Jump to content

Search the Community

Showing results for tags 'Local and Seasonal'.



More search options

  • Search By Tags

    Type tags separated by commas.
  • Search By Author

Content Type


Forums

  • Todos son Bienvenidos Aquí.
    • Todos son Bienvenidos Aquí.
  • Restaurants, Tourism, and Hotels
    • New York City Restaurants and Dining
    • Los Angeles Restaurants and Dining
    • San Francisco Restaurants and Dining
    • Houston Restaurants and Dining
    • Philadelphia Restaurants and Dining
    • Washington DC Restaurants and Dining
    • Baltimore and Annapolis Restaurants and Dining
  • Shopping and News, Cooking and Booze, Parties and Fun, Travel and Sun
    • Shopping and Cooking
    • News and Media
    • Events and Gatherings
    • Beer, Wine, and Cocktails
    • The Intrepid Traveler
    • Fine Arts And Their Variants
  • Marketplace
    • Professionals and Businesses
    • Catering and Special Events
    • Jobs and Employment
  • The Portal
    • Open Forum - No Topic Is Off-Limits

Calendars

There are no results to display.


Find results in...

Find results that contain...


Date Created

  • Start

    End


Last Updated

  • Start

    End


Filter by number of...

Joined

  • Start

    End


Group


AIM


MSN


Website URL


ICQ


Yahoo


Jabber


Skype


Interests


Location

Found 112 results

  1. I just had brunch at BRX, an American Bistro in Great Falls, VA (www.brxgf.com/). Having eaten here for lunch and dinner, sadly I had overlooked this local establishment for brunch. This place is nestled in the small shopping center along Route 193 (Georgetown Pike) and Leesburg Pike (Route 7) at the traffic light. They are locally owned and have an excellent menu and specials weekly. Brunch was excellent - all their food is made to order and from various eggs benedicts to pancakes, crepes or omelettes you cannot miss. Because they are situated in the corner of the plaza you have to look for it. The decor is nice and the bar area separated by glass from the main dining area. When the weather is nice, you can be seated outside. The staff is accommodating and the owner is often visible and interactive making sure your experience is to your liking. The have a great wine selection as you will observe when you enter there is a wine locker area that appears well utilized. If you are looking for a nice, consistent locally-owned restaurant with comfortable atmosphere, check it out.
  2. What is the story behind reservations at this restaurant? Phenomenal popularity? A secret? For the next month, they show availability for only a handful of weekdays, for seatings near closing time. I have encountered a similar roadblock at Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore, though at the opening bell it is not that difficult to find something in the bar area. It's discouraging, though. (And making the journey to Spike Gjerde's award-winning kitchen is expensive and not always quite as transporting as it used to be.)
  3. We had an amazing experience at Cafe Mozu this winter, with a great selection for RW and impeccable service. Ceiba was atrocious. The service was, well downright "ghetto." When it came time for desserts the waiter recited- "bread pudding, chocolate cake, or ice cream." I asked him if that was it since it didn't sound too appetizing and he said yes. The dessert was delicious, but the lackluster description kind of killed our buzz. Later, we were able to read the dessert menu (outside of the restaurant in the little case) and we saw that the written descriptions were lovely. The rest of the food was mediocre, with a pretty limited selection of starters. The conch chowder was a mystery. How they could turn something that is normally so good into something so bland is beyond me. Vidalia had decent service, if not a little rushed, but had some misses on the menu. The catfish was a real loser, but everything else was good. Not the best southern food I've had, but alright for restaurant week. While not everything was available for RW, you could pay a little extra to have entrees and starters that were not included ($4-$8).
  4. New York Times Travel feature for Luca: "A Pennsylvania Restaurant That's Hot in More Ways than One" by Kathryn O'Shea-Evans on nytimes.com A sister restaurant to Ma(i)son. Luca, unlike its sister, serves liquor. Its nothing short of amazing. Central PA eats, kat
  5. There's not a lot of detail in either the email I received or the website, but there is a website and the place has a name. Field and Main
  6. I was thinking about this restaurant the other day, knowing that it was supposed to open in the Spring (but figuring that it would be delayed) and realized that we went the whole summer with no news on when exactly it will start service. I figured I would come here to see if cheezepowder or any other members had heard any rumblings and was shocked to see that no one had posted a thread about it yet. There has been quite a bit of buzz on the internets for over a year now, and dare I say that if David Chang and Eric Ziebold did not have anticipated openings this year or early next year that this would be the hottest reservation in town when it opens. I'm sure everyone has at least heard in passing about it at this point, but wanted to see if anyone had any more insight into what sounds like a very cool new restaurant. Website / @thedabneydc on Twitter "Jeremiah Langhorne's Restaurant, The Dabney, Will Open in Blagden Alley" by Missy Frederick on dc.eater.com "Meet Jeremiah Langhorne: Picking Composters, Pigs, and Potential Line Cooks" by Tim Carman on washingtonpost.com
