feet was rich and succulent,and I was tempted to tell my wife halfway threw what it was and hope she would give me hers. The pain perdu was a wonderful dessert course. In closing, I wish I lived closer to this restaurant,as I know I would visit it regularly. I wish the best for chef Kinch and I truly think that if he was in the Napa Valley and not in a town with muscles and boobs it would have a two month waiting list. I met chef Kinch at the end of the meal and had a brief kitchen tour and conversation. And walking away I not only got the impression that he is immensely talented but also a down to earth great guy. The type of person that you are glad stepped into your life and entered your world
  6. Blue Plate is an "underrated" restaurant according to Eater San Francisco. Well, I can tell you that we threw away $80 on the night we went on underwhelming food. Maybe it's underrated for a good reason. Bibb lettuce salad with tahini vinaigrette, strawberries, avocado, pumpkin seeds and dukka spices. B pronounced this combination as "unworkable". Monterey Bay squid with charred eggplant, treviso radicchio, chicken skin, harissa and nepitella.The harissa overwhelmed all other elements to the point that it was a one-note dish. Horrible execution and plating. Grilled escarole with linguiça sausage, balsamic vinegar and burnt orange. This might have been fine were it not swimming in grease. A main of oyster mushroom casarecce with smoked chicken, with preserved lemon, fines herbes, baby leeks, summer truffles and pecorino was probably the best thing we ate that night...and that's saying something. By the way, B left half of his plate untouched. That's the plate in the background in the pic above BTW. We took one for all of you so none of you have to come here. Blue Plate 3218 Mission Street (29th Street) Outer Mission
  7. In NYC over the weekend for a birthday getaway. Was able to spend several hours getting acquainted with The Dutch, the new-ish spot from Andrew Carmellini in SoHo. Unfortunately didn't ever make it over to a proper table as I was using the place as a meetup for folks. But got to try several of their items via the bar. Definitely get the fried oyster mini sandwiches (order several), the hot fried chicken (semi-famous in his cookbook), and anything they're recommending from the raw bar. The real standout, though, is the service. Top notch at every station -- the killer bartenders somehow made dealing with the Friday evening post-HH rush seem effortless and kudos to the beverage director Brynn who took care of us with a little extra. I'd recommend going for lunch or early in the evening during nice weather when the sun is still out and occupying the counter seating alongside the open windows.
  8. We tried out this Turkish-Lebanese-Greek restaurant tonight and it was really good. We had falafel, dolmas, grilled squid, boregi, and moussaka. Everything was pretty good. We will definitely go back again. They have only been open 2-1/2 months but the place was very busy tonight. It is located near the Chasin' Tails restaurant.
  9. Not sure if there is a separate thread for Vintage, so here's a small review: We had a nice meal here a few weeks ago. The hotel dining interior is decorated in architectural antique-store distressed shutters and wall coverings - not cluttered but...you'd better like distressed things The colors are 50 shades of white. Our waiter was excellent, on point. Appetizers: the pretzel bites were kind of bland, the deviled eggs were fine...the standouts were the hush puppies and the buffalo blue chips - housemade chips with mild buffalo sauce and blue cheese crumbles, very nice and light. Main: I had catfish which was nicely breaded and cooked nicely though mildly spiced. It was served on a bed of really delicious corn, almost in chowder form (kind of creamed corn I suppose) and topped with "southern chow-chow" made of beans and its REALLY sweet. I suppose the mild catfish was nice relative to the tangy sweetness of the chow-chow. The main portions were all quite large - the chicken and waffles included a mountain of chicken piled on! Chef Stephanie Wilson was recently nominated for the MD restaurant association's 'chef of the year award.' I had not been to the Mealy's incarnations (despite my posts about Mealy's) but I'd go back to Vintage. They seem to be pretty popular.
