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Madrid dinner at 6-630pm possible? Any recommendation?

No real good solutions worthy of a foodies blog.

What train are you travelling on? If you go first class (AVE preferente) to Barcelona you will get a quite generous snack. Have that and eat properly in Barcelona when you get there. The train will arrive at 22:20. Perfectly normal dinner time :-)

Some places around the Atocha station are virtually open 24/7 but I cannot recommend them. And at 6 pm it is just too hot for a meal.

about 3 hours ago
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Madrid miscellaneous questions

Dont go to StreetXO.
I posted elsewhere on the site my comments.

May 03, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Looking for great traditional and modern food in Madrid

Just my idea about Street XO...
A very very long wait in the queue without a chance to sit down.
During that time expensive long drinks and cocktails are pushed on you.
Music at obscene loudness preventing any type of humane conversation.
Open kitchen makes it look spectacular, but many things go wrong, items burned, others manipulated to and from cutting boards and vessels used minutes before for other ingredients.
Some dishes fine, others mostly with promising sounding descriptions but poorly executed.
Food hygiene a real problem: the three of us had serious stomach and bowel infections for two days following.

And considering that for 60% of this bill we ate at places like Alabaster or Moratin, we will never go back.

If you see no problem with the StreetXO price level try Marcano. (make sure to note they moved recently to Dr Castelo 31). Book well in advance.

Smaller places and tapas, hmmm. Tapas is more the attitude and atmosphere than the actual food, I find.

For me always a pleasure are a beer with some cooked shrimp at La Castella, one more beer with some grilled mussels at La Monteira, and then maybe another beer or two at some place you will see by accident, and back to la Monteira for their oxtail. You get the idea, I am sure.

May 03, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Dining in Brussels Belgium

As far as I can tell none of these are near where you plan to stay, still.

Cygne, Bruneau and Comme chez soi were once, long ago, the top references: two and three stars. They live of this reputation and make you pay for this. If you are willing to pay 150 euro per person and drink modest wine, why not. (Business insiders tell me Comme chez soi is back on track.)

Ogenblik can be fine ocassionally.
As I said in my earlier post - Belgian specialties and good value for money, Resto Henri.

May 03, 2015
hblnk in Europe

6 days planned in Madrid


no smoking anywhere, regardless whether food is served or not.

I know of no places that serve good food and do public viewing of the games. The two places I can recommend to watch the games, are O'NEILLS in Calle Principe (with food best avoided) and HIDRIA in Calle Jesus (no food, but very good mojito's).

For the very popular, widely publicized luxury places in the upper price bracket - DStage, Allard, Ramon Freixa - you are probably too late to book now. Worth checking are Alabaster, Moratin, Marcano and Laredo, where you will likely find free tables still, if no football.

Enjoy and report back

Apr 27, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Madrid miscellaneous questions

20:00 is a clever choice if you want to avoid crowds and disappointments.
Very popular high class places like Laredo or Arzabal still have space at 20:00. One hour later you might not even get room enough to put your drink on the counter.

If you buy top class jamon in a supermarket, it is packed in vacuum. Avoiding heat these will keep unopened for several days. Look for e.g. packs from Cinco Jotas or Joselito in the Corte Ingles Gourmet shops.
Or buy a complete ham!

Apr 27, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Need 1 more Rome restaurant

For a modern twist on Roman ingredients, try Osteria Glass.

For the most down to earth trattoria with outstanding classics try booking at da Felice in Testaccio. (Booking in this case means going there in person with someone who speaks Italian. They don't answer mails nor phone calls.)

Between those two is an option that combines the luxury of one and the tradition of the other - Arcangelo Dandini.

Enjoy and report back

Apr 21, 2015
hblnk in Italy

Madrid Locals Tips

If you like markets, go everywhere except San Miguel, tourist trap spelled in big big letters.

Instead go to Mercado Chamartin in Calle Bolivia for the best produce in the higher price bracket,

go to Mercado La Paz in calle Lagasca for a good idea of what regular quality can be like (and lunch at Danni's) and

go to Mercado Antonio Martin in calle Atocha. (Have lunch there at Yokaloka, one of Madrid's only two genuine japanese operations. This market is in walking distance from your hotel. Has a splendid if untypical Mexican street food stand.

You might even download the iPhone app mercados madrid to get an idea of local things happening in selected markets. Not kidding you: mercado Barceló has a tango and samba demonstration and master class happening inside the market next saturday.

