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Santa Barbara complaints (and praise)

thanks! noted

Mar 17, 2014
chairbc in California

Santa Barbara complaints (and praise)

we made up for this by taking lunch today in King City at El Lugarcito...

Mar 17, 2014
chairbc in California

Santa Barbara complaints (and praise)

mitchleeny--not that I could tell (that is, I guess they were open); but that wasn't our mode this visit.
macdog--good point, I'd fallen out of that practice...

Mar 17, 2014
chairbc in California

Santa Barbara complaints (and praise)

Writing from Santa Barbara to slag a couple of restaurants, in all honesty. And to praise two.
We have been visiting here for three nights—had four meals out and two had major-major issues.
One that didn’t was a lunch of beer, fish tacos and tuna melt—with alfalfa sprouts? Really?—at the East Beach Grill, a great place for people-watching.
But our two dinner were…well.
Dinner # 1 was at Enterprise Fish Company. Herself loved her swordfish; my halibut with ginger rice and bok choy was delicious; our clam chowders were thick with clams. The wine was reasonably priced. The service was excellent.
But, seven hells, the sound level! Deafening! Why? What’s the point. Because of the sheer volume of the crappy music, we wouldn’t go back or recommend Enterprise.
Dinner # 2 was at Relais de Paris. Again, decent wine prices. Excellent grilled asparagus, shared as an appetizer. My better half loved her mussels. But the menu was somewhat deceptive. It seemed to say that all main courses came with a side salad—when she asked for hers, they said, “not that one.” I had a salad Nicoise, and while the featured ingredients were fine, there was an awful high ratio of salad greens to tuna/potatoes/green beans/peppers/etc. And the service! Inattentive, slow; our server didn’t know the wine list, we felt; then waived corkage for the couple next to us because the female was “cute” (his words). Then he said he’d only been in the house two weeks—and when a manager realized we were being ignored, he explained that they were short-staffed.
Oh, well: a citron sorbet we finished with was terrific.
Our final lunch was at Fish House Santa Barbara—and there it all came together. Beautifully prepared fish (mixed fry for her; salmon benedict for me), nice local Riesling; perfectly attentive waitress, food runners, bus people; all we could hear was the quiet conversation of the other guests.
For our last dinner in town, we went to Trader Joe’s and ate by our motel’s pool.

Mar 16, 2014
chairbc in California

2012 Santa Fe, NM Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM

referring to your reply to DebitNM, I do hope you tip very generously--your ordering strategy makes sense for you, but cuts into the restaurant employees' income, plus you do ask for special treatment (extra plates, etc.)
that said: impressive work, thanks, gonna use your ratings during our visit to Santa Fe.

Aug 07, 2013
chairbc in Southwest

Nevada-Utah

two more comments. In Ely, we had dinner at Racks--American bistro food (steaks, chops, sandwiches), not bad at all; would go back.
But Cedar City, Cedar City, lemmetellya--world-class pizza at Centro. Small menu, really thin crusts, charming service, all good. went twice: first time, had the day's special (suspiciously, it was the special the next day and the hotel manager said when he'd gone there ten days or two weeks before, it was the special--but, whatever)...the special was FIG pizza. yes, thin slices of fig on what was basically a prosciutto pizza. wonderful. Second night, we had soppressata pizza, also in a class with any pizza in our memory.
oh, and Cuthroat Lager (named for the fish), excellent.

Aug 03, 2013
chairbc in Southwest

Nevada-Utah

should have mentioned: the pozole was a special white-boarded at $12.95; they charged me $10.95, no explanation. And the other special was a 20 oz margarita with a Cuervo shot on the side...

Jul 29, 2013
chairbc in Southwest

Nevada-Utah

fwiw, now in Fallon...and just back from La Fiesta...v. good standard-Mexican meal...herself had a chile verde tostada (flat, fried corn tortilla, then the pork-in-chile-sauce, then chopped salad); I had pozole, among the best pozoles in my experience...large bowl of corn, meat & broth; one side bowl with cabbage, red onion, scallion (chopped small) and chopped tomato; plus a half lime and another bowl of hot-pepper flakes, the kind you associate with pizza). delicious.

