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Mermaid Inn or AquaGrill?

Aquagrill.

Nov 25, 2014
rrems in Manhattan

YIKES-Another thread on tipping in france

<the common system in Spain is to add IVA (VAT) to the bill. It is rare that mention is made on the menu that this will happen>

My experience in Spain, from our very recent trip there and from previous times, is that the tax is included in the menu prices, and that sometimes it is broken out on the bill to show the food price and tax, but the total will match the menu prices. I have never seen tax added on top of the menu price.

Nov 24, 2014
rrems in France

Keens Steakhouse what to get?

Being that you've never been there before, you might want to try the porterhouse, but I agree with the others that the prime rib is heaven.

Nov 23, 2014
rrems in Manhattan

Keens Steakhouse what to get?

Yes, the sides are big enough to share.

Nov 23, 2014
rrems in Manhattan

Could Use a lot of Help

Thanks for clarifying.

For a dinner in the Village, I think Onegin would meet your definition. Interesting decor, great Russian food. If you go, be sure to try the pelmeni and the "herring in a fur coat". Chicken Kiev and Pojarsky cutlets are also very good.

Boqueria, either the Chelsea or Soho location for good tapas and sangrias.

All'Onda for Italian. I was somewhat disappointed when we went this week that some of the more creative dishes were no longer on the menu but the food is still very good and it's a very lively place.

Nov 22, 2014
rrems in Manhattan
1

Could Use a lot of Help

<Dinner in Soho/Chelse/west side/Greenwich/Nolita - we'd like to head down to one of the neighborhoods to stroll and have dinner. Would like to go to a fun place, cool vibe, not expensive more moderate, open on type of cuisine.>

"not expensive more moderate" is meaningless. How much for food only, not including drinks, tax, tip. Numbers, please. I won't even get into the question of what constitutes fun or cool, as it can mean very different things to different people.

Open on type of cuisine, but for NYE you say not Asian or Italian. Does that mean these are okay aside from NYE?

Nov 20, 2014
rrems in Manhattan

GRANADA--Seeking Food Tips

Following up, here is a link to my report on Malaga, Benalmadena and Granada:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/996428

I also posted about the various other cities we visited, and there is a full report on our trip, with photos, on my blog:

http://robertrems.com

I think we were more successful in finding great food in Granada than you were, erica, and it is likely a function of there being new and better choices than when you were there.

Nov 20, 2014
rrems in Spain/Portugal

Spain report, Part 5 - Madrid

Arriving in Madrid after a very pleasant 4 ½ hour train ride from Granada, we had only that day, Sunday, before leaving for home the next morning.

A full report on our Spain trip, with photos, is on my blog:

http://robertrems.com

For lunch, we picked La Camarilla as it is listed in Michelin and was near the hotel. Since it was Sunday afternoon, the place was packed with local families, babies, and baby strollers. We had our first taste of Morcilla (black pudding) along with mini hamburgers (served with real ketchup!) and while the food was good, it was not on the level of the other tapas bars we tried during this trip.

For our last dinner in Spain, we chose Cornucopia, which was recommended by a fellow CH poster, as one of the very few restaurants of any note that are open on Sunday night. It turned out to be excellent, with interesting flavors, and it is important to note that by making the reservation through Tripadvisor, we got a 30% discount on the food (be sure to tell your server). They also offer set menus with a number of choices, also at a substantial discount, but not every dish is included in those. We were able to choose from the full a la carte, and with the discount the price worked out to be about the same as the fixed price menu. We both started with the prawns, then had the beef and pork hamburger and the filet of beef with foie gras, followed by a banana panna cotta. The total with a bottle of wine was only 72 euros. This has to be one of the best deals in Madrid, and though we chose it because of the limited choices for Sunday night, I would go there any day of the week.

Nov 20, 2014
rrems in Spain/Portugal

Spain report, Part 4 - Malaga, Benalmadena, Granada

We arrived in Benalmadena at noon, after driving from Cadiz, and settled in at the home of our friend Cathy, where we would be staying overnight. We then drove into Malaga for the afternoon, including a tapas lunch.

A full report on our Spain trip, with photos, is on my blog:

http://robertrems.com

After touring the cathedral, we looked for the tapas bar we had been to when we were in Malaga in 2010, which was then called La Moraga, and had subsequently been Manzanilla, which Cathy thought it still was. As it turned out it had changed again and was now KGB. It looked interesting though, so we gave it a try, and it turned out to be excellent. We had langoustine tempura with salad, a tripe stew Thai style, and another stew with artichokes, egg, and foie gras, Flamenquines, and a hamburger with gorgonzola. With a bottle of a local red, the total was 53 euros.

