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Restaurant Martin vs. Max's

Just wanted to report back to say that we ended up at Max's for dinner and were blown away! The food was inventive, tasty, and whimsical. The staff worked flawlessly together as one cohesive team. Overall it was the best meal we had eaten while in Santa Fe. If you get the chance to eat there......GO!!! You won't be disappointed!

Aug 31, 2010
TheManning2 in Southwest

Restaurant Martin vs. Max's I've read through many of the recent threads about some of the better restaurants in Santa Fe.
My husband and I will be there this weekend and we are planning one AMAZING dinner. We've narrowed it down to Restaurant Martin and Max's. Between the two, which would you choose?
Or am I missing the boat by not considering Geronimo's or The Compound?
Thanks for your feedback!!!

Restaurant Martin
526 Galisteo, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Aug 24, 2010
TheManning2 in Southwest

Girl's night in Lahaina

My friend is getting married on Maui in April and I have been given the task of hosting a girl's night out for her and some friends the night before the wedding. We do not want to do the traditional Bachelorette type of party, but we would like to find a great place that has a good atmosphere, good appetizers and great drinks.
I have not been to the Island before, so at this point I would love some suggestions. I guess we're looking for a lounge or bar like setting....maybe some dancing......maybe some karaoke? I'd also take any other suggestions as well.
Thanks for you help!!!

Mar 17, 2010
TheManning2 in Hawaii

apps crawl in sf

So, my hubby and I were in the bay area this weekend and took Pei's suggestions for an apps crawl. We had a balst.
La Mar was a good place to start. A little sleepy, but the pisco sour was yummy and the ceviche was good (we had the ceviche verde).
Epic Roasthouse was probably our least favorite of the night. The location was beautiful, the bar had a really cool vibe, but the food was only ok and really over priced. If we go back we would definately order more of a side or two other than the chef's nightly selection of house-cured meats.
Waterbar was BEAUTIFUL!!! fantastic looking restaurant. We sat at the bar and had a half dozen oysters. Really good stuff and the staff were very friendly.
MexicoDF was good. We got there approximately 15 min. before closing, but they were extremely accomidating. Had chips/salsa/guacamole, the Buche tacos and Calabacitas Estrella. All really tasty. As a So-Cal girl I was really impressed at how the restuarant was pushing their audience to eat more authintically. FANTASTIC TORTILLAS!!!!
Anchor & Hope was AMAZING and our last stop. We were going to head to the burger bar after Anchor & hope, but things were so good there that we stopped. Great staff, good beer. We ended up ordering the Uni (per your suggestion), the risotto cooked in squid ink served with clams, the bone marrow w/ ox-tail marmalade, and finished the night with a Bailey's Ice Ceam Shake w/ homemade oatmeal cookies. Everything there was FANTASTIC!!!!! Loved-Loved-Loved it!!!!!!
Thanks so much for the great idea and fantastic recs!

apps crawl in sf

Pei - FYI my hubby and I are coming up to the Bay this weekend and we're taking you advice and doing the apps crawl. It sounds like a lot of good recs! Thanks for the suggestions!!!!

A quick jaunt to San Francisco for the Weeken

My hubby and I are coming up to the bay this weekend for a little get away. We've been to the city before and love all of the variety of food and drink the city offeres. We will be staying near the Embarcadero, arriving in the morning on Saturday and flying out Monday afternoon.
We love local eatteries and tend to look for interesting and unsual places. As Bourdain says, we want to be travelers, not tourists.
Right now we only have plans to go to the Ferry Market Building and Incanto on Sunday. Other things we've knocked around include a walking tour with WizWok and eatting Dim Sum after in Chinatown, hitting a Drag show on Saturday night, and maybe going up to Dynamo Doughnuts.
We'll be at the mercy of public transporations, but we're not afraid to us it.
I guess I'm looking for recs for a nice dinner Saturday night in the mid-upper price range (but no asian food), a good late night place for drinks on Sunday, and a place for breakfast on Monday. And if anyone's got a good idea for a Drag show I'd take that as well (currently we're thinking of going to Aunt Charlie's Lounge.)
Thanks so much!!!!

Non-prepackaged bulk bin spices in OC?

In fact all of Henry's Markets sell spices in bulk. I use them all the time and their prices are really reasonable.

Mar 19, 2008
TheManning2 in Los Angeles Area

Newport Beach Places to eat

I'll also chime in for the Crow Bar and Kitchen. Good grub, great beer, excellent service.
Blue Water Grill is also a favorite of mine, the outside eatting is great in the Lido Bay.
If you want some good Baja Mexican food I would suggest Rockin' Baja Lobster by the Newport Pier. It's becoming a small chain, but don't let that keep you away. You can order what they call the Baja Bucket, a giant bucket of seafood (shrimp, & slipper-tail lobster), carne asada, and pollo asada. Homemade tortillas and rice and beans. It's a great deal.