Jul 28, 2013
chairbc in Southwest

Nevada-Utah

extra points for good Basque rec's along the way...(which I know means Fallon or Ely...) thnx

Jul 26, 2013
chairbc in Southwest

Nevada-Utah

about to go road-tripping through central Nevada and Utah...and New Mexico...wondering about rec's for the following places:
Fallon NV
Ely NV
Cedar City, UT
Gallup, NM ?
(I'll take answers off the air, thanks)

Jul 26, 2013
chairbc in Southwest

Seeking Recommendations for Lunch in Toledo

just back to the hotel after lunch at Asador Palencia de Lara--very very nice experience, thanksf o the tip.

Jun 02, 2013
chairbc in Spain/Portugal

Extremadura

Had two meals at Bar Restaurant Espanol in Plasencia--enjoyed thoroughly. This is on the Plaza Mayor, northwest side....busy at midday, lively in the evening.
Standard Spanish food, with Extremaduran specialties....generous servings.
Midday, we had Menu Del Dia for 12 Euros--
herself: gaspacho, revueltos (scrambled eggs) with wild mushrooms and a bit of ham and shrimp, and vanilla ice cream that she bragged on.
myself: migas (fried breadcrumbs) with a fried egg, bacalao (cod; fresh) in a tomato sauce and a truly wonderful orange.
somehow they didn't charge us for the bottle of red we enjoyed, nor the bottle of water, nor the bottle of 7-up-like soda they supplied to mix in with the wine (didn't do this).
my better half mentioned that her revueltos, ordered ala cart, would have been 12 Euros.
We went back in the evening and shared a big green salad with bacon, walnuts, and shredded cheese (it was on the menu as cheese salad, with 3 types of queso, so I expected blocks of whatever....this was really refreshing) and mushroom caps stuffed with ham. Also each had a glass of red, and when we asked for "something local" as a digestif, they comped us to glasses of acorn Liqueur...
whole thing was around 20 Euros--two of us couldn't finish either dish, htey were that generously sized.

http://www.xn--restaurantebarespaol-l...

May 29, 2013
chairbc in Spain/Portugal

Choco in Cordoba

just back at the hotel after Saturday lunch at Casa El Pisto/Taverna San Miguel where we had a wonderful time. Boquerones, fino, patatas bravas, some pork-on-the-bone dish (name forgotten) with fries, mushroom caps stuffed with matchsticks of ham (and a carrot-cabbage salad), bottle of Rioja crianza, & water, GREAT people-watching a bit under 50 Euros--gotta thank Sue for the rec.

May 18, 2013
chairbc in Spain/Portugal

rusted cast iron

more than a year later, the frying pan show no signs of previous problems--I'd forgotten about this whole exchange, because the thing is as good as newly-broken in. If I didn't thank Chemicalkinetics enough then, I'm certainly trying to now!

May 03, 2013
chairbc in Cookware

Asturianos, c/ Vallehermoso, Madrid

had lunch today at Asturiano--one of four restaurants profiled in an October 2012 NYTimes piece on places Madrid chefs go on their days off.
This is way the heck north from the center. As another 'hound posted, about 20 minutes by metro--near the Canal station.
We had made reservations through our hotel for 2 PM but arrived ~ 1:30. not a great idea in Spain, but there we were. Staff seemed happy to see us, led us from the small front bar along a hall that would have seemed tight on a WW II submarine, and to the bare-bare-bare-bones dining room (plywood walls with visible screw heads!) which seats all of 22 people.
The Better Half and I ordered:
-to share, a watercress (!) salad with anchovies and Cabrals cheese.
-to share, pork meatballs in a mushroom sauce
-for her: beef cheeks
-for self: Fabada Asturiana.
and...still water and a bottle of house red.
This proved to be a young Ribera del Duero--perfect in our eyes.
Everything was great--tasty, comforting, service nicely paced and coursed out; attentive, too, in a casual way and though I'm sure it nearly killed the waiter, he let us deal with him in (v. poor) Spanish.
Highlight was probably that salad--but the meatballs were a whole other world. The mushroom sauce proved to be this silky, utterly smooth, well, paste, a new thing to us.
There was good sourdough bread; also the traditional (for Madrid) tapa of salami in oil....
The Fabada was cooked superbly--the beans just right, the broth really quite light and bright tasting. It included a chunk of morcilla (blood sausage), a chunk of chorizo, a piece of mystery meat (possibly pork? hard to tell with all the flavorings going on) and a chunk of, well, um, fat.
Herself declared the beef cheeks wonderful--they had been braised to a nice texture and were in a gravy on a bed of French fries.
When we gestured to waiter that we wouldn't be finishing either of our mains, he didn't seem surprised at all; it was a lot of food (in the Madrid way....).
I ordered a lemon sorbet for dessert (waiter, in Spanish: "with two spoons"!), though cheeses are a house highlight.
Again--hit the spot. woke the tastebuds right back up and comforted them at the same time.
And we had coffees.
We were pretty far down into the meal when a couple was brought in to sit at a corner table ("she's his secretary" herself said); they had cider and started in on a multiple course meal. a bit after that a pair of women also were seated. We left a bit after three, before they'd ordered more than a beer.
It was while observing the sidewalk tables (eight or ten, full), that we realized there was a menu del dia. but we'd come to indulge, indulge we did, and while this wasn't a Top Ten Life List meal, we found it worth the journey, the NYT article worth the listening to, and the Metro trip back to our hotel, an experience of good-food'd mellowness.
We WOULD make Asturianos part of our regular Madrid planning, quite likely.
eight stars out of 11.
Total bill: around 85 Euros

