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Samantha's Profile

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Child-friendly Vegas Recs

We are going to Vegas the weekend of May 29 with our 9-month old and staying at Encore. I just spoke with the concierge and none of the Wynn or Encore restaurants accept children under 5 years of age, except for the very casual ones. I'm looking for good, chow friendly, family-friendly dinner restaurants for Friday and Saturday night. We'd like to stay on the strip, and I'd like a nicer place for Saturday (husband's birthday). We plan to go early, like 6 pm, and aren't constrained by budget or food type. Just need a few places that won't balk if we bring our baby.

May 18, 2009
Samantha in Southwest

Concert in Irvine . . . Where to eat

Onotria is wonderful, but would be more upscale than what you are looking for. I second the rec for Old Vine. You could also go to Javier's at the Irvine Spectrum-more upscale Mexican and a great drink/cocktail menu.

Jun 12, 2008
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

Need great food and fun place in/around Dana Point

Vine in San Clemente is a wonderful restaurant and fairly close to your hotel (just a few freeway exits down). The food is wine country cuisine and the wine selection is wonderful (Vine also has a great selection of wine by the glass). If you go, I highly recommend the cheesecake for dessert which is not your typical cheesecake and unlike any other cheesecake I've ever had (more souffle-like).

www.vinesanclemente.com

Jun 03, 2008
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

Good eats near the Bowers Museum?

My husband and I tried Zov's a year ago for dinner, spent over $100 on food, and were not impressed. The quality of the food was average, at best, and the service was subpar. I'm surprised that so many Chowhounds seem to like this place!

May 22, 2008
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

Need suggestions for one fabulous dinner in Laguna

I would avoid Tradition by Pascal. This used to be a great restaurant and my husband and I dined their frequently. Unfortunately, we were there a month ago where another diner became verbally abusive to someone else at his table and the situation was brought to Pascal's attention. Pascal refused to remove the customer. The customer continued his behavior through dinner and then proceeded to punch his dinner companion (who appeared to be his wife) outside the front of the restaurant. My husband and another waiter broke up the fight and the police were called. While the food was wonderful, I can no longer recommend this restaurant, especially in light of the fact that we wrote a long letter to Pascal explaining our dissatisfaction with his handling of the situation and were completely ignored.

For a fabulous meal and much better atmosphere, I'd go to Onotria (Italian wine country cuisine) in Costa Mesa.

May 13, 2008
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

Have any Chowhound Faves Broken Your Heart

Yes, yes, yes! Zov's in OC is highly touted by many Chowhounds and it was so awful that I will never go back. The food was terribly bland, the service was horrible, and everything is extremely overpriced. I simply cannot figure out why people love this place.

May 08, 2008
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

Upscale Mexican Laguna/ Newport Beach

Definitely Javier's. The new location in Newport Coast is beautiful and very upscale for Mexican.

Mar 25, 2008
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

Inn of the 7th Ray: Food okay, service lousy

I totally agree. I hosted a bridal shower there this past Sunday and thought the food was ok, at best. Service was mediocre, not to mention the fact that someone hit my car in the parking lot and the owner claims it wasn't her valet. She offered to give me $20 for the detailing, even though it was twice that much and my car has permanent damage down to the metal. I'm so not happy with that place and will never go back.

Also, does anyway else think it smells weird? Not the incense, but it almost smells like raw sewage to me in certain areas of the outdoor patio. Blech.

Mar 13, 2008
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

Coming from SoCal to Charlotte, NC for business

I will be traveling next week to Charlotte, NC for two nights for business. I am looking for some recommendations on where to eat two dinners. I will be traveling alone and am female, so I'm looking for places where I won't feel uncomfortable dining alone (I'm happy to eat in the bar). Never having been to Charlotte, I'd love some recs for local Southern or bbq food. Also, if anyone has any recs on where to pick up a few good pastries for breakfast, I'd love that, too. I'm staying at the Westin in downtown Charlotte, so walking distance or a short cab ride would be preferable.

Jan 22, 2008
Samantha in General South Archive

Who Stayed In and What Did You Make For NYE?

We stayed in, too (went to the Rose Bowl the next day). I made smoky sirloin & bean chili, cornbread, and a sweet potato pie for dessert. Was a great dinner to ring in the New Year. No champagne-we saved that for tailgating the next morning.