Mar 05, 2008
TheManning2 in Los Angeles Area

Review: The Crow Bar and Kitchen - Corona Del Mar

Glad you gave a shout out to Chef Scott. My wife said that he reminded her of a mix between Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert. I had the pleasure of interviewing him and Steve the owner a couple weeks ago (I do some writing for DiningOut), and they are incredibly nice, down to earth guys. Scott's passion for his food is infectious -- it's hard to catch him not smiling when he's working, and I love how both of them constantly emphasize the importance of their purveyors. In fact, Steve was saying that they have plans in the future of hosting a purveyor dinner, in which they would get one of their vendors down to the restaurant, and feature a special menu with the purveyor's ingredient being the main focus of each course, a la Iron Chef. Should be fun once that gets rolling.

Feb 14, 2008
TheManning2 in Los Angeles Area

Review: The Crow Bar and Kitchen - Corona Del Mar

My wife and I went to The Crow Bar and Kitchen in Corona Del Mar on Friday night, and were completely blown away by everything. The first thing you need to know about this place is that it refers to itself as a “gastro-pub” – the food is fantastic and worthy of an upscale place, but the atmosphere is loud, raucous, and a total blast. Now, this place has only been open since the day after Thanksgiving, and it was completely packed when we rolled in slightly after six – incredible for a place that’s barely been around. Just as incredible was the service here – our waiter kicked all kinds of butt (seriously, ask to sit in Davis’s section); he was knowledgeable about everything on the menu, was completely spot on with his food and drink pairing suggestions, and was completely engaging without being intrusive. Everything was like clockwork, to the point that we kept having to remind ourselves that it had only been open for about a dozen weeks or so. And the food rocked. We started off by ordering a “pot of pickles,” a wonderful assortment of pickles, turnips, asparagus, and other goodies of that ilk soaked in the chef’s own homemade brine. I’m not one who normally digs on that kind of thing, but we got it because my wife wanted it, and I’ll tell you, I can subsist on the stuff for weeks. They have a great selection of cheeses to nosh on – I recommend the Mine Shaft blue and the St. Regis from France (creamier than brie) – and they pair it with some really nice fruit and nut pestos, curries, and pastes. In addition (yes, we pigged out), we ordered a round of panko-battered Vidalia onion rings served with a buttermilk dipping sauce. Normally, I’d be touting how great they were, but if there is one side you have to get, it would have to be their duck fat fries. Yep – fries cooked in duck fat, baby! I don’t know how damaging that is to my arteries; frankly, I don’t want to know. They were so dang good. As far as the entrees go, my wife went with the ahi niciose burger, while I ordered the classic Cubano sandwich. Both were fantastic. Her burger had a smoky, grilled tinge to the taste which made it wildly flavorful, and my Cubano was everything that a Cuban sandwich should be – pressed thin, smoky, with a subtle sweet tang. For dessert, her sticky toffee pudding was absolutely delicious, but not as good as my “not just a ding dong,” homemade (right down to the filling), and had a dark chocolate taste. Freakin’ great. Oh, and the beers at this place rule, too. Forget about grabbing a Bud, Coors, or any one of those college age “practice beers,” this place thrives on selling you beer best found in the back section of your local BevMo. My wife, who’s not much a beer drinker, enjoyed a Hoegarden witte beir from Belgium that was fruity, light, and is probably going to take up residence in our fridge soon, and I got a dark beer called an old Rasputin that knocked me flat on my butt. Good times.

Obviously, we ate like we hadn’t eaten in a week. For more sensible palates, you could probably get out of there by around $40-$75. It’s totally worth checking out; just make sure you call ahead to get a table – they fill up fast!

The crow bar and kitchen
2325 east coast highway
corona del mar, california 92625

Feb 13, 2008
TheManning2 in Los Angeles Area

The Arches in Newport - Where did it go?

Thanks for all of the info. I knew someone would know something around here.

Feb 05, 2008
TheManning2 in Los Angeles Area

Newport/Irvine upscale cool restaurant.. no chains please!!!

Thanks for the correct spelling & link. I was at work w/ not a lot of time to look it up. Thanks for sending them the corrections!

Feb 05, 2008
TheManning2 in Los Angeles Area

The Arches in Newport - Where did it go?

Hubby and I drove by this weekend that noticed that the Arches was closed and that there was a new sign that simply said "Coming...." Anyone have any ideas of what might be coming? Just curious...

Feb 05, 2008
TheManning2 in Los Angeles Area

Newport/Irvine upscale cool restaurant.. no chains please!!!

