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Trip Report - Komol, Peppermill, Il Fornaio, Triple George, Palm, Raku

Komol - I ate here twice this trip, both times as the result of friends who wanted to go to Lotus of Siam but waited too long to try to get reservations there. Just a short walk across the parking lot is Komol. Honesty, I think Komol compares very well to LOS. My two entrees were Pineapple Duck and Soft Shell Crab. I still crave LOS's Crispy Duck on Drunken Noodle, but the Pineapple Duck at Komol was very good. The appetizers were the strong points of the meal: Esan Sausage, Shrimp Meat Balls, Spring Rolls, Crispy Noodles. The Nam Sod with Crispy Rice was outstanding. Don't be sad if you can't get into the famous place across the street. You'll be happy here.

The Peppermill -- This is a must for me on any visit. My usual: The Classic Cob Salad. It's a huge mound of ham, turkey, cheese, bacon, avocado, bacon, and tomato on mixed greens. I sat at the counter and enjoyed watching the action.

Il Fornaio -- We were in NYNY for Zumanity and wanted a post-show nice meal. Il Fornaio is right there. It's a small chain originated in Italy with a dozen or so U.S. locations. The pasta and pizza was quite good. The service...not so much. Probably won't return.

Triple George -- I really like the clubby look of this downtown bar and grill. They have some neat cubicle-like enclosed dining spaces. My New England Clam Chowder was really outstanding. The wedge salad with blue cheese was the tasty monster you would expect. But the entrée was a disappointment. I got their signature Porcini Crusted Ribeye. The steak filled the plate, but was quite thin. I think it's hard to get a real juicy, flavorful steak with such a thin cut. A smaller, thinner version would work much better. The crust was OK, but nothing I particularly enjoyed. I'll try a regular steak next time. I don't mind al dente vegetables but the green beans and carrots were pretty much raw. Service was good. I'll try it again.

The Palm -- I think The Palm's business lunch deal is one of the best lunch bargains in town (along with Milos). They start you with a great bread basket. It's got five or six different selections of really good bread. I went for the Mushroom Soup (of the day). Wow, this may have been the best cream of mushroom soup I've ever had. I usually get the beef medallions as the main, but this time tried the Chicken Parmigiana. Pounded flat, it was as big as the plate. It was good, but I think I'll return to the steak next time. My side choice was the home made chips and fried onions. New York Cheesecake for dessert. At less than $26 for this level of food and service, it's a steal. Sit on the indoor "patio" of the Forum Shops and enjoy people watching.

Raku -- As you might expect, Raku was the star of the trip, dining-wise. I had an omakase selection. I'm not sure I'll remember every course, but the flight was outstanding. It started with Raku's famous fresh tofu, topped with dashi, green onion, green tea salt, and soy sauce. This is nothing like supermarket tofu. Next was a single oyster topped with caviar. Three kinds of sashimi came next: salmon, Bluefin tuna, and sea trout. Wonderful fish! Somewhere in there were skewers of grilled grape tomatoes and grilled Iberico ham. Also a large grilled prawn. Ended with a fluffy Japanese cheesecake. A superb meal.

Apr 11, 2014
JoeyH in Las Vegas

Mid-priced Eats on the Strip

I second Mon Ami Gabi. Wolfgang Puck in the MGM might fit your requirements. If you're willing to go just a little bit off the strip...Ping Pang Pong, Cortez Room, and Noodle House...all at the Gold Coast...are all good values.

Mar 02, 2014
JoeyH in Las Vegas

St. Louis: clam roll and lobster roll

Gulf Shores Restaurant in Creve Cour has a lobster and seafood roll on their menu.

Coastal Bistro in Clayton has a lobster roll.

Demun Oyster Bar in Clayton has a lobster roll.

Jan 12, 2014
JoeyH in Great Plains

NYE in NOLA

I did NYE last year...and also stayed in the Marigny. We went to Muriel's, which had a nice NYE menu. It was a smaller menu than usual but still had plenty of choices. Service was only slightly diminished by the full house.

We chose the latest seating so we could be in the restaurant and toast at midnight. You might want to choose an earlier time and step out into Jackson Square for the celebration.

