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Venice/ Florence/ Rome Trip report (very long)

PS—I see that the pics do not have titles. All before the garden snails are from Antiche Carampene, all after are from Al Covo.

Jun 22, 2014
cathleenmarie in Italy

Venice/ Florence/ Rome Trip report (very long)

More pics from Al Covo (to go with my detailed post about Al Covo and Antiche Carampene)

Jun 22, 2014
cathleenmarie in Italy

Venice/ Florence/ Rome Trip report (very long)

Antiche Carampene: (These are notes I sent a friend that night. i am also attaching pics of food.)
They started us off with cornets of small fried shrimp—you ate everything, heads, tails, eyes. We started with two seafood dishes—baby scallops and a Venetian seafood platter (cod dish redfish dish, spider crabs, cuttlefish, calamari, shrimp, some sweet and sour thing with onions). Then we had two pastas— a spider crab and a tiny octopus with sepia (squid ink type thing). For the main we had a fried seafood—these delicious tiny soft shelled crabs and other seafoods. then we had one espresso, one amaretto, a chocolate torte and I ordered a lemon sorbet which ended up being the sgroppino.

Al Covo: (I was better at pictures than taking here than notes.)
We started with an amuse of garden snails, not my thing. I like snails soaked in butter and garlic. We then had items very similar to Antiche Carampene—scallops, Venetian seafood platter, pastas, fried seafood. We did have the small fried soft shell crabs which I believe are called meloche. We had two desserts and the divine cheese plate.

Overall these restaurants are so similar in menu, service and the pleasant evening that was had. The big differences are location—Al Covo is closer to St. Mark's, Antiche Carampene is a little farther from the center. We were staying Dorsoduro so were trying to make the last vaporetto home from Al Covo, but walked home from Antiche Carampene. The atmosphere at Al Covo is a touch fancier. Antiche Carampene's dining room has a smaller, homier feeling. Things at Al Covo were a little more expensive—we ordered a more expensive bottle of wine, the beer, water. The coperto to at Al Covo was €5 to Antiche's €16 (totals for our party of four).

I would hate to choose between one of these restaurants because in the end they are so similar and you will not be disappointed with either. The major differences are location and price.

I am attaching pictures, probably will be in two posts. (I took pics with my iPhone without a flash...so some are a little blurry and unfocused.)

Jun 22, 2014
cathleenmarie in Italy

Venice/ Florence/ Rome Trip report (very long)

I want to thank those of you who helped me figure out where to eat in Venice, Florence and Rome. I used Elizabeth Minchilli’s apps for Venice, Florence and Rome and Katie Parla’s Rome app. I also searched Chowhound and various other sites. We had a great time in Italy made that much better by the exquisite foods that we ate. We were a couple traveling with my mother and 18 year old niece. My husband’s drink of choice is craft beer—and there is good craft beer in Italy…just not everywhere. I include prices if I have the receipt, we were always a party of four.

Venice:
Pantagruelica, Campo Santa Barnaba
This is a great little food shop where we bought delicious meats, cheeses and breads for our lunch the first day. I think the man who helped us was named Maurizio—he was passionate about his beautifully selected, lovingly created foods. This shop is a little jewel. Had Venice been our last city I would have bought lots of treats to bring home. (€31.55)

Gelateria Il Doge, Campo Santa Margherita
Got gelato here the first day and kept going back for more.

Hotel Wildner (lunch)
After stumbling out of the Doge’s Palace Secret Itineraries tour (meh) I had three starving companions on my hands. Panic. Where to eat? I used EM’s app to find this place and it did not disappoint. It was far enough from the craziness of the Bridge of Sigh’s, it was a gorgeous day and a perfect setting. The beautiful thing (for us) was it was not crowded. It should have been. I had a delicious turbot with zucchini, my companions had caprese salad and pastas. (€102)

Café Florian
We sat in the Square and had snacks and coffees and hot chocolates. I had a strawberry bellini (not amazing)—but it came with salty snacks (chips and olives). I love salty snacks. We listened to the music to the tune of six euros each (except our niece who must have looked too young). The nice thing was I felt like we could have sat there forever. We sat there long enough for the line at the campanile to go down—absolutely amazing view, worth the wait. (€72.50)

Antiche Carampene
Delicious seafood. Had read it was hard to find. I followed the directions from the San Silvestro vaporetto stop and had no trouble, had a hard look at the map in advance, which was helpful. We asked the waiter to help us order and were not disappointed. Lots of seafood, a few pastas, some fried seafood, a chocolate torte, amaretto (delicious!). I ordered the lemon sorbet and was surprised by the lemon sorbet mixed with vodka (later found out it was a sgroppino). The service was lovely, very helpful. I should have kept better notes on the beer…they did have some interesting beer.
(€200)

Al Covo
Delicious seafood again. Very similar to Antiche Carapene—again we asked the wait staff to help us order. Lovely service. My favorite thing was the cheese course at the end—there was this amazing blue cheese, very soft and delicious. Thought about it for days after.
(€275)