Jan 03, 2008
Samantha in Home Cooking

New Whole Foods Tustin

How crowded was it? I'm scared to go until the opening day crowds die down. I've also heard that parking is a nightmare. Also, is there a salad bar?

Aug 29, 2007
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

Casual dinner in San Juan Capistrano

Like another poster said, Rendezvous is not casual. I actually think it's pretty overpriced for what it is, so I wouldn't recommend it.

I love Sundried Tomato Cafe, but it is quite small. This would be my first choice, though if you are going to wear shorts, try to do dressy shorts. Most everyone in OC wears shorts, but people seem to get a bit more dressed up (like nice jeans) for this place.

Cedar Creek Inn has a lovely patio and decent food. Shorts would definitely be ok here. I like this place, but Sundried Tomato is better.

Aug 29, 2007
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

Stonehill Tavern : is it best restaurant in OC?

Totally agree with your assessment of Max. Went a few weeks ago and was sorely disappointed (see post below).

Aug 10, 2007
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

Stonehill Tavern : is it best restaurant in OC?

I have to disagree with your assessment of Onotria. The food there is wonderful and more authentic, Tuscan style Italian than the majority of Italian restaurants in Southern California (which are more Americanized Italian, with heavy sauces, cheeses, etc.). Tried Max a few weeks ago and was mortified-service was awful, two pasta dishes had little flavor, they were out of the wine and the appetizer we wanted, etc. Suffice it to say that we will not be back.

Also, I don't think that a $25 corkage fee is outrageous. Onotria is a wine restaurant and they make much of their money off of selling wine. Just because there's a corkage fee doesn't make the restaurant bad.

Aug 10, 2007
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

Help: Best Fine Italian in Orange County

Try to get yourself to Onotria before your brother's next birthday. It is BY FAR the best Italian restaurant in OC and you will not be disappointed. Not to mention that it has a wonderful wine list. It's currently my favorite upscale restaurant in OC right now.

Jul 11, 2007
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

A rehearsal dinner in the Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach or Irvine area?

I'd recommend the First Cabin at the Balboa Bay Club or Onotria in Costa Mesa.

Jun 29, 2007
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

Onotria in Costa Mesa?

Went there for the first time last Saturday night. Definitely make a reservation-we had one and still waited about 5 minutes in the bar. The place was packed!

The food was mouth-watering. Just got back from Italy a month ago and we're on an Italian kick right now, seeking out Italian restaurants in OC that serve more authentic (rather than American) Italian. The steak for 2 (florentine bisteca, but Onotria just lists it as steak w/argula) was to DIE for. As good as the one we had in Florence. Also shared a pasta (can't remember what it was, b/c the steak made us forget about it!), that was delicious. Great wine selection, as well.

May 19, 2007
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

Sprinkles cupcakes

The first time I tried Sprinkles, I thought the cupcakes were average, at best. But then I went back and I am officially addicted. I adore the frosting (very sweet) coupled with the dense cake. I think it's more a matter of taste-for me, they are heaven. But I know a lot of people think they are overly sweet or too dense.

Apr 20, 2007
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

Favorite Donut Flavors

Glazed old-fashioned and maple old-fashioned.

Though I'm a doughnut whore and will eat any kind of my favorites aren't available.

Apr 10, 2007
Samantha in General Topics

Hotel with great restaurant in Tuscany region

We haven't decided on whether we'll take a cooking class, as we will only be there for 2 full days (3 nights). It does look lovely though, doesn't it? And the restaurant sounds wonderful. I can't wait!

Feb 19, 2007
Samantha in Italy

Slow Food Recommendations Rome

I don't speak Italian, either, but have used the Slow Travel website (which is in English) to look up some restaurants. I'd check for those restaurants there:

http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/restaur...

