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Where should we eat dinner? [Cupertino / Saratoga area]

Yikes, lamb with white onion? I hope they haven't changed chefs!

I haven't been there in about 6 months but the last time I went, we definitely had thin slices of good lamb (not the fatty stringy stuff I've had at Darda Muslim Chinese Restaurant in Fremont) with thin slivers of green onions.

I also know that my parents have ordered a sour cabbage clay pot with random stuff in it (I don't eat tripe, so I can't recall if there was tripe). I'm sorry to hear you had such a disappointing meal.

As for the statement re: LA's Muslim Chinese restaurants being better, I would love to test that out personally. I lived in LA in the late 90s and remember frequenting a Muslim Chinese place in the San Gabriel Valley (Alhambra?). I know it had a green roof and was in a strip mall near a Ranch 99/Chinese grocery store. It was good, but not as good as Eastern House, IMHO.

The often overlooked Fremont/Union City/Newark corridor...

I remember Country Way! DH and I had breakfast there a couple times and you're right--large portions, homestyle breakfasts, and old-time service is right on the money.

Your mention of Mexican food reminds me of La Casita. I loved their tomato/chicken/rice soup. As for main courses, I liked their chile verde and Gibo special (potatoes smothered in cheese, which seem just like scalloped potatoes au gratin and not Mexican to me at all).

North American destination city for culinary vacation with young kids?

Thank you to everyone for all the great recommendations! Wow, looks like we have inspiration for several years' worth of vacations to plan for now.

I'll talk it over with DH, figure out what our priorities are for 2015, and definitely update the thread once it's settled.

Thanks again!

Jan 06, 2015
smiles33 in General Topics

Where to buy Foie gras in East Bay?

Well, driving above 65 mph on the freeway when the maximum speed limit is marked 65 mph is also "technically illegal but lots of people don't respect or follow the law." If you drive above 65 mph, you accept the risk of being ticketed (as well as greater risk of injury should there be an incident).

If I could order foie gras in a Californian restaurant, I would do so and accept the risk that I might be fined.

Where to buy Foie gras in East Bay?

The menu, which was NOT the same as the one on the website, specifically stated "Hudson Valley foie gras." That's why I did a double-take and asked the waitress, "You REALLY have foie gras?"

I'm not an idiot. I can read. If it had said ankimo or monkfish liver, I wouldn't have posted it here on this thread about foie gras.

North American destination city for culinary vacation with young kids?

Hi Bada Bing. We usually take 4-5 day trips, as DH's work schedule is such that he can't take more than 2-3 days off work. Thus, unless we stick to CA (and we've done a lot of road trips already), we won't be able to limit our travel to just road trips with that short of a timeframe. We also usually travel in the shoulder season, April/May or Sept., again due to his work schedule.

I have been to DC a dozen times or more now due to work commitments, so I don't wish to return as a family. It conjures up too many work-related memories so I don't find DC relaxing at all. I've also been to NYC about a half-dozen times and DH and I have made 2 adult-only treks there in the past 2 years so we also want to try something new. I went to Chicago for the first time last summer for work and loved the high-end food I had. Yet I think I'm looking for something more distinctive than a "typical" American city for our next family vacation. I do think it could be fun to explore Portland (if I can convince DH, who probably thinks it's full of the same hipsters/hippies as SF/Berkeley).

As I said in my initial post, we have road-tripped throughout California (as far north as Shasta, throughout the Central Valley to DH's various favorite lakes, Lake Tahoe/Reno to the east, Los Angeles to the south) as that's how we vacationed for the first 6 years of parenthood. In our early budget-conscious days, we'd rent a houseboat at Shasta or a small condo/apartment somewhere in CA and DH would just cook all meals.

We finally took the girls on a flight when we went to Maui 2 years ago. It's not the prettiest Hawaiian island, but it has the best compromise of good food and good outdoor options without the urban congestion of Oahu. We hang out on the beach or at the pool/hot tub, explored local food options (it was fun seeking out the little bakeries for malasadas and strolling the Swap Meet), and headed to local restaurants. No luaus, no submarine rides, no boat rides, or anything else where the typical tourist crowds are.

Jan 04, 2015
smiles33 in General Topics

North American destination city for culinary vacation with young kids?

I really appreciate this thorough reply, so I thought I'd respond to it directly. I'm sorry to hear Montreal was disappointing and would love to hear which restaurants you found lackluster. In my mind, the French culture would be a nice bonus, but what's most relevant to us are French attitudes/preferences when it comes to eating! I can happily imagine indulging in pain au chocolat for breakfast, cheese, pate, and baguettes for a light lunch or snack, foie gras at dinner, etc.

I went to Vancouver decades ago as a teen and was impressed by all the Asian cuisine, but it doesn't strike me as a food destination for other cuisines. Maybe I'm wrong?

New Orleans does strongly appeal to us but you're right, as I worry about the party atmosphere/Bourbon Street vibe. My kids are both in bed by 9 and I wonder if we can find a place where it would actually be quiet but not in the middle of nowhere.

FWIW, my girls are very calm and happily play together or read together (the 8 year old reads to the 5 year old). Yes, they like to swim/lounge in a hot tub (which we don't have at home), so it would be nice to find a place with access to a pool/hot tub. Other than that, we do not schedule their days nor do we go out of our way to specially cater to them while on vacation (though we do avoid Michelin-starred restaurants when they're with us and I always make sure to accommodate our younger daughter's food allergies).