  7. Forgive me Don if this is the wrong place to post this, but I needed to talk about our meal at Vin 909 in Annapolis. We thought we were lost when we got there because it's located in a residential neighborhood in what looks like somebody's house. When we saw all the people waiting on the lawn, we knew we were in the right place. It was just 6pm on Saturday night, but we waited about 45 minutes for a table. There's a pretty lawn with benches to wait for a table, so we ordered a bottle of wine and sat for a while. There are two small dining rooms inside and and a small patio out back. Also, there were two tables on the front porch that didn't look very comfortable. Oh yeah, the food. For starters I had the "Chesapeake farm raised clams" with wild mushrooms, grilled corn, scallions, garlic, smoked bacon, white wine, and cream. I think this was the best dish I ever had in my life. The clams were perfectly cooked, the bacon was thick and meaty, and the sauce was perfectly decadent. My SO, not as pro-cholesterol as I am, had the greens with blue cheese. SO loved it. Then we moved on to the pizza. Pizzas are sort of oval, pretty thin, but not soupy at all. Kind of Roman if you know what I mean. I had the Spotted Pig with spicy soppressata, wild boar meatballs, tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil, and provolone. SO had the Trip, wild mushrooms,taleggio and fontina cheeses. Pizzas were AMAZING. Perfectly balanced amounts of sauce, cheese and toppings. Service was friendly and efficient. Char was just right. When informed of a food allergy, the server checked with the chef for each dish we ordered. Sorry, no dessert report, too full.
  8. Garrison has been open for just over a week now. It's a handsome restaurant with a pleasant patio space in front. The menu is vegetable-centric and apparently emphasizes seasonal produce. Mr. P and I nibbled our way through a number of vegetable side dishes/appetizers and a pasta course. Poppy seed gougères were excellent: very small and took awhile to come out, suggesting they were made to order. Gougères are as much about texture as flavor, and these were spot-on. Heirloom tomato salad was nicely composed, with a piece of burrata and mint rather than basil (a nice change of pace), and slivers of almond. Fennel gratin was straightforward but intense, the flavor punched up with a splash of Pernod. Squash blossoms with smoked provolone and Romesco sauce were outstanding, perfectly fried and not too much cheese, so the flavor of the blossoms wasn't overwhelmed. Mr. P also had the roasted cauliflower; he liked it but said it was his least-favorite dish. As I don't care for cauliflower I can't usefully describe the dish. Sweet corn tortellini was a nice summery pasta dish, buttery but not overwhelmingly so. The pasta was a tad overcooked but I'm so accustomed to that now it doesn't bother me. We also ordered two of the three desserts, a chocolate terrine and buttermilk panna cotta, which were pleasant but unremarkable. A nice way to end a meal, not too sweet, not too large, and blessedly not precious, either. Coffee was adequate. Would have liked to have half-and-half or cream with it rather than cold milk, but nope, not an option. Service was genuinely friendly and polite but somewhat lacking in a few ways that aren't worth going into, because for a place open just over a week it was impressively good.
  9. I'm surprised there's not a post yet about Hummingbird. As far as I know, it's not quite open, but should be soon. It's the latest from Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong, Todd Thrasher, and the Eat Good Food Group: the restaurant/bar at the new Hotel Indigo on the Old Town Alexandria waterfront. The bright and airy interior space looks really nice and there is a great patio area, as well. The menus are still in progress, but it sounds like there may be a seafood slant, with the occasional Irish touch, too. Some additional info at Zagat.
  10. Alison Cook has listed Roost in her Top 100 for a few years now, placing it at 29 in this edition. From reading about the restaurant, Chef Naderi introduces a new menu monthly, highlighting local and seasonal ingredients with little regard for staying in one particular "lane" of cuisine. Cristina and I had a quiet and pleasant dinner the other night. Top-line assessment: Pleasant enough to be a neighborhood fave, but in a sprawling food town like Houston, it would be tough to recommend traveling for a special visit. We started with 2 appetizers: the much lauded fried cauliflower with bonito and miso dressing, and the "bread service" of a Slow Dough giant (GIANT!) pretzel, with 3 spreads (marinara, pimento cheese, and furikake butter). The cauliflower was indeed tasty, reminiscent of takoyaki. The only thing I would say is that after a few bites, they became a little dull (as in, not sharp), and could've used some sort of acidic element to brighten things up (capers maybe? a squeeze of lemon? I don't know). The pretzel itself