May 03, 2013
chairbc in Spain/Portugal

Krakow!

we had a nice dinner last night at Gospoda u Zdzicha...a "folk" restaurant on the south side of the Market Hall square (Rynek Glowny 24)...a 'hound-ish sort of place, seemed to us: borscht, dumplings, sour soup, goulash-with-potato pancakes (really, what did Europeans DO for food before 1500?)...beer...mix of twenty-, thirty-something locals, a family or two, some tourists...country decore on the walls, simple tables, chairs, booths...didn't cost $40 US for two, if memory serves...comforting, recommended

Aug 12, 2012
chairbc in Europe

Any opinions about Hungarian food? Travelling to Budapest soon...

we ate at Dunacorso twice in the past week and were quite happy with the scene, the food, the menu, the musicians (live! acoustic! dancing with customers!), the price (though I didn't much care for the waiter hovering while we tried to figure out what tip to leave), the view (we looked at t
the park both times), speculation about the other diners,
etc. etc.

Aug 11, 2012
chairbc in Europe

Any opinions about Hungarian food? Travelling to Budapest soon...

I should add: My partner just looked at her credit card bill for our dinner at Gundel--well more than $200 US each..."the most expensive meal we've ever had," she said, but I think we've spent more once or twice. Her tone was, that may not have been worth it--but I mention this just for perspective....

Aug 08, 2012
chairbc in Europe

Any opinions about Hungarian food? Travelling to Budapest soon...

FWIW, we went to Gundel last night. Had been curious about the restaurant for many years—since reading “Blue Trout and Black Truffles,” in fact, the memoirs of a restaurant professional who had gotten his start there, if memory serves, before World War I. http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Trout-Blac...

We had our trepidations, we had seen posts and reviews that weren’t that impressed—but we had made reservations over the internet months before, and we had a fine time.

They seated us in an outdoor courtyard (it was a very warm evening); most of the other diners we could see were tourists, probably (one Asian table that had a young translator in tow; several couples who had to be American, a two-generation family, we think, who were likely German or Austrian and dealt with the staff in English, and so forth).

The food? Partly Magyar, I’d guess; partly international formal. But the thing at Gundel is the atmosphere and the service. We were handed out of our taxi by one staff member, shown to our table by another, had chairs pulled out by a third, were visited by the maître d’ (I think), had wines poured by sommeliers, lost count of the food runners, bus persons, etc. Handsome young women (none of them touching the food or taking orders); men in their thirties, forties, fifties. Where I had begun to fear obsequiousness, or hauteur or even boredom, there was energy, dignity and grace. At one point we asked that our procession of courses be slowed down a bit; later, we asked that they be speeded up a notch, and, no muss, no fuss, we were accommodated. And everyone spoke English, no problem

The staff wore pretty formal attire; but not the clientele.

Anyway, we had the Degustation Menu:

 Goose liver

 “Essence of beef”—broth with vegetable quenelles.

 Pike-Perch

 Citrus Sorbet

 Rack of Lamb

 Crème Brullee

All accompanied by wines (well, not the broth and not the sorbet) from different regions of Hungary.

A very cool thing is that we each got a printed booklet of the menu, which I’m consulting even as I type.

