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Orange County - Costa Mesa - 4 Days - Highlights

For craft beer, check out beachwoodbbq BBQ in seal beach. You can check out what they currently have on tap on their website, Good beers on tap plus an amazing bottle list (for example, Firestone anniversary all the way back to 10, vintage bruery black Tuesdays, old Rasputin 12, vintage lost abbey angel share, etc). Not a huge fan of the food but many seem to like it.

Jan 19, 2013
skjax in Los Angeles Area

London Trip Report - December 2012

Was in London for three days before heading out to Paris and Barcelona. Not much time but did have a chance to check out a few places .

Medlar - This was our first meal of our time in London. We did the tasting menu. I started with a dish with lamb's tongue and lentils, very nice. Wife and a duck egg tart which she said was good. Don't really remember what I had next, just remember that it had blood sausage. With pork? Tasty. Funny but most memorable part of the meal for me was the wonderful cheese cart. Every cheese I had was fantastic. Wine we had was a 2007 Castello di Querceto Cignale Toscana. Tight, way too young, way too tanic. Overall, meal was good, not great. Dinner for two with the bottle of wine, $385US.

CASK Pub and Kitchen - Great beer bar. Had some great beers on tap including Southern Tier Creme Bruele from Lakewood, NY. Very suprised to see this on tap in London.

Gordon's Wine Bar - Very crowded both inside and outside. Ordered a glass of malbec as recommended by the guy working the bar outside. Might as well poured me Kool Aid. Horrible, poured in my garbage can and moved on to the next place.

Lounge Bohemia - A speakeasy type bar in the shoreditch area. Really enjoyed this place. I'm not the type of person who takes pictures of my food, but my wife is. She tooks pictures from this place. A very fun night. We sat next to two guys who where locals, one of the guys was a chef and actually mentioned CH. Great guys! A definite highlight of my stay in London.

St. John Bread and Wine - Upon recommendation from the two guys we met at Bohemian, we headed to St. John Bread and Wine. Asked the chef to cook whatever he felt like making for us. Told him we eat everything and we were hungry. Started with fried pig skin, then Ox hearts, next braised beef cheek, and some other stuff (a little intoxicated by this time). Everything was fabulous!

Rock and Sole Place - Was ok, nothing special. That's all I gotta say about this place.

Pieminister - Had a meat pie here with peas and mash. The perfect snack for a rainy night.

Jan 03, 2013
skjax in U.K./Ireland

Trip Report - Chatomat, Pirouette, Paul Bert, Le Cinq....

I got most of my restaurant recommendations from CH for my recent trip to Paris. Thanks everyone for your suggestions. Had a great time in Paris and will be back soon.

Didn't get to dine at all the places I wanted to because many of the restaurants were closed for the holidays. Here is what I ate during my 6 days in Paris.

Glou - This was our first meal in Paris. My very first time in Europe so didn't really know what to expect. Walked in around 9PM without a reservation. The restaurant was pretty full but they were able to seat us on a small table on the side. Tried to speak a little bit of the French I practiced before arriving in Paris (total fail). Luckily, one of the servers spoke a little English. Menu was in French and we were able to get by. I had a bloody sausage dish (black pudding pie?) that was delicious. Wife had a scallop dish she was was just OK. Also had a charcuterie plate to start and a cheese plate to end, both were good.

Les Cocette - one of the few places open Dec. 24th. We arrived around 6:50 (10 minutes before opening time), there was already a line about 40 deep, luckily we were able to get seated for the first seating. It was pretty much all tourist. Servers spoke pretty good English. We started out with a potato dish with pig trotters, a little greasy but pretty tasty. Potatoes cooked perfect. Next was a braised beef dish with foie gras, this was another hit. Had a good meal and it was not too expensive.

Paul Bert - Had a lunch reservation here. Our server spoke very little English and menu was in French. Had steak au poivre. Thought this was delicious. Served rare the way I like it. Read many comments about beef in France being chewy and not good quality, I thought the steak had a lot of flavor and was very nice.

Chatomat - Dinner the same day after Paul Bert. The best meal of the trip for me. Very small space, 10 tables or so with tables very close to each other. Maybe 6 inches of space on either side of our table. Everything from amuse bouche to desert was excellent. Server (owner?) spoke good English. Only negative would be that the wine list was a little weak.

