TheDegustationAsian's Profile

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Rochester Round Up Nov 2014

Nadaia I have no reason to believe Good Luck has slipped, it's long been a favorite of mine whenever visiting back home. This was more of a case where I wanted to try new restaurants and I wasn't as impressed with the current menu. I had a pretty weak meal at Cure when it first opened despite chef Martello being present finding the menu strangely veering Thai (perhaps they thought papaya salad is Vietnam?).

I've also had less than stellar meals at Good Luck, although I still enjoy grabbing a cocktail and $1 oysters at the raw bar.

Not sure about the current food at 2Vine. Had an okay meal a few years back, but was curious about other opinions.

Perhaps one of the more (potentially) interesting openings is ButaPub in the South Wedge in the former Zeppa Bistro space. My sister used to work with the chef at JoJo tipped me off about the opening but I was unable to visit. Seems like an Asian inflected menu serving pork buns and other bar snacks to go along craft beers. Seems like a solid addition to the neighborhood and will be interested to hear any feedback.

Rochester Round Up Nov 2014

No need to feel guilty Indy 67. I wanted to try Aunt Rosie's and may have just caught them on a bad night. I also feel that other variations of the market might be better since the menu changes seasonally. In addition to Branca, I've also been to Tony D's, Rocco and Fiamma for Italian and/or pizza and feel all are good.

I'll be sure to go back and try more selections (both sweet and savory) at Flour City. Also heard they are doing pizza's at the Brighton farmer's market. Has anyone tried?

Rochester Round Up Nov 2014

Thanks for the info refinnej. I'm ashamed to admit that I have never actually gone to Swan Market. I hope to remedy this soon as your report sounds great. A bit of trek south of Rochester, but if you enjoy German food and ever find yourself in Canadaigua I highly recommend visiting Rhinebeck. I've gone twice with family and have enjoyed both the wiener and jagerschnitzel. Plan on trying the saurbraten and rouladen next time. My sister who lives in Rochester recommended a Eurocafe in Geneseo that serves homemade Eastern European food.

I try to visit the Public Market every trip back and also have enjoyed empanadas from Juan and Maria's. I'm also curious about eat me ice cream sandwiches that makes appearances on Saturdays at the market during the summer.

Rochester Round Up Nov 2014

Just returned from a recent visit seeing family for Thanksgiving. Tried a few "newer" places that have eluded me for one reason or another.

Fuego Coffee Roasters - 3rd wave coffee shop located downtown. I've been interested in visiting some of Rochester's better coffee options and was happy to check this off my list. Grabbed a seat at the bar and was tended to by one of the owners, Renee, who answered all of my questions regarding bean origins and their roasting facilities in the back. Ordered an Americano (Costa Rica) and an espresso (Ethiopia) and enjoyed both. Want to return to try their French Quarter made with chicory during the warmer months.

Joe Bean - Hard to believe, but I've never been to Joe Bean before this last visit. Very accommodating staff, answering lots of questions. Beautiful space, lots of natural light and a lab located in the back where they host cupping events. Ordered an espresso and a machiatto (no cortado) and enjoyed both. Will return for their Bottled Kyoto in the future.

BC's Chicken Coop - Located next to a shoe repair store in Webster, I made the trip on advise that this "shack" produces some of Rochester's best fried chicken. Ordered six pieces (2 breasts, 2 thighs, a drum and a wing) that came with two sides (house made chips and green beans) and two corn muffins. The chicken was excellent, freshly fried to order, it arrived grease free and pipping hot. The egg wash/flour dredge produced a crisp crust that was well seasoned. The chips were well fried and nicely seasoned but the green beans cooked with tomato and bacon had a great depth of flavor. Additionally, I can't say enough good things about the owners. Both took our orders, cleared our plates and seemed very interested in how we enjoyed the food. Details such as bringing us a side of their coop sauce after we ate our first piece of chicken "because they wanted us to try it sans sauce" really made our visit especially memorable.

Cheshire - Located in the upstairs of Solera in the South Wedge we initially visited this cocktail bar shortly after it opened a few years ago. Based on two more visits during this trip, it seems that Rochester is well aware of this bar, as it was packed both nights. Ordered an Old Fashioned, Ramos Gin Fizz and a Whiskey Over Easy (made with scotch and based off a flip). Drinks were good, perhaps a tad too sweet for the Old Fashioned, also features a few interesting mocktails for those that cannot or do not drink.

