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4 adults, 4 kids, early dinner on friday

I've got a party of 8 for an early dinner on Friday. Kids are all under ten. A well-behaved, not very picky group who has eaten out at nice places many times. However, it's a big group of kids all in one place, so it might be a handful. Suggestions? Somewhere downtown, convenient to the subway, would be best. One kid has a dairy allergy. The adults want to catch up, so nowhere that would rush us out. Any help would be great. Thanks...

Nov 27, 2013
glutton in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Hamilton's Grill Room, Lambertville

I've been to HGR a half-dozen times per year and never had indifferent service from Reed or the rest of the staff. I'll grant you that the waiters are not the most experienced or professional servers, but I chalk that up to this being Central Jersey -- they only get to practice two nights a week, so how good are they every going to get? But they always care, they always work hard, and they don't dampen the evening. And Reed has always been great to us -- attentive, stops by for a chat (not that he knows us), and generally brightens the dining room. I'm not disputing the experience of others, certainly, but I am very surprised.

May 17, 2012
glutton in New Jersey

90th Birthday Brunch or Lunch in Princeton Area

The Peacock Inn is a very good suggestion both for the setting and the food.

Jan 13, 2012
glutton in New Jersey

Cooks Illustrated

I'm the last guy to defend Kimball, but you are correct -- he's not dogmatic about the way to prepare most recipes. He describes pro's and con's, then makes his own judgment call on which is the best way. Your judgment may differ from his judgment based on different tastes, different equipment at your disposal, different ingredients, etc. and I don't think he'd say you're an idiot for being different.

Kimball, however, remains one of the most pompous, artificial, and disinegenuous characters in the food business. His whole Vermont country bumpkin schtick is absurd. He cannot be both a country bumpkin and a published celebrity sophisticate -- life just doesn't work that way, rightly or wrongly.

I personally do not subscribe to his magazines for two reasons. The first and lesser reason is his schtick infuriates me so much. The second and greater reason is that I did not regularly find good recipes in his magazine. I respect that his magazine teaches technique, but I found that I knew much of it already (from experience -- I made the same mistakes they chronicle oftentimes). Standing alone, the recipes that accompany the long chronicles of failed attempts are not all that special. There is much greater originality in other food publications/websites.

Jan 10, 2012
glutton in Food Media & News

90th Birthday Brunch or Lunch in Princeton Area

Mediterra and Teresa's would be options. They are right on Palmer Square. Mediterra would probably feel a bit more special than Teresa's, given that Teresa's is a pretty utilitarian space and it gets pretty crowded, so you don't tend to linger over the meal as long. However, I personally give a slight edge in food to Teresa's.

Unfortunately, my favored restaurants in the area are not open for lunch/brunch on Sunday. I was thinking about Blue Bottle in Hopewell, Hamilton's Grill Room in Lambertville, and EnoTerra in Kingston. If you were open to changing to an early dinner, then you could go to one of those places (possibly with the exception of Blue Bottle, which is closed on Sundays if my memory serves me correctly).

Jan 09, 2012
glutton in New Jersey

90th Birthday Brunch or Lunch in Princeton Area

What day of the week?

Jan 08, 2012
glutton in New Jersey

Ferry House in Princeton - Big Let Down

It's a conundrum. There would seem to be sufficient income and education in the area that really good cooking would be demanded and supported in Princeton. Here's one depressing experience I've had. I've been to Mediterra many times. On a normal night, the food is OK -- nothing amazing, but reliably decent, if a bit uninspired. A couple times, I went there for a wine/food pairing and the chef prepared Spanish Basque dishes each time (he's from that area). They were extraordinarily good -- well executed, thoughtfully presented, reasonably priced. I asked him why he did not cook dishes like this every night and his comment was that the average diner "doesn't get them." Mind you, we were talking about relatively simple dishes involving seafood, etc., not molecular gastronomy or intensely unusual ingredients. Maybe he underestimates the clientele or maybe he's just making a wise business decision -- who knows.

I do, however, understand why service in Princeton is mediocre. Waiters cannot make a living when the restaurants are busy just a couple nights a week. They're doomed to be amateurs who turnover too often to develop the skill and sense required for professional restaurant service. Generally, they're very nice, hard-working, and genuinely eager to please, but they're just not practiced. How could they be if they only have a full restaurant a couple nights a week?