Sitting down and enjoying very good wine in a place near your hotel sounds like Moratin in Calle Moratin, 38, but better book now.

Do not eat paella in Madrid, but keep that for Valencia or Alicante.

Enjoy and please report back.

Apr 09, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Madrid Locals Tips

Do not go there!

Apr 09, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Dress code issues


Rather han the wardrobe issue, please explain how you got a reservation at Nakahigashi. Enviable privilege!

Just regular day to day clothes, smart casual, are fine. What does upset the chefs more than how you dress, is heavy perfume.

But then, eating lunch AND dinner at the places you list in one day, will make you explode, even from your most comfy clothes.

Enjoy and report back, specially on Nakahigashi.

Apr 09, 2015
hblnk in Japan

High-End Restaurants: Taking Leftovers? (Tokyo)


do not ask for leftovers. Eat what you are given and say when you are full.
Sharing from other peoples plate is OK. Use the backside of your chopsticks to transfer food between plates.

Never take sushi leftovers with you. They spoil easily.

However. Under some circumstances you will be given leftovers. These you must take.

In the Kinki area - Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara - a typical multicourse meal is closed by rice. This is a special preparation, where the rice is mixed with vegetables and just the right amount of liquid to absorb it, cooked in a heavy clay pot.
You will typically be served two small helpings of this rice.

The leftovers might be packed in a box and given to you, still warm, to take with you. Do not refuse this.

The next morning this rice is a breakfast from heaven.

Many years ago when leaving a Kyoto Gion restaurant, the owner handing me the packed rice - with takonoko bamboo shoots - told me 'Hotel doorman will try to take this from you, do not give him'.

Apr 05, 2015
hblnk in Japan


my reply comes late, probably even after you left Salzburg, but indeed you have hit the truth. Esszimmer is the one place. The only other outstanding cooking to be had is the - not a joke, I swear, it is not - is the Korean cafetaria inside the Mozarteum music high school. It is called Hibiskus. Do not go for lunch, go for dinner.
Trust me, this is not a prank at your expense. Korean food, in Salzburg. Hibiskus.

Apr 05, 2015
hblnk in Europe

Elderly/Disabled at Tickets, Hisop and other Barcelona Restaurants

Tickets is noisy, but qualifies for access and great food. Great bill too. Hisop qualifies on all three counts and is much quieter. However my last visit to Hisop was a bit of a disappointment (all dishes very salty). But if quietness were your criterium, that would be a good choice.

Apr 03, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Kaiseki in Kyoto

All these restaurants serve the same seasonal products in the same style. Right now in early april you are likely to get bamboo shoots (takonoko), small squid (hotaru-ika), young bonito (katsuo) and fish like ayu and hamo, and if you are lucky young fern leaves (warabi) and other shoots of wild plants and herbs.

However, I found that most of the places you mention charge for exclusivity, service and the exceptionally labour intensive preparation and decoration.

Apr 03, 2015
hblnk in Japan

Where to go for moules et frites in Ghent, Belgium?

Sure, plenty of places, but this not the right season. The mussels are just beginning to spawn and will be ready to eat in mid August.

Apr 03, 2015
hblnk in Europe

Craft beer in Spain?

Hi there,

Butterfly is right in recommending the shop on calle Ruda, Madrid

Another very good place is the beer shop La buena Pinta inside the mercado de San Fernando, Madrid. Tweet them or Google plus. The guy is very likely going to reply.

Now, since I am Belgian, it is very very hard for me to recommend a Spanish beer, but still, the brewery Sagra, makes a limited run of a lager called La Osa. In bottles only, tastes like a superior Pilsner Urquell, if you can find it.

Enjoy and report back, either in moderation.

Mar 16, 2015
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Dining in Brussels Belgium

Try booking at Ardent in Antwerpen, De Vitrine in Ghent, Bernard Dewitte in Deinze (near Ghent). In Brussels very, very few places are recommendable. It is best to go for lower price bracket, simple food, like Brasserie Henri.
If money is not an issue try Hertog Jan or Jonkman, both in Brugge.

Mar 16, 2015
hblnk in Europe

Berlin: Restaurant Richard, Borchardt or Brasserie event space for large group dinner?

Food at Borchardt is very mediocre.

Feb 14, 2015
hblnk in Europe

Kyoto plan

Kichisen is way more expensive than 20K.
Check their calculation. The quoted prices are before service charges and taxes. And with drinks.