The Revelry - Had lunch here the Friday after Thanksgiving. Interested on low country food in Rochester, we were seated upstairs which featured tons of natural light. Started off with a half dozen chicken fried oysters with tartar sauce. The oysters were well seasoned and nicely fried, a fine appetizer. We ordered the shrimp and grits (added 62 degree egg) and the po boy (we really like oysters). The shrimp and grits fared much better than the po boy, which was way too busy (srirancha and avocado?) and detracted from the flavor of the fried seafood. The shrimp and grits contained some interesting items (peas, cherry tomatoes, pearl onions) but fortunately, the dish highlighted the creamy grits, shrimp and andouille sausage. We also shared an order of the cast iron skillet corn bread which featured a nice crust but was perhaps a tad heavy handed on the honey. To drink, a ginger beer and a Mr. Mule which featured a housemade basil and strawberry shrub.

Branca - The second restaurant by the same group that owns The Revelry. Located in Bushnell's Basin, I was shocked at just how crowded the restaurant was when we arrived. Our server was knowledgeable about the menu and really helpful by coursing out our order. We were given complimentary sliced baguette and kalamata olive oil while we drank our glasses of Barbera. We shared the octopus appetizer which was extremely tender (perhaps too soft) and would have benefited from a bit more char from the grill. Also, the shaved black truffle was flavorless and failed to add anything to the dish. The pastas fared much better. The housemade tagliatelle with a wild mushroom sauce was very good. More flavorless truffles aside, the mushrooms were earthy and the pasta had a wonderful texture considering it was homemade. We were told that the ricotta gnocchi with a meat ragu was the signature dish of the restaurant and it was excellent. The gnocchi were textbook texture, light in the mouth and complimented the rich sauce perfectly. Failing to realize the significantly larger portion sizes compared to NYC restaurants, we grossly over ordered with a pizza to share with proscuitto and arugula. Told that they were in the process to become VPN certified, the dough had a slight char and well seasoned. Overall, the pie was good, but far from great. We didn't have enough time to visit Fiamma again but in our experience both fell short compared to the Neapolitan pies we have in NYC/Brooklyn area. Still, it is nice to see better pizza options come to Western New York.

Aunt Rosie's - I planned a family meal here after hearing positives about Chef Vroman's restaurant. The staff were polite but aloof at times, forcing me on multiple occasions to literally flag them down as one would in a classroom. As we looked over the menu we were given homemade focaccia bread. The meal started strong with the appetizers. Aranchini containing white truffle (not present) with a tangy goat cheese fonduta were very good. Also very good was the romaine salad with pickled onions, fried potato and an anchovy dressing. The re-imagined caesar salad was well balanced. We also split the spaghetti with a soft egg, guanciale and potato gnocchi with pork belly. Both pastas packed plenty of flavor. Unfortunately, the gnocchi were far from the platonic version found at Hearth or Craft and worse, the pork belly hadn't been rendered enough, resulting in flabby bites. The spaghetti was better in theory (modern carbonara) than in real life, as the pasta was cooked well past being al dente. The mains were fine but uninspiring. The pork shoulder was replaced by a chop and grilled. The sole was cooked fine but the lemon butter sauce lacked acid. The margarita pizza was fine, but was otherwise non-distinguishable style wise. But the worst offender was the cavatelli which was described as being served with a wild mushroom ragu and fried egg. Our expectations were dashed when it was served in an extremely thick red wine and tomato based sauce. I suppose it was our fault for not asking specifically as to the sauce for the pasta, but compared to the housemade pastas at Branca we left disappointed. The chocolate budino with salted caramel was okay, but too sweet in our opinion. The caramel wasn't salty enough for us and we thought it could have been cooked a bit longer to further develop more complexity. Overall, a bit disappointing. Perhaps Aunt Rosie's better suited for a post work glass of wine and a few appetizers.

Flour City Bread Company - Open Wed and Friday, we visited on Saturday morning. After locating the correct building and navigating the end of the line I ordered an almond croissant, a pain au chocolate, two canales, sausage egg croissant and a breakfast danish with bacon and egg. Both breakfast sandwiches were very good. Both, the croissant and danish were excellent quality, the eggs were perfectly poached and the quality of both the sausage and bacon were top notch being sourced from Swan market. The almond croissant and pain au chocolate were fantastic. Buttery, flaky and not too sweet, I was extremely impressed. But IMO, the best of the bunch were the canale. These notoriously difficult pastry sported a dark crunchy exterior and the perfect custardy interior. Still warm, these ranked among the very best I've had with L20 in Chicago and Boulette's Larder in San Francisco.

