Steve R's Profile

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Anniversary dinner Florence

Here's another thread that might give you some ideas: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/977873

Even after spending a month in Florence & having previously visited several times, I'm scratching my head trying to figure out what might fit your bill. I think allende is correct that the best Florence places are more simple and that the more celebratory upscale (not pretentious) places are not known for great food (above average yes). That being said, let us know what you decide and how it goes. I'd certainly like to hear back on this. Happy anniversary (btw, our 30th is May 21st).

Mar 18, 2015
Steve R in Italy

Avoiding much of NYC's winter: 6+ weeks in Indian Shores

Of course. It was halfway between where we stayed and the tennis club we went to most days. Doughnuts were pretty good, although you had to catch them early for a selection. There was another coffee place just south of Salt Rock Grill that made good muffins and coffee, had some laid back seating in several small rooms & played good music. Indian Shores Coffee Company I think.

Mar 16, 2015
Steve R in Florida

Avoiding much of NYC's winter: 6+ weeks in Indian Shores

Here are some notes from the 6 weeks we wound up spending in the area. Next year, we're probably going for 9 weeks, as we came back to NY too early and caught 2 snowstorms in one week back.

1- we still love Bern's. Two dinners there with above average steaks, all the other stuff they give you (I like dinner salads, onion soup, loaded baked potatoes, etc) &, most importantly very good inexpensive wines. A couple of whites, a couple of reds… details upon request. We've gone every year for about 5 years now, with friends who are obsessed and have gone every year for over 20 years (& have a copy of the original wine list book that'd fetch good money on e-Bay), and can't help but love it. Getting displaced from our table last year so that Derek Jeter could bring in his entourage was fun, but so was eating in the old room at The Grand Dame's table (no, she wasn't there).
2- E & E Stakeout Grill (yes, it's spelled that way) on Indian Rocks Rd. in Belleair Bluffs is described in one Tampa tourist mag. as "a seafood oriented steakhouse". That alone almost kept us from going, but as it is highly regarded by just about everyone, we went. And went two more times. Its a very reasonably priced place, serving better steaks than most (including a very good prime rib) in very nice rooms with very friendly service. And a limited wine list that includes some very good bottles with low mark up. Like a Jordan Cab. Sauv. for $60 (retail is usually in the $40s). Highly recommended - reservations needed.
3- Eating at the bar at Salt Rock Grill became a habit for us. Nice social place with a wide variety of choices that'll allow you to spend as little or as much as you wish & eat well prepared fresh food. I don't think it deserves a reputation as a "destination" restaurant, as they tend to add too many ingredients to their mains (sauces, spicings, conflicting sides, etc). But, it'd be as crowded in Nassau County, Long Island as it is in Indian Shores & for much the same reason. If you keep it simple you eat well. We must've been there a dozen times over the six plus weeks.
4- Fish places that we liked (because they fried things cleanly, had fresh food & were friendly… not because they were anything more than local fish shacks) included PJ's, Lola's, Crabby Bill's & The Pub. There were many more that we didn't try, but these met our need for both social lunches, informal dinners and even live music (PJ's & C.Bill's). I discovered that I love what they all call "Chicago Oysters": large gulf oysters baked with parm. cheese and butter. Usually under $12/dozen. I learned to love grouper served many ways as well.
5- We'd been to Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City and its better than the one in Sand Key, which we went to this time. The food's close to the same - in my opinion, "good" - but not quite. But the room isn't the warren of decorated rooms in Ybor City (even though its a nice view of the water, with some nice outdoor seating). The salad's great, the apps. decent and the mains fresh, if overwrought. Keeping it simple works here as well.
6- Guppy's in Indian Rocks Beach is owned by the same folks as E&E and is a good choice for a nice medium priced dinner. We went two or three times and had good salads & fish. We preferred sitting at the bar for dinner.
7-Slyce, a pizza place on Gulf in Indian Rocks Beach, has (yes, this Brooklyn guy is going to say this) good pizza. A very friendly bar area to eat at (hey, we're consistent), very good salads, good wines by the glass and bottle and pizza I can live with. And, if needed, they deliver.

If you're in Sarasota, we highly recommend the Ringling Museum, especially the circus memorabilia building. And, although I don't much like Dali, the museum in St. Pete is good & worth a visit. And, if you're a tennis player, I can recommend where to play, since we play pretty much every day and even joined Shipwatch Tennis Club while there.