Florence
Zeb (lunch)
I loved Zeb even though the owner did not love us…or anyone! Maybe he loved the locals. This is a small, very modern place with bar seating. It is like a swiss army knife—everything slots in perfectly. I liked that it was a little off the beaten path…though it was not too far off the beaten path. We went for lunch. Everything looked delicious, I wanted to taste everything. The owner recited the menu to us in English which is nice except that I could only understand every fifth word or so. And then I could not remember anything that he said. Because we had such good luck in Venice with waiters helping us order I asked if he would help us. But no! “How can I choose” was the look/ body language he gave us? It is all delicious! So then I proceeded to order meats and cheeses and a pasta to share…which only disappointed him more. If only he had helped us order we would not have disappointed! I was not flummoxed by his bad attitude because I saw him berate customers in front of us. It made me laugh to myself inside. That said, I would recommend this place. Everything was delicious, the place is gorgeous and it was a real deal—only €38 for four for lunch (I had a glass of white wine). Don’t let the owner/ waiter/ chef get you down.

‘Ino
Well located place to have a Panini/ quick lunch near the Piazza della Signoria.

La Carraia
This was our favorite gelato in Florence.

Mercato Centrale
We tried to go to Nerbone for lunch, but the market closes at 2pm. We had lunch upstairs in the food court which is bright and airy. Did not wow me but it is a central place to stop for a bite to eat.

Il Santo Bevitore
Loved this place. Excellent selection of wines AND beers. Food was delicious, atmosphere was terrific, lively setting. Service was warm and welcoming. We would have gone here every night but did not want to miss out on other opportunities. (€130)

Trattoria Sostanza
Loved this place too. I had read that the butter chicken was the thing. Could not imagine how something named butter chicken that looked bland in pictures could be destination worthy. Boy was I wrong, it was delicious. We should have ordered two butter chickens and skipped the bistecca fiorentina. There were nice side vegetables (sautéed spinach and fresh tomatoes, not together) and salads. I was disappointed we did not try the artichoke torta—apparently it is to die for. There is communal table seating. We were seated with some locals so spied what they were ordering. (€117)

Al Tranvai
Going here gave us real street cred with the locals. Everyone wondered how we ever heard about this place, thank you Elizabeth Minchilli! I liked it because it was so different from our other destinations. It is very small and local, low key, not fancy. The menu is posted on the wall. I would call the food honest. I cannot remember everything we had (and forgot to take pics)—there were pastas (one cooked in red wine), the spinach gnudi, and fried zucchini. We were seated in the very, very small backroom (four tables). One of the wait staff from Il Santo Bevitore was in the back room with us—he recognized us from a few evenings prior. I always like to know where restaurant people go. (no idea of cost)

Rome:
Pizzarium (lunch)
Did not disappoint. Had no idea what to order so told the guy (who spoke every language) what should we get for four people. He selected our pizzas. My hands down favorite was the potato pizza. Close-ish to the Vatican. (€19)

Beer Tasting with Katie Parla
As I mentioned, my husband loves craft beer. Often restaurants only have an inspired selection so he never has a libation that he enjoys. When I saw that Katie Parla had a craft beer tasting I knew this would be a huge hit, the experience did not disappoint. Katie took us to Open Baladin for a tasting of four Italian beers we would have never tried. We had small snacks to pair with the beers. She told us all about the brewers, beer in Italy, life in Italy, it was definitely informative. She also gave us the names of several other craft beer places to try. From the list, we only got to no.au— it was a fun.

Roscioli
I kept reading about this place and wanted to try it. Some people love it and some people hate it. It seemed so hit or miss. We loved it. We went here after the beer tasting, right around the corner from Open Baladin. Katie told us to follow the suggestions from her website and we would not be disappointed. It was delicious. I would love to find where I can get small semi sun dried tomatoes like those served with the burrata. They were divine. They have beautiful meat and cheese counter and small array of items to buy. So wish I could have lingered but it was late and they were very busy. Their Antico Forno just down the street is also delicious. The breads at dinner (and later at the Il Sanlorenzo) were divine. I bought taralli to bring back for gifts—everyone said how much they enjoyed them. Wish we could have stopped here for lunch…but never any time, or calories to spare. (dinner was €91)

Armando al Pantheon
We enjoyed this meal very much. We had a booth. The design is fresh. The restaurant bustles in a good way. The service was friendly Loved the bruschetta, the pastas and the desserts (Torta Antica Roma and Tiramisu). We had the rolled beef with peas and the oxtails—I much preferred the other items we ordered. It was fun to be able to walk out and see the Pantheon at night. (€125)

Ristorante Vecchia Roma (via della Tribuna Campitelli)
Our guide from the Colosseum and Forum recommended this place. It is walk-able from these sights. We loved it. My mom had requested to eat lunch outside on the last day. This place was perfect. It was in a quiet-ish small square off the beaten path. Our guide aid they were had great vegratables. We shared and antipasti with fried artichoke/ crostini with vegetables, pastas and a risotto. This was the best risotto of our trip, I wish I could remember what was in it—all I remember was that it was green and had pistachios as a garnish. The green beans with tomatoes and the mixed green salad were so fresh and welcome. Service was very warm and friendly. (lunch was €123)

