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2014 Omakase Odyssey

ushiwakamaru closes the houston street location any day now...they are reopening on 23rd street in february or march according to the staff. its great but decidedly 'mid-tier' overall.

what about tanoshi?

Dec 15, 2014
sam1 in Manhattan

please review my upcoming london trip itinerary...

figured id share some comments on my recent trip. just came back from 4 quick days visiting friends. i visit often and was generally pleased with my meals this time around.

-great queen street...been here before in 2010 and have been an anchor and hope fan for nearly 10 years. great queen street continues to be a solid option in the area. not a destination but a great meal nonetheless. lentils, bacon and snails were a favorite as well as the duck cassoulet for two (which fed 3 people). only gripe was the lack of decent wine on the low/middle end but otherwise, a good meal.

-babur (brockley)...stayed with a friend and stopped by for lunch based on some strong recommendations. very solid mid-upscale indian. had a lamb shoulder dish that was quite delicious...marinated for something like 100 hours in spices. place was empty at 1pm on a sat though. friendly service and a good option if you're in that part of london.

-clove club...had dinner at the bar area. overall, a good experience though a bit pricey considering the portion sizes. service was solid but took themselves a bit too seriously. had a decent german pinot noir there. fried chicken and beef shoulder with jerusalem artichoke puree were standouts. the bar area was a bit too casual for the price. id return but i felt it was a bit more of a scene than a solid eating experience.

koya...had dinner here back in 2010 and didnt think much of it. a cold sunday evening in soho made me try it again and i had a better meal this time around. stewed pork belly was delicious and plentiful, soy marinated squid was salty but excellent...as was the mushroom appetizer with dashi. my udon with pork and miso was good but the broth couldve been served hotter. the chefs are great there. our server...less so.

rocksalt...folkestone...figured we'd drive to the coast and have a seafood lunch. rocksalt was a very enjoyable meal. had sea whelks, crab on toast and the dover sole with garlic and lemon. service was perfect, place was rather full for a monday in december...pricey but recommended.

trishna...really really liked this place. cute spot, great service and the food was fantastic. you cant find this upscale indian in nyc at all. i had their aloo papdi chaat and the duck kebab to start (both were absolutely delicious) and the seafood biryani for my entree (good but wish i had a meat dish instead). id like to come back every time im in town. very solid.

rochelle canteen...my final lunch and a usual stop in london these days. had the beef shin with horseradish dumplings and the rabbit rillettes. dessert was a lemon custard with a biscuit. everything was perfect. great, well cooked british food in a cute spot.

great meals this time around!

Dec 11, 2014
sam1 in U.K./Ireland

Weekend In Barcelona - What Not To Miss

pubilla is in gracia so its a bit on the other side of town from the picasso museum. bar pla is in el born with the picasso museum. el Xampanyet is right by picasso and serves decent tapas in a pretty old school location. i wouldnt go there for dinner though.

id only go to pubilla for lunch and only canete for dinner...just my 2 cents.

Dec 04, 2014
sam1 in Spain/Portugal

Weekend In Barcelona - What Not To Miss

go to la pubilla for lunch and then bar canete for dinner on friday. try to make reservations for both...otherwise expect a 60 min wait at bar canete. go to libertad market before or after pubilla.

Dec 03, 2014
sam1 in Spain/Portugal

Last Minute – City Hall / Shotgun Wedding – Dinner Suggestions?

um, congratulations!

di you mean $125 per person or together?

perhaps commerce would be a nice option for this.

Dec 01, 2014
sam1 in Manhattan

easiest night for Minetta?

minetta is crazy cramped. i dont even think they have the capability for a party of 10. ive been a party of 5 and its pretty cramped in their back booths.

minetta isnt like the usual sprawling steakhouses.

Nov 30, 2014
sam1 in Manhattan

please review my upcoming london trip itinerary...

i come to london often and will be in town for 4 nights in december. i prefer to eat food i cant readily get in nyc so im focusing on british, indian and spanish. please let me know your thoughts on the following:

-great queen street...ive been here before and like it. its also central and i have friends meeting up from all over. i havent been since 2010 but is it still relevant or good? any other options in covent garden or soho for this sort of food?

-clove club...at the bar area. didnt feel like a set menu and the bar menu looks good. my questions would be, do they have tables at the bar area or is it just bar seating? how's the food generally?

-donostia...was looking for spanish and open on a sunday and donostia seems well received. i was pretty unimpressed by moro and brindisa on previous visits. any other suggestions for tapas?

-trishna...wanted upscale indian and pretty interested in trishna since gymkhana is booked up.

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lastly, ill be going to rochelle canteen for lunch which i always love. is dishoom in shoreditch worth my time? any suggestions for interesting ethnic food? ive had great sichuan in earl's court, sim sum in westbourne grove, lebanese in westbourne...would like to eat more but would appreciate some recent favorites that you all enjoy.

thanks in advance.