  10. Brought two of my younger colleagues to dinner here last week. We were looking for a casual spot that was fairly lively and had good food. One of my colleagues read somewhere that the Mermaid Inn on MacDougal was something of a "baby bernardin", so off we went. First of all, the notion of comparing the Mermaid Inn to Le Bernardin, baby, toddler, adolescent or full grown version is crazy. Totally different set up and vibe. This is a casual restaurant with a bustling oyster bar that makes a solid effort to turn out good seafood dishes at a fair price. Our group started with "escargot style" lobster knuckles, charred Portuguese octopus and blue crab tostada. The lobster knuckle escargot were really interesting - the kitchen used a very deft hand with the garlic so as not to overpower the knuckles. I'm a sucker for any charred octopus, and this rendition was good - the hot peppers in the dish were reminiscent of Peasant's "Polpo en Purgatorio", although Peasant's version of charred octopus is superior. The tostadas were a miss - for whatever reason we didn't find a whole lot of flavor in them. My main was a yellowfin tuna with sauce gribiche - seared rare as requested and served with some local asparagus. My colleagues also enjoyed their meals, but the details have been lost toi time at this point. No dessert, but with the three entrees, three appetizers and two bottles of sancerre (blanc et rouge), we had a great time and spent well less than expected for a "nice-ish" dinner out in NY, especially for a menu featuring seafood. While our experience was at the MacDougal location, you could do worse than happen by here or one of the other locations for a quick oyster fix or casual meal.
  11. Water Grill is the best seafood restaurant in all of Southern CA. Serious. And, it's in downtown L. A. a couple of blocks from the Bonaventure. Unfortunately, it's not cheap. Probably comparable to Kinkead's in price.
  12. I was dismayed to see Tom Sietsema's City Perch review in The Washington Post magazine section yesterday, considering the restaurant is only about a month old. Sietsema visited the restaurant multiple times, but during its infancy. Shouldn't a restaurant be able to work out the kinks before being subjected to a major review? I'm wondering why he didn't start with a First Bite column. I've now been to City Perch three times- once for dinner, another time for cocktails and bar bites, and also attended the opening event. I've been very impressed with the food from Executive Chef Matt Baker and well-known pastry chef, Sherry Yard. (Yard helped design the menu and is working to get the restaurant off the ground.) I agree with the complimentary parts of the review- the bread board is absolutely amazing, as are the brussels sprouts. The roast chicken is also quite good. Not mentioned was cedar smoked salmon, which my husband enjoyed, and my friend raved about short ribs. We had no issues with over zealous servers, although it was clear they were somewhat tentative after being slammed in the review. I'm hoping the review doesn't dissuade potential diners- particularly in Montgomery County- from giving it a try. The Rockville area is in desperate need of upscale, quality dining. City Perch delivers- and the setting is really quite lovely as well.
  13. Jersey Mike's was not found in the Multiple Locations Dining Guide, so I thought I'd fire up a thread... I like this place and would rank it ahead of Potbelly in the subs/sandwiches category. The standard, to me, is the Italian Cold Cut (ICC) and I use that as my benchmark when comparing places. Jersey Mikes follows what I call the 'wet tube" philosophy, where an ICC sub is would tight and has lots of wet stuff like shredded lettuce, oil, vinegar, mayo and 'hots'. Contrast this to the loose and relative dry subs at White House subs in Atlantic City, NJ - and you'll get the drift. Growing up in Rockville, the great submarine war between Ollie's and Twinbrook Deli produced an endless supply of great wet tube ICCs. They still do and if you can't get to Rockville, Jersey Mike's is the next best thing. Being a huge chain, of course there can be some variation between locations but in my experience the food is pretty consistent between the 5+ locations I've visited. (the people making it, not so much.) I recommend asking them to go light on the oil and vinegar; sometimes the bottles are mistaken for cocktail mixers...and the sub suffers. But if done right, you get a tangy ICC that's sloppy but not disintegrating. You may disagree below
  14. On the strong advice from a friend (and Pete Wells), we had lunch on Monday at Dirty French. One of the things I miss about living in NYC was how wonderfully empty the city was on long weekend holidays, and this Memorial Day was no different. We stayed in SoHo, and the neighborhood felt like a ghost town as we made the walk east to the LES. So for lunch at noon, we had the restaurant to ourselves. Our waitress was charmingly odd, recommending things not by saying "this is one of my favorites," but "Oh man, I totally want you guys to get this...it's just so cool," and then stopping by later to make sure we thought it was as cool as she did. She also wanted us to get a particular dessert just because she hadn't seen it before and heard it looked cool. Like I said, odd, but a little endearing. The grilled flatbread that comes out gratis with fromage blanc is addictive. It lasted about 90 seconds before we completely devoured it. The mushroom mille-feuille is as amazing as it was cracked up to be in Wells' review. The buttery mushrooms paired with a thick Thai green curry, crunchy snow peas, and lightly pickled red chiles and ramps. Go here and order this. (Paired nicely with a Loire rose.) A salad of kale with chèvre, fried sun choke chips, and pear was a refreshing counterpoint to the heaviness of the mille-feuille. A "banh mi" of foie gras and duck confit was totally ruined by being served on a thick, dense, sesame seeded roll. We ended up scraping out the innards, and leaving all the bread behind. We passed on dessert, planning to grab some gelato near the high line later, but the selections sounded promising.
