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Venice recommendations E of Arsenale, etc

Al Covo is nearby and has plenty of meat dishes.

Sep 02, 2015
BrianGilligan in Italy

Lunch in Tuscany on a Sunday

Osteria Acquacheta. It's a very simple place with large communal tables and carafes of Rosso di Montepulciano wine. The food is simple and excellent, with most people ordering Fiorentina steaks. They cut these to your order from a whole side of beef, and cook simply over a wood fire. Idiosyncratically, you get only one small tumbler glass each for both your water and wine.
Ristorante La Grotta just on the outskirts of the town is much more refined and serves good food, but lacks the simple charm of Acquacheta.
Nearby Pienza has some well regarded restaurants (Il Rosselino and Latte di Luna) but these were closed when we were in the area so we didn't get to try them.

Aug 26, 2015
BrianGilligan in Italy

Le relais Bernard Loiseau? Maison Lameloise?

It's a few years ago now since we've been, but we found le Relais Bernard Loiseau to be very enjoyable. The food, while extremely good, wasn't quite as good as the very best. The setting is nice, and Mrs Loiseau welcoming and charming. The weekday lunch (4 courses, no choice) is excellent value at €70. If I was nearby, I would certainly do this again.

Aug 15, 2015
BrianGilligan in France

Suggestions needed for Menton, Ste. Agnes, Gorbio, Nice et al...

It's a few years since we've been, but when we were there Jerome had a no choice fixed price menu at about €70 per person. It may be a little more now. I think a la carte would be quite a lot more than this. The prix fixe menu was was quite generous in that it used fairly expensive ingredients (red mullet, truffle, foie gras etc), so although €70 is not cheap, it is quite good value. The quality of the food was good when we ate there, however the service was a little slow at times as staff became stretched with a full dining room. I'd happily go back.

Regarding the Ventimiglia market - the big outdoor market is weekly on a Friday (clothes etc.) however the excellent indoor food market is six days a week (not on Sunday).

Jul 21, 2015
BrianGilligan in France

Places to buy copper cookware in Dublin, Inverness, Edinburgh

Hi. I'm pretty sure that there isn't anywhere in Dublin that has a regular trade in vintage copper. Different retailers try stocking new Mauviel copper from time to time, but it's always cheaper online or in other countries. There is an outside chance that you might stumble across some vintage items in an antique shop, but I wouldn't spend much time or effort hunting, as the chances of success are low. In short, Dublin isn't a good place to look for copper, I'm afraid. It has other virtues though...

Jul 15, 2015
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Piemonte 2015 and some links to prior years

I am posting to thank Allende and the other contributors to this (and previous) threads on Piemonte for all of the helpful information posted here. We had an enjoyable three day introduction to Piemonte and are looking forward to our next opportunity to go back. We enjoyed lunches at Osteria Veglio, Il Centro and Da Bardon - each hugely enjoyable in different ways. All served excellent food and wines, were run by genuine and hospitable hosts and offered great value. We found all three to be exactly as described previously on this board.
We have since moved on to Liguria and Tuscany, and while we are enjoying each in different ways, Tuscany in particular serves to highlight the fantastic value offered in Piemonte. For example, a pasta dish in a quality restaurant like Il Centro can be had for less than a similar dish at a fairly ordinary beach place in a Tuscan resort.

Jul 02, 2015
BrianGilligan in Italy

Dinner near the Westin Dublin?

There's not a huge amount of difference. The Woolen Mills is "hipper", slightly more casual, and has more of an internationally inspired menu.
The Winding Stair is smaller, and focuses on fairly simple dishes highlighting Irish artisan ingredients (e.g. Charcuterie, cheeses, smoked fish etc.).
Overall, I prefer the Winding Stair but it's a matter of taste as both are worth a visit. I hope this helps.

Jun 21, 2015
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Dinner near the Westin Dublin?