Il Sanlorenzo
This was our blowout last night. I did not know it was going to be such a blowout—but it was the favorite meal of several in our party. I had dithered on where to go. I kept making reservations and then getting swayed by opinions. In the end this was the opinion that prevailed, and we were glad that it did. This is a swell crowd. I kept marveling at the gorgeous outfits of the women, and their high heels. (How do they walk on cobblestones in these high heels? Maybe a car drops them at the door?) The atmosphere and service were swell too. We had the whole nine yards—the appetizers selected by the owners, two pastas, some calamari and zucchini (fried) and then a whole cooked fish. By the time the fish came I could barely eat another bite…I should point out it was a touch overdone (just a teeny bit). It broke my heart not to be able to indulge in the gorgeous little sweets at the end. Two revelations (for me)—the fried anchovies and the carpaccio of shrimp with orange, salt and oil. The breads from Rosicoli were divine. At one point we each got a tiny croissant which was beyond delicious. Thank goodness they did not give us a second croissant—we would have devoured that too. The only sad note was that they have one beer—Heineken. Are you kidding? A place this nice has one shot at a beer and they serve Heineken?!! (€349, which includes a mere three glasses of wine)

Jun 19, 2014
cathleenmarie in Italy

Crafting Venice/ Florence/ Rome Lunches and Dinner Selections—Help is Appreciated!

Thanks Sid!

Apr 26, 2014
cathleenmarie in Italy

Crafting Venice/ Florence/ Rome Lunches and Dinner Selections—Help is Appreciated!

Elizabeth, thanks for the feedback. Can you tell I have been using your apps? They have been fabulously helpful in trying to map out the food parts of our trip in Venice, Florence and Rome.

Apr 26, 2014
cathleenmarie in Italy

Crafting Venice/ Florence/ Rome Lunches and Dinner Selections—Help is Appreciated!

Thanks Sid. Your lists have been most helpful in coming to my conclusions at present.

Apr 26, 2014
cathleenmarie in Italy

Crafting Venice/ Florence/ Rome Lunches and Dinner Selections—Help is Appreciated!

Thanks for the input. I got the sense that Gusto was not the right choice food-wise—may have been a proximate suggestion. We will head over to Nerone. Does anyone know if it is hard to get a table at lunch?
We are using a guide for the Campo df, Carolina Vicente, she was recommended by the people from whom we are renting our apartment. I will be sure to report back.
Hmmm, on Il Convivo discussion on another thread....In my research it seemed to be suggested as more "about Rome" than some of the more modern options. I guess I am looking for one casual night (the beer+) and two special-ish meals—Armando + one other. Can you suggest a second option after Armando? Metamorfosi? Which I know is less traditional but seems to tip to the thumbs up side in discussions online. Or do you have another suggestion? At the end of the day I want good food in Rome, perhaps something whose memory will make me think—yes, we had such a nice night.
Thanks for suggesting a bite after the beer tasting. Anything you can recommend in the area? I see Roscioli is near and it appeals—but this place inspires strong opinions from awful to incredible. Would I be insane to go there? Or maybe Piperno? Or Antico Forno Urbani?
Thanks so much for any direction you can offer.

Apr 26, 2014
cathleenmarie in Italy

Crafting Venice/ Florence/ Rome Lunches and Dinner Selections—Help is Appreciated!

We are heading to Venice, Rome and Florence next month. I have been searching Chowhound, Katie Parla, Maureen Fant, Elizabeth Minichelli and many more for recommendations. We are spending three nights in each city. We are a party of four—my husband (who likes craft beer, not wine but may be persuaded), my mother, and our niece who will have just graduated from high school—this will be her first trip to Europe.

I am a fan of delicious food. I am flexible on price point, have no problem spending money for excellence. I would prefer not to have leisurely lunches (can always be persuaded otherwise) but have no problem with a relaxed dinner.

Venice
Lunches:
Birraria on Campo San Polo (this was suggested by an acquaintance and looks like it is close-ish to our apartment so might be a good first day option?)
La Bitta is also a close option for first day lunch
La Cantina
Beccafico, near Campo Stefano
Gia Schiavi
Not sure if any of these are overly inspiring? I am open to suggestion.

Dinner:
1. Cicchetti tour with Monica Cesarato (first night in Italy—might be tired, thought this might be a good way to see the town, have a little sustenance)
2. Al Covo
3. Antiche Carampane

We will take the train to Florence on a Sunday morning.
Florence
Lunches—only can choose three, help me!
Zeb
Cantinetta Verrazzano
Nerbone
‘Ino
ll’Antico Vinaio

Dinners—other recommendations?
1. Sostanza
2. Il Santo Bevitore
3. I cannot make a third restaurant choice. Maybe I am restaurant researched out?

Rome
Lunches
1. Gusto—was recommended because it is close to our apartment, and would be an option before we head to the Colosseum/ Forum for a tour. (Our train arrives from Florence at 10:35, we have to go to the apartment and then be at the Colosseum for 2:30.) Is Gusto a good choice? Or should try Hosteria Nerone or Li Rioni a Santiquattro Snc instead?
2. Pizzarium
3. We are doing a little walk around tasting in the Campo de Fiori

Dinners
1. Il Convivo—should we go here our last night in Italy?
2. One night we are having an Italian beer tasting with Katie Parla at Baladin. I hate wasting a dinner opportunity in a beer pub but this will make my husband incredibly happy.
3. Armando seems to be a fave with some? Any other suggestions for a third dinner in Rome? Or is Armando the place?