I did not find the Jackson Square crowd overwhelming. There was plenty of fringe space if you wanted to stay out of the main throng.

About taxis, though. That was a real problem. We finally found one to get to Muriel's, but getting home was a different story. The cab companies weren't even answering their phones. Fortunately, we weren't too far away from our rental and we walked home, though it wasn't ideal at that time of night.

I would see if you could get the cell phone number of a cabbie that you can call direct for pickup. We did that on a different evening.

Oct 11, 2013
JoeyH in New Orleans

Brief report

I only paid $12 for a Blanton's at the Peabody in Memphis. I would think that would be a similar representation of what Blanton's SHOULD cost in an upscale setting.

Aug 30, 2013
JoeyH in New Orleans

Where can I walk in?

Actually, I've done this a number of times. I go with the willingness to eat at the bar and I always have a second choice nearby. I think I've only struck out once. Give it a go.

May 12, 2013
JoeyH in Las Vegas

Vegetarian in New Orleans

At Italian Barrel, we saw Porcini & Truffle Ravioli, Fire Roasted Ravioli, Pumpkin Ravioli, Gnocchi, and other vegetarian friendly dishes.

Mar 09, 2013
JoeyH in New Orleans

Italian in N.O.

We enjoyed Italian Barrel.

Feb 16, 2013
JoeyH in New Orleans

Trip Report: August, Stanley, Emeril's, Italian Barrel, Maximo's, Domenica, Muriel's, Red Fish Grill

We visited from 12/26-1/2.

Stanley -- had brunch at the bar. Really tasty and creative egg dishes. I'll definitely go back. I had the Breaux Bridge Benedict with Boudin, Smoked Ham, American Cheese, Poached Eggs, and Creole Hollandaise. So many other things on the menu I would like to try.

Maximo's -- Nice plate of charcuterie and cheese. I had a salad of greens and big crab lumps. Very good. Then the house made fettucini Bolognese with prosciutto, ground veal, and Italian sausage. My only complaint involved seating. The first booth we were led to even the skinny ladies in our party could not squeeze into. Then the table we got was the kitchen door location. A really impressive Italian wine list.

Italian Barrel -- Really tiny bistro. You'll know your neighbor by the end of the meal. I had a simple but tasty appetizer of fresh, slighty pickled?, anchovies. Then a perfectly cooked filet with a crab sauce. It might have been a bit too rich, but I'm not really complaining. The ladies were very happy with several options of ravioli stuffed with pumpkin, spinach, fire roasted tomatoes, or porcini and truffle. This is not a well known place but the menu is creative.

August -- We had the $20.12 three course lunch. What a steal! We had a tri-layer cauliflower mousse in an egg shell as an amuse bouche. I had a first course of pate of local pork, house made pickles and marmalades with toasted brioche. My main was a gulf sheepshead poêlé with pumpkin custard, pearl barley, and brown butter. This was one of the best fish dishes I've ever had. I can't recall exactly what the dessert was except it was triple doses of chocolate and very good, though the Meyer Lemon dessert my friends had was even better. This was the best meal of the trip. Not only was the food great, the room is beautiful, and the service was top notch.

Emeril's -- Another $20 lunch special and another bargain for a top restaurant, though not as impressive as August. I had gumbo, a porchetta sandwich, and a berry sorbet. Great server. Try to do this deal, too, but if you can only do one, pick August.

Domenica -- Another John Besh restaurant (like August). Domenica, in the Roosevelt Hotel, has half price drinks and pizza from 3 to 6. We got two of their artisan pizzas, a wild mushroom and an eggplant version. These would be good at $14, but they're great at $7.

Muriel's -- We had New Year's Eve dinner at Muriel's and booked the last seating so we could be finishing dessert at midnight. I had a very good version of turtle soup, a so-so veal t-bone, and one of the better bread puddings I've had. Service was only adequate, but NYE tends to stretch even great restaurants pretty thin, so I'm willing to cut some slack there.