was massive, warm, buttery, and delicious. The spreads...eh. The marinara was totally off-putting in a way neither of us could put a finger on, but it went completely untouched. The pimento cheese was a totally straightforward take, without any noticeable spice. The furikake butter won out, mainly because it was butter. This dish seemed like an afterthought. I moved on to the "Country Captain" chicken - pan seared, along with deep fried wings, and topped with a vaguely curry-ish sauce with raisins. All in all a nicely cooked, but standard take on a Lowcountry classic. Cristina had fried quail served over black eyed peas and greens. I much preferred this dish, mainly for the delicious peas. Earthy and with just enough bite to them. We drank a South African Cab blend (2013 John X Merriman Stellenbosch) that played well with everything we ordered - medium bodied, with a good amount of earthiness that I enjoy. Roost has a small but nicely curated wine list and a number of local beers on tap. Given that the menu changes monthly, I think it's probably worth another look down the line, but for now I have it in my good-not-great category.
  11. I remember Tom Sietsema recently saying he's not really up on area pastry chefs - well, I'm not either; but I did want to issue a rave Yes! Yes! Yes! recommendation for Paisley Fig, Lizzy Evelyn's one-woman operation. I've now had the good fortune to sample numerous treats made at the hands of this talented baker: a Semolina Peach Loaf (an individual-sized, eggy, pound-like cake), a Candied Ginger Scone, Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, Espresso Shortbread (to kill for), Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons, and an amazing 12-ounce bag of Cinnamon Maple Granola ($6.50) - too good to use as cereal, this is best enjoyed straight from its resealable bag. I have yet to try anything from here that fell short of great. Lizzy's website is paisleyfig.com, but you can also find and enjoy her wares at Cork, Room 11 (which has a fine dessert program), and Cowgirl Creamery. I'd love to hear other people's feedback on these ferociously good treats.
  12. "This is it," I thought to myself. "This is the best taco I've ever eaten in my life." I had read about the lines at farmer's markets for Suzanne Simon and Bettina Stern's taco stand, but didn't really know much about it. The other day, I decided to go see for myself, and I am *so glad* I found out early on about Chaia. First, the location: Chaia is on Grace Street, which is just a few feet off of Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown, south of Georgetown Park Mall - it's *right there* off Wisconsin, and even has a little sign directing pedestrians to "tacos and beer" - don't let the words fool you. Having read their website before I went, I had a pretty good idea of what I was in for, and I also had a pretty good idea of what I was going to order. One thing of great importance: Chaia is a daytime-only taqueria: Tuesdays through Saturdays it closes at 8PM, and on Sundays, it closes at 6PM - it's closed altogether on Mondays. Please don't forget this, or you're going to show up and find a closed taqueria. And they serve beer, too - in keeping with their "hyper-local" theme, the two breweries they sell are Port City Brewing and Atlas Brew Works. Don't make the same mistake I did: Donnie Boy just *had* to have a beer with his tacos, and for no particular reason, so I started off with a plastic cup of Atlas Brew Works Rowdy Rye ($5). Why in God's name I did this, I don't know - Chaia sells cold-pressed juice from Misfit Juicery and seasonal shrubs, and non-alcoholic beverages are what you should be paying attention to here, unless you *really* like hop-laden beers at the opportunity cost of something truly special. Read on for another reason not to succumb to the temptation of ordering a beer. I got the Market Trio ($11), saving all of twenty-five cents from the í la carte taco prices of $3.75. You should ignore this special, and order however many tacos you want, and get whatever sounds good. Still, three tacos were just about right for me, and gave me a chance to try three different versions, the top three on the list: 1) Mushroom with feta, red sauce, and cilantro 2) Smoky Collards with queso cotija, tomatillo salsa, and pickled radish 3) Creamy Kale + Potato with pepperjack, polano crema, green sauce, and pickled onions. On this one taco, I sprung for a fried, pasture-raised egg ($1.50, available weekends only) - I'm a sucker for eggs and potatoes together, since they conjure up memories of diner breakfasts. I'd gotten my beer first, and nursed it throughout the meal. Note that you're not allowed to go out on the patio if you order beer, so if you want to eat outside, keep it non-alcoholic. Wanting to enjoy the egg while it was hot and runny, I ate my tacos in the order 3), 1), 2), and as I was about one-third of the way into the Kale and Potato taco, I paused, and said to myself, "My God, this is the single greatest taco I've ever eaten." I know it's California-style, and that it's vegetarian, but I don't care - this was not only the best taco I've ever eaten, it was the best quick-serve food I've ever eaten (think what that's saying). The corn tortillas are unbelievable, and the combination of ingredients