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Eleven Madison Park wine pairings: yes or no?

may I ask what the price of a beer pairing would be for the four-course grid? I'll be dining there soon and this is something I would consider (even though I don't have all that much extra room in my wallet to budget in a pairing…). thanks!

Jan 04, 2012
bagwhat in Manhattan

San Diego recomendations

I am from SD but now live in Philly, and the one thing I miss the most is mexican food. I find that Philly actually does fancy mexican food (Xochitl, Distrito, etc.) better than SD, but when I want a taco or a burrito, even the vaunted Philly spots don't do it for me.

Do a search of the California board (LA is for LA, not the rest of SoCal), but off the top of my head you want to try the Marlyn tacos at Marisco's German, some barbacoa at Aqui es Texcoco, and all the other things people recommend.

The other thing I find is that SD has better pho than Philly. Again a search will be more helpful, but the Mira Mesa area has a lot of good pho.

Finally, you're probably going to want some special occasion dinner spots for your birthday. I find when I'm visiting home that I prefer just to indulge in the cheap chow in SD and save my budget for the fantastic Philly higher-end dining spots, but Market, in Del Mar, George's, in La Jolla and a range of spots downtown/in HIllcrest (that I don't visit much because I live further north) will probably be recommended. Just pick a menu that looks good to you. The Linkery is another good spot that's not as fancy, but makes some pretty great food (though I stay away from the sausages and kraut and choose off the daily market specials).

Sep 30, 2009
bagwhat in San Diego

4 Nights in PHL, pt3 - Tacos Don Memo, Matyson

I always order Don Memo spicy (because I like it that way), but my girlfriend always gets either mild or medium…both of which are indistinguishable to me. I think they just keep it mild for anyone who doesn't ask for spicy (since they only ask for spicy or mild), but rest assured that Don Memo certainly knows how to bring the heat.

Jul 29, 2009
bagwhat in Pennsylvania

What is your Top 5 restaurants in Philly

1) Vetri - Just consistently the best food
2) Zahav - absolutely wonderful. Really want to try the quarter kitchen.
3) Amada - a revisit dropped this below Zahav. Still very good.
4) Osteria - Probably only so "low" because I already have Vetri on the list
5) would be a tie between James and Tinto, though really at this point I'd rather pick any number of chinatown haunts or even one of the great beer spots like local 44 or something.

Jun 02, 2009
bagwhat in Pennsylvania

Molecular Gastronomy in or near San Diego

Haven't been to the new El Biz, but Kitchen 1540 in Del Mar has a few of those "molecular" whims, like pop rocks on foie gras and caramelized yogurt and stuff.

Jan 31, 2009
bagwhat in San Diego

Best Dish In San Diego?

The California Burrito with Guac at Rudy's
Duck Breast with Parsnip Purée, Cocoa/Clove Crumbs, Kumquat Confiture, Star Anise Jus at the Dining Room at Jack's (remember that place?)
in january i'll decide on my favorite asian dish from the convoy area and post it

Dec 02, 2008
bagwhat in San Diego


Agreed. BUT if you can't/don't want to swing the tasting menu, here's what I'd order off the current menu:

foie pastrami,
spinach gnocchi,
sweet onion crepe,
almond tortellini,
cauliflower flan with egg yolk,
any of the pastas,
guinea hen,

but visit the menu and pick what sounds best to you. you probably can't go wrong.

Nov 17, 2008
bagwhat in Pennsylvania

Picholine Pricing

I'm going to be eating at Picholine in a couple of weeks, and I'm a little bit confused by the pricing structure. The prix fixe menu on the website says that three courses are $92, but various other sites indicate that there are many many options as to how many courses you want at Picholine, as well as some indicating that dessert is included in that price.

Basically my question is, is the $92 prix fixe 3 courses + dessert? Or is it 2 courses + dessert, or just 3 savory courses, with dessert being extra?

Thanks to anyone who can help!

Oct 07, 2008
bagwhat in Manhattan

One Dinner: Tilth or Crush (Seattle)

I guess I should have offered more specifics.
- I like more creative food, brighter flavors so it sounds like Crush would fit that bill better, but obviously the one with better food would be the better choice.
- We will be finishing a loooong drive to Seattle and I think the last thing we will want to do is stand around and wait for a table, which is why I regrettably had to cross Sitka and Spruce off my list.
- We also will be getting there on a Wednesday, so Art of the Table is not an option (as far as I can looks closed on Wednesdays?).