In advance thanks for any suggestions or comments you might have. Sorry so long and I promise to report back.

Apr 25, 2014
cathleenmarie in Italy

Cicchetti tour

I have arranged for the cicchetti tour with Monica for the first night we are in Venice. I am wondering if the food you eat on this tour constitutes dinner? Or will we need to supplement?

Apr 21, 2014
cathleenmarie in Italy

Food worthy stops from Granada to Seville

We are making the drive from Seville to Granada tomorrow. Were hoping got stop at the Mezquita in Granada but because it is a Sunday the timing is not going to work. Any suggestions for a lunch stop or interesting stop between Seville and Granada on a Sunday?

May 25, 2013
cathleenmarie in Spain/Portugal

Islamorada Trip Report

Spent President’s weekend in Islamorada. There are some nice dining options:

Pierre’s: Had two delicious dinners at Pierre’s. Pierre’s is a fine dining establishment, lovely atmosphere and menu. Really liked the fresh grouper with the basmati rice with apricots. My husband’s dry aged New York Strip was outstanding. They had a nice mojito but no craft beer selection—the waiter listed a (boring) litany of lagers and light beer options. The service was at times odd but did not detract from the pleasant setting and culinary offerings. On the second night the music was annoyingly loud.

Morada Bay Café: Went on a very cold Sunday and were not disappointed—they had heaters which kept everything warm. MBC is a very nice, clean, professional beach establishment—how often can you say that about a beach restaurant?! Drinks were good, lunch hit the spot. We were not there for sunset but think it is probably the place to be.

Chef Michael’s: In comparison to the atmosphere at Pierre’s, Chef Michael’s is more neighborhood-y. The place is so small that the host greets you in the parking lot—no room for a host stand inside, there are tables as you walk in the door. Had excellent appetizers—tuna tataki and best wedge salad ever. The main courses were not as good. My husband’s fish was overcooked, though the Adriatic preparation was delicious. My hogfish was overwrought—had the Juliette preparation, too much going on. They did have one nice Belgian beer—Le Fin du Monde.

Kaiyo Grill: Our hotel highly recommended this place. It is similar in atmosphere to Chef Michael’s, more casual than Pierre’s. Again the appetizers were outstanding (steamed pork dumplings and tuna tataki) but the main courses were a heap of average food. They did have one interesting beer option—cannot remember its name, not as good as the Fin du Monde.

Lazy Days: Went for lunch and ate on the balcony—nice view. Waitress was surly in that friendly local way. The inside is dark, scary and stinky—needs a good cleaning/ renovation. Really liked the lemon piccata preparation of the yellowtail sandwich. My husband had a grilled tuna, average or less.

Feb 19, 2013
cathleenmarie in Florida

Trip Report: Malibu--Santa Barbara--Manhattan Beach

Malibu Seafood, Malibu
I had initially written on CH inquiring about a restaurant somewhere between LAX and Santa Barbara. I got lots of excellent suggestions and in the end settled on Malibu Seafood, which was exactly what I was looking for. It was beachy, not fancy, had outside seating, a view of the water and good food. My husband got the tuna burger, which he really liked. I got the seared halibut, which was fishy—not horrible but a hint. The french fries were excellent. Despite my poor ordering I liked the place and would go again. I would try the tuna burger next time.

Bouchon, Santa Barbara
My favorite thing at this restaurant was the bread and butter. This is not to say that I did not like the place. The bread and butter were amazing. (OK, people at this point are writing off this review because so far I like fries and bread!) I liked the atmosphere—bustling, you could see the frenzy of the kitchen. The waiter highly recommended the (local) heirloom tomato and goat cheese salad. The tomatoes were unripe and there were these large triangles of fried matter. I actually asked what they were—bread. Strangest croutons I have ever seen. I had the local sea bass, which was good but not amazing. My husband again really liked his meal—he had crab cakes and tuna. One strange thing, which occurred at every Santa Barbara restaurant—no one ever seemed to notice when your glass was empty and offer another drink. I was drinking wines by the glass and my husband was drinking beer. So we had one drink where we would have normally had two.

Renaud’s Patisserie
We walked here from our hotel past all of these charming little bistro breakfast places. We show up and it is in a (cute) strip mall, but it was still a strip mall. What a pleasant surprise. Delicious/ perfect French pastries, fresh squeezed orange juice—came every day for breakfast. Le Pain Quotidien in Manhattan Beach was greatly lacking in comparison.

Cold Spring Tavern
When we would tell people we were going here they would ooh and aah, “such a perfect day to go there.” When we got out of the car the air was cool and there was this lovely smell of being in a forest. We ate inside the restaurant to the soundtrack of motorcycles idling outside, kind of unfortunate. It is a popular place with the biker set. I am not a fan of onion rings but felt like we should try these—I could turn into an onion ring fan, these were delicious. Had the BBQ beef sandwich, meh.

