s

set0312's Profile

Title Last Reply

Favorite burger for $5 or less?

The burger at the little stand in Mercado La Paloma is very good. But I can't find a menu online so there's a chance that it's a quarter or so over five dollars!

1 day ago
set0312 in Los Angeles Area

Cacio e Pepe in LA

You should have!

1 day ago
set0312 in Los Angeles Area

Top 5 Downtown L A?

I spent a full month in Paris and another full month in Lyon

I ate at a few places in Paris. Notables would be Spring, (upstairs) at A Noste, Matiere A, Gare au Gorille, Chateaubriand (ranked the 27th best restaurant in the world by San Pellegrino,) Bones, the infamous Chez Denise, Frenchie Wine Bar, Le Mary Celeste, La Maree Jeanee, along with countless other bistros that I forget the names of because the food was uninspiring.

I actually enjoyed the food scene (and the city itself) in Lyon considerably more than Paris. Ate at a wonderful place called Takao Takano and another great place called La Remanence. Both highly deserving Michelin stars, both much better than Spring in Paris. The bouchons in Lyon are arguably the most fun type of restaurant I've ever been to, and the food for price ratio is extraordinary.

I also ate at Trois Gros, the Michelin three star out in Roanne. That's probably a little better than Bottega Louie. ;) (It was probably the best meal of my life)

Thank you, thank you for Chez Denise rec's!

We had a great meal at Chez Denise and by far the surliest waiter I had in two months of dining in France! He hated us, even though we ordered in passable French and did seemingly nothing to offend him. It took us thirty minutes to track down the bill.

1 day ago
set0312 in France

Budapest modern and innovative

Isn't it like 120 a person before drinks? Food must be damned good to be good value at that price.

1 day ago
set0312 in Europe

Road trip through Istria--Where should I eat?

What a remarkable culinary destination! I have a feeling some of these meals might have the freshest ingredients I've ever tasted. It seems almost impossible to find the type of restaurants you are describing in America!

I will scour these links. Thanks for taking the time to round them up!

I think I will certainly do Astarea and Konoba Batelina. And who knows, I might stay an extra day or so and do all the ones you listed!

From what I understand, the food in Istria is much better than it is in say Split or Dubrovnik right? I'm trying to decide how much time to spend in each area of Croatia, and based on this post, it seems the majority of my days should be in Istria!

Gosh the octopus/fish peka sounds remarkable. So excited for that.

1 day ago
set0312 in Europe

Lyon, France

Interesting, I found Daniel et Denise to be fantastic and Le Sud to be wildly disappointing. Which location did you go to?

You eat anywhere else in Lyon?

1 day ago
set0312 in France

Top 5 Downtown L A?

Having just spent a month in Paris, I highly doubt this place would be empty. Especially given how beautiful a space it is.

I still won't go to Bottega Louie by choice, but after spending the last two months in France (Lyon and Paris) I am shocked how well the LA food scene stacks up against the French.

1 day ago
set0312 in Los Angeles Area

Road trip through Istria--Where should I eat?

My goodness, thank you so much for this list! Everything looks fantastic.

Based upon your suggestions, it sounds like I must do Konoba Batelina so I will. Based upon your description, especially with such a devotion to fish, it literally sounds like the perfect meal. So that will definitely be one of my dinners.

Astarea sounds like quite the experience as well! So basically the chef tells you his produce/meats and cooks for you? Sounds like going to somebody's house!!! Do you prefer Toklarija or Astarea? I may end up adding a day out here and doing them both!

Gradina will definitely be one of my dishes. Is Damir i Ornela open for lunch?

Many, many, many thanks for such a well-thought out and informed reply. If you don't mind listing a few traditional Istrian specialty foods, that would be wonderful!

It sounds like I need to come back in fall/winter when the truffles and game meats are in season!

May 17, 2015
set0312 in Europe

Any good familiar restaurant in Laguna Beach?

I like Slapfish as another casual lunch spot!

May 15, 2015
set0312 in Los Angeles Area

Road trip through Istria--Where should I eat?

I was hoping you'd respond! I will be in Istria in June, so unfortunately I won't be there for truffle season. What do you recommend?

Thanks!