Nov 24, 2014
sam1 in U.K./Ireland

Help with the London trip that never happened...

rochelle canteen is such a pleasant place for a lunch. prices are great...i recall 6-8 for appetizers and 12-16 for entrees? something along those lines.

Nov 17, 2014
sam1 in U.K./Ireland

Help with the London trip that never happened...

ill just throw in some comments from a new yorker that visits london often:

-mohsen is okay but i wouldnt waste a dinner on it. and its in earl's court and i recall there's little near there. perhaps you go there for lunch if you're in the area.
-moti mahal is great but i wonder if there's another high end indian that's more of the moment. is trishna a good substitute?
-id take great queen street over anchor and hope.

id suggest rochelle canteen for weekday lunch only.

Nov 12, 2014
sam1 in U.K./Ireland

Bâtard

i forgot to add my review from a few weeks ago. waited for the buzz to die down and was completely impressed with everything at batard. had a solid bottle from cotes de nuits from kermit lynch if i recall.

the standout dishes for me were the monkfish with pasta, the veal tenderloin and the duck...actually the duck was so good, i mentioned that ellenost incident to my dining companion.

dessert wasn't anything special. i suppose id have the cheese plate next time.

Nov 12, 2014
sam1 in Manhattan

Best French Bistro in London

i didnt like casse croute much at all. very small menu, a bit cramped as well...and not in a romantic sense.

more of a brasserie but i love galvin bros whenever im in london.

Nov 12, 2014
sam1 in U.K./Ireland

Perla or Babbo for white truffle season?

i think perla for a first timer would definitely impress over babbo in 2014...which i like a lot...but needs a makeover.

stick with the appetizers and the pastas at perla though. their agnolotti with short rib is delicious but ultra rich.

Oct 27, 2014
sam1 in Manhattan
1

What is your favorite tiny bar in (Manhattan or BK preferred)?

brandy library is small? it has 2 floors.

Burgers

yeah but the seating is not good for a group of more than 2 or 3 guys.

Oct 22, 2014
sam1 in Manhattan

Burgers

the original pj clarke's on 3rd ave is still solid for burgers and beer.

id also suggest keens pub room but thats on weekdays only if i recall.

Oct 22, 2014
sam1 in Manhattan

Day trips to Montserrat + Girona

i was at nu about a month ago. i dont think its open for lunch. they set aside just a few seats for walk-ins but i saw them turn away quite a few people if they didnt come as they opened at 815 in the evening.

nu is just a fantastic restaurant and i give it my highest recommendation. everything we ate was delicious as was the wine and the service. depending on your appetite, we actually found a la carte was more than enough food and didnt leave us stuffed. highly recommend their foie gras with banana and chocolate as well as their tempura prawns and their cheese plate.

we were told cook 24 was a solid lunch option for a simple menu del dia. it was closed the day we were in town but thats an option. we had lunch at draps and found it to be rather awful.

Oct 13, 2014
sam1 in Spain/Portugal

Great cheese and charcuterie

while this thread is helpful, ill just point out that murrays cheese bar was great when they first opened but their staff is pretty awful these days. pop music blasting, their wine list is really disappointing and the new cheese mongers there dont have any personality.

when they first opened, the place was awesome.

Oct 02, 2014
sam1 in Manhattan

Spontaneity

its gotten to the point where i have my favorite 'weekend' restaurants...places that have little to no wait that have solid food that arent talked about or fawned over.

also, lots of places give you long wait times but are dramatically overestimating the time. i was quoted 1 hour for han dynasty and ended up waiting 8 minutes last night.

Sep 29, 2014
sam1 in Manhattan

Bar & Coffee advice

completely agree. bar jamon is awesome but you wouldnt get 10 people there.

what about old town bar on 18th off park?

Sep 24, 2014
sam1 in Manhattan

Yuba Restaurant – A New Generation of Chefs and Excellent Innovative Japanese in the East Village

i may have had a bad night at hasaki but the fish quality was very mediocre the last time i went (maybe a month back).

i live nearby and yuba is frequently empty but i should try them again.

Sep 23, 2014
sam1 in Manhattan

Tickets or Roca Moo - urgent help needed with game-day decision

i was a tourist too of course...but im talking about the ones who take photos of every piece of food they ate, their servers, the decor, etc...

Sep 23, 2014
sam1 in Spain/Portugal

Tickets or Roca Moo - urgent help needed with game-day decision

i was at tickets just 2 weeks ago. it was the most overrated meal ive had in ages. extremely cheap ingredients served in a hokey atmosphere filled with the tourists ive been trying to allude during my 2 weeks in Spain.

i regret not squeezing in lunch at roca moo. my 2 cents says to go there.