on this taco was perfect. Do yourself a favor and *get the egg* with this - I could not believe what I was eating, and even cheated a little bit by dripping some of the egg yolk onto the other two tacos (only a few drops, as I didn't want to flirt with ruining perfection). Read that previous paragraph as many times as you need to read it - get this taco, and get it with an egg. In fact, get *three* of these tacos, and get *each one* with an egg. It'll set you back $15.50, and you'll love yourself (and me!) forever and ever. The Mushroom taco was next up, and it was fantastic as well, with thinly sliced mushrooms that picked up everything because they were so thin. A few days ago, I complimented the Wild Mushroom Taco at Virtue Feed & Grain - allow me to paraphrase my dear friend Terry Theise: 'I like tortilla chips, and I like truffles, and I also have no problem recognizing which of the two is better.' It's the same situation here: Virtue's Wild Mushroom Taco was tasty bar food; Chaia's Mushroom Taco was a great and profound taco by taqueria standards - there's a huge difference between the two, and if you like mushrooms, get over here and order this - it would also be terrific with an egg. Then came the collards, and this is why I should have gotten a cold-pressed juice: the collards are, by nature, bitter, and the rye-based beer was loaded with bitter hops - it was bitter on bitter, and literally left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, even as I was driving over the Memorial Bridge to get home it was still there, in a pronounced way. This is a *very* collard-greenish taco, and you have to really love collard greens to love this (think about the collard greens you get at barbecue shacks, without any of the pork they usually put in them). I'm not saying 'don't order this,' merely that you should be prepared for a blast of collard greens, and if that's what you're in the mood for, then you'll really enjoy it. As a boxed set, for $11, this was a fantastic meal, and I cannot recommend Chaia enough, both for vegetarians, and also for lovers of California (San Francisco, not Los Angeles) taquerias. This food was fantastic, and I contend that the first taco was the single greatest taco I've ever eaten in my life. I don't like putting pictures into my reviews, because I think it's lazy, and ruins the surprise for the reader when they get to the restaurant. However, in this case I'm going to make an exception, because this food is so beautiful, and tastes so good, that you'll be surprised no matter what I publish. Here you go: Enjoy your meal, and thank me later. Chaia is strongly initialized in Italic, and is one of the very greatest taquerias this city has ever known. It's also quite possibly the best quick-serve restaurant in DC, and happens to be the only one currently run by women. You're going to love this place.
  13. It's not fully recovered. If I may make a suggestion, the next time you travel to Middleburg, stop in Aldie at the Little Apple Pastry Shop. It's just past the mill on your left, and the two women who run it are not strangers to butter and lard. Their pies are superb, and the country ham biscuits are the real thing. They are not cooking for tourists.
  14. Boundary Road hosted a pop-up this past Sunday night, and SMN just killed it. I am really looking forward to the opening. Chef Sam had a couple other guys helping him out for the pop-up, including Chef Brad at BR and Chef Erik from TU/Maketto. They offered about 7 small plates and 2 desserts, my friend and I ordered the entire menu. Braised goat in a smoked pepper raita was the standout for me, as was the poached sablefish with escabeche. Veggies were also a large focus of the menu, I particularly liked the pan roasted radishes. Desserts were also excellent, a carrot and orange ice cream SCOOP (not quinelle) with a maple pizzelle, and a flourless almond cake in pear compote. Plateware was thoughtful, similar to R'sL. Pickles and acid play a consistent theme in the dishes, but always playing a complementary role to the main ingredient. The fingerling potatoes in pork fat, for example, look just like little sausages served over the sauerkraut, that dish worked really nicely for me as well. Currently, H Street NE has a couple of excellent restaurants, a smattering of fine ones, and a deluge of okay places. With the almost concurrent opening of SMN and Maketto, I hope that more venues with focused concepts will try to hang a shingle in the neighborhood, and help create a brand of thoughtful restaurants on the strip.