Last but not least was Hedonist Ice Cream. Easily my favorite ice cream in the city, we made two visits so I could sample something other than the salted caramel and chocolate sorbet. The caramel apple tasted like apple pie and the pumpkin was heavy on the ginger. Both were good, but don't come close to the salted caramel or chocolate sorbet.

Hopefully residents/visitors will find this post helpful. I plan on writing more reviews in hope that it might spur some more dialogue about the Rochester food scene.

Anything new & great in Rochester?

Yes, I meant Next Door and mistakenly referred to Edibles. Indy, thanks for catching that.

I rarely if ever get sushi in Rochester, but my family who still live there all recommend Plum House.

Anything new & great in Rochester?

Believe it or not, there was (maybe still is) a restaurant in NYC that sold their version of a garbage plate. I believe the owner being a Rochester transplant...

Anything new & great in Rochester?

I feel that Rochester has many sentimental favorites. Everybody has their favorite burger, wing, pizza or garbage plate.

Funny you should mention Tom Wahl's. One of my sister lives in Avon and I'll stop by the original location (can't speak on behalf of any of the food court locations) from time to time. My go-to order is a Wahl burger, fries with a side of gravy and a frosted mug of root beer. It's not great, far from actually, but usually fills that nostalgic craving.

Will eventually try Char out if craving a burger. Good Luck's is fine but massive and better for sharing.

Anything new & great in Rochester?

Josephnl - were you able to visit the Warfield's at High Point in Victor? I found the menus to be vastly different, especially in terms of their ambitions. I'd love for Rochester to be able to support at least one fine dining restaurant but so far I've been proven wrong. Even Suzanne's Fine Dining (James Beard Award nominee) was far from what I'd consider "fine dining."

That said, it seems more restaurants that are in a similar vein of Good Luck are doing well in Rochester. The Revelry with their focus on cocktails and low country food seems very popular. The same group's second restaurant, Branca, offers Neapolitan style pizzas and some antipasti and pastas.

I have not tried Trata (appears to be a bit of a scene) or Edibles (connected with Wegman's). IMO, even the steakhouses are weak comparatively speaking. At least until two years ago I remember being told from a representative at Black and Blue that not all of their beef served was even USDA Prime. It appears that Char touts its beef as being such, but why no intense dry aging program which is prominent among the best steakhouses throughout the country? I can only hope the Rochester scene improves, until then I save fine dining for other cities.

Anything new & great in Rochester?

Indy67 - thanks for heads up on Shui Asian Fusion. I have no issues with ambiance or a lack thereof so long as the food is good. However, coming from the New York area I generally don't seek out ethnic foods in Western NY. We are spoiled for a number of good Thai options in Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn. Still, a much appreciated recommendation should we be in the mood for Thai.

It's amazing that Rochester lacks any signature burgers, but I will take your word about the one at The Gate House.

I have eaten at Tony D's twice, both times for pizza and found it decent. Unlike many locals, I didn't mind the char on my crust.

Growing up in the Rochester area, I'm always looking for new and exciting restaurant openings. I was a big fan of the early food at Warfield's in Victor until it eventually closed. Looks like Rochester is not ready to sustain a fine dining restaurant. Sad, but in the alternative I hope for more openings in the casual/mid-tier market that focuses more on ingredient quality and technique than catchy concepts.

Anything new & great in Rochester?

Like josephnl, I often struggle finding new or exciting dining options whenever I return to visit family. Even rarer, is anything I'd consider "great." Not trying to be argumentative but compared to restaurants where I live (NYC area) there are few restaurants that warrant excitement.

In addition to this board and Yelp/Urbanspoon, here are a few additional resources I often consult before any future trips:

If you are a coffee fan like me, these are a few third wave options that I'm excited to try:
- Fuego Coffee Roasters
- Joe Bean
- Pour Coffee Parlor

Other places I plan on visiting soon:
- Aunt Rosie's (Italian from the Max Group
)- The Revelry/Branca (Low country/Italian food)
- BC's Chicken Coop (highly rated fried chicken in Webster)
- Atlas Eats (rotating globally inspired dinner menu)
- Village Bakery (bakery/breakfast option with two locations)
- Zeppa Bistro (South Wedge option worth trying?)