Sep 22, 2014
sam1 in Spain/Portugal

Wine Mark up

just stumbled on this thread and i had a question.

batard has been called out for having a pretty weak bottle selection on the lower end. their corkage is $50/bottle.

is it wrong to simply pay the $50 corkage and bring my own mid-tier burgundy thats not on their list? i have plenty of 40-50$ (retail) bottles from marsannay or fixin that i love. theyd charge $150 for the same bottle if they even carried it.

just wanted to know if its poor form to pay a high corkage and not have some rare vintage bottle to bring in.

Sep 22, 2014
sam1 in Manhattan

barcelona/basque this week

i was drinking bottles of mid tier priorat in barcelona and costa brava and girona for 20-25 eur...same bottles in restaurants in nyc wouldve cost 70-80 eur...no doubt about it.

Sep 19, 2014
sam1 in Spain/Portugal

Favorite wine shop recs?

last recommendation for under the radar wine is frankly wine on west broadway. place doesnt get any attention but they have a well curated selection. i think its ignored because its too close to chambers street wines.

friendly people there as well.

Sep 19, 2014
sam1 in Manhattan

Begur and Barcelona (with a little Girona) long trip report

id much prefer staying in gracia (albeit closer to av diaganol) than the born. it's pretty and central.

the born is beautiful but filled with tourists...particularly near the squares and near the picasso museum.

Sep 16, 2014
sam1 in Spain/Portugal

Begur and Barcelona (with a little Girona) long trip report

gracia...its right by the llibertat market.

i much preferred the llibertat market and the market on valencia rather than the boqueria which is just packed.

Sep 16, 2014
sam1 in Spain/Portugal

Favorite wine shop recs?

i like the burgundy wine company quite a bit and they have tastings with live jazz music if i recall.

le du is my go-to spot since i live nearby and they have tastings on saturday afternoon. either this saturday or next (im thinking next), they have their 9 year anniversary party with a ton of wine to be drank.

Sep 16, 2014
sam1 in Manhattan

Begur and Barcelona (with a little Girona) long trip report

Just wanted to write a report of my recent trip for others looking for advice...particularly for Begur. I posted seeking some recommendations and the content on here really helped make this a great trip for food.

We spent 5 nights in Begur and had a car so we went to Girona twice (to go cycling). Here's where we ate:

-Sa Rascassa...just perfect. If the weather is nice, eating out in their garden is one of the most pleasant dinners I've had. Wine list was excellent and we had a great bottle of Priorat for 22 euro. Grilled razor clams to start and I had the grilled monkfish. Girlfriend had tuna belly with tomato salad and the grilled turbot. Dessert was their 'chocolate stones'...frozen dark chocolate nuggets. Very rich but excellent. Staff was perfect. 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, 1 dessert, 1 bottle of Priorat...~110 euro.

-Toc Al Mar...on Aiguablava beach. Not a fan. Great seats just before sunset but that's about all I can say. We received the up-sell as soon as we sat down. The grilled fish is something like 55 euro/kg and when we didnt want it, they seemed almost insulted. Had another tuna with tomatoes to start and had the grilled prawns from Palamos and octopus with romesco and potatoes. The potatoes were the best part. The shrimp were delicious but maybe 8 of them for 36 euro was a bit insane. Tarte Tatin was basically airport quality. 1 appetizer, 2 entrees (if you can call it that), 1 dessert, 1 beer and 1 glass of Montsant for ~90 euro...would avoid this place completely.

-Draps in Girona for lunch...total meh. Lobster Cannolini and some grilled duck dish with potatoes. Completely forgettable meal. 2 glasses of wine and 2 entrees for ~40 euro.

-Tapas bar next to Nu Restaurant...was so full from our lunch, we could only get a bite at this tapas bar next to Nu. Pretty crowded but had no problem finding a seat. Super friendly place for a plate of meat and cheese. 1 glass of wine and 1 alhambra beer and our food was ~13 euro.

-Nu Restaurant...ended up coming back to Girona the next night as we were in Pubol and luckily had our appetites back. So glad we were able to get a walk-in as we loved the food here. Great staff too. Had one of the best cheese plates to start our meal followed by a few plates to share. Foie Gras with banana and chocolate was fantastic as were their prawn tempura. 4 plates, 1 cheese plate, 2-3 glasses of wine was ~85 euro and totally excellent.

-Bocca in Regencos...our last night and we had a surprisingly enjoyable meal at Bocca. Very lively crowd despite the early rain and humidity. The food was far from rocket science (tuna tartare, fish tacos, etc...) but everything was quite delicious and the service was great. Only issue was it took us forever to get our check to pay. Seems like they wanted us to stay and drink all night which was appreciated but not what we wanted to do. Mostly local families and then a younger crowd later in the night.

We then drove back, dropped off our rental car and spent 4 nights in Barcelona.