  15. Since moving to Houston, I've been on a mission to find my new place. I'm the kind of creature of habit that needs a local, a home base. In New York, the dearly departed Redhead, and (also dearly departed) Northern Spy filled that role, and in DC, Boundary Road did the heavy lifting. While it may be a tad premature to say after only one visit, Nobie's is looking the part here in Clutch City. Nobie's is named for the chef's grandmother, and radiates a warm, familiar feel from the very beginning. I think the comforting confines of the former Au Petit Paris help, as do the beautiful vintage speakers displayed throughout, playing an eclectic mix of music off of a stash of vinyl records. It also helped that we immediately ran into an acquaintance at the bar as we walked in...a welcome occurrence when you're new to a city. The bar itself is relatively small, with a few stools, and from the looks of it, the full menu is available there. Cristina and I have a long-documented love of dining at the bar wherever we are, so I imagine we'll end up parked on those stools fairly often. We started with 2 of the 3 cocktail specials of the moment, the lightly effervescent gin-based Snow on the Pines, and the rye-based Baby it's Cold Outside (served warm, which would've been even better if it weren't 70 degrees in Houston right now). Both were excellent, and I imagine it would be tough to go wrong ordering whatever the daily cocktails happen to be. The rest of the drink list is equally well-edited and curated, with 3 interesting draft beer options, and a number of bottles and cans (big ups for Lone Pint Yellow Rose on tap). I took note of the Schlitz tallboy for $3 and $5 shot of Four Roses Yellow Label for another time/context. I miss my occasional late nights at Boundary Road with a friend or 2, winding down with a slightly superfluous Natty Boh and shot of Old Overholt. We started with a couple small plates. The Texas Tartare is a finely chopped steak tartare adapted to our lovely State's tastes with smoked jalapeño and topped with a layer of deviled egg yolk. Served with nicely toasted bread, this was a hit. The "Texas" bits were noticeable but played with a measured hand such that they didn't overtake the basic flavor profile of my beloved steak tartare. This is the kind of thing that can get super gimmicky real fast, and the skill shown with this dish is a real "tell" as to what you can expect from the kitchen here. The beer battered sweet potato tots came hot from the fryer in a bowl ringed with a whipped goat cheese. Crispy, soft, salty, cheesy. So get those. It was tough to pass up some of the other snacks on offer...the dukkah Chex mix and cool ranch chickpeas sounded great. Next time. Our salad of local citrus and fennel was the perfect foil for the richness of the tartare. Segments of grapefruit and orange mingled with paper-thin slices of fennel, bits of mint, red chili, and black sesame seeds. This is a simple salad whose execution elevated it beyond my expectations. There are a few salads on the menu, and if they all receive the care this one did, they shouldn't be missed. Moving along, we shared the Ricotta-stuffed raviolo with crispy duck confit, and the Aleppo prawns with burnt orange. The pasta is a rather robust single raviolo filled with house-made herbed ricotta and an egg yolk that covers everything beautifully once you cut into the shell. This was surrounded with irregularly sized pieces of crisped duck confit. This was a hearty dish whose richness would have been better appreciated in colder weather, but was still greedily devoured. The ricotta was light and lemony, and a nice counterpoint to the richness surrounding it. The prawns were served head-on and simply, seasoned with citrus and Aleppo pepper. These were well-cooked and delicious, though without any accompaniment on the plate, they felt a bit spare. We unfortunately skipped dessert to make it to a movie, but there will be plenty of time for that later. Nobie's hit all the right notes, from the unfussy, comfortable decor, to the friendly, unpretentious staff (none of that "Are you familiar with chef's concept crap), to the soulful, straightforward, ingredient-driven cooking. There's something for everyone here, from bar snacks and well-chosen wines by the glass, to large-format dishes like a grilled octopus and "Fred Flintstone" ribeye. My favorite joints always have that flexibility. Nobie's is a welcome and important addition to the Houston scene. Keep my seat warm guys, I'll be back soon.
  16. Have seen the sandwich shop Local Foods show up on a few 'best in the country' lists for sandwiches lately. They lived up to the hype. If you need a lunch spot in Houston, this is it. Great local beer selection too.
  17. Recently, I needed to make a quick jaunt to New York. I decided to make the trip have purpose, so I themed it, "2015 New Jersey James Beard Award Semifinalists," making it a point to go to every single restaurant in New Jersey that was nominated for some type of James Beard Award in 2015. There was only one exception, and it was a Hoboken restaurant that would have been too much trouble to fit in. My first stop was in Princeton, NJ, which, I realized, I had never before set foot in. I knew absolutely nothing about Elements before having arrived at the restaurant, and had no preconceived expectations. When I left the restaurant, I realized that I'd had my first Michelin 2-star-quality dining experience in (I'm embarrassed to say) a couple of years. I have been to many, many 1-star, 2-star, and 3-star Michelin restaurants both here and abroad, and there are very obvious differences - both qualitative and quantitative - between the levels (which, by the way, are often wrong, but that's besides the point - I know what they're *supposed* to be). Elements is a *nine-table* (yes, 9 table) jewel box which sits atop another restaurant - Mistral - having the same ownership. This is a *perfect* set-up to maximize the quality of two separate and distinct restaurants. If you visit Mistral's website, you