Is there a reason why between these two choices any of you would choose Option 3?

Jul 11, 2008
bagwhat in Pacific Northwest

One Dinner: Tilth or Crush (Seattle)


Jul 10, 2008
bagwhat in Pacific Northwest

Tacos Don Memo truck gone for summer?

My girlfriend called to get us lunch last Tuesday and after many rings a very tired-sounding person picked up the phone and told her that they were closed "for the week." If they weren't there today, I'm not really sure what's going on.

Jun 16, 2008
bagwhat in Pennsylvania

Falooda, faluda, faloodeh … bubble tea

I believe it's really simple. I don't have any measurements, but its a little bit of water, and a little bit of cornstarch. You mix and heat them until you have a doughy thing, then "extrude" it through a colander to get noodles. Set the colander over ice water with some rose water mixed in and let it soak/chill until you're ready to eat some kulfi.

Apr 19, 2008
bagwhat in General Topics

going to vetri

The Spinach Gnocchi is incredible (its like eating spinach-flavored air, given some heft by ricotta salata and brown butter)

The Goat is great here's what Frank Bruni (NYTimes) had to say about it:
"Vetri is where you find the goat. It’s spit-roasted over oak in the parking lot out back before it’s finished in the oven inside, and it emerges from the process in such crunchy, fatty and tender form that I could make a case for goat’s being the new duck, or duck on testosterone therapy. Mr. Vetri relishes big, brawny dishes."
"But I’ll say this: if I were in Philadelphia and slated to dine at Vetri tonight, I’d be thrilled.
And I’d get the goat."

The sweet onion crepe is wonderful, although very simple and you may feel like you could make it at home (and you can).

I've also heard good things about the guinea hen breast, but we didn't get it in the form that it's on the menu, we got it in tortellini in a hen broth.

PS there will always be people who aren't pleased by a restaurant, it's just the nature of the business. The feedback here and on other boards and blogs has been overwhelmingly positive, so don't be discouraged by one or two bad experiences.

Apr 19, 2008
bagwhat in Pennsylvania

Dinner Recommendations in SD

Oh and I haven't figured out yet why almost everything on the menu is either served with rice or beans. They are certainly very good rice/bean sides, but it's a little weird.

Apr 09, 2008
bagwhat in California

Dinner Recommendations in SD

I'll answer the food part because I usually don't notice service unless it's extraordinarily bad or extraordinarily good. They're nice, affable people at the better half, but I can't honestly say it's any better or worse than most other places I've been to.

As for food, it's all pretty good, but I have to question certain choices made in the kitchen. Topping the enormous (I find portion sizes here too big, but I doubt that's a real complaint for most people) and delicious pork belly with a salad only served to make the greens warm and soggy, rather than the crisp, sharp complement I assume they were meant to be. And the first time I ordered the fish special, it was served skin side down, soaking in the juices and (admittedly delicious) risotto, sogging it up. I normally wouldn't complain because at those prices, food this good is a steal, but I certainly wouldn't call it the best.

Apr 09, 2008
bagwhat in California

Dinner Recommendations in SD

The Better Half is very good, but it's certainly not the best restaurant in San Diego (nor, I think, is it posturing in such a way); I keep going back for what it is: solid food without the formality usually associated with fine-dining. I wouldn't go there for a speical occasion though.

Market is good, and I would have strongly recommended Jack's, but in addition to serving the best meal I've had in San Diego, it also served one of the worst meals I've had in San Diego.

I've heard great things about Addison, but I haven't been back to San Diego in a while and haven't tried it yet. El Bizcocho was fantastic, too, but I haven't been (or heard anything about it) since Gavin Kaysen left for Cafe Boulud.

Apr 09, 2008
bagwhat in California

The Word on Le Bec Fin

Personally I think it's great that we're teaching that older generation how to do things like use computers and the internet. Even if they do accuse people they've never met of being "foul-mouthed, cell-phone addicted, rattily dressed, narcissistic brats." (Sounds like someone needs to go back to the early 70s and learn those traditions and manners again).

In any case, I have to wonder what kind of younger crowd he expects to attract with plates like a $56 Dover Sole dish.
(Menu can be found here:

Maybe I just have the old summer menu in mind, but it seemed a lot more "young" and up with the current trends (or at least with brighter flavors), whereas this seems a little more classic. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it seems contrary to his goal. But I haven't eaten there, so I can't really judge.