Feb 19, 2007
Samantha in Italy

Hotel with great restaurant in Tuscany region

We haven't taken our trip yet (end of March), but we're staying at the Villa Bordoni in the Chianti region. It has a restaurant attached and the reviews I've read on Trip Advisor have been very positive. Unfortunately, no one on Chowhound has reviewed the restaurant.

http://www.villabordoni.com/

Feb 16, 2007
Samantha in Italy

NYC couple to Laguna Beach - need help

The St. Regis is a very nice hotel. Stonehill Tavern (at the hotel) has gotten fairly good reviews-I've not been. Personally, I would have dinner at Studio at the Montage (close to the St. Regis), and I would highly recommend it for your nice dinner. Wonderful food, wonderful setting. Cafe Zoolu is another place I'd recommend for out-of-towners. It's very "old Laguna," located in what used to be a small house. Really fun, and you have to get the swordfish in the baseball cut. Prices aren't cheap at Cafe Zoolu, but the restaurant itself is fairly casual.

Pacific Whey has good breakfast-I believe there is one in Newport Coast. Javier's on PCH in Laguna has great Mexican food in a casual setting-good lunch place.

Honestly, I'd avoid Las Brisas (too touristy and owned by El Torito, though the view is good) and Splashes (again, great view but mediocre food, especially for the prices). Five Feet has also gone downhill in the past few years.

Feb 07, 2007
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

Business Lunch in OC

I like Bistango for client lunches. Unusual decor, food is always solid, and lots of "business" going on there during the lunch hour.

Jan 03, 2007
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

Date Spots in Mission Viejo

Salt Creek Grille is NOT good. The food is mediocre (at best), expensive, service is terrible, etc. I've been there several times and other than the location, there is nothing good about that place. I would avoid it at all costs, especially with a date in tow.

Nov 07, 2006
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

Date Spots in Mission Viejo

Duh, I live in Ladera Ranch and didn't even think of Infusion. Infusion is small, so if you go, make sure to get reservations. The food reminds me of Opah, and the crowd reminds me of the RSM Opah crowd. The food is good, but I prefer Opah's food. The best dish is the hanging thing w/steak and shrimp-I don't remember what it is called, but it is Infusion's speciality.

In the same center is Picante (Spanish), which has a nice outdoor fire pit. The food is on the more expensive side (similar to Infusion), and people tend to dress up to go there. I do like the food, but I've only been once and had the seafood paella. I thought it was a small dish for the price (around $30-I'm a fairly small woman and don't eat a ton, but I finished off the entire plate of paella). It does have a nice, romantic atmosphere and is a lot more quiet than Infusion, which turns into a South OC "scene" on most Friday and Saturday nights.

Beachfire is also in the same center and is probably my favorite of the the 3. Good drinks and good food, and live music on some nights. The patio is a fun and more intimate place to sit.

As for Tannins, I've not been, but have heard from many people that the food is average and the wine bar is really the reason to go. There's nowhere to walk around there-it's on the opposite side of the 5 freeway from downtown San Juan.

My husband and I tend to drive to Laguna on our date nights. We've recently been to Mozambique, which has a great atmosphere and really different (and good) food. We tried Rendezvous in San Juan, which got good reviews in OC Weekly, but weren't impressed. Food was ok, not great, and expensive. Service was also average, at best. The only thing we liked about the place was the atmosphere, as we sat in the train car section of the restaurant.

What about Ti Amo in South Laguna? It's not the far up PCH off of Crown Valley and a good date restaurant (and Italian, like Tannins).

Nov 06, 2006
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

Date Spots in Mission Viejo

Mission Viejo is very close to San Juan Capistrano, which is good for walking around afterwards. I like Cedar Creek Inn-great outdoor seating with a fireplace. Food is solidly good. There is also a new fondue restaurant down there (La Fondue). Don't know how good it is, but would be fun for a date.

Nov 06, 2006
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

Newport or Huntington Beach

I really like the Bungalow. I'd recommend this as your back-up. Ask for patio seating or the room downstairs.

Oct 17, 2006
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

Newport or Huntington Beach

Mastro's Ocean Club, Newport Coast-great view, great food-bar can be a bit of a "scene," but it's not overly pretentious
http://www.mastrosoceanclub.com

Oct 17, 2006
Samantha in Los Angeles Area

Totally bummed...I wanted to go to Mastro's Costa Mesa but...

This is a little late, but the Mastro's Costa Mesa is even more of a scene that the Mastro's Ocean Club. Hard to believe, but true! I actually prefer the Ocean Club-the restaurant has more of a classy vibe and the view is beautiful.

Oct 12, 2006
Samantha in Los Angeles Area