May 15, 2015
set0312 in Europe

Thumbs down on brunch at Taco Maria

Fair enough. I'm admittedly a bit of a TM apologist because I think it is by far the best restaurant in the OC and better than almost anywhere in LA. But as I said I've never been to brunch, mainly because two of my most trusted friends who love their dinners, said brunch sucks.

Was the menu not posted online beforehand?

On another note, why in the world is the brunch so far from Mexican when the dinner leans very Mexican?

May 14, 2015
set0312 in Los Angeles Area

Saint Martha

It's the type of place that embodies all that LA does well in my opinion. When I went there were some real standout dishes, but it sounds like they've got even better. Thanks for the report.

May 14, 2015
set0312 in Los Angeles Area

Thumbs down on brunch at Taco Maria

Completely agree.

May 14, 2015
set0312 in Los Angeles Area

Thumbs down on brunch at Taco Maria

I think that Taco Maria caters to the wealthy, more conservative dining crowd in a few ways. Though I haven't been myself, it seems brunch is one of those ways. Basically just a super pleasant place to have good breakfast food.

At the same time, I am always surprised at the longevity of some of the items on the tasting menu. The two items I see most frequently are the squid taco and the pescado al pastor. In my opinion (having dined there almost ten times now) those are the worst items on the menu every time! But a part of me thinks that Salgado feels he needs those items for the risk-adverse diner.

To the OP, I still think you are at fault for being upset that you were served pancakes at 2 pm. Just because you think it's too late for brunch doesn't mean TM is gonna whip up some pozoles and steaks for you.

May 14, 2015
set0312 in Los Angeles Area

Road trip through Istria--Where should I eat?

Hello, I would love some updated recommendations on the best restaurants in Istria. I will have a car and am willing to drive just about anywhere in the Istria region for a terrific meal. I'll have time for two lunches and two dinners. Price is not really an issue.

Thanks!

May 13, 2015
set0312 in Europe

L.A. Lays a Goose Egg at the James Beard Awards 2015

I like our tacos more than NYC's

May 06, 2015
set0312 in Los Angeles Area
1

A month in Paris. Looking for critiques on my list!

Obviously no city has a monopoly on modernity. With that being said, certain restaurants are blatantly more unique to a city than others. It would be harder to recreate Chez Denise in LA.

If you asked me about restaurants that are more LA, (my hometown) I'd show you "ethnic cuisines" interpreted by very talented chefs. For instance, Night + Market, a higher-end risk-taking northern Thai place that does a fantastic tum saap with spices and the a fried chicken sandwich with green papaya that is the best in town. Having lived extensively in Bangkok, I could guarantee that you wouldn't find a similar dish there. Or I'd point you to Taco Maria, a place doing a tasting menu format of modern Mexican by a chef who has worked in Michelin kitchens. I would not point you to an undeniably good French bistro because I believe you could find very comparable French bistros anywhere. Not would I tell you to go the New England style crab shack in West Hollywood.

At the same time, if you wanted a particularly Lyonnaise restaurant in Lyon I'd point you to a bouchon.

Hope my explanation makes sense! Of my meals, i'd say Frenchie Wine Bar was not particularly Parisian. I've had remarkably similar dishes in many cities around the world. The offal focus at Bones was very Parisian in my opinion. As was most everything at Matière a.

I hope to return to Paris soon. Maybe if I spent more than a month there, most everything would feel Parisian. But as a visitor who only had 15 or so higher-end meals, I could certainly distinguish a difference, though it is possible my definition rests in my head and is harder to tangibly define. P.S. Ptipois, thanks for all you do for this board.

May 06, 2015
set0312 in France
1

A month in Paris. Looking for critiques on my list!

Ahh it was still a good time. I actually had to cancel a reservation at Frenchie because of it, but based on the board's reports I think I may have just saved 80 euros or so :)

I think next time I'll search harder for places like Matière à I like that price range...44 euros for 5 courses rather than say a Bones or something like that. Oh and the bourbon or whiskey nut butter there was sensational!

May 05, 2015
set0312 in France

A month in Paris. Looking for critiques on my list!

Ahhh, Italian in dtla should be Bestia even though the decibel levels can be through the roof. Haven't made to Redbird yet but have heard very good things. I've been in Europe for three months now and you've no idea how much I miss cochinita pibil. Have you been to Chichen Itza by USC by chance? Stunning

Do check out Matiere A if you can. And thanks for the tip on Mary Celeste! I give all that credit to you...