Additionally here are a few of my personal favorites:
- Dogtown (creative hotdogs)
- Lento ($1 Oyster/1/2 price cocktails nights are enjoyable)
- Good Luck/Cure Bar (cocktails and small plates)
- Cheshire/Solera (craft cocktails and wine bar)
- Fiamma (Neapolitan style pizzas)
- Hedonist Ice Cream (chocolate sorbet)
- DiBella's (chain but a nostalgic favorite)
- Max at Eastman (reliable bistro food)
- SEA Restaurant (decent bowl of pho)
- Four City Bread Co. (best bread in Rochester/breakfast sandwiches)
- MacGregor's (beer and wings)
- Palmer's (Friday fish fry)
- Dino/Sticky Lips (BBQ)
- Wegman's

Alternatively, if you have a car and don't mind a day trip you could try Buffalo for wings and a beef on weck or a trip to the Finger Lakes for wine and lunch at Dano's during the warmer months.

Rochester hounds, I'd love to hear your thoughts about these or other places I've neglected.

Melbourne Advice - 5 Days

Hi Sneedy, will gladly provide some mid-range NYC suggestions.

Feel free to email at roseUNDERSCOREswp @ hotmail dot com and let me know what you are looking for.

SF/Napa Itinerary

Thanks for the advice, especially from a local. Archetype looks good and I was unaware that chef Zetts had left Solbar.

Additionally, I was wondering if anyone had heard much about Press in St. Helena. Trevor Kunk formally of Blue Hill in Manhattan left to Napa and I was wondering if anyone had recent experiences about the menu.

SF/Napa Itinerary

goldangI95 thanks for the suggestion. We like Indian food, especially chaat, but I don't think it is a priority for this visit. However, we will give it consideration for our next visit.

Btw, saw you discussing Indian food or the lack thereof in NYC. Not totally arguing with you but if you want chaat, make a trip to Floral Park at Mumbai Xpress.

SF/Napa Itinerary

Yeah, I imagine the lines at many of the popular vendors are always pretty long at the Ferry building. Considering we want to visit some bakeries in Mission for breakfast anyways would you suggest visiting the Blue Bottle location instead of the Ferry building location?

We were planning on splitting a porchetta sandwich as well as a burger but I appreciate the warning, especially if we wanted to stop at Humphrey Slocombe afterwards.

SF/Napa Itinerary

Thanks for the comments. I think Tadich was a great option for the exact same reasons that you mentioned. Unfortunately, it looks as if I'm going to have to pass this time around and heed the advice of the other hounds regarding Friday traffic.

Looks like I'll try to get to Chez Panisse for a early lunch at the Cafe.

SF/Napa Itinerary

Just personal preference. As I said upthread, I meant no offense and it wasn't meant as a slight to San Francisco as a pizza city.

I also missed Mangieri when he was in NYC and have heard that his pies are only getting better. Even though NYC may be overrated as a pizza city we still have lots of very good options and considering the limited amount of meals I have on this trip I'd just prefer his pies due to his craftsmanship and excellent ingredients.

SF/Napa Itinerary

Hi barleywino, hope I wasn't confusing but re Saison my question was about whether a party of two could split a beverage pairing, not the menu.

SF/Napa Itinerary

Thanks for the heads up about Friday traffic. Still looking for any other good early lunch alternatives for Friday before heading up to Napa.

SF/Napa Itinerary

Thanks for your comments. Re Cotogna we are much more interested in the non-pizza options. No offense towards pizza in San Francisco but the only one that interested me was the Neopolitan pies from Una Pizzeria Neopolitana. Unfortunately they are open for dinner only.

Thanks for the heads up about the lines for Roli Roti. Their porchetta sandwiches look amazing. Between grabbing a New Orleans cold brew from Blue Bottle, a canalé from Boulette's Larder, a porchetta sandwich from Roli Roti, burger from 4505 Meats and ice cream from Humphrey Slocombe we hoped to eat well around the Ferry building.

SF/Napa Itinerary

Thanks Robert. Already booked a 1 PM lunch reservation at Cotogna. It was my understanding that lunch is much easier to book than dinner, perhaps even more so now that Tusk will close Quince for the revamp.

From his twitter account it seems Bright is in Europe but I'll most likely reach out to the restaurant directly about beverage pairing options. I know certain restaurants in NYC (Jean Georges) offer half pours which is very nice.