Back in Benalmadena, we had dinner at Sollo, a favorite of Cathy’s, which serves only a tasting menu for 50 euros, consisting of countless courses, all based on sturgeon and all incredibly imaginative and delightful. The chef, Diego Gallegos, is well-grounded and knows how to find his way in the often tumultuous world of the restaurant business. Make a note of his name. The food was very innovative, delicious, and plentiful. We had a nice bottle of red from the Malaga region, and the total for the three of us was 185 euros, unbelievable for food of this quality.

We arrived in Granada the next day, and after checking into the Hotel Plaza Nueva, went across the street for a tapas lunch standing at the bar at Los Diamantes, which is known for seafood, mostly fried. With each round of wine we were given a double portion of tapas, first shrimp and then mushrooms. We also ordered 2 half-raciones, razor clams and chicken nuggets. It’s good food, the place is very crowded, and service is fast. I would not choose it for dinner as it is chaotic, but for lunch it works out nicely.

Dinner was at Damasqueros, on the street of the same name, and not to be confused with the bar of the same name at the other end of the street. It’s a fairly new place that had not been mentioned on CH, but was recommended by Michelin and Tripadvisor. The food here was a modern take on traditional dishes, and only a tasting menu is served, for 39 euros. The dishes are too intricate to describe, but ingredients included anchovies, chicken, cod, pork cheeks, and a clafouti-like dessert with quince, vanilla ice cream, and quince cream. With a bottle of a red from the Granada region, the bill was just over 100 euros. We enjoyed it very much.

For lunch the next day, we found our way to La Criolla Gatrobar for tapas. This was another highly recommended venue on Tripadvisor, and it was both superb and dirt cheap. We ordered a bottle of Rey Sagal 2011, a local red, for 15 euros. With that we received 6 tapas, served in 3 double portions. First was a house-made ravioli, second a fried fish with aioli and sauteed cabbage, and last a perfect paella. We could have stopped with that but wanted to try a couple more items, so we ordered a half racion of seared tuna, and then a tiramisu for dessert. The total bill was 28,50 euros.

For dinner, we ended up at Puerta del Carmen, which has been mentioned on CH and also on Tripadvisor. The restaurant was busy and lively, with a charming atmosphere, the food, though fairly traditional, was delicious, and the menu quite varied. We had burrata with sardines and tomato salsa, grilled octopus, baby lamb chops and presa Iberica, all prepared with skill and care. For dessert we had a “special cake” that I can only describe as a Spanish version of Martha Washington cake. With a bottle of Fontenei tinto 2010 and water, the total was 113 euros.

Nov 20, 2014
rrems in Spain/Portugal

Spain report, Part 3 - Cadiz and Jerez

Information on CH for Cadiz and Jerez was non-existent, so we again relied on Michelin and Tripadvisor. I hope this post will prove useful to future visitors to these cities.

A full report on our Spain trip is on my blog:

http://robertrems.com

Having driven for five hours from Salamanca, we settled into our room in Cadiz and, after changing clothes for the warmer weather, set out to have lunch at Balandro, a lively and popular restaurant and tapas bar facing the sea, which was highly recommended on Tripadvisor. We opted to have tapas at the large horseshoe bar, and had tripe stew with cumin and chickpeas, fried anchovies with fried piquillo peppers, fried mixed seafood with the same peppers, and braised pork cheeks with gnocchi in a delicious sauce. With bread and a bottle of Rosado wine from the region, this great meal came to less than 40 euros.

Dinner was at El Faro, a long-established traditional restaurant. Unfortunately, it was not the best example of its type. None of the food was bad, but nothing was exciting either. The seafood soup was excellent, but the albondigas of seafood were not albondigas (meatballs) but actually croquetas, potato with a hint of seafood in it. The very good sauce with tiny clams redeemed it somewhat, but it was not what I was expecting. The presa Iberica was good but a bit overcooked, as was the duck breast. A pavlova with berries was a decent dessert. Bread was the typical Spanish kind, i.e. awful. The better places we have dined at had good artisanal breads. We had a good bottle of a local wine that was a blend of many grapes and was quite good, for under 20 euros. With water the bill came to just under 100 euros, not bad for the price but I really would not recommend this place.

We are big fans of sherry, so a trip to Jerez and a tour of the Lustau winery was part of our plans. Lustau produces some of the highest quality sherries. The tour was very thorough and interesting, with a wonderful guide explaining how each type of sherry is made. We then tasted six sherries, several Finos, an Amontillado, a cream and two Pedro Ximenes, and also a Moscatel. We bought two bottles of Pedro Ximenes at a great discount.