Mar 15, 2015
Steve R in Florida
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Kao Soy--new Thai in Red Hook

We were there for lunch yesterday with some friends from out of town and everyone loved it. Two of us had Kao Soy & one of us had the Sai Oua, so its not like we were straying away from what I knew would be good. The 4th dish was the pork belly/beef dish, which is pretty close to Chinese beef tendon soups (with more meat) in my opinion, in that I think they use either 5 spice mix or something similar (star anise is prevalent). At any rate… all good. The apps. were pretty good as well, with the anchovy salad being fresh and crisp with the dried shrimp supplemented by 5 or so medium sized dry anchovies on top of the salad. Definitely an improved version from what they started with. The "dip" and the eggplant/shrimp and the banana blossom dishes weren't too shabby either. I think that they're actually improving & I appreciate the effort to do so, even though I'm pretty satisfied with what I get whenever I'm there.

Mar 11, 2015
Steve R in Outer Boroughs

Visiting Brooklyn for a day in May

Like walking? If so, here's a completely different idea thru neighborhoods closer to Manhattan & full of 30-something's: walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, then 3 blocks into the new waterfront park or onto the Promenade. Both overlook the Manhattan skyline. Walk to Atlantic Ave either way & then up Atlantic Ave, stopping at any of the bars or restaurants & then into Sahadi's on Atlantic (near Court St.). Walk Court St. 10 or so blocks to Union St, then one block left to Smith St, then walk back toward Atlantic. The F train runs along Smith & you can take it back to Manhattan (15 minutes ride) or, if you're still energetic, you can take it in the other direction into Park Slope.

Feb 14, 2015
Steve R in Outer Boroughs
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Inferior chicken breasts

On Hicks, on the block just before Alma (coming from Atlantic Ave).

Feb 11, 2015
Steve R in Outer Boroughs

Where can I get Provel cheese or St. Louis-style pizza around FL?

I went to grad school in St. Louis in '80-81. We're here in Indian Shores for a couple of months renting a condo and I got to talking with the owner of the condo next door, who lives in St. Louis, about the old days there. Turns out that she & her husband are good friends with the Imo's & are involved with the provel cheese business. Coming from Bklyn NY, I just had to tell her about my shock at ordering our 1st pizza at Imo's & getting a strange cheese on top of a large cracker. She took it well. Glad you all found it, but I guess I could contact her if needed.

Jan 31, 2015
Steve R in Florida

Herald-Tribune Review of Cafe L'Europe -- Sarasota

Much better French place only 15 minutes away on Longboat Key -- Maison Blanche. Our 2 dinners there last year were very nice.

Jan 24, 2015
Steve R in Florida

Where do Foodies or Locavores eat in Tampa Bay Area?

I think Sidebern's is gone, to be replaced in a couple of months by their new place "Haven".

Jan 21, 2015
Steve R in Florida

your favorite italian restaurants in Brooklyn

Sorry. We're speaking of a place that closed down over 20 years ago. It was off Quentin Rd. Again, sorry... someone resurrected a very old thread & it has taken on a new life.

Jan 15, 2015
Steve R in Outer Boroughs

your favorite italian restaurants in Brooklyn

If you went to the one on McDonald Ave, then yes it was very good. Seriously good. The eggplant parm., the chicken Parm., the baked ziti & the lasagna were personally ingested by me & my family at an alarming rate over at least a 10 year period. The data showed that it hit the spot 110% of the time, so it's confirmed... well, at least in my memory.

Jan 15, 2015
Steve R in Outer Boroughs

Is Chowhound dead?

Not me. We drive to the Village from Bklyn Hts to eat all the time. Even been known to drive to Gramercy, UES, etc. However, the main use is for getting around Bklyn, from tennis at Prospect Park, Dyker or Marine Park to restaurants all over the borough. Even drive to Flushing. And, of course, to get outta town.

Jan 14, 2015
Steve R in Site Talk

Is Chowhound dead?

I have one too.

Jan 13, 2015
Steve R in Site Talk

Is Chowhound dead?

I get it. No problem. Thanks for responding.