Feb 02, 2015
hblnk in Japan

Budapest - rustic/traditional? help, please

Try Rosenstein

Dec 20, 2014
hblnk in Europe

Weekend In Barcelona - What Not To Miss

Just this past week I had the chance to revisit two favorites: Coure and Igueldo.
Both wonderful, specially if you compare value for money with other European cities.

Dec 03, 2014
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Osaka Binbiya びんびや - need some help with menu translation :-)

You must go. This place is wonderful. Honestly, really stunning. I wastaken there by a business contact and ever since it is a fixed point every time I visit Osaka.

I do not read kanji and struggle enough with hiragana when not handwritten.

If they do a set course or tasting menu, I did not see it. This is more like a very high level izakaya. The sake list is sensational, at least to me.

My 'trick' is to have the hotel book seat(s) at the counter. I order immediately a ni-go of sake and then have a waitress or a person sitting next to me to translate the menu. This always works.

They do many interesting vegetables. All the fish dishes are very good (binbiya means fish by the way) - the best buri-kama of my life. Make sure to close the meal with their hand made noodles.

Also, plan well ahead for the trip going there, as it is in a street where the taxi cannot enter.

KK, I envy you a little

Nov 08, 2014
hblnk in Japan

Barcelona-best area to stay in for restaurants

For good food rule number one is stay away from Ramblas.
What food are you looking for and what is your budget?
But most of all remember rule number one, stay away from Ramblas

Nov 07, 2014
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Salzburg Best Bets?

Esszimmer is the best. Glad you got that.

Now, would you believe that the Mozarteum music school gave the license for its students restaurant to a Korean family? It is called Hibiskus.
At lunch the serve very tasty daily meals for students. In the evening the rest of us get top class Korean food.

Sep 30, 2014
hblnk in Europe

Prague Very Special Occasion Dinner


Sep 07, 2014
hblnk in Europe

My plan for the sidetrip to Kyoto is finished

Boring considerations of money, diet and health aside, my questions or very gentle pieces of advice would be

- how did you get a reservation at short notice for Nakahigashi? I have known the place and the owner reasonably well for some years now and still I have to book three months in advance?

- please check carefully the implied etiquette and self esteem of Kichisen's chef. If you were to tell him what your plan is, he might refuse to have you as a customer. Please report back on this one, should things go as I think they well might.

- and just to make sure: do you realize that the ingredients your meals will be based on, will be the same each time - Kichisen, Kikunoi, Kitcho and Chihana will not drift far from what have for some 300 years now in Kyoto been considered the seasonal ingredients.

I will read your report with deserved attention!

Aug 23, 2014
hblnk in Japan

Ostend area - upscale country restaurants?

Dear Waldrons,

have a look at this


Aug 23, 2014
hblnk in Europe

3 days in Belgium/TYPES of waffles?

Dear Sue,

waffles, the real ones, are labour intensive. The dough, if well made and not just based on chemicals added to treated flour, has to rest. Live yeast is used and the proportions, temperature while resting, humidity and so on are unforgiving. Think of making bread or other patisserie. Many outlets take shortcuts, but this deteriorates the results. The real waffle is crispy on the outside and soft inside.

In Brugge try Lizzie's wafels and in Antwerpen Desiree de Lille.

For Liege waffles, pieces of tempered sugar, the size of coffee beans are added to the dough. So when the dough goes into the hot iron mold, the sugar caramelizes and even burns a little. The result is much stickier waffle, gooey with lumps of sugar. The Liege waffle is typically a product sold in bakeries or confectionery shops.

Now that we are safely beyond any considerations of diet, weight control and caloric self-denial ... Do you know the very thin waffle cookies of the brand Destrooper? They make a crispy thin waffle, based mostly on butter. Look out for that one!

Aug 23, 2014
hblnk in Europe

Restaurant for Sunday night in Girona

Sunday evening is indeed difficult, but Sunday late lunch offers heavenly options like Arros i Peis. They serve seafood and rice.

Jul 25, 2014
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Anything wonderful in Leuven?

Dear Suefh,

Food wise Ghent is very much the happening city. More so than Bruges. Leuven inner city is not a foodie destination.
In the price bracket you quote you ought to have a look at

De Vitrine - www.indewulf.be/devitrine/
Jef - www.j-e-f.be
Volta - www.volta-gent.be

Getting to Ghent from Leuven takes just under an hour by train and is very easy. Bruges takes longer.

Jul 11, 2014
hblnk in Europe