  15. One thing I've noticed, both on this thread, and also from personal experience, is how valuable it is for a restaurant to be close to LAX airport. After a long day of travel, you just don't want to deal with Los Angeles traffic on your first night - I've found you the perfect restaurant. Fishing With Dynamite is a raw bar and seafood specialist in Manhattan Beach, about a 7 mile drive from the airport hotels. The Chef de Cuisine is David LeFevre, who has spent time at Charlie Trotters, Le Moulins de Mougins, Water Grill, as well as a couple years hoping all over Asia (and his Asian influence shows at Fishing With Dynamite). We have a common friend in Josh Raynolds (a wine writer for The International Wine Cellar). Look for Fishing With Dynamite to be a James Beard Award contestant in the future. Since we're 3 hours behind on the east coast, I got there at around 5:30, and it was still empty on a Wednesday. The menus online are current, save for handwritten daily specials (which should interest you). I started out with a pint of Jamaica Red Ale ($6.50) by Mad River Brewing Company in Blue Lake, CA while I perused the menu. Wanting to see what Chef Lefevre could do with the "Traditional" section, I started with a bowl of New England Clam Chowdah ($9), a sensational bowl of chowder made with littlenecks in shell (and comes with a bucket for the shells), made with Neuske's bacon, Weiser Farm Potatoes (both thinly sliced baby whites and, I believe, sweets (although those could have been squash), and some lovely house made oyster crackers which you should try one of, dry, then immediately dump the rest in. This could have used the smallest pinch of salt, although it might have been my body chemistry; not the soup - other than that, it was just about the perfect bowl of chowder. Knowing I'd get seafood with some type of lemon in it, I switched over to a 6-ounce glass of Seguinot-Bordet "Reserve Sainte-Victoire - Vielles Vignes" Chablis ($14.50) - they also offer 3-ounce pours at a discount. "Can you vouch for your crab cake?" I asked my knowledgable bartender (who, from overhearing him, is clearly a cocktail expert). "Of course I can," he said. "What if I told you I just woke up in Baltimore this morning?" I asked. The staff all laughed. Maryland Blue Crab Cake ($16) was delicious blue crab, the whole crab, lump and fin meat, but not in a traditional Maryland style at all. Breaded with what was seemingly a lemony panko and served atop a whole grain mustard remoulade, and served alongside a salad of red cabbage and house made dill pickle slices, this was a delicious, somewhat acidic, virtuoso presentation of Maryland Crab that you should not hesitate to order. Alongside it: Chef David's Mom's New England Squash Rolls ($5) - I had *no* idea about what the presentation of these would be - it turns out they're something resembling Parker House rolls, but with squash, and much denser, served with rosemary butter for spreading and dipping. An order of four was too much, so I took two home the next morning to have with my coffee. (As of April 3rd, 2014, if you go to their homepage, the 2nd and 3rd pictures are reasonable facsimiles of my chowder and crab cake, the chowder is slightly different (especially the oyster crackers), but the crab cake is almost a dead ringer for what I had.) Despite the name, and informality, and location just off the Pacific Ocean, this is a deadly serious seafood restaurant that you're going to be hearing about in the future, and I would return in a minute, next time going for the "Modern" section of the menu since I've already seen how Chef Lefevre can succeed with the more traditional items. If you're tired, and in a LAX hotel with a car, your spirits will be awakened if you come to Fishing With Dynamite - although the menu is small, there's plenty more to explore here than I did on my brief visit. This restaurant is owned by the same people who own Manhattan Beach Post.
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