Red Fish Grill -- alligator sausage and seafood gumbo. Then a BBQ Oyster Po-Boy. The gumbo was spicy and hearty. I thought the Crystal hot sauce was a little heavy in the po-boy, so the oyster flavor kinda got lost. I would make a different choice next time.

Jan 06, 2013
JoeyH in New Orleans

Any practical nearby alternatives to Galatoire for Friday lunch?

Nothing wrong with the other suggestions, but I'll add Palace Cafe. Three minute walk.

Dec 08, 2012
JoeyH in New Orleans

French Fries

Comme Ca and Mon Ami Gabi (though MAG's are a unique style

Dec 01, 2012
JoeyH in Las Vegas

Anteprima

Did you go? What did you think?

Aug 27, 2012
JoeyH in Chicago Area

Best Bloody Mary & Pimm's Cup?

I had a very good Bloody Mary at Harry's Corner, a dive bar at Chartres and Dumaine.

Aug 26, 2012
JoeyH in New Orleans

Besh Steak Report

I had a very nice meal last week at Besh Steak in the Harrah's Casino.

First, even though it's right off the casino floor, there was no spillover of noise or anything else that would distract from your meal at all. It's a very attractive room decorated with multiple pieces of George Rodrigue's "Blue Dog" paintings.

My friend and I both started with the "Market Soup" which on this day was Redfish Bisque ($9). Wow, this was really flavorful. One of the best bisques I've ever had.

The bread service was a mini baguette. I told the waiter that this bread was the closest I've ever had to the fresh loaves that I used to pick up as a child at an Italian bakery in my home town. Many, many people in the town are nostalgic about the bread from this long-closed bakery. I'm telling them they need to go to New Orleans. The waiter said it is baked for all the Besh restaurants.

We both then had the Bibb Salad with Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing and Spiced Pecans ($12). It was quite a generous plate. I suspect some might find this salad overdressed but I didn't mind since the dressing was so tasty.

My main was the 14 oz Cast-Iron Seared Ribeye of Prime Beef ($35). This was a great steak, on par with anything I've had in the great Chicago or Las Vegas steakhouses. Cooked to perfect temperature, as well. I didn't really want the fries (pomme frittes) usually served with this steak, but they happily substituted a nice medley of summer vegetables.

My friend had the 10 oz Filet of Beef tenderloin with Dauphinoise Potatoes, Asparagus, Bordelaise, and Smoked Cherry Marrow Butter ($46). Another winner. My friend particularly liked the potatoes.

My only knock on the meal would be a B- to the waiter. He was just not checking on us like he should and, when he did, it was in mid-stride while he was breezing by. I think the FOH manager realized it and she started checking on us and refilling our glasses.

I would happily return for the food, though....even just to get some more of that bread.

Aug 11, 2012
JoeyH in New Orleans

Anteprima

I love Anteprima. Get the grilled octopus appetizer. Actually, their are so many good apps you can make a meal of the small plates if you want. But the pasta is also great. I don't know the mains as well since I've pretty much stuck to the apps and pastas. They have an extensive list of Italian wines and do a nice job of suggesting pairings. The room is pretty tight so be prepared to know your neighbors.

They also own Acre two doors down with a more rustic American focus.

Aug 11, 2012
JoeyH in Chicago Area

Lunch on southern Illinois - need help fast!

Some suggestions:

Marion exit: 17th Street Bar and Grill. Mike Mills is a 3 time winner of the Memphis in May BBQ cook off. His original location in Murphysboro has more character but the food at the Marion restaurant is good too.

Also at Marion exit, head west to Herrin. Louie's P & R. Italian deli. All kinds of sandwiches and salads.

West Frankfort exit: Mike's Drive In. Car hops and all. A throwback to the old A&W type drive ins. I like the pork tenderloin sandwich here...also the onion rings. And, of course, root beer in a mug.

Benton exit: Go west on Illinois 14 a few miles to Christopher to the Maid Rite Cafe. "Loose meat" sandwiches and good pie.

Ina exit. Uncle Joe's BBQ.