-Vinya Del Senyor...wandered into the Born area and found Vinya. Was too hot to be outside so we sat at the bar for a bite and wine at 5-6pm. The British server was super friendly and helpful but I found the food to be mediocre and the wine not much better. We are pretty big wine drinkers and couldn't really find anything noteworthy by the glass here. I expected more frankly and left disappointed overall. 3 tapas, 2-3 glasses of wine was roughly 30 euro.

-Succulent...our first night in Barcelona and we got lost a bit. Sant Pau runs off Ramblas and through a square with prostitutes and pimps...which wasn't enjoyable. But we found Succulent eventually and ate inside as it was quite hot with the terrace seating. We didn't love the food here. Macaroni with stewed lamb was nice but small, codfish with snails was tasteless and the skate with brown butter was enjoyable but could be eaten anywhere. Felt the up-sell here as well as they kept mentioning a special "lobster for 2" dish not on the specials list. Staff was still fun and nice but wouldn't recommend this place. 3 plates and 3-4 beers/wine was ~60 euro.

-Caravelle...had a little breakfast here in Raval. I know it's not authentic but their muffins were good and the place was a nice way to start the day. Menu is ultra small and the cortado wasnt any good but it was comforting and enjoyable. Had some baked eggs with chorizo and beans, a muffin and 2 coffees for ~15 euro.

-Gresca...had their set lunch for 19 euro. Super pleasant place for lunch. Started with vegetable 'dumpling' wrapped in codfish and a tomato salad. Entrees were a veal (or lamb) neck pasta dish which was delicious but a bit too hearty for the warm weather outside. The other entree was some lighted cooked bonito that was just perfect. Desserts of chocolate mousse and a peach salad were also excellent. Enjoyed our meal here but its definitely on the quiet side. Also surprised how small the place was.

-Forn de Sant Jaume...Had to try some pastries as we walked by. The xuxo was excellent. I was expecting it to be much sweeter than it was. The apple tart was enjoyable but the fried pastries seem to be what to get here.

-Bar Canete...Had reservations here and glad we did. Food was just delicious and the staff was friendly, helpful and on their game. Had 2 seats at the bar and had the best croquetas de jamon ever. Steak with foie gras, mushroom omelette with foie gras, fried eggplant with honey, chocolate mousse...4 glasses of 7 Fuentes (a favorite wine of ours from Tenerife)...everything was perfect...our favorite meal in town. ~90 euro. Felt like there were 50% tourists and 50% locals.

-Monvinic...squeezed in one last glass before sleep. I liked this place and our server was a super sweet French woman who we chatted about wine with...but it felt a bit too sterile for us. They also close at 11pm. We hung around until nearly 12am.

-Forn de Sant Jaume...had breakfast here on the way to Gracia. Some more Xuxo and donuts and a cortado sitting outside was a great way to start the day.

-La Pubilla...this board needs to talk more about this place. Menu del dia is an insane deal at 14 euro. The place was rather mobbed but we got 2 great seats at the bar. Salad of ricotta, greens and figs...and stewed chickpeas with butifarra sausage were some of the best things we ate in town. Entrees were a HUGE lamb knee (or elbow) that was delicious but heavy and a codfish dish with eggplant that was good but a bit too salty. Chocolate mousse for dessert...just a fantastic lunch in what turned out to be our favorite neighborhood in the city.

-Tickets...completely not for us. Now that I'm home, I can say it just plain sucked. We needed to try it but the food is just a joke. Little bites of cheap food...a little packet of fried pistachio nuts, the 'airbags with manchego' tasted like a cheese cracker. To their credit, the service was nice and we didn't get an up-sell which kept our check reasonable (all things considered) but this was the most overrated meal I've had in ages. The waiter with the dessert cart looked so miserable I wanted to take him out of his misery.

-Caravelle...another morning with some coconut bread, some toast with plum jam and cortados...~10 euro and perfectly fine. Definitely had more young english speakers than anyone else.

-El Xampanyet...some meat and cheese and beer for lunch in the born. Friendly staff and 50% locals here. Huge portions and quite tasty. ~25 euro.

-Bar Mut and Club Mutis...our last dinner and we tried Bar Mut. More of a hot spot than serious eating here but the food we had was quite good. Braised octopus, steak with foie, their 'carpaccio' of eggs, razor clams...everything was delicious. Dessert of torrijas was yummy. They invited us to get a drink at their jazz club upstairs which was great. Huge pour of scotch for me, listening to jazz at 1am was a nice way to end our trip. ~100 euro for 4-5 glasses of wine, 4 plates, 1 dessert. Service was great and Carolina Herrera was there.

Sep 16, 2014
sam1 in Spain/Portugal

Where to grab breakfast in Barcelona/Madrid/Sevilla/Granada?

i figured that was what to expect.

what about satan's coffee corner? does that have any food?

Aug 28, 2014
sam1 in Spain/Portugal