Apr 08, 2008
bagwhat in Pennsylvania


I have only eaten at James once and I had a great meal. Don't know what the current menu has (I don't think the website is up to date), but the rabbit agnolotti with concord grapes and the duck/orange/chocolate were fantastic. Desserts were also very good.
People like to complain about small portions, but I don't know what restaurant they showed up to. I left totally (almost uncomfortably) stuffed after 3 courses.

Apr 08, 2008
bagwhat in Pennsylvania


I do this with caramelized bananas (sauteed with cinnamon in butter) and a good amount of salt

Apr 07, 2008
bagwhat in General Topics

Amada fans

We didn't have a single bad dish, but the most memorable ones were the Lamb meatballs, the octopus, and the garlic shrimp. You have a great, great meal ahead of you.

Apr 04, 2008
bagwhat in Pennsylvania

High-end Philly Birthday Dinner

For great food I'd go for one of the following 5, in this order:

Vetri, Amada, Lacroix, Tinto, James

Mar 19, 2008
bagwhat in Pennsylvania

Indian restaurants in West Philadelphia??

Sitar is what you're thinking of.
I like it better than New Delhi, personally.

Mar 17, 2008
bagwhat in Pennsylvania

Ethnic and/or BYOB in West Philly

Marigold Kitchen was up there with my favorite restaurants in the city in 2007, but when 2008 started they changed chefs. It's no longer modern middle-eastern food, much to my disappointment, but modern Southern food. So that's not ethnic anymore.

Vietnam Café (corner of Baltimore and 47th, not sure if that's what schpsychman meant) has some really good, and really cheap food. Especially the lemongrass chicken soup.

Feb 04, 2008
bagwhat in Pennsylvania

Vetri for V-Day

I did this last summer with my dad (who doesn't eat beef) and it was no problem. There is a relatively wide assortment of options, and you tell the host at the beginning of you have any preferences/restrictions. The goat was fantastic, as was the sweet onion crepe and the spinach gnocchi. Actually it was unbelievably good through and through, but those are the only 3 things that are mainstays of his menu. Just enjoy it and have a great time in the hands of a great chef.

Feb 02, 2008
bagwhat in Pennsylvania

Osteria for Valentine's Day

I would add a bowl of that candele with boar bolognese. delicious.

Jan 23, 2008
bagwhat in Pennsylvania

Best of San Diego 2007

It actually was a great year for eating here, considering how little time I spent in San Diego (I go to school in Philadelphia). Yeah the food was exactly what it was supposed to be, which I guess would be great if it was my style. I guess the real disappointment was finding that Market wasn't my favorite kind of food. But those tempura prawns...I could eat those forever.

Jan 07, 2008
bagwhat in San Diego

Best of San Diego 2007

I should also add that my biggest disappointment of 2007 was Market, where I had an outstanding appetizer (the tempura prawns with cabbage, spicy peanut sauce, and grapefruit slices), but a very boring main course (a lamb duo with ribs and sausage) in which the best component was a pretty good apple-cheddar gratin. The dessert I had was also not so great, with the best component being the tiny dollop of "pretzel" icecream (great sweet-salty flavor) that was flanked by standard chocolate cakes/tarts

Jan 07, 2008
bagwhat in San Diego

Best of San Diego 2007

Best Meal: The Dining Room Jack's La Jolla - The flavors here were just perfect and spot on. I'm a huge fan of acid and a hint of sweet, and this is exactly how Tony DiSalvo (because of his mentor Jean Georges Vongerichten) cooks. I would be hard pressed, I think, to find a better meal here.

Best Under-$50/person Meal: The Better Half technically I ate here in 2008, but I would be remiss not to note this place. The food was exceptional, the inclusion of amuses and intermezzos in the meal is a great touch, and the service is outstanding, warm and friendly. My only complaint is that it's all very heavy and the portions are a bit large (but I don't know many people who would complain about that).

Jan 05, 2008
bagwhat in San Diego

Xochitl or Lolita?

I actually disagree re: Xochitl. I found the food great there. But then again I haven't eaten at Lolita so I probably shouldn't butt in here.

Dec 29, 2007
bagwhat in Pennsylvania

Advice: Gayle or James?

Yeah it's exactly because of that.

Dec 17, 2007
bagwhat in Pennsylvania