After the winery, we headed to lunch at Reinodeleon, a gastronomic tapas bar and restaurant. We had some wonderful tapas, which included a potato salad with thin sliced octopus, millefeuille of foie gras with Pedro Ximenes gelee and 2 fruit sauces, bruschetta with chicken, cheese, bacon and barbeque sauce, and oxtail stew in a pastry shell. We drank a local wine, Roble 2011, a blend of Tempranillo, Syrah and Merlot. It was excellent and cost less than 10 euros. A superb lunch for 40 euros including coffee.

Back in Cadiz, we had dinner at Sopranis, which is highly recommended by both Michelin and Tripadvisor. It did not disappoint. The food was superb and a tremendous bargain. We each had two appetizers, crab ravioli wrapped in lettuce, in a soy-based broth, duck ravioli, raw langoustines, and an egg with mushrooms and black truffles. Main courses were pigeon and beef tenderloin. For dessert we shared a cheesecake. With water and a bottle of a local red, the bill was 100 euros. A great dinner and a great bargain.

Nov 20, 2014
rrems in Spain/Portugal

Spain report, Part 2 - Salamanca

We broke up the long drive from Santiago de Compostela to Cadiz with a stopover for a day in Salamanca. As is true for much of Spain, CH had almost no information, but once again, we ate very well using recommendations from Michelin and Tripadvisor.

A full report on our Spain adventures, with photos, is on my blog:

http://robertrems.com

For lunch, we set off in search of tapas, first trying for Factory Gourmet, which I had read about on Tripadvisor, but unfortunately it was closed on Mondays. Luckily, Michelin lists Tapas 2.0 as an excellent place for modern and traditional tapas, and it was just around the corner from Factory Gourmet. We had 5 tapas, all delicious, particularly the pork “sashimi”, lightly seared pork with a soy-based sauce, and tempura of langoustines and asparagus. For dessert we had “cheesecake” with strawberries, which was not your usual cheesecake, but a liquid cheese over a bed of cake crumbs, topped with chopped strawberries. Very good. With a bottle of Ribeiro del Duero, this substantial meal came to 40 euros.

Dinner was at El Alquimista, a modern restaurant a few blocks from our hotel, recommended in both Michelin and Tripadvisor. This turned out to be spectacular. The amuse-bouche of cauliflower creme was good but needed a kick, being a bit bland, but it was all uphill from there. Tripe stew with chorizo and ham, seared tuna with pesto, beef filet with a press of potatoes, and roast suckling lamb with potato gnocchi, a deconstructed apple tart, and coffee mousse with rum and chocolate crumble were all stunning. The total came to 78 euros including water and a nice 15 euro bottle of 2009 Bierzo from Pitaccum.

Nov 20, 2014
rrems in Spain/Portugal

All'Onda

We went to All'Onda last night, our fourth time there, and I felt I should post an update. Though there was nothing bad about the food, I felt something was lost. The menu was missing what had been the most interesting dishes,such as calf's liver, sweetbreads, sardines, skate, guinea hen, etc., and what was left was completely lacking the creativity that we had loved in the past. The selection of crudi has been reduced to 3. The prices for pastas, which are really appetizer-size portions, have become outrageous, way out of line with the appetizer and main course prices. My partner ordered the bucatini with sea urchin, which he had before, but assumed that for $32 it would be a larger portion. We should have asked, but the main issue I have is not price, but the loss of creativity and innovation.

Nov 20, 2014
rrems in Manhattan

Spain report, Part 1 - Leon, Burgos, Santiago de Compostela

My partner and I just got back from Spain, where we ate very well. We began our tour in the Northwest. I found little information on CH, so mainly relied on Michelin and Tripadvisor, and for the most part it was a success. I hope my experiences will be of help to future visitors.

A full report on our trip, with photos, is on my blog:

http://robertrems.com

Arriving in Leon, we had lunch in the restaurant in our hotel, the Posada Regia. The restaurant, Botega Regia, is a traditional restaurant obviously popular with local businesspeople, and it was busy that afternoon, though not filled to capacity. We had garlic soup and smoked tongue to start, then tripe stew and stewed pigeons (2) for mains. Both came with delicious fried potato cubes (even I, not normally a fan of potatoes, was impressed). A nice bottle of 2013 Bierzo red, the wine of this region, was only 13 euros. Total bill was 73 euros. Charming atmosphere and attentive service made this a great meal.