Jan 12, 2015
Steve R in Site Talk

Is Chowhound dead?

goldangI95:

Wow. First of all, you described me & my friends pretty well in your 1st paragraph, although, by the way, our fridge also has a variety of condiments & I cherish the moments that our bill is only $50pp, even in our local places in Brooklyn. My wife & I worked hard for many years to get to this point & I'm not sure why you've felt the need to bolster your hypothesis about some of the reasons CH posts might be down by caricaturizing us with (very) thinly veiled disdain. I am truly unhappy that many in our society do not have access to the things I take for granted, of which going out to eat is not the most important (health care, housing and other things spring to mind) & I believe that I do my part to make this a better place to live. I'm sure we can all do better, but that's a topic for another place & time.

There are a lot of reasons that CH's postings ebb & flow. My guess is that very few of those that used a site like this are the ones now eating frozen peas for dinner instead of going to the places we post about & that's why traffic is down. Just a guess.

If you're ever in NYC, get in touch & we'll take you out to dinner. Maybe Bkeats will join us. I'd invite you over but white wine, moldy cheese (however expensive) & condiments probably wouldn't be enough.

Jan 12, 2015
Steve R in Site Talk

Is Chowhound dead?

Pookipichu:
I'm not sure why you're downplaying the effectiveness of your own (& others') posts about these type places. You've either put many places on my list or confirmed whether or not I should go to others. And you're on a board that probably most resembles the original CH. In the past year, diverse "finds" of all levels have been written up, some of which became media darlings only after 'hounds reported on them. Seriously: La Vara, Delaware & Hudson, Chez Moi, several old line red sauce places, Kao Soi, E. European places in or near Brighton Beach, Taci's Beyti, some Bklyn 8th Ave C'town places & several other Bklyn places have been found or revisited by a # of longtime CH folks, including me. And, in Queens, you, ScoopG, erica & many others have informed & reminded folks about the malls (new & old), Ly's, S&T, Lttle Pepper, Fu Run, Golden Palace, and many other regional Chinese places in Flushing (& Elmhurst). Then there are the Roosevelt Ave posts about the Latin American street carts & storefronts. And a couple of LIC finds.

I can't disagree about the signal to noise ratio but, although the glass is half empty, it's still half full as well. Just my 2cents.

Is Chowhound dead?

Harters:
Yes, it applies, but we both seem to enjoy the France board, which is much more than that (although it has a lot of it). The 5 or more "core posters" on that board are not only helpful to tourists, but actively engage in some very solid conversation. Less so the Italy board, but its still more than an "echo chamber". And the Outer Boroughs board in NYC has a lot of stuff (mainly Asian ethnic, but some others as well) that are more like what CH was founded for: ferreting out excellent food being served in places that folks probably wouldn't otherwise know about.

The many other sources for finding out openings, closings & interesting data (like eater, seriouseats, personal blogs, etc.) has certainly lessened the need to rely on CH for this, and the structure of CH more & more engenders crossover with other sites reviewing food (yelp, trip advisor, open table) that have lowered the bar (my opinion of course). But its not over yet… I still find some meaningful back & forth on CH, as well as discovering (being directed to, actually) places I wouldn't have otherwise gone & learning things about the places I travel to. So, I guess I'll stay and weather this new "outrage" (as some drama folks have labeled it), as I've done all the others. Hopefully, you will too.

Jan 11, 2015
Steve R in Site Talk

Is Chowhound dead?

cstefan206:
Which venues in Seattle are you referring to? Asking only for my personal need. Thanks.

Jan 11, 2015
Steve R in Site Talk

I am in sympathy with my Parisian food lovers

Best wishes to all. I look forward to the day that our greatest differences are over tipping policy and what time to eat dinner. And that even these are settled without bloodshed. May we all live to see it.

Is Chowhound dead?

Exactly. (my shortest post ever).

Jan 06, 2015
Steve R in Site Talk

Is Chowhound dead?

"Mouthfulsfood.com was also a great place"

Was? Didn't know we died. ;-)

At any rate, many from CH helped form eGullet due to the limitations of the type of board this was & then mouthfulsfood.com was formed largely out of eG folk. The boards are very different & many of us who have been around since the beginning find that participating on both CH & MF work best for us. You'd be surprised with the overlap of membership, especially on the NY boards of both.

Jan 05, 2015
Steve R in Site Talk

Chez Moi on Atlantic - The old La Mancha space

Just figured that I'd take the time to bring this back to folks' attention. Since last year, there has been a chef change (not ownership, thankfully) and the food has actually gotten even better. We love it and go often. Friendly, unpretentious, fairly priced… a real neighborhood feel. We'll always miss La Mancha (& Jose) but, if this would have moved in next door, we'd have divided our time between them.