May 05, 2015
set0312 in France

Need rec for lunch near USC

For my USC grad lunch, I did Wood Spoon. Really well priced and really solid food. Look into it.

A month in Paris. Looking for critiques on my list!

Of course, I owed it to the board! Oh and I think somebody on here mentioned Miznon in the Marais. The cauliflower there may be the best I've ever had!

May 04, 2015
set0312 in France

Piedmont Questions! Combal Zero, Pizza Duomo, or Il Centro?

The plin was so damn good that I hardly cared. As I think I said, I'll eagerly go back. Upon reflection, just not at Il Centro's level!

May 04, 2015
set0312 in Italy

Piedmont Questions! Combal Zero, Pizza Duomo, or Il Centro?

The person we thought was the chef was an older male. Could have been the owner I guess... Whoever he was, he was much respected by the staff and well-known by the other patrons.

To answer your question, I'm pretty sure it was rabbit but I guess I'm not 100 percent sure. The flaws of writing a report 45 days after.

as for da Bardon mains, both of us did the rabbit. My fiancé just had the carne cruda and the plin and was still quite full!

At il Centro, we drank a 2008 CaViola Barolo. At da Bardon we were recommended a cheaper bottle named Frem. I don't drink much these days so although I tasted the wines and enjoyed them both, I unfortunately can't really comment.

May 04, 2015
set0312 in Italy

Amor y Tacos: No Amor

Nothing worse than trekking to a restaurant only to be disappointed. You have my pity Mr. Beckett.

May 03, 2015
set0312 in Los Angeles Area

A month in Paris. Looking for critiques on my list!

After a month in Paris, I can confidently say my dining experience was a wonderful success. Due to an unfortunate bout with either the flu or food poisoning, I was not able to make it to all the restaurants I'd initially aimed for. Still, I wanted to give a few notes.

Le Mary Celeste was a very fun small plates place. Ended up going with a group and ordering the entire menu. Most everything was very good. The curry fish taco was atrocious though! Still, a nice casual place for good cooking at good prices.

Bones was one of the most challenging meals of my life. Everything was quite complex, very offal-focused and pretty strange if I'm being honest. I definitely enjoyed it and I think the cooking and creativity is commendable. With that being said, the night I went, a more squeamish eater seriously could have stomached maybe two of the six courses. Ginger granita on fromage blanc was a contender for dessert of the month though!

Frenchie Wine Bar: I actually really enjoyed me meal here. Showed up at ten minutes after it opened and had no problem getting a table. Particularly enjoyed the ceviche and the pig's head. Rhubarb tart was the other contender for dessert of the month. On the Frenchie note, Frenchie to go was pretty darn bad. Mediocre fried chicken sandwich and a more mediocre pulled pork sandwich. Good fries at least...

Gare au Gorille was fantastic. The duck was superb, as were most of the small plates. Top three meal of the trip.

Spring was amusing. I don't think there was a Parisian in the house the night I went. The warm oyster with buckwheat and seaweed butter was perfect. Most everything else was very well executed, though not exceedingly memorable.

La Maree Jeanne. We had lunch here twice and immensely enjoyed it both times. The second time we had the 18 euro set lunch. It came with a salmon preparation most comparable to a Lyonnais quenelle, a bucket of fried smelt, and a very nice seabass marinated in lemon and grapefruit I think.

Matiere A--- Surprisingly, this was my meal of the trip. Did the chef's menu for 44 euros. Super creative, well-executed meal. Started with a nice beef take on a beef tartare. Added some sesame, bacon, and a parsley granita. Next up was burbot medallion served alongside really great grilled squid and artichoke hearts. Then we had a very good duck. My best bite in Paris though was the accompanying cannelloni of duck confit and foie gras. Fantastic. Dessert was quite creative. Centered around a bell pepper cream! Definitely worth a visit.

May 03, 2015
set0312 in France

Piedmont Questions! Combal Zero, Pizza Duomo, or Il Centro?

da Bardon-- Figure I might as well knock this post out now. It will certainly not be as lengthy as the Il Centro post, because in retrospect, although the food at da Bardon was extraordinary, the service and overall atmosphere didn't warrant quite the praise I originally gave it.