might say to yourself, 'This place looks *fantastic*,' and you'd almost surely be correct. The Elements diner actually walks into Mistral and arrives at the host stand - in fact, my first overall impression was the only lesser experience of the evening, because I waited at an empty host stand - a very nice-looking bar looming behind it - not really knowing what to do, for about a minute (which, under the circumstances, can seem like the seconds are ticking in slow motion), and when the cordial hostess arrived and greeted me, I told her I had a reservation at Elements. At that precise moment, it was as if a Four-Star General had appeared in an officer's dining hall: She immediately took on a different countenance - not in a way that downplays the importance of Mistral's diners, but in a way that signaled to me that I had just been vaulted into VIP status - in a way that told me she instantly recognized that I had come to dine, and to dine well. Recall that, at this time, I still had no idea what the restaurant was, or what it was about - and yet, it was very clear to me what had just happened. She escorted me over to a private elevator, summoned it, pushed the button for the second floor, and told me I'd see another host stand when I arrived, wishing me a pleasant meal just before the doors closed. A few seconds later, the doors opened onto an entirely new atmosphere - one of a much more serious nature than the convivial Mistral down below. This was not unlike being escorted into a high-stakes baccarat den that is cordoned off from the everyday guests playing mere hundred-dollar games. Make no mistake about it: those hundred-dollar games down below are what's going to keep this restaurant in business, and they are deeply and genuinely appreciated by the staff (as I was to later find out). Downstairs is Jean-Georges' Nougatine, without which Jean-Georges might no longer exist. I was struck by the sheer emptiness of the room, after having witnessed the joyous vibrancy down below - the two spaces must be similar in size, given the shape of the building itself, and yet, here was an almost completely deserted room, with a total of *nine tables* (actually, eight, since two had been joined together for a larger party), a tiny welcoming area, and a state-of-the-art, open kitchen off to the back-right which had more cooks than the room had diners. I was led to a back table which afforded me magnificent views of the entire dining room, as well as the open kitchen, now on my left. I felt like a king. One thing I found out is that Elements had been open before, in another location, and had only been open in this new space - on top of Mistral - for a couple of weeks. The previous iteration was a few blocks away, and I have no idea of what it was like; all that matters now is that - whatever they did to change things - this new location is set up in a way that seems to approach perfection (and I'm just talking about the actual set-up) - everything is within a twenty-second walk of everything else. My guess is that if you have not been to the "new" Elements, then you have not been to Elements. This restaurant is not a "James Beard Semifinalist"; assuming they don't change things, this restaurant is a future regional winner, with probable future consideration for a national award. It became readily obvious that diner service is paramount at Elements. I was presented with my choice of still or sparkling water, and was immediately asked if I'd care for a cocktail before dinner. I had been presented with three different dining menus and a wine list. The first menu was available only on weeknights, and was a four-course prix-fixe for $79. If you only remember one thing from this write-up, please make it this: don't get this menu. Even if you go on a Wednesday night (which I did), you will be cheating only yourself if you don't get one of the other two menus: either the Chef's Tasting Menu for $125, or the Grand Tasting for $185. The reason is simple: the dishes on the weeknight four-course are much-less complex and less labor-intensive than they are in the two tasting menus. You'd be getting, for example, Tomato Soup with sourdough, basil, and pecorino - I'm sure it's very nice, but there's nothing even remotely resembling that on either of the two tasting menus - if you're taking the trouble to come all the way up here, and drop fairly large money anyway, do yourself a favor and spend the extra fifty dollars - it's the only way to give this restaurant a fair chance to match my rather bold statements here. I opted for the smaller Chef's Tasting Menu ($125), thirteen courses in addition to amuses-gueules and mignardises, and rather than purchase a bottle of wine - which I almost always do - I turned myself over to the *very* capable sommelier, Carl Harrison Rohrbach, for a Tier 1 Wine Pairing ($65) which provided me with a different wine for nearly every course, and as different as these courses were, one from another, the pairings were of prime importance - even more importantly, the pairings were absolutely brilliant. This meal, which was over $200 before tax and tip (don't forget I got a cocktail), could have been much more costly, had I gone now - two months later - and gotten the Grand Tasting Menu ($185), which now requires a one-week advance notice, with