Julienne
This was my favorite restaurant of the whole California jaunt. Loved the atmosphere. Loved the food. The charcuterie plate was outstanding. My husband does not normally gravitate toward pate, but here it was a hit. Our mains were wild king salmon and pork tenderloin (I think). Would definitely go here again and recommend.

Santa Barbara Brewing Company
Cannot believe that I am listing this place, but I have to. My husband loves NFL football. Our hotel had flat screen TVs but alas no high def. So we go here to watch the Patriots play. It is SOOO loud, it is SOOO packed. The Monterey Chicken sandwich was delicious, as were the French fries. (My true colors are coming through, I LOVE French fries.) The service was excellent. Kelly, our waitress, never let our cokes or waters run dry (afternoon game).

San Ysidro Ranch, Montecito
This place is gorgeous but our waiter was asleep at the wheel. I would describe the service as inattentive. We sat on the lower patio, really gorgeous. (The upper patio is enclosed by glass and has a roof—but still more of an outside than inside feel.) It was a bustling night with lots of swell and beautiful people. We were seated immediately but it took the waiter at least 15 minutes to come to our table. We ordered dinner. My husband’s starter came out, mine didn’t. There was no one to tell. No one noticed or asked. What the heck, I ordered the $68 main course so did not really need an appetizer. Dinner is served. We would have had a second drink but there was no one to ask. We finally lasso the waiter and request the check. I scan it and my starter is not on there—he forgot it, not the kitchen (even though he tells me it is a terrific choice). He also forgets to charge me for my $24 glass of wine. I figure since I am checking to make sure he did not charge me for the appetizer, I should let him know about the wine. He adds it on. We leave. The stars in the dark black sky are gorgeous—best part of the evening. We did not leave angry, it was such a lovely night and atmosphere. I was shocked at the bad service. But it looks like you don’t have to be good to be packed.

Cava, Montecito
Mistake! I was planning on going to La Super-Rica Taqueria and was talked out of it by the Latina front desk manager—“I don’t get it I can make that stuff at home.” So I end up at Cava because it is outside and Mexican. I was a ghost—I sat there and no one waited on me, but they waited on the adjacent table. I finally had to go inside and wave someone down, very bizarre. I ordered a forgettable salad. Could not get passed the bruised, slimy, expired lettuce—one of my major pet peeves with restaurants. Nasty. [Let the stoning begin because I skipped LSRT in lieu of Cava.]

Manhattan Beach Post, Manhattan Beach
While Julienne was my favorite restaurant of the trip, MBP was my husband’s favorite. In feel it is masculine, bold, in your face. Our waitress was superb, nice change after the spotty service in SB. We loved the cheddar bacon biscuits, kale salad, scallops, and brussels sprouts. The highly recommended skirt steak was lost on us. Not sure if skirt steak can be anything less than tough and chewy. I recently made it at home and my husband said he was eyeing objects in case he needed to perform the Heimlich on himself. They had a nice selection of beers on tap and wines in 3 or 6 ounce pours. We would definitely go here again—very convivial, lively, welcoming, and tasty.

Wahoo Fish Taco’s, Manhattan Beach
Loved the fish taco for lunch.

Talia’s, Manhattan Beach
I wanted to like this place. It is a pleasant atmosphere. BUT they committed the great crime of bruised, slimy, expired lettuce and arugula. I do not get this. How could I restaurant think that customers want to eat this stuff?

Manhattan Beach Creamery
Really enjoyed a clandestine scoop of butter pecan ice cream.

Simmzy’s
My husband loves excellent beer on draft. This place does not disappoint. Their selection is amazing. Nice, open air restaurant. We did not eat here but would do so in the future for a casual dinner. The guys behind the bar were very pleasant…made for a nice end to the evening.

Oct 13, 2012
cathleenmarie in Los Angeles Area

Lunch somewhere between LAX and Santa Barbara?

The verdict--I am thinking we are going to stop at Malibu Seafood on the way to SB...and over the course of the weekend figure out where to go on the way back. I love all of the suggestions. Wish we had more time.

Oct 03, 2012
cathleenmarie in Los Angeles Area

Lunch somewhere between LAX and Santa Barbara?

The Sidecar Café looks intriguing. Wish they were open on Monday...would definitely have checked them out on the way back into town.

Oct 03, 2012
cathleenmarie in Los Angeles Area

Lunch somewhere between LAX and Santa Barbara?

Hoping to try Supa Rica one day for lunch while we are in SB.

Oct 03, 2012
cathleenmarie in Los Angeles Area

Lunch somewhere between LAX and Santa Barbara?

Looks tasty. Reminds me of the crawfish sacks at New Orleans Jazz Fest. Thanks for the recommendation.

Oct 02, 2012
cathleenmarie in Los Angeles Area

Decent Lunch near Newseum?

Would you consider Wolfgang Puck's The Source? Maybe too fancy? It is on the same block as the Newseum. With the three course prix fixe lunch, Newseum entrance is $10.

I adore the suggested Central...but it is a bit of a hike from the Newseum. A little closer might be Fiola.