If you're specifically looking for near South Coast there's a great Persian restaurant called Darias. Excellent food. There's also the Club House at SCP that's really good as well. If you want to travel down the coast a little bit I would second the rec for K'ya and might also suggest Mozambique as well.

Feb 05, 2008
TheManning2 in Los Angeles Area

Review: Flight Bistro and Social Lounge - Huntington Beach

Sorry about that. The address is:
8082 Adams Avenue
Huntington Beach, CA 92646
(corner of Beach Blvd & Adams Ave)

I'd post their website as well, but it's still in the "coming soon" phase.

Feb 03, 2008
TheManning2 in Los Angeles Area

Review: Flight Bistro and Social Lounge - Huntington Beach

The wife and I just got back from a dinner at Flight in HB, and we were very impressed, especially considering that it's less than six months old. The first thing of note about it is the design of the place. It actually has an L.A. vibe to it -- rare for the upscale places in O.C., which tend to pull their design philosophies from New York, Chicago, or San Francisco (if they indeed design their place with a city in mind). Great use of blue and gray shades. As far as the food goes, the presentation of each course that we enjoyed was stunning (so much so my wife almost took a picture of her salad). She had an arugula salad with piave vecchio cheese, candied walnuts, dried apricots and figs, and shaved apple with a balsamic and champagne vinaigrette whose sweetness was appropriately tempered with the presence of the cheese, and I had a portebello mushroom appetizer that is best described as a Caprese salad with a mushroom base. The heirloom tomato that topped the dish was served cold, which allowed its flavor to really pop. For the main course, she had a grilled vegetable flatbread featuring portebello mushrooms, asparagus, and goat cheese -- very light and flavorful. I had an Italian panini (mainly because I'd been craving a pressed sandwich all day), and it was pretty awesome. The prosciutto in the panini was cut thick enough to be substantial without losing its textural qualities, and spicy aioli served in it gave it a really nice kick. For dessert, she had a panko breaded fried banana served with coconut sorbet -- smooth yet crunchy, way delicious, and I had a chocolate molten cake served with caramelized bananas (which had a delightfully subtle cheese taste to them), and Java creme (which was tart like a kumquat). All the flavors at the same time were phenomenal.

The cool thing about it is it's priced reasonably for being upscale cuisine -- the most expensive item on the menu is $26. The one tough spot about it is that it's in an area that's difficult to bring attention to: a couple of miles inland, across the way from a strip mall, not on a corner of an intersection. However, I know that it's been getting a lot of friendly press, and we're hoping that more people discover it when the weather gets a little warmer. I know that we're going to do our part to keep them in business.

Feb 02, 2008
TheManning2 in Los Angeles Area

Where's the best breakfast in Torrance?

I second the Farmer's Market on Saturday's. It's a great place to eat al fresco, as well as picking up some amazing produce and such. Great suggestion!

Jan 31, 2008
TheManning2 in Los Angeles Area

OC-near performing arts center

The Clubhouse right outside of Bloomingdales is a great place for pre-show bites. They also have a great martini menu. I highly recommend Presidental Martini (it comes with amazing blue cheese stuffed olives).

Jan 31, 2008
TheManning2 in Los Angeles Area

Laguna Beach

Highly recommend Mozambique. The food is incredible (especially any dish featuring their Peri-Peri spice or sauce), and they have two main dining areas: One that is more open and colorful, and one that is much more dark and intimate. Not a gigantic wine list, but plenty of choices available. They also have a killer upstairs lounge that has an enclosed patio area filled with comfortable furniture overlooking Laguna toward the ocean.

If you are looking for great food and THE best view of Laguna Beach, I strongly recommend K'ya. Excellent cuisine that can be ordered tapas style, good wine list, and a smart casual atmosphere. Word of caution, though: It tends to get more packed than Mozambique does (smaller space), and the Rooftop Bar (which really does have the best view of the city) was difficult to get into during the peak season, although that might be different now that it's winter.

Nov 26, 2007
TheManning2 in Los Angeles Area

OC's Top 100 Tastes You Must Try Before You Die

Very fun!
1. Corned Beef Sandwich, East Coast Italian Deli, Huntington Beach
2. Chocolate Cake Shake, Portillos, Buena Park
3. Steak Chili, Harbor House Cafe, Sunset Beach
4. Mac 'n' Cheese, K'ya, Laguna Beach
5. Ahi Poke, K'ya, Laguna Beach
6. Fried Squid, Lucky Chinese, Fountain Valley
7. Durbin Curry, Mozambique, Laguna Beach
8. Garlic Fries, Phils, Fountain Valley
9. Meatball Pizza, Pizza D'oro, Fountain Valley
10. Waygu Fillet, Silvera's, Huntington Beach

Nov 11, 2007
TheManning2 in Los Angeles Area