Dinner was at Cocinandos, a Michelin starred restaurant on the edge of the city center. This was absolutely incredible. Ten tables, simple but elegant, the chef/owner and a couple of cooks, one server, and obviously a lot of passion for food and wine. The only choice is a tasting menu consisting of 6 courses, for 40 euros, and we chose to have the wine pairings, which were a mere 16 euros apiece. The cooking is innovative and beautifully plated. The wines were all from the region (Bierzo), and included a white, a rose, and a red, perfectly matched to the food, and a muscatel dessert wine. This was a truly memorable meal. It is incredible that all of this cost only 113 euros.

The next day we took a day trip to Burgos. After visiting the cathedral, we strolled around the town with our trusty Guide Michelin and checked out various restaurants, and settled on Casa Ojeda, which has a bar and delicatessen on the ground floor and a formal restaurant one flight up. The decor is charming and traditional, as is the food. We both started with the pickled partridge salad, a regional specialty seen on many menus. Their version was top-notch. I then had the roast suckling lamb and Stanley the confitado of suckling lamb cutlets. Both were superb, as were the scalloped potatoes served alongside. A bottle of Ribeira del Duero 2010 was only 18 euros, and my coffee came with delicious mignardises.

Back in Leon, we had dinner reservations at Pablo, a very new restaurant that, like Cocinandos, offers an impressive looking tasting menu, in a similarly spare and modern setting. The food turned out to be comparable in quality with what we had the previous night. They do not offer wine pairings, but we were very happy with the one shown below, a local wine (note that it is a 2004 Prieto Picudo reserva) for less than 20 euros. The entire bill, including water and one coffee, was 99 euros.

After Leon, we drove to Santiago de Compostela, where we spent the next two days. We walked a short distance away from the tourist center to the tapas bar Casa Marcelo. This used to be a Michelin-starred restaurant, but I’m assuming the economy made it more advantageous to convert it to a tapas bar (didn’t confirm the reason). The food, a combination of Spanish and Japanese, was delicious. We had croquetas of mozzarella and bacalao, spicy tuna tartare over rice, carnitas, and veal shu mai. For dessert we had a berry mixture with clotted cream. With a bottle of Ribeira Sacra, the bill came to 61 euros, higher than most tapas bars, but the food was superior and we were quite satisfied.

Dinner was at Acio, a lovely place on the ring road not far from the Cathedral, but out of the tourist zone, and appears to be frequented by locals. The menu is more interesting than the typical traditional ones. The amuse-bouche of mushroom creme was heavenly. Then we started with Galician beef tartare, prepared tableside, and squid with cabbage and sweetbreads and a squid ink sauce. These were just astounding, but the piece de resistance was the grouse. This is something one rarely sees on menus anywhere, and the chef knows how to do it perfectly. It was suitably gamey and served with an intense sauce, and with roasted chestnuts, chestnut puree and quince. For dessert we had the specialty, pumpkin souffle topped with vanilla ice cream. A wonderful, intense Ribeira del Duero 2012 was the perfect accompaniment. The blll for all this? 113 euros. Also, I should mention that the service was exceptional. A wonderful and memorable experience.

The next day was Sunday, which means most restaurants were closed. For lunch we tried Caney, a tapas bar that is one of the few places open. It looked promising as it was recommended in Michelin and Tripadvisor, but alas it was totally forgettable. with a dull menu and uninspired food.

Dinner at Dos Reis in the Parador, while not exceptional, was really quite good, and the setting in this historic building is grand and elegant. We had Jamon Iberico with pan con tomate, octopus pressed and sliced very thin, served with a fish pate and herring caviar, hake in green sauce with small clams, and turbot with asparagus and tomato. The fish dishes were perfectly cooked, i.e. not overcooked. For dessert we shared the Saint James cake (almond cake) that comes with a glass of sweet wine. With a bottle of 2011 Ribeira del Duero and water, the bill was 135 euros, pretty good for this caliber of restaurant.

Nov 20, 2014
rrems in Spain/Portugal

Yerba Buena or Fonda

I haven't been to Fonda, so can't compare, but I don't think you would go wrong with Yerba Buena. Food is excellent. Just be aware that it can be quite noisy, which may be a good or bad thing when you are on a date.

Nov 19, 2014
rrems in Manhattan

Matera and Monopli

I hope this will be of help:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9250...

Nov 19, 2014
rrems in Italy

Best French Bistro in London

I strongly agree with Loubet. It's a couple of years since I was there but really enjoyed it.

Nov 19, 2014
rrems in U.K./Ireland

Shu Han Ju - New Szechuan at 6th Ave. and 11th St.

You're very welcome. We went there tonight and based on your recommendation tried the Chong Qing chicken. It was delicious (we love dark meat). The duck was superb. Our appetizer of tongue and tripe was not only as delicious as when we had it before, it was a massive portion (had to take half home or we would not have been able to eat anything else). The soup dumplings are not something I would order if I were paying for them, but they are tasty and since they are free, how can one complain?