SF/Napa Itinerary

Wife and I will be visiting San Francisco and Napa in early August for a wedding. We are from New York but have visited both areas five years ago. Will be staying in Nob Hill and Yountville respectively but will only have a car for the Napa portion of the trip. Interested in hearing comments from fellow hounds regarding our preliminary itinerary. Thanks in advance for your comments and look forward to reporting back.

San Francisco

- Arrive ~ 10:30 AM, check in at hotel and get settled.
Lunch - Cotogna or Pizzeria Delphina
- Preferences between these two popular casual Italian spots? Currently leaning towards Cotogna as a) they take reservations and b) we will order more than just pizza at either restaurant and Tusk's pastas sound very good.

Dinner - Bar Tartine
- Looking for another mid-priced casual restaurant serving excellent food. People's opinions re this restaurant seem varied but many people I trust seem enthusiastic about the ingredient quality and modern approach of Eastern European cuisine.

Lunch - Roli Roti and/or 4505 Meats
- Plan on arriving early to the Ferry Terminal building and grabbing a porchetta sandwich and a burger from both vendors.

Dinner - Saison
- Our only splurge for the trip. Have an 8:45 reservation and plan on ordering the extended Discovery menu. Question for those have been, does anyone know if they would accommodate splitting one of the premium pairings?

Lunch - Kin Khao/Turtle Tower/Tadich/Chez Panisse?
- Unsure where to go for our final meal before heading up to Napa. Admittedly pretty diverse choices, I'm leaning towards the cafe at Chez Panisse since we will have a car. Open to hear other suggestions but visited Swan's and Zuni on our previous trip.

For breakfast we planned on visiting as many of the following bakeries: Tartine Bakery, Craftmans & Wolves, b.Patisserie, Knead Patisserie and Boulette's Larder for a canalé. I know many of the popular items tend to sell out early but am interested in hearing people's suggestions.

Coffee includes: Blue Bottle, Ritual, Four Barrel, Philz, Sightglass. Suggestions appreciated.

We also like ice cream and plan on trying both Humphrey Slocombe and Bi-Rite.


Friday & Saturday plan on being tied up with the wedding. Will be staying at a B&B but might try to get to Oxbow for an espresso at Ritual or some oyster at Hog Island as a snack.

Lunch - Ad Hoc Addendum
Fried chicken lunches.

Dinner - Bouchon/Bottega/Mustards?
- Suggestions for a casual dinner for Sunday night. Have been to both Bouchon and Bottega and enjoyed each but open for other suggestions.

- Fly out of San Francisco on Monday afternoon.

Melbourne Advice - 5 Days

Thanks for all of your help answering my questions and helping me form my itinerary. Without the help from hounds like you, PhilD, kersizm and others on this board I would've had much more trouble. I had a wonderful time visiting and wish I could return more frequently. Please feel free to reach out if visiting New York as I'd like to repay the favor should you need advice.

Melbourne Advice - 5 Days

Brae was easily my favorite meal of the year (so far, as we will be visiting Saison in August). I think Dan Hunter is doing something very special between the local product he can obtain combined with his technical skill. I feel that along with Attica and Quay, Brae should be included on the shortlist as Australia's best restaurant.

As for VdM, I feel the meal was a bit more style than substance. I made the EMP comparisons because it was a calculated move by Humm and Guidara to rise in the S. Pellegrino rankings even at the risk of alienating many of their regulars. The interesting thing is from the conversation we had with our captain, the restaurant's abrupt change of pace was more Cory Campell's decision that Shannon Bennett agreed to. IMO, the problem with telling such a narrative (kangaroo hide chairs, dried Penfold vines, Australian ingredients, iconic Australian foods) is that its success is predicated upon the quality of the food. Without such reinforcement, the narrative becomes weak at best and to many tourist (such as us) becomes lost.

That said, taste is subjective and I'll be the first to admit I've eaten only a single meal there. Hardly fair to make a sweeping statement about a restaurant. But I was disappointed, especially compared to similar restaurants we've visited throughout Australia, Asia, Europe and the US. Hope my experience was an outlier and I'd still suggest people visit if they're interested.

Melbourne Advice - 5 Days

Re: my comments about the quality (or my perception of a lack thereof world class) Japanese food in Australia wasn't meant as an insult but rather an observation. All cities, even world class cities such as New York or London or Paris or insert whatever city, has their culinary strengths and weaknesses. I also don't take my descriptor of world class lightly. Europe, which has historically been lacking even quality sushi restaurants improved significantly with Sushi Tetsu in London (I don't consider Zuma anywhere near world class).