Dec 16, 2011
glutton in New Jersey

D'Angelo Italian Market in Princeton

I have found the prices for prepared foods and grocery items high. However, the prices for sliced meats were defensible. The bread is pretty good, but Witherspoon bakery is still better. I was disappointed by the cheese -- all precut, prepackaged, and fairly pedestrian selection. The cannolli is good. I have not tried the hot, ready-to-eat foods, but they look moderately appealing.

Personally, I think this is much better than Olives, but not as good as D&C in Robbinsville.

Dec 07, 2011
glutton in New Jersey

Ferry House in Princeton - Big Let Down

To be fair, the moment we mentioned to the manager that the server was being rude and inattentive, they rectified the problem immediately. And then they called us the following day to apologize yet again, inform us that the server had been fired (our complaint was not the only one), and asked us to give them another shot. I respect that effort to make things right and in subsequent visits, the service has been acceptable. The food has always been very good, no matter who or how it is brought to the table. It's a good restaurant and they probably impressed more with their effort to clean up some bad service.

Dec 05, 2011
glutton in New Jersey

Ferry House in Princeton - Big Let Down

Drop them in a top 25 major metropolitan area and they'd be over their heads. They are very good relative to the competition, but that doesn't say much. Rutgers has a very good football team in the Big East, but someone has to win.

Dec 04, 2011
glutton in New Jersey

Ferry House in Princeton - Big Let Down

I would dispute the idea that there are many great restaurants in Princeton. Even if there were a lot of great ones, Ferry House would not be on the list. While I think you should have spoken up about the lousy table, I don't deny that there is habitually amateurish service in Princeton restaurants. Service is not the strength. I even encountered lousy service at Eno Terra, which truly is a fine restaurant in the area and maybe even the finest. I suppose it's hard to develop and retain excellent servers when they're busy a couple nights per week and not even every week.

Dec 04, 2011
glutton in New Jersey

Where can I find pickled herring?

If you're going mail order, then I'd buy it from Russ & Daughters, who I believe has the best smoked fish. Barney Greengrass is good, but Russ & Daughters has a broader range of options (wild caught, farm raised, different types of fish, different preservation techniques) and their quality is off-the-charts good. And if you're ever in NYC, then you have to visit because the Russ & Daughters store is a walk back in time. Plus, it's one of the few places where New Yorkers are civil to one another, perhaps in deference to the calm, kind, and competent fish slicers behind the counter. Wonderful place.

Dec 01, 2011
glutton in Washington DC & Baltimore

Eating our way through Quebec City -July 2011

Final dinner at Cochon Dingue. Seafood pot pie was rich, decadent, and well-prepared. It's not a light Neal, but it's wonderful. The sugar pie was the highlight -- best version I ate. The duck poutine was first rate, though I found the fries to be a bit chewy. The gravy and duck, though, were awesome. My friends had the apple pie with maple cream, which was also great. This place is pretty and good with kids (we had a stroller), even though the tables are packed in there.

Nov 27, 2011
glutton in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Eating our way through Quebec City -July 2011

We are midway through our stay and can report this:

Le Billig was excellent. Better than Casses Crepes, though not quite as convenient.

Bar Le Sacrilege, across from Le Billig, is really good. They've got cider on tp, so they score points in my book.

Lapin Sauté is great -- the rabbit pie kicks butt, especially on a chilly day. Their onion soup is also good -- spring for the extra few bucks and get it with local cheese on top.

Cafe Le St Malo is cozy, earthy, and fantastic. The cassoulet strikes the right balance between being hearty and overly rich. The proprietress is a sweet lady from Breton and you feel like you're in her dining room. Make a reservation -- it's tiny.

The cafe at Hotel St Antoine is really comfortable. My wife's lobster club sandwich was both decadent and comforting. Great for a light dinner, if that's what you're after.

The old port market is very good. The maple products are much cheaper here than anywhere else in the city (trust me, I looked in lots of far-flung groceries, etc.). Of particular note is the granulated maple sugar -- expensive at twenty bucks a kilo, but great. The fromagerie is outstanding for quebecois cheeses. We will be bringing home some riopelle and blue St Elizabeth.

Bugel Bagel (that's not quite the name, but it's close) makes good bagels in the Montreal style. However, they are not fire baked like St Viateur in Montreal. Kind of a hippie spot in an odd location.

Paingruel is the real deal, especially when they use old school grains. The pommes aux noix is especially good.