Jul 19, 2012
JoeyH in Great Lakes

St. Louis: has anyone been to Al's (north of Laclede's Landing)

I was there last a couple of months ago. I like Al's a lot. But I like stepping into a 1960s style clubby dining room with tableside preparation and classic dishes like caesar salad, shrimp cocktail, crab stuffed filet, escargot, stuffed mushrooms, etc. Sometimes overlooked are the really great pasta dishes. There is some fraying around the edges of the classic surroundings, but the food and service is still excellent. If you like "old school" it's hard to do better,

Jan 01, 2012
JoeyH in Great Plains

Dinner with a view - Sunday night

If your idea of a great view can include street level, I recommend the patio at Mon Ami Gabi. It has a great view of the Bellagio fountains across the street. Very good food. Not stuffy at all.

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Mon Ami Gabi
3655 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109

Bellagio
3600 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV

Sep 10, 2011
JoeyH in Las Vegas

"Must Read" books for chowhounds?

Some good suggestions. I would add:

The Fourth Star: Dispatches from Inside Daniel Boulud's Celebrated New York Restaurant

It's about the obsessive attention to detail that's required for a restaurant to earn the NY Times four star review.

Sep 10, 2011
JoeyH in Food Media & News

The end of Good Eats :(

With all due respect, I think Julia Child deserves that honor.

Sep 10, 2011
JoeyH in Food Media & News

Lawry's The Prime Rib?

I was undecided what to order one night at Gibson's and the waiter suggested I try the prime rib. I had always gone with the steaks at Gibson's, but the waiter told me the owner was actually more fanatical about the prime rib than anything else. So, I ordered it. Excellent.

May 31, 2011
JoeyH in Chicago Area

Milos $20.11 Lunch

Now that you mention it, they took my olive oil bottle away midstream, though not the bread itself. Still, that lavraki was stupendous.

May 31, 2011
JoeyH in Las Vegas

Milos $20.11 Lunch

We had another lunch at Comme Ca right next door to Milos. Quite good, but not as much of a deal.

I've always liked The Palm Steakhouse's "business lunch" $24.95 special, especially sitting out on the "sidewalk" in the Forum Shops at Caesars.
http://www.thepalm.com/files/filesPalm/AprilLunchLasVegas.pdf

And, speaking of sidewalks, another favorite lunch place in this range is the actual outdoor sidewalk tables at Mon Ami Gabi.
http://www.leye.com/files/restaurants...

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Mon Ami Gabi
3655 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109

Comme Ca
3708 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109

Apr 20, 2011
JoeyH in Las Vegas

Milos $20.11 Lunch

Char-grilled, then split and deboned. Just a touch of olive oil, I think. Very simple preparation but extremely fresh fish perfectly cooked.

Apr 17, 2011
JoeyH in Las Vegas

Middle Eastern Grocery St. Louis

My two favorites:

The Vine Mediterranean Cafe and Market, 3171 South Grand
Taj Market, 3301 Humphrey

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Taj Restaurant
654 N 114th St, Omaha, NE 68154

Apr 16, 2011
JoeyH in Great Plains

Milos $20.11 Lunch

I had the lunch special this week at Estiatorio Milos in the Cosmopolitan. What a great deal!!!

You get three courses for $20.11, though there are a couple of upcharge options. My appetizer was one of those options, an extra ten dollars for char broiled octopus. My main was lavraki (sea bass) with horta (similar to spinach). For dessert, karidopita (walnut cake).

The lavraki, in particular, was outstanding...one of the best fishes I've had.

Service was excellent and the room is very attractive. I believe the lunch special is usually on the patio but there was a group out there so I was served at a banquette in the dining room.

I strongly suggest you take advantage of this deal.

Menu: http://www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com/p...

Apr 16, 2011
JoeyH in Las Vegas

best las vegas salad

Not particularly healthful, but I like the Cobb Salad at Peppermill.

Mar 19, 2011
JoeyH in Las Vegas

best soft drink ever

Jan 16, 2011
JoeyH in General Topics

What are the best barbecue restaurants that ship nationally?

Jan 16, 2011
JoeyH in General Topics

Salon -- Weiner's Circle

Sep 28, 2010
JoeyH in Chicago Area