For me, having lived and worked in Tokyo for a period of time, the lack of Japanese seasonal ingredients (especially when it comes imported seafood and produce) in many Australian restaurants is particularly telling. Again, considering Australia's love for Asian cuisine coupled with the relative close proximity to Japan makes the absence of a world class Japanese restaurant even more surprising. Hong Kong of example has significantly upped its Japanese restaurants with the recent additions of Sushi Shikon and RyuGin, plus the more fushiony likes of Yard Bird and Ronin.

This is no slight to Australia. New York is very conservative compared to Chicago (Alinea, EL Ideas, Schwa, Moto) and lacks the Thai/Malaysian/Vietnamese food other cities have. Many European cities lack good pizza, all if not most cities don't do everything well and I was just commenting as to this fact.

Melbourne Advice - 5 Days

Phil, I was referring to Australia. Aside from Tempura Hajime which I read was good but not on the level of Kondo, I hadn't read about any notable Japanese restaurants. In the US what we lack in tempura restaurants we more than make up for in quality sushi (Masa, Urasawa) as well as a few decent Kaiseki, Yakitori and Izakayas.

In your opinion did I miss something worth visiting?

Melbourne Advice - 5 Days

Our final day in Australia was spent packing and eating. Lunch was at Lee Ho Fook. We had a booking but probably didn't need one for Sunday lunch and were seated at a small elevated two top when plenty of tables were available (annoying). Staff was informative and answered most questions without any issues.

Started with Warm Scallop with Silken Tofu and Soy Butter. This was more interesting than good. The scallop and tofu were fine but the dish lacked texture and wasn't seasoned enough as the soy butter failed to register.

Better was the Milk Bun with Braised Pork Belly, Salted Cucumber, Fermented Chili and Peanut Sugar. Interestingly enough the chef chose to use a milk bun instead of the overused steamed bao. But despite this decision, we preferred this version since it closest resembled the classic Taiwanese Gua Bao.

The Crispy Eggplant with Spiced Red Vinegar was their take on the popular Fish Flavored Eggplant. Another dish that's not popular in the USA, we enjoyed the crispy eggplant with the sweet and tart sauce.

White Pepper Spanner Crab and Taro Mille Feuille was sadly a deconstructed version. No stack as we initially imagined, but still tasty, instead we used the taro chips to scoop the crab.

We ate the Moreton Bay Bug Tails with Leeks and Fragrant Sichuan Chili Oil with the House Fried
Rice. This was excellent, plump bug tails cooked perfectly with plenty of sweet leeks and spicy oil to spoon over the rice. Speaking of the rice, this was a bit more oily than what my mother-in-law makes (Cantonese) but a solid version that avoided being over seasoned.

Already planning on revisiting Messina for a final gelato we couldn't leave the restaurant without splitting a Jasmine Tea Custard with Burnt Caramel. Having previously worked at Marque this seemed like the obvious choice and we weren't disappointed. As advertised the custard had a subtle but present Jasmine flavor which paired beautifully with the complex burnt caramel.

Compared to Northern Light we enjoyed Lee Ho Fook more. Perhaps we are biased, Chinese background and my Korean heritage but the execution seemed slightly better here when comparing the two meals. Lee Ho Fook won't be for everyone, while it's not particularly expensive it's certainly not cheap but after chatting with the Chef, we both agreed that hopefully restaurants like this will dispel the notion that Chinese food needs to be inherently cheap.

One final trip to Gelato Messina. Our final selections were: Breakfast of Champions II - Yogurt Gelato with Housemade Croissants and Plum Jam and Salted Caramel and White Chocolate.

Dinner was at Rumi. Lacking many notable Turkish restaurants in NYC, I chose this for a nice change of pace. After getting lost (thanks Google Maps) we arrived and were immediately seated. Started with the Labne house made from organic milk and was served with flatbread.

Spiced School Prawns with Tahini was good. We liked how the tahini's nuttiness paired with the crunchy prawns.

Fried Cauliflower with Caramalized Onions, Currants and Pine Nuts was fantastic. Sweet, nutty with plenty of texture, this was a great side with our mains.

We shared the Quail "Joojeh" Kebab with Pickled Grapes and Oregano and an off menu Chicken Kebab. Unfortunately, we passed on the Lamb Shoulder since we were still a bit full from lunch. That being said, both kebabs were good with the quail being a highlight.