The cookies at Choco Erico are first rate -- chunky, chewy, rich.

I found JA Moisan to be a letdown. The cheese is so-so and few things there are unique -- you can buy them lots of places. The history of the store is cool, though.

I have presumably forgotten some places, so forgive my memory.

I foun

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Le Billig
526 Rue Saint-Jean, Quebec, QC G1R1P6, CA

Nov 26, 2011
glutton in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Best Breakfast and Brunch in Manhattan, 2010 Version

Cookshop turned out to be perfect. The food was great, as you've said. We had a table in the back and there was tons of room for a stroller that did not get in anyone's way. The staff even played with my son. The noise level was fine, but it was not the excruciatingly loud volume that some reviewers elsewhere have complained about. Very nice place -- we hope to return. Thanks for your help.

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Cookshop
156 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

Nov 13, 2011
glutton in Manhattan

Best Breakfast and Brunch in Manhattan, 2010 Version

I'm looking at Minetta Tavern, Cookshop, and Locanda Verde for brunch. We will have a stroller in our four-person group. Which place best accommodates a stroller without creating congestion for everyone else in the restaurant?

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Minetta Tavern
113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

Locanda Verde
377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

Nov 07, 2011
glutton in Manhattan

Early dinner @ Joe Beef w/toddler

In Montreal and Quebec City, what restaurants would you recommend for diners with children?

Oct 25, 2011
glutton in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

APDC or Joe Beef or Les Deux Singes

I would go with Joe Beef. APDC is decadent and flirts with being stunt-eating at times, like what I see on some of those travel shows on TV. Joe Beef, on the other hand, is a perfectly crafted restaurant. The setting, food, wait staff, and drinks all match up perfectly. It's an easy going, thoughtfully-executed meal. I found it relaxing.

I do, however, strongly praise the creme brulee at APDC -- an exemplary version. They do an especially fine job caramelizing the sugar on top, using their big branding iron.

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Joe Beef
2491 Rue Notre-Dame W, Montreal, QC H3J1N6, CA

Oct 24, 2011
glutton in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Early dinner @ Joe Beef w/toddler

You'll be fine. I don't know about the booster seat, though. The wait staff and the vibe in the restaurant is chill and ambient noise is not too quiet, so you should be fine. Make sure your child sees the giant buffalo taxidermy in the bathroom -- that should throw him/her for a loop.

I suggest getting the salad with lardons. It's an extraordinary salad, though it does stretch the definition of salad, given the amount of cheese and lardons in it. But it's wonderful through-and-through.

Joe Beef is one of our favorite places in the world...

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Joe Beef
2491 Rue Notre-Dame W, Montreal, QC H3J1N6, CA

Oct 24, 2011
glutton in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Pupuserias closed - where to get pupusas in Westchester?

We went last night and had some pupusas (queso y frijoles), tamales, and platano maduro. The food was excellent. The kitchen got a little backed up for awhile, but they had good music on the jukebox, so it was no problem. The pupusas were fantastic. The platano maduro was perfectly sweet -- they let that plantain get soft, black, and super ripe, which is exactly what they're supposed to be like. The sweet corn tamal (tamal de elote) was light, not-too-sweet, and fluffy -- really excellent. The chicken tamale was perhaps a bit light on chicken, but it was also good. All in all, a very good meal at a bargain basement price -- it cost $16 for all this food and a couple sodas.

Oct 23, 2011
glutton in New York State (exc. NYC)

L'Affaire est Ketchup with child in a stroller?

Thank you for your help -- what you're saying makes good sense. Another quick logistical question. Is this restaurant open for lunch? I was having some trouble finding that basic info online. Also, do you think we'd need reservations for lunch or dinner on a weekday in late November? It's not a tourist season by any stretch of the imagination, but this place is pretty small and locals could probably fill it up.

Thanks again for your help...

Oct 21, 2011
glutton in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Hamilton's Grill Room, Lambertville

Over the past three years, I've had nothing but good meals here. Lunches, dinners, small parties, large parties, meat, fish, summer, winter -- always good food. The service can be a bit more variable -- they occasionally have an inexperienced server -- but that's frankly par for the course in this area. We're not in a big city where professional waiters can truly make a career of serving at nice restaurants. HGR is easily our favorite restaurant in the area, both for its food and the comfortable setting. We love the "have-a-drink-across-the-courtyard-then-have-nice-dinner-outside" routine in the summer.