Jan 02, 2015
Steve R in Outer Boroughs

Automatic gratuity - what % is normal?

Well, you asked so I'll give you an honest answer. Nothing you write that the restaurant did seems to be out of line to me. When you reserved, they explained the 18% would be added. 10 minutes is not out of line as a wait for drink orders -- as has been said, they may have wanted to let you settle in, or maybe they needed the time to do so. Another 10 minutes until food orders were taken is also not excessive -- 20 minutes to allow you all to settle in, order drinks, start drinking and peruse the menu is very reasonable. Also, it may not take 20 minutes to get burgers & pastas ready, but those were only 11 of your 16 orders and I'd guess you'd have a more reasonable complaint if they served those meals and left your other 5 co-workers waiting for their food while 11 ate their burgers and pasta. As for separate billing for 16 people at a gathering, my take is that the restaurant should get accolades for even trying to accomodate you on that. Waiting until dessert is ordered to print out a single check may be inconvenient, but I really wouldn't think this is something to be expected. Maybe the one person could have given someone else his/her expected bill and have them take care of it at the end of everyone's meal?

Again, just my 2 cents. Not meant as anything other than my opinions in response to your inquiry.

Automatic gratuity - what % is normal?

duplicate post… sorry

Jan 02, 2015
Steve R in Not About Food

Automatic gratuity - what % is normal?

Maybe Harters & others should be incorrect (maybe not) but I'm afraid he's not. I'm not an Olive Garden kinda guy (pretty "knowledgeable" actually) & I basically tip 18-20% all the time, going up somewhat if the service was outstanding or if there's some other reason to do so (comps, etc). Only if the server has gone out of his/her way to be obnoxious or totally inattentive have I given less than my usual anywhere. Most of the time I rationalize this (or maybe its correct) by thinking that most problems aren't caused by the waitstaff so why would I use their part of my cost for the inadequacies of the place? Instead, I tip, I leave and I don't return. And I write up my bad experience.

Again, I'm not claiming that I'm more "correct" than you or anyone else, just explaining what I do and why. And, certainly, my tipping practice changes when I'm in Europe although, from my interactions with folks whom I trust on the France (& Italy somewhat) boards, I'm probably overtipping and ruining their culture anyway with my 10% additions for the waitstaff.

Jan 02, 2015
Steve R in Not About Food

Keen's Steakhouse - Don't Go!!!!

My answer to that specific question would be bourbon.

Dec 31, 2014
Steve R in Manhattan

DiFara Square Pie question

Hey Jeff - is this your 10 year anniversary answer to the OP?

For what it's worth, I love his square slices without additional toppings.

Dec 29, 2014
Steve R in Outer Boroughs

Keen's Steakhouse - Don't Go!!!!

I think they've improved the dip since '06. I think they're now raising free range crabs in one of their upstairs rooms. I know their Prime Rib & chops are good though.

Dec 21, 2014
Steve R in Manhattan

Fairway Cheese Departments, c. 2014

The Red Hook Bklyn store has a good space with helpful staff.

Dec 21, 2014
Steve R in Manhattan

Intimidation of Restaurant Reviewers

Thank you for posting this. In general, I think you have elegantly captured the situation & I very much appreciate your thoughts on the topic. But, I do have a quibble with your last paragraph. You state: "..just like criticizing a film is pointless if you do not know what went in the making of the film, criticizing a restaurant must always be done with the humility of someone that may have eaten all his life, but is not working all his sweat out in a kitchen making dishes for a crowd of spoiled brats". As a consumer, I don't think that I can agree with the notion that criticism of the product is "pointless" if not based on knowledge and experience with the manufacturing process. If I don't like the way a watch looks or if it doesn't keep time while on my arm, I can criticize it's usefulness without having a clue as to how to make a watch. Similarly, when I critique a film, its about how enjoyable it was for me to watch. With a restaurant, it's from the perspective of how much I liked how the place felt to me, how good the food tasted to me, how well I was serviced, whether I felt I was charged what I consider an appropriate amount for what I received, etc… the eating experience, not the technical aspects of the food's creation. On the other hand, I totally agree with you that this should all be done with the "humility" you describe, as much of the time even food I don't appreciate is part of the life's work of another and should be respected as such. Again, thanks… great post.

Dec 19, 2014
Steve R in France
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