Teaism is counter service place, so might be more casual than desired? Their bento boxes are delish, as is the Ochazuke with Salmon (green tea soup)...and the salty oatmeal cookies.

Oct 02, 2012
cathleenmarie in Washington DC & Baltimore

Lunch somewhere between LAX and Santa Barbara?

Thanks, that makes the decision easy. We are a party of two. They only take reservations for lunch for parties of five or more.

Oct 02, 2012
cathleenmarie in Los Angeles Area

Lunch somewhere between LAX and Santa Barbara?

Thanks for the recommendations...will check these places out as well. I did realize my Malibu and non-Malibu selections were in different realms. Hmmm, could that be the indecision? We will be stopping for lunch on the way to SB and on the way back into town. Might have to try two places along the coast...!

Oct 02, 2012
cathleenmarie in Los Angeles Area

Lunch somewhere between LAX and Santa Barbara?

I will definitely report back. Thanks so much for the suggestion of Sunset Restaurant, I will check it out.

Oct 02, 2012
cathleenmarie in Los Angeles Area

Lunch somewhere between LAX and Santa Barbara?

We are flying into LAX, landing at 11am (Friday) and driving to Santa Barbara via the PCH. I am trying to pick a place to stop for lunch closer rather than farther on our journey as we will be on east coast time. I was thinking PCH highway for the beachiness--Neptune's Net or Malibu Seafood...but the porta potties and table sharking at the former are off putting. Perhaps Malibu Seafood is equally charmless? So then I started looking at things in the Santa Monica area. We are not looking for a multi course meal or a production, just something delicious to kick off five days in Southern California. After perusing CH, things that are appealing: Michael's (patio--love the idea of being somewhat outside, looks covered), Gjelina, Blue Plate Oysterette. Would love to hear an opinion? Do I stick with the seafood shack--the idea is appealing if the food is worth it. Or do we try something in town? How would you start the weekend?

[In SB we are eating at Julienne, Bouchon, Olio y Limone, then we are trying Manhattan Beach Post while in MB.]

Thanks so much for any guidance you can offer.

Oct 02, 2012
cathleenmarie in Los Angeles Area

Lunch somewhere between LAX and Santa Barbara?

We are flying into LAX, landing at 11am (Friday) and driving to Santa Barbara via the PCH. I am trying to pick a place to stop for lunch closer rather than farther on our journey as we will be on east coast time. I was thinking PCH highway for the beachiness--Neptune's Net or Malibu Seafood...but the porta potties and table sharking at the former are off putting. Perhaps Malibu Seafood is equally charmless? So then I started looking at things in the Santa Monica area. We are not looking for a multi course meal or a production, just something delicious to kick off five days in Southern California. After perusing CH, things that are appealing: Michael's (patio--love the idea of being somewhat outside, looks covered), Gjelina, Blue Plate Oysterette. Would love to hear an opinion? Do I stick with the seafood shack--the idea is appealing if the food is worth it. Or do we try something in town? How would you start the weekend?

[In SB we are eating at Julienne, Bouchon, Olio y Limone, then we are trying Manhattan Beach Post while in MB.]

Thanks so much for any guidance you can offer.

Oct 02, 2012
cathleenmarie in Los Angeles Area

Paris Trip Report, heavy on the 7th...very long

I recreated a google map and made it public. It has places we visited (museums), pastry shops, chocolate shops, restaurants. I did not write all of the blurbs--often cribbed from elsewhere.
http://goo.gl/maps/Tvys

Jun 05, 2012
cathleenmarie in France

Paris Trip Report, heavy on the 7th...very long

Oui, 88 euros, same place: 2 lunches at 19.90€, French onion soup, escargots, herring, 2 coca lights (husband's midday caffeine requirement), one glass of rose. Would love a decoding of the herring dish served with a large jar of pickled vegetable. Fish portion was huge--appeared to be a community plate idea--take what you like, not all meant for you. We were perplexed, but mom dug in. Has anyone had this before? We loved our lunch/ this place.

Jun 05, 2012
cathleenmarie in France

Paris Trip Report, heavy on the 7th...very long

I neglected to note that we had an passable lunch Angelina at the Petit Trianon the day before. I had the ham and cheese sandwich and my husband had a tasty slice of quiche--outside on a gorgeous day. The Rue de Rivoli place was a different experience. Dirty, dingy, in serious need of a cleaning. That would all be OK if the food were agreeable but the food matched the decor. The quiche was barely cooked. The mixed salad with the quiche had small slimy gone by pieces of lettuce throughout--that absolutely creeps me out. For four people the bill was 90 euro. Au Fins Gourmet was 88 and in another league. Perhaps the Louvre location is better...I am warning about the RdR outlet.

Jun 05, 2012
cathleenmarie in France

Paris Trip Report, heavy on the 7th...very long

No problem re the euro thing. I saved all receipts and cards in an envelope--they are always helpful for future trips (addresses, phone numbers, what did we eat, etc.). I was thinking I might scan them and add them to my Paris folder.
Thankfully my husband will indulge in champagne. We have been good for each other--I have found out that I like hefeweizen and weiss beers...have not found the taste for the hoppy stuff yet.