Hi. Have a look at The Winding Stair, The Woolen Mills and Fade Street Social to see if any of these suits you. All are casual, with different takes on modern Irish / European cuisine.
The service at Pearl Brasserie, while being traditional (or "correct" if that makes sense), is quite relaxed and not stuffy in any way. The other three above, along with your choices for your other nights have a common theme (casual atmosphere / modern Irish cooking), so Pearl would offer a contrast, if that was something that appealed to you.
It's a long time since I've been to the Trocadero - it's a Dublin institution, and the food was fine when I last ate there, but I think you are right to look for somewhere more interesting.

Jun 20, 2015
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Staying at Shelbourne in Dublin

Hi. There is a market in the CHQ building on a Friday. On a Saturday, the Meeting House Square market in Temple Bar is near to your hotel. If you go, try the Corleggy cheese.
Fallon & Byrne is a nice food shop on Exchequer Street. It has an interesting butchers counter, and you could get vacuum packed black (and white) pudding if you wanted to take some home (or smoked salmon etc.).
Sheridans Cheesemongers is also nearby on South Anne Street, and has a good range of Irish (and French) cheeses under one roof.
Your hotel (or any nearby cafe) will offer black pudding as part of a fried Irish breakfast. Offal in general won't be on offer in a lot of restaurants.
If you have specific questions, just ask. Enjoy your trip

Jun 18, 2015
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Fine dining in Dublin on a Monday night? Is it possible?

Hi. While your options are restricted on a Monday, you do still have some possibilities such as L'Ecrivain, Pearl Brasserie, One Pico.

Jun 07, 2015
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Two nights in Dublin

Hi. To me, that looks like a good list you've assembled. I haven't been to everywhere you mentioned, so can't give you a valid comparison of the food quality between them all.
Almost all of your choices are quite casual - I think Mulberry Garden would be the only one where you would get a tablecloth!
I presume Dun Laoghaire (the People's Park) is a day trip, so apart from there, Mulberry Garden is the only other one not really within walking distance of Stephens Green. It's a short bus / taxi distance.

Apr 08, 2015
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Dublin--first specific request(s)

Hi. Cleaver East at The Clarence hotel might fit the bill for your first night. The Early Bird would be under your budget, if the times suit you. While it's in Temple Bar, it is good quality modern Irish cooking, and not a tourist trap.
For picnic supplies in Sandycove, Cavistons in Glasthule (very close to the Joyce Tower) has a great deli. While it is expensive, it's certainly cheaper than a restaurant, and the quality is good.

Mar 21, 2015
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Bar or Restaurant Recommendations in Certaldo, Tuscany

I'm sorry, but I just can't recall the view from the Albergo's terrace. The view of the surrounding countryside from the terraces around the Palazzo Pretorio is really special though - you'll get some great photos.

Mar 08, 2015
BrianGilligan in Italy

Bar or Restaurant Recommendations in Certaldo, Tuscany

Hi and congratulations! There are two places called Bocaccio in Certaldo Alto - Bar Bocaccio and Enotecca Bocaccio. The bar is nothing special, while the Enotecca is small but charming and serves prosecco and great samlumi / antipasti. It is tiny, but there are some tables outside depending on the weather. It doesn't have a view of the surrounding hills.
The hotel Albergo di Castello has a nice garden that could be suitable.
The nicest place is the outdoor area at the Osteria del Vicario restaurant, however this is a serious restaurant rather than a snack place, so you would have to try to make a special arrangement with them.
My wife and I got married in Certaldo Alto in 2008, and we had our drinks in the Enotecca Bocaccio followed by a great meal at the Osteria del Vicario. We enjoyed both enormously.

Mar 07, 2015
BrianGilligan in Italy

Best value 3* or 2* lunch in Paris

Hi. I don't know all of the restaurants opening / closing days but most 2/3 star places don't serve a weekend lunch. Le Cinq and Epicure (Bristol) are the only ones I can think of that serve weekend lunches, but there may be others.

