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Practical ideas around Newport Beach?

Breakfast - Haute Cakes for great family breakfast. Highlights - chocolate croissants (kids think best in city); mexican scramble (tip on scrambles - order as a side dish and they are only about $8). small indoor eating area, though, so not ideal on cold mornings.

Cocktails and appetizer with wife - Wild Fish. A lot of my friends like it for seafood dinner, but I find my wife and I like to hang out at the bar (fewer celeb spotting but more space at the bar in the back patio) and have appetizers.

Lunch with water views (adult orientation but kids can come along) -- The Cannery Extra credit - borrow a Duffy (electric boat) from a friend and tie up at their dock for free while you have lunch. Very Newport.

Newport lunch that the kids will like (or at least mine did) -- Joe's Crab Shack. OK. Not very chowhound, and I will admit to not really liking this place. But for some reason my kids really loved it and grew up thinking it was a classic Newport tradition (rather than the chain that it really is).

Dinner -- Juliette -

Jan 15, 2013
LeonardL in Los Angeles Area

Alma - Surprising Find Downtown

Not a full review here, but just wanted to thank Lil Mickey for this great review, which after hearing J. Gold's KCRW review, encouraged me to order the sunchoke soup. He and the others above are right that it is divine. (PS - yes, I confirmed with waitstaff that the yolk is cooked sous vide as suspected). Was so good we ordered another. I also noticed that Michael Anthony of Grammercy Tavern chose a sunchoke soup as his recipe to highlight in the WSJ this weekend, so Alma may be ahead of the curve on this dish. And Anthony did not think to add the perfect egg yolk like Ari.

We had a great time and great pre-theatre dinner, all for $165 for table of 4 (plus $100 for two wines we brought along), although no coffee or dessert. Contrast that with dinner the next night at Osteria Mozza, where we blew through $480 for a dinner that was not nearly as interesting (again, with two bottles of wine).

Another note - I know the seaweed/tofu beignet is a signature and yes, it is interesting, but I am not a fan personally.

As CulverJack notes, it is a small place with small kitchen staff, which some have said can back up the kitchen. Maybe because we were earlier than most, we did not find that to be a problem.

To date myself, it reminded me of my first visit to Cafe Blanc in a rough section of Highland Park before they got closed down by health department for no permits and opened back up in Beverly Hills - a gritty urban location where a young creative chef is taking risks in his early career, and at a price that feels like a steal. Alma was not as consistently creative as I found Cafe Blanc during my first visit, but I definitely got the feeling I will be hearing more about (and tasting the food of) this chef in the years ahead.

Jan 14, 2013
LeonardL in Los Angeles Area

Post Barcelona report - Alkimia, etc.

Having profited greatly from reviewing these boards before spending a few weeks in France and Spain, I thought I would give back to the community with a few recommendations for places that I particularly enjoyed in Barcelona.

1. Alkimia. Saw lots of posts here along the lines of "should I go to Alkimia or Cinc Sentits?" We called at last minute to both restaurants, but only the former had an opening, so that decided it for us.

After a few high end meals in Paris which felt very formal, we were looking for something more relaxed but still special. The atmosphere at Alkimia fit this bill well.

We all chose the $39E lunch (although the two more expensive fixed price options are also available for lunch). I give some descriptions below, but if you are interested in pix, cut and paste this link --

Disclaimer -- We were having a great time and did not ask many questions of server about the food, so my descriptions below are a guess and could be incorrect.

Breadsticks. Just want to point out that they were very long and arranged vertically in middle of table, which I think was homage to Sangrada Familia towers nearby.

Amuse Bouche - re-imagination of traditional bread, tomato, sausage tapa. Served in a shot glass, tomato water, olive oil with bread pieces, and topped with sausage. Refreshing on a hot Spanish afternoon.

1st course - goletta (pork throat) with cauliflower and celery root puree. Never heard of pork throat in the US before. As cooked here, it melts in your mouth. Alternative choice was gazpacho, really delicious. Very strong start.