its Reserve Wine Pairing ($185). However, when I went, I noticed some overlap between the two grand menus, and since I was there for the food more than the wine, I felt the Reserve Pairing would have been more than I needed (and was nearly double the price at $125), and I think I made a correct decision - the important thing is to stay away from the more simplistic menus, and I even wrote the chef afterwards, and told him he should completely do away with them. We got into a fairly extensive conversation, and I can assure you that he really, really wants to serve *only* the two upper-level tasting menus, and is currently offering the weeknight four-course so locals will frequent Elements during the week - it has yet to receive national attention, but when it does, the more simplistic menus may indeed disappear, and I hope they do. Rather than go through the litany of courses, I'm just going to show you the menu (which I emphasize is the more modest of the two): Elements Chef Tasting Menu.pdf And to give you but one example of a particularly dramatic presentation, I'm going to include one picture of the "Woodear Mushroom" course: Look at the menu I had, envision a best-case scenario, and trust me that the woodear-mushroom presentation was the most flamboyant thing by far (too many presentations such as this would be, well, too many, but for this one course? It was about the coolest thing I've ever been presented with (for a solo diner, there was one, single mushroom in this presentation, and it wasn't easy to find)). In order to create a more intimate link between kitchen and diner, each course was presented and explained by a different member of the kitchen staff (including the Executive Chef, Scott Anderson, and the outstanding Sous Chef, Mike Ryan, who created and served the amazing Kasuzuke Ocean Trout tableside - this Michelin 3-star dish, along with the Patranque, are two courses I'll remember for the rest of my life. The last actual Michelin 2-star meal I've had in Europe was at ABaC, and based mainly on their relatively poor wine cellar, I have trouble justifying their 2-star rating (although the hotel it's in is absolutely spectacular - perhaps the most impressive hotel in all of Barcelona) - despite the luxury of the glorious ABaC Hotel, coupled with the incredible architecture incorporated into the restaurant, I believe that Elements was a better dining experience. It was also the first time in probably a couple of years that I've spent over $200 on a meal just for myself before tax and tip, and when I walked out, I was marveling at how good of a *value* it was. Really. This was the greatest meal I've had in a long, long time, and it was worth every penny. For those of you familiar with my work, ask yourself this: How many restaurants do I rave *this much* about?
  18. At 1000yregg's urging, we booked a dinner last weekend at Arí´mes, a new spot in Hampden that just opened a couple of weeks ago. Chef Monnier hails from Reims with a résumé that stands on classic haute cuisine spots in Paris and LA, but has chosen to open his small (24-ish seat) operation in a converted rowhouse, specializing in seasonal and local ingredients. Dinner is a prix fixe affair of six courses for $65, or three for $45. Four of the courses are smaller bites to precede the main course, and then you proceed to dessert. Because of the ever-changing menu, it's somewhat academic to repeat what we had, but each course's description sounded simple, unexpected, and maybe even opportunistic, and yet each time what arrived was remarkably integrated, and much more than the sum of its parts to the extent that each component became essential. Also evident was a high degree of technique and care in the preparation. I'm only going to describe a few of our courses, but there wasn't a dud in the bunch. "Beets, umeboshi, pear jam, and lucky plum" combined soft and crisp textures in a small composition of fleshy fruits and root vegetables, plated with a flourish of beet ash. It cleansed the palate for the next course, a little taste of "risotto and scallop chicharrones with Old Bay mayo". I don't know how they struck upon the idea of making chicharrones out of large thin curls of good scallops, but its compelling and concentrated umami was almost unreal, and a worthy match for a few bites of perfectly toothy risotto. The "oyster with green apple and sorrel" was a single oyster on a bed of rock salt, topped with a foam (the only appearance of modernist technique all evening) so you breathed its flavor as much as you tasted it. This course was a bit precious, but whatever oyster they used (it wasn't indicated) was beautifully clean and deeply cupped, almost like a kusshi, which makes me really curious where it's coming from in this region? The chalkboard near the front window held only thank-yous to a number of their suppliers: Vent Coffee Roasters (excellent, btw), Trickling Springs Creamery, Lancaster Farm Fresh Coop, Two Boots Farm, Baltimore Organic Farm, and Liberty Delight Farm. It's not a place for wildly crowd-pleasing dishes like Rose's, and to be honest I think a picky eater wouldn't have enjoyed all of these dishes, nor the menu format. But if our meal was any indication, Aromes is worth the serious diner's consideration, and worth the trip.