Pirouette - Good experience here. Serve spoke pretty good english here. Pretty good wine list. Had alouette sans tete (sp?) and a veal dish with all the good parts (liver, tongue, kidney, heart). Wife had pigeon (she said it was amazing). Overall, a very good experience.

Le Cinq - This was probably the weakest meal of our trip (also most expensive). We had a lunch reservation here and did the tasting menu. The flavor combinations just didn't work for me. Plate after plate, underwhelmed.

Had a great trip to the Paris and will return soon. Many thanks to everyone on this forum!

Jan 03, 2013
skjax in France

Feedback on my Chicago Itinerary - Researched

FYI Restaurant called today to confirm my reservation tomorrow at Maude's. Asked about the corkage policy, she confirmed it. Share a little pour with table next to you or the waiter and you will not be charged a corkage fee.

Oct 18, 2012
skjax in Chicago Area

Feedback on my Chicago Itinerary - Researched

I read it on yelp. Here are three separate reviews that mention this.

"An interesting thing they do, is if someone brings in a bottle of wine, rather than a corkage fee, the simply require that they share a sample with the next table over. "

Maude's Liquor Bar (secret)?:
You may bring your own wine. They have a unique corkage fee. Instead of a monetary fee, you must offer one glass of wine to someone else in the restaurant. We liked our server very much so we offered it to her.

This isn't an easy reservation to get right now and it didn't take long for my friends and I to see why. Yes, this has been a hot spot but it was the menu and the corkage (just share some with the table next to you). So, we felt like kicking things big and having some fun.

Oct 14, 2012
skjax in Chicago Area

Feedback on my Chicago Itinerary - Researched

Ok, takng Mexique off the list. Will go to Piece and Revolution on Friday. I loved the beer at Revolution my last trip.

Oct 14, 2012
skjax in Chicago Area

Feedback on my Chicago Itinerary - Researched

I have an 845 res at Maudes. Read somewhere that they do not charge corkage which I like. The Signature room we are only going up for the view. Have a quick overpriced beer than come back down. I've been there before but it's my friend's first time in Chicago.

Mexique was not my first choice but thought it would be an adequate substitute for Frontera/Topolobampo. Not willing to wait an hour to eat at one of those restaurants.

How easy/difficult is it to walk in to one of the more popular restaurants and get a seat at the bar? This is my preferred way to dine when I am travelling. Always been able to get a seat at the bar at Gary Dankos in SF. Did the same thing at Eleven Madison Park and Minetta Tavern in NYC.

Oct 14, 2012
skjax in Chicago Area

Feedback on my Chicago Itinerary - Researched

I have 2 Portillo's Restaurants very close by (I live in Southern California). Funny thing is that I've never been there.

Oct 11, 2012
skjax in Chicago Area

Feedback on my Chicago Itinerary - Researched

Wonder how much weight I'm gonna gain next weekend. My guess is 10lbs.

Oct 11, 2012
skjax in Chicago Area

Feedback on my Chicago Itinerary - Researched

No car. I got around just fine walking and by the EL last time. I like to walk a lot to burn off some the 10k+ calories we will be consuming daily while in Chicago. Mapped out everything using google maps.

Oct 11, 2012
skjax in Chicago Area

Feedback on my Chicago Itinerary - Researched

Thank you for the recommendations. I will look up Shaw's and Cafe des Arhitectes.

Any recommedations for a place to get a quick bite to eat (lunch or late night) without a long wait? Thanks for the reply.

Oct 10, 2012
skjax in Chicago Area

Feedback on my Chicago Itinerary - Researched

Visiting Chicago in a few weeks with a friend. We are both in our mid 30s. Looking for places that have a fun atmosphere, (would actually prefer to eat at the bar if possible). Definitely not looking for a romantic dinner type of place. We are trying to check out as many places as possible (have 1 drink and eat something small then move on to the next place). Looking for input on my itinerary.

Check in to Hotel around 7pm (staying at the Sheraton)
Roof at the Wit
Maudes Liquor Bar
RM Champagne Saloon
Will send email and try to get in to Aviary at 10PM
Piece Brewery
Violet Hour (Big Star while we wait for the call from Violet Hour)
Revolution Brewing
Also have a reservation at GATG at 11:45PM, not sure we if we'll make it though.

Any cool late night spots we can check out?