Feb 23, 2015
BrianGilligan in France

First Trip Ireland

Hi. Thorntons food is fantastic so if it is actually open on Good Friday then you're in luck. They probably won't be able to serve you wine - if that's an important element of a meal to you, then you'll have to eat in your own hotel. The Cellar at The Merrion (where you seem to be staying) is quite good, but not at the level of Thorntons or Guilbauds. Good Friday is unfortunately a serious challenge for visitors as so many places are closed.
On another note - the Wild Honey Inn is really great. It's very casual, but the food from a seriously skilled and passionate chef is really very impressive. It's great value too.

Feb 16, 2015
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Deep pockets and love to see southern Ireland?

For anyone interested, this is an excellent festival. 2015 is the third year, and we've attended both of the first two years. It's large enough to attract a fantastic lineup, and yet small enough that you could easily end up chatting with one of your heroes over some snacks.
The demonstrations in particular are very expensive, and we avoid those. On the other end of the scale, a €10 wine tasting with Leoville Barton is hard to argue with value wise. Last year we were lucky enough to have an absolutely fantastic multi-course lunch cooked by Rowley Leigh, accompanied with very interesting English wines - although it wasn't cheap, I thought it was a real bargain.
The other standout sessions we've attended range from a scholarly discourse on the food of Spain by Claudia Roden, to an informal session with Simon Hopkinson talking in his uniquely engaging way about his love for and recollections of food.
It's not a cheap weekend by any measure, but is a great one for anyone with a deep interest in food.

Jan 08, 2015
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Ligurian / Tuscan Coast in the December / January. Turn the GUM period into The Great 8 !

In Santa Margherita, I like Osteria No. 7 for a very simple meal and Oca Bianca for something more serious. Unusually for the area, Oca Bianca serves no seafood.
I can't help with a Genoa, I'm afraid.

Dec 09, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

Ligurian / Tuscan Coast in the December / January. Turn the GUM period into The Great 8 !

I'm not sure about its opening / closing dates but Romano in Viareggio is excellent for very fresh seafood and a great Tuscan wine list. It is "high end" though the dishes are not overly complex in composition or presentation.
Zefferino in Genoa is pleasant, though not a world beater.
There are a few enjoyable places in Santa Margherita, but none I am aware of matching your criteria.

Dec 08, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

4 days in Paris

If possible, swapping Guy Savoy to the "Internet Special" lunch on the Friday gets you (virtually) the same menu and saves enough money to cover one of your other meals with wine.

Dec 03, 2014
BrianGilligan in France

Ramatuelle Dec 10-14 - what's open?

That's a pity about La Verdoyante - it is quite good.
Auberge de la Mole is about 30 minutes drive from Ramatuelle. They serve a set menu only at lunch and dinner. Serve yourself from a selection of pates and terrines to start, order the next one (at lunch) or two (at dinner) courses from the short menu. Dishes include frogs legs, foie gras, steak, cepes omelette etc. Serve yourself again from a cheese tray placed on your table, and finish with a selection of traditional deserts again placed on your table (prunes, chocolate mousse, creme caramel). The dishes are in a very traditional style and are seriously heavy eating, so if it's for you go hungry.

Nov 30, 2014
BrianGilligan in France

Best chocolate shop in all of Ireland / Northern Ireland?

Cocoa Atelier on Drury Street in Dublin is a very good French style chocolatier. The various Irish brands (e.g. lily O'Briens, Butlers etc ) are much lower quality.

Nov 08, 2014
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Two nights in Venice - Al Covo over Alle Testiere or Antiche Carampane?

We tried Antico Pignolo a good few years ago when a gondolier told us it was the best restaurant in Venice! It was pleasant enough, but not enough to make us return on any subsequent trips.

