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Does anyone really LOVE sous vide?

OK, I'll take another angle at this one, given all of the responses:

I've never eaten sous vide. I live in the kountry. If I wanted to learn what sous vide cooking is all about, what are the best 3 (or 5 or 10) dishes I should try first? Like any cooking technique, not everything will taste good using sous vide -- so what will really showcase the technique? What was it invented to do?

Mar 09, 2011
Skidmark in General Topics

Klara's Restaurant in Cary, NC -- Big hits, Big misses

I went to Klara's Restaurant in Cary, NC, tonight. It is a Czech-themed restaurant, and as such the menu is a hit -- very traditional Czech fare, with a small selection of rare (in this country) Czech beers.

We started with a couple of appetizers -- one big hit, one big miss (you will notice a theme here). The Fried Brie was a big hit -- perfectly fried, nice flavor, served on a bed of greens that didn't get in the way of the FRIED CHEESE. Seriously -- this was a hit, but an easy one! =) Also, it was served with cranberries, but that's a new world item -- it should have been lingonberries to be traditional. J. Betsky's in downtown Raleigh serves such dishes with real lingonberries (just sayin').

The other app we ordered was the Cutting Board -- basically cold cuts, cheese, and the star of the plate, a kielbasa. It was awesome. The brie on this particular plate was too plain, the hard cheese was stale, and the mild blue cheese was actually quite good. The cold cuts were disappointing -- I could have sworn that was store-bought bologna.

For main dishes, I got to try four different items. In order of deliciousness, high to low, they were:

1. Pork Schniztel -- perfectly cooked, served with a lemon wedge as it should be, GIANT helping that we could not stop eating. Yum. Come here JUST FOR THIS. I am a believe in Betsky's, but this schnitzel might be better.

2. Beef Goulash -- beef was over-cooked, but not too badly, and the sauce was good (although it needed a little salt).

3. Sunrise Chicken -- Mascarpone cheese and sundried tomato sauce, which was good, on a plain, unseasoned chicken breast. Seriously -- I can make that at home for $4. It's not that it was bad, just that it was boring. And $16.50.

4. Szegedin (Pork) Goulash -- This may have been the worst pork I've ever eaten. Terribly overcooked, very tough. The meat in goulash is supposed to be fork-tender; I needed a knive to gnaw through this stuff. The sauce was a congealed, flavorless, light brown tragedy.

So, get the pork schnitzel. The chicken schnitzel looked good, too -- although the guy who ordered it ate it so fast that I didn't get to try it. I guess that's a good sign.

For beers, I had a Primator Maibock, which was pretty good, and a Bakalar Double Bock (not "dopplebock" apparently -- the bottle itself said "Double Bock"). The Bakalar was good enough to get another. Good match with the heavy Czech food.

I didn't get to try the potato dumplings, which is a Czech specialty. They also have strawberry-stuffed dumplings on the dessert menu, which I failed to try (that pork schnitzel really filled me up).

I might go back if I'm in the area, but only if I REALLY want schnitzel. This review would have been two stars if not for the schnitzel. There were enough misses on the menu to keep me away from exploring any further.

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Klara's Restaurant
200 S Academy St, Cary, NC 27511

Mar 02, 2011
Skidmark in Southeast

Saint Jacques in Raleigh -- Very good French food, not as good as I expected

Yup! That's why I went! The service was absolutely perfect. I haven't been to Fearrington House yet, but it is right at the top of my list.

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Fearrington House Restaurant
2000 Fearrington Village, Pittsboro, NC 27312

Mar 01, 2011
Skidmark in Southeast

Calling Raleigh Culinary Sleuths

Another vote for J Betsky's or Rockford. Betsky's has easier parking, and all of their cured meats are house-cured. The smoked beef & pork kielbasa, the pastrami sliders, and the lunch burger are all best-in-class. Fantastic german beer selection.

Rockford, on Glenwood, has a cool "you have to know it's there" vibe -- which means it can be hard to find. Open the door, walk upstairs, and it is a cool place with a very cool menu. Specials are always good, soups and sandwiches are great. I can't vouch for the beer selection personally, but they have beer.

Mar 01, 2011
Skidmark in Southeast

Saint Jacques in Raleigh -- Very good French food, not as good as I expected

I just had dinner with a colleague at Saint Jacques on Falls of Neuse Rd. Based on reviews here, on Yelp, OpenTable, etc., and also based on looking at their menu online, I really was expecting to be blown away. Perhaps my expectations were too high -- I'll certainly own up to that. Overall, we both felt that while the meal was good, maybe even very good, it was not great. And it certainly didn't blow us away. I am definitely planning on going back, and I'll update this review when I do -- I hope to be able to rate the rating to 5, since I can see the potential in the menu and the dedication of the staff.

First came the amuse bouche, which may have been the best thing I had all not. It was parmesan crusted fillo with goat cheese and truffle oil inside. Perfect and delicious.