I was thinking Mexique for brunch Saturday morning. Wanted the contemporary Mexican without the long waits of Frontera Grill (from what I read here) A lot of places to check out, I don't want to spend a lot of time waiting in line.
Some site seeing
pick up a bottle of wine at Hart Davis then head over to Ruxbin before they open (is this a good choice)

Nothing planned for Sunday. Flight leaves 6:30PM.

Other spots I plan on checking out
J Parker
Barrelhouse Flat
Signature Room
The Drawing Room
The Whistler
Danny's Tavern
Quenchers Saloon
Local Option

I was in Chicago with my wife a few months ago and visited Publican, The Purple Pig, Sable, David Burke's Primehouse, so want to try something new.
Anything I should take out/add?

Oct 09, 2012
skjax in Chicago Area

Seattle Trip Report - June 2012

I browse this forum a lot when I travel. Never really posted but thought I would this time.

Flew in to Seatac Friday evening around 7:45PM. Took the lightline to downtown and check in to my hotel, the Parmount. Took a cab to Spinasse for a 9PM reservation. We were both very hungry by this time. Here is what we ordered:

Bottle of wine. a barolo. Was ok. Very tight but opened up with some air.
Sweetbreads - Very nice. Probably my favorite dish of the night.
Tajarin with butter and sage - read a lot of good things about this this on CH. Too rich and cheesy for my taste. Tasted like melted string cheese.
Another pasta dish with morel mushrooms - very nice, liked this one a lot, especially the morels.
Rabbit meatballs - I enjoyed this dish. Meatballs where very tender.

Service was very slow. Took about 20 minutes for the first dish to come out (sweetbreads). Another 45 mins before the pasta dishes came out.

After dinner, we walked down the street to Poco Wine Bar. Had two glasses of wine then walked to Quinn's. It was very crowded, had one Chimay White then jumped in a cab to Brouwer's Cafe. Brouwer's Cafe was a beer lovers dream. Awesome beer selection. I had a bottle of Firestone 13 then cab back to hotel. Almost 3am now but wasn't ready to call it a night so I ordered a pizza for delivery. 2 minutes after I ordered the pizza I knocked out. Apparently, the pizza guy knocked on the door for about 5mins and my wife got up and paid for the pizza. She wasn't very happy about it.

I'll continue with day 2 later. (Sitka & Spruce, Pike Street Fish Fry, Staple and Fancy, Victrola Coffee, Taco Time)

Jun 04, 2012
skjax in Greater Seattle

Kauai Report (Mostly North Shore) - Feb/March 2012

Thanks for the report. I will be I'm staying in Princeville in early May, will check some of these places out.

Apr 24, 2012
skjax in Hawaii

Trip Report: Cotogna, Ferry Building, Atelier Crenn, Koi Palace

Nice. I just got back from SF last night. Agree with you on the porchetta at Cotogna. The best thing I ate all weekend.

Apr 16, 2012
skjax in San Francisco Bay Area

Brief Maui Thanksgiving Holiday Report

I was in also Maui for thanksgiving and dined at Spagos on Thanksgiving day. Had the ahi cones and mahi mahi. The ahi cones where very tasty, mahi mahi was good but not great. The view and service however was excellent.

Dec 01, 2011
skjax in Hawaii

Your top long beach restaurants

Beachwood BBQ opened up a second location in LB. It is located a few yards from Congretation Ale House. Good beer on tap (although I still like Seal Beach Beachwood better) and I really like their burger.

In Huntington Harbour a new placed called Red Table opened up. I've only dined there once but I thought the food was pretty good. It's is located behind Trader Joes.

Slater's 50/50 opened up their second location in HB a few months ago. They are known for a burger that is half bacon. I'm not a big fan of this place but seems like others like it a lot. 80 beers on tap (most of which are not very special). Located on Beach and Adams.

Beachwood BBQ
131 1/2 Main St, Seal Beach, CA 90740

Slater's 50/50
6362 E Santa Ana Canyon Rd, Anaheim, CA 92807

Sep 12, 2011
skjax in Los Angeles Area

Your top long beach restaurants

The pizzeria is just ok in my opinion. I prefer Ortica and Mozza over Michael's Pizzeria. A little bland.

Sep 12, 2011
skjax in Los Angeles Area

Where to buy Wine?

About a 20 minute drive from Laguna Beach you have Hi Times located in Costa Mesa. Wine Exchange is not bad but a bit of a drive from Hi Times. Some of these other places people are mention are almost 2 hours away.