When we arrived, we were the only ones in the restaurant but it quickly filled up. As we were the only non-Italians in the place, I wonder if our service was not quite as exemplary as it otherwise would have been. We were also admittedly a bit younger than everyone else so that could have been part of it. But having dined across the US and extensively in France, I can guarantee we were quite polite and very quiet.

We started with da Bardon's carne cruda and while the meat was obviously of very good quality, it did not have the complexity or quite the same cut as Il Centro's. To an extent this is nitpicking, but the knife work at il Centro was akin to a master itamae while da Bardon's was a noticeable step below. Still, a delicious dish that I would not hesitate to order again.

Next up was the plin and dare I say it may have been better than the one at Il Centro. Stunning. The sage in da Bardon's plin helped neutralize the richness of the butter and rabbit. While Il Centro's version was certainly more decadent, I think I preferred da Bardon's.

At da Bardon, the main courses, as they did at il Centro, paled slightly in comparison to the antipasti and primi courses. I ordered the rabbit. It was cut off the bone table side and coated in its juices, yet I found it a bit dry. I of course that understand rabbit is a tougher, gamier meat. The skin especially was dried out, so tough that at times I could not bite through it. The flavor profile was still spot-on, and the more moist bits of rabbits were still delightful, so at this point in the meal, I was still quite enamored with da Bardon. Then things took an unfortunate turn for the worse.

The waitress knocked over a good bit of our wine and did not apologize or clean it up for a good five minutes. It was truly odd. She dumped the wine across my friend's dish then disappeared to serve the Italian regulars. Now of course the regulars warrant special attention, but a simple apology and a napkin would have been much appreciated! She just spilled a good eighth of our bottle!

The chef visited all the tables around us a few times before finally stopping by to say hello to us. My friend who speaks very proficient Italian (enough to talk to Enrico at Il Centro for a good thirty minutes) complimented the da Bardon chef on the food and then mentioned that Enrico at Il Centro said hello. For whatever reason, the chef was very nonplussed by this and had nothing positive to say about Il Centro or Enrico. Again, I get these are small issues but after Enrico had complimented da Bardon's cellar and food, we expected some pleasantry!

So long story short, the food at da Bardon is exceptional, especially the plin and I assume the service is generally more gracious. Unfortunately that was not the case with us. Still, I'd return and hope to catch the staff on a better day.

May 03, 2015
set0312 in Italy

A Week in Piemonte: New and Renewed Acquaintances

PH Rodgers--My goodness, you have me wishing I was back in Piemonte. Out of curiosity, did you stay in agrotourismes (sp.) or do something like AirBnB? I am trying to figure out the most logical way to do an extended trip in the region!

May 03, 2015
set0312 in Italy

Piedmont Questions! Combal Zero, Pizza Duomo, or Il Centro?

edit--sorry for the annoying formatting. I wrote this thing in Pages because my computer crashed and I haven't downloaded word yet. Silly macs...

May 03, 2015
set0312 in Italy

Piedmont Questions! Combal Zero, Pizza Duomo, or Il Centro?

Allende and PH Rodgers. Fear not, I am a man of my word :) Been in Paris for the last month being an absolute glutton so I didn't have much time to write, but I've found a bit of time in Budapest to remember Il Centro. Pardon the delay! And also pardon the long introduction, it's part of a longer blog post I did. If it bores you, skip down a few paragraphs to the good stuff!
-----------------------------------------------------------------
As you skirt the western edge of Torino, the mountains flatten into rolling hills and it seems the only things allowed to line the highways are auto shops and junk yards. For a brief few kilometers, it is easy to understand why Torino is sometimes called “Italy’s Detroit.” But, if you drive past the decaying cars and billboards guiding you to the illustrious Hollywood Sex Shop, you will find yourself in the belly of Italy’s culinary epicenter—the famed Piemonte region, known across the world for its vineyards and white truffles.

The sun had settled beneath the horizon as we crawled into the village of Priocca. The hills loomed like inky waves above us, black and wet and blank. We were on a pilgrimage of sorts, heading towards a little restaurant called Il Centro, a Michelin-starred spot epitomizing rural Piemontese cooking.