The high points? The goose liver and the sorbet. Any lows? Maybe Pike-Perch isn’t that great a fish…

Oh, and there was a band—piano, clarinet, and wandering violinist who made a fuss about certain tables but left the rest of us alone. Fine playing—a mix of “light classics,” what I took to be Hungarian classics, and American jazz. All acoustic.

At last we were handed into a taxi for the trip back to our hotel by the river, and Budapest’s heat wave and crowds (and lit-up castles and bridges). not a life-changing experience, but a memory we'll treasure

.

Aug 04, 2012
chairbc in Europe

Paris report - Le Gavroche

Just back to our digs after lunch (our third over 5-6 years) at le Gavroche, feel like I’m walking on air.
Herself: rilletes (shared) and supreme du poulet
Him: radishes and roast pork
Together: a bottle of Chenas (of course) and two espressos.
Total: 64 € … left 2 more on the table.
Crowd: men in suits, some women.
Of note, a) we arrived shortly after noon, were seated immediately in empty dining room; but regulars began arriving soon after (whew!)
b) no sign of the famous dog; but there was a lad, maybe 14?, apprenticing as a waiter/server/bus-dude, etc.
c) very very happy sounds coming from our fellow lunchers
d) now—seems general in Paris, these days—an entrée plus a plat, or a plat plus a dessert, are the same fixed prices. Not so much, the three-course menu of the past.

Jul 10, 2012
chairbc in France

rusted cast iron

tried this yesterday, your approach looked simple enough (and I have cooking oil in house, but not Crisco); results looked fine,thanks.

May 02, 2012
chairbc in Cookware

rusted cast iron

Our story so far:
The outside (emphasize: NOT the cooking surface) of a cast iron skillet has rusted.
I've cleaned the rust off with an SOS pad, water, and steel wool. and dried it as thoroughly as I can.
What is the next step to protect the outside (again, NOT the cooking surface) for the future?
I'm guessing some kind of oil and maybe putting in a low oven for some time.
But what kind of oil? neutral cooking oil? something else?
thanks in advance

May 01, 2012
chairbc in Cookware

oysters

mmm, Bar Crudo, mmm, went there once in its original location, have always meant to go back, thanks

Apr 30, 2012
chairbc in San Francisco Bay Area

oysters

that should be, Oysters in San Francisco...focus the query a little better.

Apr 30, 2012
chairbc in San Francisco Bay Area

oysters

any Hounds have rec's on where to enjoy raw oysters around SF these days? (aside from Zuni, Ferry Plaza and Waterbar, that is, all of which are great; but we already know them.) thanks

Apr 30, 2012
chairbc in San Francisco Bay Area

Noriega Hotel in Bakersfield - a great experience

Made a return visit about a week ago...and...everything was "the same", lots of food, great chatter around the communal dining tables, $20 each for mammoth amounts of food, people making nostalgic returns to a place they'd loved years ago, great soup, great fries, good fried chicken (stringy oxtails), plentiful red wine, happy sounds...and the place was only about 2/3 full on a Saturday night. No idea what to make of this.

Mar 26, 2012
chairbc in California

seeking recommendation for private cook

thanks I'll check it out

Feb 09, 2012
chairbc in San Francisco Bay Area

seeking recommendation for private cook

Am considering hiring a private cook/chef/caterer to prepare dinner for my Life Partner, myself, and up to four (maybe six?) other people as a birthday gift to her. Dinner or more likely lunch on a Sunday (but dinner-type, not brunch-type dishes). this would be in an urban house in San Francisco proper. Any recommendations from fellow Chowhounders? Almost any style or cuisine would be considered at this stage; almost any price range. thanks in advance.

Feb 07, 2012
chairbc in San Francisco Bay Area

Dinner near de Young museum?

I was thinking--should have said it--in terms of driving to Clement. Yeah, it's a hike to not be undertaken lightly...but having dinner at the DeYoung, that's a golden idea. should try it my own self one time.

Jan 16, 2012
chairbc in San Francisco Bay Area

Dinner near de Young museum?

and if Clement Street isn't too far (north of the Park), there are many-many choices, Asian and otherwise, between Arguello and 10th Avenue. or Cinderella Bakery and Cafe (Russian) on Balboa is fairly close http://www.cinderellabakery.com/

Jan 11, 2012
chairbc in San Francisco Bay Area