To finish we shared a Almond Milk Pudding with Raisins and Pistachio. We weren't particularly fond of the lumpy texture, but it was a fine dessert taste wise. Had we been hungrier or with a larger group I'm sure we could've sampled more of the menu which looked great, but we managed to enjoy our visit.

I'm not about to make any statement on whether Sydney or Melbourne is better. Instead, I find them both great for different reasons. My one regret during our time in Melbourne was that it was so short and became so fine dining oriented. While Melbourne has some excellent fine dining, I'm confident it's strength is actually the mid-range restaurants serving excellent food in a casual setting. I really enjoyed my time here and hope these reports are entertaining (agree or not) and helpful to others.

Melbourne Advice - 5 Days

Sorry to backtrack a bit but I recently realized I forgot to write up my report on Northern Light and Gelato Messina.

We had a 9 PM reservation at Northern Light. Billed as a riff on a Japanese Izakaya I was intrigued and booked a reservation after reading Yuki's (dining without borders) blog post. We arrived to a packed restaurant. Our seats weren't quite ready and had to wait but was politely offered complimentary glasses of sparkling wine which we accepted. A few minutes later and we were seated at the far end of the bar and eventually left the ordering to the manager who I had been in correspondence with. We stuck with mostly draft Sapporo beers but were given complimentary tastes of Yuzu sake.

We began with Charred Shishito Peppers with Togarashi. A twist on the classic izakaya staple, these were good. We enjoyed the Togarashi since none of the peppers were spicy.

Sichuan Spiced School Prawns with Curry Mayonnaise was a great beer snack. I cannot help wondering why these haven't caught on in NYC restaurants but aside from a non-existent Sichuan flavor, these were excellent.

Air Dried Blackmore Beef with Wasabi, Yolk and Fried Potato was one of the restaurant's signatures and for good reason. The fatiness of the beef was excellent in dried form and enhanced with the rich yolk and sharp wasabi which we mixed-in with the tangle of fried potato threads.

Another item we "had to try" was the Unagi with Squid Sauce, Salted Grapes and Mojama. Another well comprised dish. The eel had been lightly smoked and the rich glaze complimented the grapes and the salty mojama.

Things veered off-course a bit with the Kurobuta Pork Belly with Kimchi and Smoked Cauliflower. The dish was just too heavy. The kimchi wasn't pungent enough to balance the dish.

The Chicken Skewer with Honey and Katsuo Soy was much better. Grilled over Japanese charcoal the chicken thighs remained perfectly moist with a subtle sweetness from the honey.

The final dish was unfortunately, the weakest. Bo Ssam with house Kimchi, Lettuce, Red Pepper Jang and Duck was the most disappointing for multiple reasons. First being the duck was far too dry which was unsalvagable even with the additions of both kimchi. The other problem was with the kimchi with was proudly advertised as being house made. Being Korean I've eaten my fair share of kimchi and this was just not good. I applaud the thought but not the execution.

Northern Light was good but nothing I'd regularly seek out. That said, in a country that lacks world class Japanese food (yakitori, sushi, tempura, kushiage, etc.) perhaps this is a fine alternative. Staff was very nice and informative and due to the tight spaces between tables, I would recommend eating at the bar if possible.

We passed on dessert and instead walked down the street to Gelato Messina. Another two scoops in cups: Chocolate Fondant and Vanilla Manjar - Vanilla Gelato with Dulche de Leche filled Doughnuts and Salted Roasted Almond Flakes were both perfect ending to a serious day of eating and drinking.

Sydney - 13 Days

One thing I may for forgotten to mention about Nomad was that despite knowing the restaurant's two turn table policy, were not informed that we could order as we go and incorrectly assumed we didn't have to order at once. Most small plate restaurants in NYC require taking your complete order which is yet another annoying practice.

Sydney - 13 Days

Seeing how a number if NYC restaurants are now charging for bread I don't mind so long as it's good. Otherwise I wish the restaurant did away with it altogether and pass the savings along to the customers.

Re credit card transaction fee, I feel this outrageous. Quay in particular is an expensive restaurant which is assume few pay with cash and benefit directly from this practice. I hope this does not spread to NYC.

Sydney - 13 Days

Hope any/all of my comments relating to price doesn't come off as uninformed. I was and still am aware of prices in Sydney restaurants but hopefully framed those comments in the context of comparative value.