  19. For those that are reading this thread, Chez Panisse (the restaurant) is almost as difficult a reservation as the French Laundry. It is not an afterthought but a very real destination that many people on the West Coast and elsewhere build trips around. Quite literally this is Mecca for many who care about the emergence of America and the ascension of a serious cuisine from a country that was once thought of as having good fried chicken and decent charcoal grilled steak. For all that I may have raved about Danko (and the bar if you go at the last minute and arrive BEFORE THEY OPEN!) Chez Panisse is the Holy Grail of American restaurants. It is to America as Troisgros and Robuchon are to France and Santimaria and Adria are to Spain. In the late '70's and early '80's Alice Waters' place was a temple that born again foodies from Vermont to Georgia to New Mexico crossed a country to visit. When they returned to their hometowns America was never the same. What we eat today has much to do with what was started then. And there.
  20. We stay at the Ashby Inn on a regular basis, and were there last weekend. It is far more casual than genteel, although there's a bit of that in horse country. Sitting on the balcony and listening to the cows lowing will quickly convince you that the city is not too close. They recently changed chefs, and have, at least for the moment, shortened the menu because of decreased dinner traffic in this stuttering economy, but the food remains wonderful. I know that they have an eight ounce filet listed, but believe that's the only steak offered. Note, too, that the Inn is quite close to the Sky Meadows State Park, which has very nice hiking trails and beautiful views. One of Paul Mellon's finest contributions to that part of the world.
  21. Fantastic dinner last night at Coltivare in The Heights neighborhood. The Heights is a historic neighborhood North of downtown that has been described as a "small town in the city," and "Houston's 1st suburb," having been founded in the late 1800s. When one wanders around amidst the Craftsmen bungalows and Victorian homes up there, it is certainly easy to forget you're in the belly of the sprawling beast that is Houston. Coltivare opened about 2 and a half years ago to pretty universal acclaim, and is still listed in the Top 10 restaurants in Houston by the Chronicle. Last night around 7:30 the place was packed, and we were quoted an hour to hour and a half wait time. They take your number and text when your table is ready. There is an outdoor area for waiting with waiter service for cocktails, wine, and beer, but being new to the area, we strolled down White Oak to browse a record store, and grab a beer at the nearby Onion Creek. Just under an hour later, our table was ready. My impression of Cotivare from reading around was of a pizzeria that used seasonal ingredients and fresh vegetables from their onsite garden (kind of like Roberta's in Brooklyn). Our experience last night proves it is much more. The menu is broken into several sections (Snacks, Salumi, Salads, Small Plates, Pizza, Pasta, and Entrees). With the number of options in the snack/small plate section, you could definitely put together a great meal without even looking at pizzas or mains. We started with 2 snacks and a selection from the salumi section. Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto was exactly that. A bowl of raw sliced heirloom carrot sticks from the garden with a dish of spicy pesto for dipping. Simple and delicious. Arancini were fist-sized, perfectly fried, and oozing with cheese. These were served with a fresh pea salsa verde that cut through the richness well with a brightness and slight earthiness from the peas. Bruschetta came with a schmear of Nduja, topped with greens from the garden (arugula I think), and drizzled with local honey. These were absolutely delicious, and something I would order over and over. Next was a golden beet agnolotti with an assortment of vegetables all cooked to a perfect crisp tender. The fresh pasta was delicious, and while fresh, retained just a bit of chewiness that complimented the vegetables. As my wife said "If all vegetables could be so lucky to be cooked so well." The pizza completely blew me away. Brussels sprouts, butternut squash puree (in lieu of a tomato sauce), pancetta, pickled shallots, red chiles, and delicious, face-melting Taleggio cheese. The crust on the pizza was unlike any crust I am used to. It was crispy throughout, but soft. Very little chew. The cornicione almost looked like brioche as opposed to the blistered, leopard spots of a Neapolitan pie. I don't know if my description is doing it justice, but it was amazing. Maybe it's a sign of the bounty of great Neapolitan pizza in NY and DC, but I am glad they are putting out something different at Coltivare that can really stand out. We had a great 2011 Scarzello Barbera D'Alba with all of the above. There was a great looking cocktail menu (all at $11) that we didn't explore this time. Although we were stuffed, we soldiered on and finished with an Olive Oil Cake with bourbon, Luxardo gastrique, and grapefruit. This was a delicious riff on the Old Fashioned cocktail that came together as advertised. We will be back, and I would urge folks visiting Houston to check it out next time you're there.
×