Oct 20, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

Venice at Christmas

In my experience of Christmas in Venice, most places shut down on the afternoon of Christmas Eve and open up again on St Stephens Day. These closures are in addition to whatever each individual restaurant's weekly closing day is.
The baccaro / trattoria places in Cannaregio (Alla Vedova, Ai Promessi Sposi etc) are open a bit later on Christmas Eve, and have a great atmosphere with locals dropping in for a drink on their way home for Christmas. By 7pm only places in the busiest tourist sites are open so I'd suggest planning to eat in your house that night after a stroll and an ombra or two.
We've eaten lunch in Harrys Bar on Christmas Day rather than eat in an hotel. While I've seen some largish family groups there, nine would probably be at their limit to accommodate. It's an enjoyable experience, though it is quite expensive and not to everyone's taste.

Sep 29, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

Less expensive in Venice?

Ai Promessi Sposi in Cannaregio has cicchetti and a small number of trattoria tables. It's very good food at a reasonable price. While you won't get a three course meal for two for €50, it is the best price / quality ratio I've found in Venice. With house wine at around €1 per glass you could have a meal within your budget if you skip or share some courses. Book a table the day of or the day before you want to go.
La Cantina wine bar on Strada Nuova (Cannaregio again) would serve you each a good platter with a glass or two of interesting wine for your budget. Again, book a table even if only a few hours in advance.

Sep 16, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

Restaurant FortyOne and Saison (Dublin)

They are very different propositions, so you'll have to argue it out between you! If you are still planning on eating at Chapter One, then I would personally opt for The Winding Stair to get a broader mix of styles in your trip.

The Winding Stair is casual (no tablecloths etc.) and the atmosphere is buzzy though it can get a bit noisy when busy. The food is based on modern Irish artisan products. The dishes are simple and are very good due to the quality of the ingredients. E.g a starter could be some smoked salmon or charcuterie with some dresses leaves.

Restaurant 41 is a fine dining restaurant with formal service and complex dishes. It's a good bit more expensive than The Winding Stair and uses more luxury ingredients (lobster, turbot, foie gras etc).

Aug 24, 2014
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

Restaurant FortyOne and Saison (Dublin)

Restaurant Forty One is very good, though not quite at the level of the places discussed in your other post. Note that there are two areas of the dining room - I think the front area with windows overlooking Stephens Green is much more pleasant than the back room.

Aug 22, 2014
BrianGilligan in U.K./Ireland

First Paris trip for major LA food lovers

If you mean the Hemingway Bar at The Ritz Hotel for your first night drinks, I think it is closed for renovations.

Venice in April for 7 nights

While I have stayed at Ca'Sagredo, we didn't eat in the restaurant, but I would comment that it has quite a modern style of cooking, so may not be what you are looking for. It has a very small number of tables, is luxurious and the building itself is stunning.
While PBSF's post tells you all you need to know (as usual!), I suggest that you also consider Harrys Bar. It does match your criteria of well prepared classics, and has its own unique atmosphere. By any standards it is extraordinarily expensive for what it is, but you haven't mentioned budget restrictions, and are spending 7 days at The Gritti....

Aug 14, 2014
BrianGilligan in Italy

1 high end meal in Dublin. Where to go?

Not much has changed at this level in Dublin. The Greenhouse which opened in the last two years is highly rated by many and serves inventive dishes, whereas the starred places Harters has listed below have more classically based cuisines.
Bon Appetit is in a suburb north of the city, so may not be convenient if you are staying in central Dublin. My (very personal) opinion is that the food at Thorntons and Guilbauds is slightly better than that at l'Ecrivain and Chapter One. Chapter One can be a great experience though, as the hospitality is genuinely warm and the food is very good by any measure.
Thorntons dishes have great purity of flavour, but the dining room is not particularly special. Guilbauds cuisine is excellent in a French style and the service is theatrical and indulgent. Which you prefer for your night is a matter of what you look for in a special / no holds barred experience.
As a less known alternative, Restaurant 41 on Stephens Green aims at this sort of level but didn't quite equal the city's very best in the single meal I had there.