We then started with a pair of appetizers -- the Creamy Risotto of Fresh Seafood and the Sweetbreads in Truffle Aroma. The scallop on the risotto was cooked perfectly, but could have had a better sear on it. The risotto itself was good, but could have been creamier -- it actually made me wonder when it was made. The sweetbreads were tender, but could have been crispier on the outside. Both the scallop and the sweetbreads suffered from a bit of sogginess -- both should have been on the fire longer. The sauce on the sweetbreads, a "dark veal and truffle reduction," was tasty, but lacked intensity -- I don't think it was reduced enough. The "galette of truffled whipped potatoes was the best part of the dish, although even though both the reduction and the potatoes had "truffle" in the name, I couldn't really taste any in the dish (and I LOVE truffles!).

For main courses, I ordered the Braised Veal Pied Paquets, a recipe that the owner said has been in his family for 3 generations. My colleague ordered the butternut squash-stuffed Pork Tenderloin. The veal was tender, but a little dry. I do a lot of braising, and I'd expected the meat to be moist and succulent all the way through. Also, like the sweetbreads, the reduction that it came with needed more reduction. The pork tenderloin actually had great, intense flavor -- after the amuse bouche, it was easily my favorite dish.

The wine selection is classically french, no complaints there. Although I felt like both of the wines I ordered by the glass needed more time to breathe -- it was a slow night, so they probably had to open the bottles. Not a big deal -- I just drank slowly.

Reading through the above, I realize that it sounded like I didn't enjoy the meal. That is far from true -- everything was really good! I wanted fantastic from this meal, though. Go look online and peruse the menu, and you will too! It is a great menu. They take french cuisine very seriously, and it shows. The service was impeccable (I especially appreciate switching out the white napkin for the black -- I love that kind of detail).

I will definitely be going back. The menu is worth exploring further. I have faith in the intentions of everyone involved, and it is possible that I just caught them on an off night, or that I'm just an asshole tonight for some reason. This particular meal just left us both feeling heavy and a little underwhelmed.

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Saint Jacques French Cuisine
6112 Falls of the Neuse Rd., Raleigh, NC 27609

Mar 01, 2011
Skidmark in Southeast

Gonna be in Charlotte tomorrow night. Looking for a good place to eat. What are my options for

I'll disagree with this review of Good Food. I sat at the bar a few months ago (the food side of the bar, not the drink side -- I love watching chefs work), and after bantering a bit I asked what the staff's favorite dishes were. Consequently, every dish I got was delicious. I really didn't have a bad bite all night. Unfortunately, I can only remember two things -- the cheese plate, which was very well thought-out with complementary side flavors for each cheese, and the steamed bun. They have a real, authentic recipe for the chinese steamed pork buns, and I can honestly say that the flavors took me right back to China, where I had them all the time during the month I spent there. True, they aren't packed with meat -- but that's not the point. The bun itself had the PERFECT texture (very hard to achieve), and the amount of meat was, I thought, true to the ones I had in China. It just wasn't an American style "let's how much meat we can stuff in this" type of pork bun.

I do agree that the dishes really are all over the place, but actually I think that makes it more fun! I always try to ask the chef and staff at places like that what THEY like, and that rarely fails. Overall, I had a wonderful meal (accompanied by a great wine, another recommendation from the staff).

Jan 14, 2011
Skidmark in Southeast

Best Birmingham restaurant open Sunday, July 4? Brunch OR dinner

Yes, it was indeed J Clyde, thanks. And since the two of us were already several cocktails and 2 bottles of wine in, I will admit that she may be hotter in memory than in reality. Also, I find deep knowledge of Belgian beer hot in a woman, so that may have skewed everything!

Jan 14, 2011
Skidmark in Central South

Good food AND sports in Charlotte?

Molly McPherson's definitely looks great -- thanks!

I ended up making reservations at Dunhill's hotel, but I probably won't have dinner there -- the Sunday brunch looks fantastic, so I'm definitely looking forward to that before I hit the road, though.

Jan 13, 2011
Skidmark in Southeast

Best Birmingham restaurant open Sunday, July 4? Brunch OR dinner

Wow, I thought I'd replied to this in July, but apparently the post didn't, uhh, post.

So, reconstructing from memory, I can tell you that this double-header was AMAZING.

Hot And Hot is all that. We got there at 5:30 and sat at the bar, per suggestion, and brought a bottle of wine good enough to impress the staff (which was awesome). The chefs chatted with us all night, going so far as to describe, in detail, how they make their pork rilette so ridiculously amazing. Really great atmosphere, really friendly people. And the food was still the highlight. Everything we had was great -- not a single bad bite. I honestly can't remember it all; interestingly the thing that sticks out is that it was, by far, the best cheese plate I've every had. What makes a cheese plate miraculous? The selection of cheeses was wonderful, across a wide range of styles (many, if not all, local cheeses). Each cheese was paired with a different type of complementary garnish -- an apricot/mint compote or a duck sausage or a [something else amazing]. It was wonderful.

Then we wandered around for a while until 9:15, when we got to Highlands. Again, this place is indeed all it is cracked up to be. Very nice atmosphere, more formal than Hot and Hot for sure, but not too stuffy IMHO. Fantastic service. And, interestingly, the dish that sticks out in my mind again is an appetizer. They served me the best beef carpaccio in the history of the world. Everything was wonderful, but that is what I remember 6 months later.