2nd course - macaroni bolognese. Just OK. Alternative course was calamari in black ink with zucchini and squash blossom tempura, which was quite beautiful and more interesting, I thought. But neither choice nearly as strong as first courses.

3rd course - cod with mustard seeds and chanterelle mushrooms. Very earthy and aromatic although too salty for my taste. Alternative course was oxtail, served with a reduction of its own juices and whipped potatoes and baby veggies. I did not get pic of this dish, but it was huge hit at the table. Really melted in your mouth. Lovely.

dessert - chocolate in a mousse like texture, covered with ground nuts (and espresso?), served with blood orange sorbet. Good but not excellent.

petit fours - four courses, to be consumed in following order:
1. lemon meringue gel on a hazelnut cracker. Tasty.
2. candied citrus on chocolate wafer. Graham, cinnamon.
3. palate cleanser in shot glass - cucumber, lemon grass, very refreshing.
4 lastly, white chocolate shell with passion fruit inside. great combo, and great way to finish the meal.

Summary - a delightful meal, especially for 40E. A fellow diner at our table thought the gazpacho was her single best dish in Spain. (Her dining companion disagreed and argued for the fois gras consumme at Commerc24 as his single favorite dish.


Other Barcelona recommendations:

1. Pitarra restaurant. If you are looking for a thrifty lunch, consider this place. My experience is that there are virtually an infinite number of places in Barcelona that serve mediocre tapas, mostly consisting of a bread slice with something on the top (sausage, sardines, etc). Really boring and the tab adds up quickly. I found even some of the highly rated tapas places (eg, Tapac24) kind of boring and overpriced. In contrast, this was a great find and hugely reasonable. Fixed price lunch for 13E, including appetizer, plat, dessert and a glass of wine. My roasted suckling pig was flavorful but not what I was expecting - very thinly sliced like cheap spare ribs, and the desserts were not top quality. But hey, we spent way more and got way less at other places. Also, my partner's paella was quite savory. I had them give me a large bottle of water instead of included wine, then had half bottle of white with appetizer course and half bottle of red with plats (about 9E per half-bottle). Key location (Old Gothic quarter or just south thereof), yet nearly everyone in restaurant was speaking Catalan.

2. El Pescador. Excellent seafood restaurant. Warning - we biked everywhere in Barcelona, and this place was really much further than we anticipated. By the time we got there, we were uncomfortably hot. So if you are walking or biking, it is really out of the way. The good news is that it is right on a tiny, beautiful plaza. Really romantic on the terrace, if you have kids they can run around while you savor your meal. Excellent service. However, this place is not cheap, most plats at lunch 20-35E, and it does not offer a fixed price menu. But the quality was extremely high. If you are looking for good, authentic Catalan seafood, definitely consider this place. Also, they must have a talented pastry chef, as the desserts were extremely high quality.

Jul 02, 2011
LeonardL in Spain/Portugal

Road trip from Bordeaux, Carcassonne, Perpignan - where to lunch?

Thanks for your sage counsel. I had not properly thought through some of these timing issues. Thanks for the reality check.

Jun 16, 2011
LeonardL in France

Road trip from Bordeaux, Carcassonne, Perpignan - where to lunch?

We will be leaving Bordeaux by car in the morning and driving to Girona, Spain. That means we will be passing through Toulouse, Carcassonne, Narbonne, and Perpignan on our way that day. Toulouse may be too close to Bordeaux for lunch, since it is only 2 hours into the trip. Carcassone looks romantic and timing seems about right, but a quick internet search did not reveal any places that caught my eye.

So, I thought I would ask my Chowhound brethren -- any ideas on where our party of four should stop for lunch? Not necessarily looking for Michelin stars, but interesting, romantic, innovative, etc would all be welcome.

Jun 14, 2011
LeonardL in France

Paris Food Map

Thanks. After putting onto Picasa, I can read the small print. Leaving to Paris Friday and this will be very useful.

Jun 14, 2011
LeonardL in France