I could eat here every week and be quite content.

Nov 18, 2014
rrems in Manhattan

Madrid on a Sunday - what's open?

Cornucopia was delightful. Thanks again for the recommendation.

Full report on my blog:

http://robertrems.com

Nov 16, 2014
rrems in Spain/Portugal

Which restaurants will take kindly to requests for doggy bag?

In Wednesday's New York Times:

ohttp://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/14/world/euro...

Nov 15, 2014
rrems in France

Shu Han Ju - New Szechuan at 6th Ave. and 11th St.

They do make this dish with beef also. I wonder if they sent you that by mistake. The lamb we've had (twice) definitely tasted like lamb.

Nov 07, 2014
rrems in Manhattan

Chowhound lunch at Zabb Elee in Queens

I've been to the Manhattan location many times, but never to the Queens one. Always enjoy the food.

Nov 05, 2014
rrems in Manhattan

Chowhound lunch at Zabb Elee in Queens

I'm wondering the same thing. I will be away next week but available anytime after, but unless there is reason to believe that the Queens location is significantly different/better than the Manhattan one, I will give it a pass.

Nov 04, 2014
rrems in Manhattan

Shu Han Ju - New Szechuan at 6th Ave. and 11th St.

So glad you enjoyed it. I totally understand the lamb craving. I just love when it repeats on me and I get a hit of the cumin flavor.

The first time we ate there they did warn us about spiciness, and we assured them that was what we wanted. Since then they have not said anything. I hope that this will not change.

Nov 04, 2014
rrems in Manhattan

Cracker Barrel on Long Island

Just thought you might want to get an idea of what sort of company you are giving your business to when you patronize Cracker Barrel:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10...

Surely there must be someplace else that would serve the purpose...

Italian Chelsea or below

All'Onda has availability that night. I'd grab it.

Nov 03, 2014
rrems in Manhattan

"Foodie" Weekend in NY

I can't disagree with you about the often obnoxious clientele at CB, but ever since BLT Burger closed we have been searching for a place that makes a burger that actually has some meat flavor and texture, and CB is the only one that has met that requirement so far. I don't know how it was years ago as I've only been going there recently, and I don't know about the "par-cooked" as I've always gotten it perfectly medium-rare, as ordered (well, one time it was closer to medium, but I can excuse that). I only wish they had a cheese choice other than American, and some onion rings please (I'm not a fan of French fries).

Nov 03, 2014
rrems in Manhattan

GRANADA--Seeking Food Tips

Thanks, for some reason your posts above did not show up on my page until now.

We will definitely go to Diamantes, but it will be for lunch. I get the impression that the tapas bars are just too mobbed in the evening, and we would prefer a nice sit-down dinner.

These are the places on my list right now:
Los Diamantes

La Criolla Gastrobar

El Quinteto

Oliver

Azafran

Damasqueras

Cunini

Puerta del Carmen

We only have 2 lunches and 2 dinners, so obviously I need to cut out some of these. I'm continuing to research each of these, but at this point leaning toward Diamantes and La Criolla for lunch, and Azafran and Damasqueras for dinner.

Damasqueras seems to be relatively new, and gets a mention in Michelin as well as raves on Tripadvisor. I'm feeling encouraged about the food in Granada, and hoping the last few years have brought improvement.

We will not be going to Sevilla, as we did that on the last trip. We will have one day in Malaga, with tapas for lunch and dinner in or near Benalmadena with our friend who we will be visiting there.

Other places we are going are Leon, Santiago de Compostela, Salamanca, Cadiz and Madrid. Of these we have only been to Madrid before.

Nov 03, 2014
rrems in Spain/Portugal

"Foodie" Weekend in NY

Sorry, but I disagree completely. The Shake Shack burger in my experience has had little flavor. Danny Meyer is a genius, yes, to be able to pass off a mediocre burger as something people wait in line for.

How could Corner Bistro be "shockingly bad" anyway? Their burgers are of substantial size, they cook them properly, and the meat tastes like beef. I can't imagine what else you could expect. Please explain.

Nov 03, 2014
rrems in Manhattan

"Foodie" Weekend in NY

I've been to the ones in the theater district and the Village. Equally good food, similar atmosphere. I think the Village one is somewhat smaller.

Nov 03, 2014
rrems in Manhattan

"Foodie" Weekend in NY

+1 for Marta. I also love Rubirosa. Haven't tried Juliana's, though, so can't compare.

Nov 03, 2014
rrems in Manhattan