Oct 19, 2011
glutton in New Jersey

L'Affaire est Ketchup with child in a stroller?

I read quite a few positive reviews of "L'Affaire est Ketchup" and would like to go. However, I want to make sure that I'm not doing something stupid. We'll have our son, who is in a stroller and is an easy-going baby, with us. We've taken him to very nice restaurants in New York, LA, Chicago, etc. and had no problems because he's so mellow and we're quick to remove him before he disrupts other diners. That said, not every restaurant is conducive to having a stroller sitting next to the table -- the restaurants can be too cramped sometimes. Is L'Affaire est Ketchup conducive to having a child in a stroller next to the table? Would we be better off going there for lunch, not dinner?

Thanks for your help...

Oct 19, 2011
glutton in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Spring & Les Papilles - which for lunch?

I would do Les Papilles for lunch, Spring for dinner. I think the food at Les Papilles is fairly similar from lunch to dinner, which is not the case at a lot of places. Plus, you can walk down the street after lunch at Les Papilles and go to Franck Kestener's chocolate shop -- it's outstanding -- then stroll over to the Luxembourg Gardens. Spring is outstanding and a dinner would be the right way to appreciate what that kitchen can turn out. At lunch, I don't think you'll see the full abilities of Spring. Lunch would be good -- don't get me wrong -- but I think they are less constrained at dinner.

Oct 15, 2011
glutton in France

Bagels in QC?

I loved the bagels in Montreal. By chance, have they migrated north to Quebec city?

Oct 11, 2011
glutton in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Quebec City - maple sugar and syrup?

I'm not familiar with birch syrup. How does it compare to maple syrup?

Oct 10, 2011
glutton in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

Lambertville NJ area

That shouldn't be a problem. Hamitlon's Grill doesn't sell out at every meal, so they're not terribly psychotic about reservations or the lack thereof.

Oct 07, 2011
glutton in New Jersey

Help for a business traveler seeking healthy dining in Trenton.

My deepest apologies that you have to spend that many nights in Trenton. That "city" sucks. I know because I live near it.

I suggest you get in your car and drive somewhere. Drive to Lambertville and go to Hamilton's Grill Room (french/continental) or Marhaba (lebanese). Drive to Hopewell and go to Brothers Moon. Drive to Princeton and go to Blue Point Grill or Winberies (get a salad, dressing on the side). Drive to Hamilton and go to Spigola (Italian). Drive up Route 1 and go to Whole Foods (not that the entire store is healthy, mind you).

And if you wanted to deviate in a small way from your diet -- and it's only healthy to do so -- then check out DeLorenzo's Tomato Pies in Trenton or Robbinsville. It's a local speciality and it's really good. As far as pizza goes, it's on the healthier side of things because it's not loaded up with cheese and toppings like most conventional pizzas are. It's thin crust, good tomato sauce, and good toppings.

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Brothers Moon
7 W Broad St, Hopewell, NJ 08525

Hamilton's Grill Room
8 Coryell Street, Lambertville, NJ 08530

Spigola
US Highway 130 Klockner Rd N, Trenton, NJ 08610

Oct 05, 2011
glutton in New Jersey

Lambertville NJ area

For either lunch or dinner, I strongly recommend Hamilton's Grill Room -- I think it's the best option in Lambertville/New Hope. The setting is great, the menu is classic, and the food is very good. If the weather is nice, you can sit outside. And another plus is the little bar across the courtyard -- a great place to start the meal or while away an afternoon.

Anton's at the Swan is a restaurant that gets mentioned often. I'm not a fan. The bar is cool, but the food was really bland and uninspired. Lambertville Station wasn't much better. It's cooking without any ambition or personal investment.

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Hamilton's Grill Room
8 Coryell Street, Lambertville, NJ 08530

Lambertville Station Restaurant
11 Bridge Street, Lambertviile, NJ 08530

Oct 05, 2011
glutton in New Jersey

Quebec City - maple sugar and syrup?

This is a great recommendation -- thank you very much. By chance, does anyone know of a store like this in QC? These places can be hard to track down on the internet because they tend fo be of varying quality, varying item selection, etc.

The dark syrup is fantastic when I make ice creams, preserves, apple sauce, etc. So much more flavor than just the sweet, light syrup I see in stores here.

Oct 05, 2011
glutton in Quebec (inc. Montreal)