Jun 05, 2012
cathleenmarie in France

Paris Trip Report, heavy on the 7th...very long

I wrote about FL above...but will repeat:
FL is a tiny restaurant, similar in size to Catherine Reed. I read about it on John Talbott's blog. It was also highly recommended as an option by the folks from whom we rented our apartment. The name is play on Eiffel. The address is 1 bis, rue Augereau in the 7th, 01.45.51.06.04. It is charming, I would recommend.

Jun 04, 2012
cathleenmarie in France

Paris Trip Report, heavy on the 7th...very long

1. Thank you. Reading about people's eating adventures and opinions was so helpful for our trip planning.
2. The waitress was delightful at AFG. Very welcoming and warm.
3. FL is a tiny restaurant, similar in size to Catherine Reed. I read about it on John Talbott's blog. It was also highly recommended as an option by the folks from whom we rented our apartment. The name is play on Eiffel. The address is 1 bis, rue Augereau in the 7th, 01.45.51.06.04. It is charming, I would recommend.
4. Yes, my husband had beer, the rest of us had wine. He is a beer guy, mostly craft stuff--not the mainstream lagers. We live in the DC area where accommodating his beer tastes and my wine desires is relatively easy in restaurants. For the most part we were able to find (good) beer in Parisian restaurants. We resorted to champagne where beer was not an option. The Craig Allen option at Spring was delightful.
5. Prices in euros:
La Caisse Noix 189.50
Catherine Reed 190.00
Cafe Constant 162.00
Dans Les Landes ?
Au Fins Gourmets 88.00
FL 202.00
L'Ami Jean 164.00
Spring 398.00 (but came through as $393.75 on my credit card)

Jun 04, 2012
cathleenmarie in France

Paris Trip Report, heavy on the 7th...very long

We just returned from an amazing week in Paris—great food and sublime weather. Thanks to the Chowhound folks who tried to expand our horizons beyond the 7th Arondissement. We were a group of four—my mom, 18 yo niece, husband, and myself. My husband is not a wine guy though will suffer through champagne if beer is not an option. I list the beer that was available in the restaurants in which we dined. I also list the cost, in American dollars (per my credit card). If euros are the preferred calculation, I could drum that information up. Not sure cost info is desired. Never have prepared a trip report...so

La Caisse Noix, 15th (dinner)
Our first night’s dinner, we made a wrong turn and got lost. We were seated in the back. Restaurant was warm. Waitress was surly and rude. Our point of view—she wrote it down wrong. Her point of view—we did not order correctly. Not sure why she thought my mother would have the ravioli for the first and the second course. We were scolded like school children. Needless to say this was our least favorite restaurant—stars were not aligned for us to like it. Favorite thing was a small dessert with strawberries, shortbread, pistachios and whipped cream (?)—delicious and fresh. Beer on tap was Wendelinus, tasty. Cost: $237.25 for four people.

Catherine Reed, 7th (dinner)
Loved this place. Very intimate, quiet, wonderful atmosphere. Lovingly prepared food. Catherine came out and spoke to us at the end. The food was of the moment—whatever was at its freshest. Favorite things were tomato tarte—gorgeous red and green tomatoes, the spring salad with fennel and radishes, beef cheek bourguignon. There was no beer on tap, I don’t recall there being beer in bottles either. Cost: $237.88 for four, included one bottle of champagne.

Café des Musées, 3rd (lunch)
We loved the atmosphere…sat at the table with door opening onto quiet side street. Gorgeous day. Waiter was sassy and fresh…we liked him. Delicious salmon, mushrooms stuffed with escargots, roast chicken. Husband did not love the entrecote—may be lost in translation, he is a fan of dry aged NY Strip. The Marais on a Sunday was a little too frenetic. CdM was lively but far enough from the hubbub to be relaxing. Cost: $130.71 (only one glass of wine)

Café Constant, 7th (dinner)
We loved the convivial atmosphere. The wait was 45 minutes—the bartender gave us a card so we could call and check on the wait time from a nearby café. The chocolate quenelles were a favorite of the chocolate lovers—my niece’s favorite dessert of the whole trip (and she tried a lot of desserts). Liked CC so much we went back for drinks each night after dinner elsewhere. Only four stools at the bar but the place was a block from our (incredible) apartment. The bar and wait staff could not have been friendlier. Beer on tap was Leffe Printemps and Leffe Blonde, tasty. Cost $199.84, included two beers and a bottle of wine (I think).

Dans Les Landes, 5th (dinner)
After a day in Normandy we went straight to Dans Les Landes. Loved sitting outside and watching the world going by. We ordered eight plates for four people—probably one and half plates too many, but we liked the tastes. The Salade Landaise was universally adored, as were the polenta croquettes with smoked duck, and the fried Camembert. We also loved the charcuterie plate. The fricassee of vegetables was dull (overcooked) and the pork bellies were one dish too much. We were served by one impatient waiter and one kind waiter. We liked the casualness and variety that this restaurant supplied to our dining list. The beer was an Oldarki on tap, tasty. Cost: Who knows? Their credit card machine was not working—only seemed to accept debit cards?