The restaurant was situated steps away from a church that loomed over the entire 1979-person-town, Priocca’s citizen’s rightfully placing only God above their cuisine. Il Centro occupied the first level of a beautiful Italian townhouse, the owner and his family lived on the second story. But we should move on to the food shouldn’t we?

The meal began with the owner Enrico graciously pouring us a complimentary glass of white wine. I unfortunately did not get the name. It quickly became evident that the man spoke hardly any English, so Bayle did the communicating while Micala and I watched in amusement. We ordered more or less the entire menu, skipping a couple mains and a few shellfish dishes given that Bayle is deathly allergic to them. I’ll do my best to recall the dishes as best as I can.

We started with two amuse bouches: a wonderful sardine coated in olive oil and an omelet (as they called it) with house cured salami.

Next up was the antipasti. The carne cruda battuta al coltello, or hand-cut veal tartare was remarkable in its simplicity—a bit of salt, a bit of oil, a handful of greens, and very finely cut meat. This dish was a revelation, a celebration of well-sourced and well-prepared ingredients. Much fresher, simpler, and tastier than any tartare I’ve had in France over the last two months. Then we had a sweet pepper stuffed with anchovy. Though this was not my favorite dish (not a huge anchovy guy,) I must remark on the pepper. It was so sweet and crisp that I could easily have snacked on slices of it as you would an apple. The saccharine pepper interplayed quite well with the brine of the anchovy. The slow cooked veal, served thin with a mustard sauce if I remember correctly, further convinced me that veal should be wildly more popular in the states than it is. Hopefully, LA restaurants will eventually transition away from pig tails and cow tongue and focus on the humble calf. We also enjoyed a tuna tartare and a stuffed artichoke that I cannot quite picture nearly two months after our meal.

We each chose one primi then ordered a risotto to share. Though I enjoyed Bayle and Micala’s pastas (they had a tajarin and an agnolotti respectively,) mine was worthy of exaltation at the church up the road. I ordered the plin della tradizione. My goodness. From what I could tell, the dish was composed solely of rabbit, butter, oil, sage, pasta, and a bit of parmigiano sprinkled on top. The interplay between the butter and rabbit deserved an entire cookbook to itself. Decadent yet refined, the butter moistened the rabbit and teased out the meat’s juices. The pasta itself played an almost secondary role. It was slightly less firm than the plin I’ve enjoyed back home, but this was indeed for the better. By serving primarily as a vessel for the meat, the pasta allowed me to further appreciate the subtle complexities of the rabbit and butter. The shared risotto rivaled the plin as the dish of the night. If we didn’t feel bad about disrupting the kitchen’s pacing, we certainly would have ordered another. Risotto with butter, oil, and sheep’s cheese that like almost everything else on the menu was sourced in Piemonte. Like the plin, the risotto thrived on simplicity. Thoughts of the creaminess of the butter and the slight pungency of the sheep cheese coupled with the wonderfully firm risotto leave me checking flight prices to Turin about once a week.

Though very good, the mains did not quite reach the levels of the antipasti and primi. The veal shoulder filet, while perfectly cooked, was almost too simple. I cannot quite recall the specifics of the lamb, and I am not one to judge the rabbit cooked in cocoa because I cannot stand anything chocolate. Perhaps our favorite secondi was the finanziera, a charming little pot of offal served in a stew-like broth.

After we downed a steeling glass of grappa, Enrico offered to show us his wine cellar. Of course we accepted. The cellar was composed of three different rooms filled to the brim with barbarescos and barolos. Bayle later told us that Enrico insisted that he didn’t necessarily want to have the most expensive wines, he just wanted bottles that his friends and guests could enjoy. Of particular interest was the third room of the cellar. The walls perspired and the floor and bottles were damp. This is where Enrico kept his oldest wines. He proudly showed us some bottles from the 60’s that he insisted were still quite drinkable.

As we finally left after a more than three hour meal, Enrico urged us to show up early next time so we could open a bottle with him before dinner. I can assure you that we will.

The remarkable hospitality of Enrico and his family, along with a few of the best-executed dishes of my life guarantee I will not forget this meal. And God-willing, I shall return :)

May 03, 2015
set0312 in Italy