In Laguna Hills, you also have Envoyer. It's not really a wine store, it is located at a off-site wine storage facility. Sign up for a free account at I get a few emails from him everyday. A lot of good deals from Envoyer. Hope this helps.

Wine Exchange
1500 E Village Way # 2368, Orange, CA

Sep 08, 2011
skjax in Los Angeles Area

Recs near Grove of Anaheim?

You could go to The Catch is right next to the Grove, a 100 yards or so. Here is the website

Jun 30, 2011
skjax in Los Angeles Area

Anyone experienced a Wine Spectator Grand Tour event?

I was also event in Vegas, my first time. The line for Margaux was ridiculous for the first hour. I was able to get a taste later in the night when there was no line. By the time I got to Rothschild, they were all out of wine and closed up. The Italian, South American, and Spanish reds were probably my favorite (Ornellaia and El Nido).

May 23, 2011
skjax in Wine

Visiting Santa Ynez Valley

I'm not a big fan of visiting the bigger wineries. Much too crowded, especially on the weekends. Appointments are the way to go. If you have time, make an appointment with Wes Hagen at Clos Pepe. Appointment takes about 3 hours (from 10:30AM - 1-1:30). You get the tour the actually vineyard then proceed to taste wine at their home along with bread and cheese. Very intimate tasting with the wine maker. Their wines are decent as well.

If you care more about the view/atmosphere, make an appointment with Demetria. IMO the most beautiful winery in the Santa Ynez Valley. The wines they make aren't the best (I think they suck) but the view and grounds are beautiful. When I visited there, we got to sit outside and listen to live music.

In Lompoc, you have the wine ghetto. You have a lot of good pinots here including Fiddlehead, Flying Goat, and Ampelos.

Los Olivos (as other have mentioned) is another good spot for tasting. You have several tasting rooms all in walking distance. My favorites in LO include Longoria, Dragonette, Qupe.

If I had to choose one winery to visit, it would definitely be Arcadian. I think Joe Davis (winemaker at Arcadian) makes the best Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah in the central coast. Tasting is by appointment only.

May 18, 2011
skjax in California

Wedding venue reviews: Wynn Buffet (Rehearsal Dinner) and Sage (Reception Dinner)

I'm not sure how to private message you on this site, but I would love to see some pictures of hte private dining room. We were at the Aria this last Sunday, but they were closed so we were not able to check out the facility.

May 16, 2011
skjax in Las Vegas

Wedding venue reviews: Wynn Buffet (Rehearsal Dinner) and Sage (Reception Dinner)

Thanks for the awesome review. I Have my wedding booked later this year in October. Been trying to decide between two restaurants. After reading your review, I think I am gonna go with Sage.

May 16, 2011
skjax in Las Vegas

Guilty Pleasures - Foods you shouldn't eat, but eat them anyways

+1 Also the Carne Asada Nachos

May 11, 2011
skjax in Los Angeles Area

What's the best steakhouse in Las Vegas in Chowhound's Opinion?

It's been a couple of years since I've dined at N9NE, the few times I've been there, my experience has been good.

Craftsteak, I didn't care for at all and will never go back.

Apr 18, 2011
skjax in Las Vegas

What's the best steakhouse in Las Vegas in Chowhound's Opinion?

Never had a bad meal at Delmonicos, last week was no exception. Had the Bone-in Ribeye with foie gras on top ($52 for the steak additional $25 for foie gras). Table side ceasar salad was great as well ($30, serves two). Brought two bottles of wine @ $25 for corkage per bottle which is pretty cheap for Vegas strip. Only complaint would be the sides. The sides sucked.

Apr 18, 2011
skjax in Las Vegas

Joseph Mahon Coming to Orange County (Downtown Fullerton)

Just read this in LA Weekly

Mar 25, 2011
skjax in Los Angeles Area

2011 - What are you Drinking!

Over the weekend
2005 Arcadian Sleepy Hollow Pinot Noir
2005 Arcadian Dierberg Pinot Noir
2000 Staglin Cab
1997 Ch. Montelena Cab
Ginga Shizuku Junmai Daiginjo Sake
Firestone XIV Ale

Mar 07, 2011
skjax in Wine

Poutine in Orange County?

Yeah, they have oxtail poutine at Haven. I didn't care for it at all. Wayyyyyyyy too salty.

Feb 21, 2011
skjax in Los Angeles Area