Au Fin Gourmets, 7th (lunch)
I got the recommendation for this restaurant off of Chowhound. We had visited the Musée d’Orsay and wanted a lunch option in the neighborhood. Perfect, loved the atmosphere—I would highly recommend as a place to eat when visiting the MdO. We sat outside, but the inside was equally as charming. The lunch menu is 19.90 euros for three courses. Delicious fish of the day, escargots and pickled herring. Loved the butter with the saucisson sec. We were too full for dessert. [Tourist tip for MdO—there is an excellent English language tour at 11:30. The museum was packed but there were only eleven people on our tour.] (Lunch) Cost: $109.62, four people

FL, 7th (dinner)
We were scheduled to go somewhere in the 5th but could not make the 7:30 reservation. FL was down the street from our apartment and an excellent last minute choice. Like Catherine Reed, it is a small and quiet restaurant, staffed by two—absolutely delightful. The waiter was charming. I cannot remember all of the food details but the steak was a huge hit with my niece and my husband. The only beer was Heineken—the sole unfortunate aspect. We had a lovely bottle of champagne. Cost: $251.63 for four people includes one bottle of champagne.

L’Ami Jean, 7th (dinner)
I had no idea what to expect—read all about the yelling and teasing, and was worried this would be a little too in your face. Thankfully I was wrong. We loved it. The casual atmosphere, sassy waiter, and outstanding food were real hits with us. I was positioned at a table where I could watch all of the kitchen action—professional, intense focus, and precise delivery of plates to tables. (I did not have views of the kitchens at Catherine Reed and FL—but think my table-mates with the view were equally rewarded.) Loved the spring vegetable with the vache qui rit foam; the veal was outstanding; my mom loved her fish. The rice pudding, as reported by many others, was terrific. Craig Allen Biere Blonde on tap was a huge hit with my husband. Cost $203.06 for three people, includes two glasses if wine and two beers.

Spring Restaurant
This was definitely the fanciest restaurant of our visit—and a great conclusion to a week in Paris. The sommelier helped pick a wine in our price range and something I had never had before—Saumer Blanc. The food was perfect—smoked river trout with crème fraiche, ravioli with foie gras and pigeon, fabulous cheese course, etc. When you reserve they ask you to let them know if you have any food aversions. The couple behind us had an extensive list of things they would not eat—wonder if they were served warm water in a bowl? We have aversions, but did not want to limit the chef or our experience. We were served things we would never order…and were rewarded with wonderful tastes. They served Craig Allen in bottles (excellent) and another French beer that was forgettable. Cost: $393.75 for four people, included a bottle of wine, two beers and the extra cheese course. (Strange because the restaurant receipt was 398, and I assume was in euros? Maybe they charged us in dollars?)

We were pleased with every restaurant…would even go back to Le Caisse Noix—there were extenuating factors (largely ours) which did not make it a stellar experience.

Shops:
Le Notre—gorgeous foods made a perfect first day lunch. Particularly fond of the quiche, the salmon wrapped vegetable terrine, the chocolate desserts.
Stéphane Secco(7th)—amazing pastries, gorgeous chocolate and lemon tartes. Wish we had a lunch or evening to dine in—would definitely have stocked up with foods from here.
That said, the boulangeries in the 7th were all delicious. I used the Boulangerie map someone posted on Chowhound to plot our breakfasts. http://tinyurl.com/3m32hmm
Michel Chaudun (7th)—I had read about his chocolate pavés—beyond delicious. Am kicking myself for not buying more for gifts.
Jacques Genin Chocolate (3rd)—great caramels, fruit pastes and chocolates
Carrette (3rd)—In our opinion they had the best salted caramel macaron. (near Place des Vosges
)Cheese—Marie Cantin and Le Fromagerie (Rue Cler) had wonderful selections

Embarrassing and regrettable choice:
I cannot believe I made this mistake and share it in the hopes that others may avoid it. I was trying to find an easy lunch option to bridge the gap between Musée L’Orangerie and the Louvre. We had previously eaten a lunch in the Tuileries and wanted something different. Went to Angelina on the Rue de Rivoli which was nasty, dirty, expensive, and awful. It was one of those hope springs eternal choices—maybe it will not be so bad. In the future I would go to the food court of the Louvre—the Paul option would have been just fine. We were going to Spring that night and did not need a large or fancy lunch. Having only one (truly) lamentable choice in a week is a pretty good in my opinion.

Things I discovered:
-Between my little bit of French and the restaurant staffs’ little bit of English, we could figure everything out. My iphone did not work in Paris, but I had downloaded a Larousse French English dictionary which worked offline and was somewhat helpful in translating menus.
-We seemed to have ordering problems that were not language based. Probably a good idea to review the order after everything is said and done.
-In the US I would never eat dinner at 8:30 or 9. In Paris we could barely get to dinner by 8:30 or 9. Do not fear the late dinner hour!
-I created a personal google map to plot pastry shops, chocolate shops and restaurants. Was very helpful in determining if we were near something delicious.
-Cannot wait to go back to Paris.

Jun 04, 2012
cathleenmarie in France