We paid a college kid who we'd met earlier that day $75 to drive us around for the whole night (6+ hours, which would have cost us a fortune in taxis or whatever). We definitely could NOT drive after the wine and cocktails we'd sampled. We finished the night at some Belgian beer bar with an extremely hot AND knowledgeable bartender who gave us enough free samples that we didn't actually have to order any beers. She was bored, and we apparently made her laugh.

It was a good night!

Jan 13, 2011
Skidmark in Central South

Good food AND sports in Charlotte?

Hey all,

I'll be in Charlotte this weekend (Jan 14-16) and I've been reading up on where to go. Miro? Roosters? Bonterra? Carpe Diem? Alexander Michael's? Fran's Filling Station? I've been to Good Food and love it, may have to go back (but I love trying new awesome places).

BUT THEN I REMEMBERED THE PLAYOFFS! I really want to watch football on Saturday (I leave Sunday morning), so I'm looking for the best place to get decent food AND watch the game in a decent atmosphere (as in, not a 13" TV at the bar of a really fancy restaurant where i can't yell stuff like "Someone stop that motherfucker!").

Not that I would ever yell things like that. =)

Suggestions? Oh, I'll be staying somewhere in Uptown (either Aloft or Dunhill, most likely), but I'll have a car so I can drive).

And, for that matter, if you had ONE last meal in Charlotte, cost is no object, where/what would it be? (Friday night is still wide open)

Thanks!

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Alexander Michael's
401 W 9th St, Charlotte, NC 28202

Jan 13, 2011
Skidmark in Southeast

Best Birmingham restaurant open Sunday, July 4? Brunch OR dinner

Thanks for the suggestion! I looked it up and it looks cool (and we were planning on bringing our own wine anyway, which they'd open for free!). But unfortunately they close at 9 every night, and our second dinner that night (see post above) doesn't even start until 9:15.

Jul 02, 2010
Skidmark in Central South

Best Birmingham restaurant open Sunday, July 4? Brunch OR dinner

Oh, and based on the reservation times available we decided to go to Hot and Hot at 5:30 for dinner and Highlands at 9:15 for, uh, another dinner.

Yes. Yes we are, in fact, hedonists. But we're going to have a kick-ass Saturday night!

Jul 02, 2010
Skidmark in Central South

Best Birmingham restaurant open Sunday, July 4? Brunch OR dinner

Thanks for the brunch suggestions! I've read a few positive reviews of the brunch at Sol Y Luna -- any opinions?

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Sol Y Luna
2811 7th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35233

Jul 02, 2010
Skidmark in Central South

Best Birmingham restaurant open Sunday, July 4? Brunch OR dinner

Hi all,

I'm spending this coming holiday weekend in Birmingham with a buddy, and we want to eat well. Very well. Saturday night is narrowed down to Highlands or Hot & Hot, but unfortunately both are closed on Sunday.

Does anyone know what is open on Sunday for a great brunch?

What about Sunday dinner? The only things I can find are Fleming's and Ruth's Chris. Not terrible places, but I really want to stick to local color, not chains.

Any advice is most appreciated!

PS as a third category, what is the best cigar bar in Birmingham? We have some high-end cubans to smoke, and we want some ambience to match! [Edit: the cigar bar would be for Saturday night after dinner.]

Thanks again.

Jul 02, 2010
Skidmark in Central South

Two meals in Phoenix -- please recommend

Does anyone have anything to say about Latitude 30? It turns out that I'm staying at the resort where it is located, but I didn't want to go just because it's close. Any good or bad experiences?

Jun 22, 2007
Skidmark in Southwest

Two meals in Phoenix -- please recommend

Thanks for the lightning-fast reply! I googled Kai and found this amazing review:

http://www.azcentral.com/ent/dining/a...

My favorite line: "Why are the schoolkids out in the fields plucking microgreens instead of in the classroom? Is there an overseer?"

Seriously, it sounds like exactly what I want for the fancy Saturday night meal. The phoenix ranch market sounds perfect for saturday lunch. Now I just have to find a less serious place for Wednesday night.

Thanks again.

Jun 22, 2007
Skidmark in Southwest

Two meals in Phoenix -- please recommend

I'll be in Phoenix on business next week with my girlfriend. We only have two unscheduled (non-work) meals the entire week -- dinner on Wednesday and Saturday. I would love to try something unique to the Southwest (I'm from the midwest, she's from the south). I found Vincent's on Camelback, but then on this board I've read that it has gone downhill. I swear I've looked, but I can't fine alternate recommendations for good phoenix restaurants with a local flavor. My price range is very flexible (I'm considering Mary Elaine's for one of the meals, because everyone raves about it, but if someone says that a mom-and-pop shack off the highway is the best, then that's even better).

I apologize if this has been asked many times before. I'm new to ChowHound, and I'm not used to the search mechanism -- also, I find the sheer number of posts intimidating, to be honest.

Please help!

Thanks.

--Rafi (aka Clueless in Columbia, SC)

Jun 22, 2007
Skidmark in Southwest