In fact, I often joke they would enjoy almost anything if we keep them plied with snacks. That's been DH's strategy when he drags them to college football games--they eat for hours from every vendor who walks by and at halftime there is also sushi and hot food in the Club room. Give them food and then they're happy to watch a boring football game!

Jan 03, 2015
smiles33 in General Topics

North American destination city for culinary vacation with young kids?

Thanks to all who have chimed in with your thoughts thus far. Yes, as James pointed out, we really are ALL about the food and just relaxing. If there's something interesting to fill up an hour or two in between meals, I'm receptive, but we are not going to choose a locale for the activities. I really want to go for great food, something less available here in California, which is why both New Orleans and Montreal appeal to me. We have French restaurants in SF, but I'm sure there is something special (and perhaps more authentic?) when it comes to French restaurants in French-speaking Montreal. Plus I have yet to have really good Cajun or Creole food in CA.

I think I'd skip some of the places mentioned thus far because we have great Asian food, Mexican (though I understand Tex-Mex is different), seafood, "American fine dining" (meaning not French), etc. We also have a ton of activities available to us here (world-class aquarium, children's museums, zoos, skiing, fishing, boating, wine-tasting, hiking, etc.) so I'm really looking for a more unique food culture.

Athena: I think you make a valid point. I always research extensively before our vacations to figure out where the "locals" eat and CH'ers have been remarkably accurate in their recommendations (and places to avoid!). When we go to Maui, we really do feel like "seasoned pros" given the excellent advice we've received. I feel sorry for the travelers who never leave their resorts or who flock to the restaurants in tourist-heavy neighborhoods--they are missing out on the "hole-in-the-wall" gems that don't advertise in the airport brochures!

Jan 03, 2015
smiles33 in General Topics

North American destination city for culinary vacation with young kids?

Hello CH'ers! I found a few older threads touting New Orleans, NYC, SF, Montreal, Vancouver, Oaxaca, etc., but I wondered if folks with young children could chime in, too, about North American cities for a culinary vacation. FYI, we're not yet ready to spend the time and money to fly all 4 of us to Asia or Europe from the West Coast.

Our daughters are 5 and 8 and adventurous eaters, but the 5 year old has peanut and fish allergies. We are cautious when going to any restaurant that uses peanuts (e.g., Thai or Vietnamese) due to cross-contamination concerns. I'm less concerned about restaurants that serve fish, so we regularly eat at sushi and seafood restaurants.

Food is the priority for us when we travel as a family. We typically rent a place with a kitchen (DH loves to cook, even while we're on vacation) and eat breakfast there. Then the remainder of the day is spent planned around restaurants or food markets to explore. When not eating, we spend a lot of time relaxing at the rental (reading books, playing board games, watching TV, surfing the net, playing in the pool) and exploring the outdoors (beach, mountain, etc.). We are loungers, not go-go-go vacationers who want to see all the sights. We never go to historical sites where you have to stand in line (like an old mission), museums, etc. while on vacation. We'd rather just be like the locals and eat and relax while on vacation.

For what it's worth, we've traveled throughout California (road trips are fun and DH has taken us to nearly every lake with bass fishing within a 5 hour drive), take annual trips to Maui, and DH and I have taken adults-only trips to NYC, Vegas, and Texas. I took a solo business trip to Chicago last summer and that was a great dining destination, too.

I'm leaning toward either Montreal or New Orleans right now. Both sound amazing, though I think they offer very different types of experiences. Since we'll be bringing our kids, I don't plan to indulge in high-end dining. While my girls are well-behaved (I just had an older man compliment me on their behavior last week while we were waiting for passport photos), I personally don't feel comfortable taking them to the high-end/special occasion restaurants. We have taken them right at opening (like 5:30!) to "nice" restaurants (meaning real tablecloths and mid-range price points) but otherwise we focus on restaurants offering really delicious food rather than ambiance when we're planning family meals.

We live in the SF Bay Area so we often take the girls to casual ethnic restaurants (Afghan, Burmese, Korean, Mexican, etc.). We also enjoy "destination" adventures like snacking at the Ferry Building in SF with oysters and clam chowder (plus grilled cheese sandwiches for them) from Hog Island, bread from Acme, more cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, charcuterie from Boccalone, etc. Montreal's Jean-Talon Market sounds like a similar fun food playground! Yet I know my girls also would love to eat beignets, jambalaya, and po boys.

Thanks for any tips or feedback!

Jan 03, 2015
smiles33 in General Topics

2 Nights in Avila Beach

Sounds like a great first day! I forgot to mention the farm--my kids love feeding the animals and getting ice cream there.

Jan 02, 2015
smiles33 in California

Kid-friendly yet high quality food in North Shore Lake Tahoe?

Congrats on the new vacation home! Very exciting. My eldest is now 8, so not quite 10.

We haven't been back to Tahoe in a couple years, but the last time we went, we had a delicious breakfast at Log Cabin Cafe. Girls got pancakes, I opted for the crab cake Benedict, DH got some sort of scramble, and we both enjoyed Bloody Mary cocktails. Now that they're 5 and 8, we can go to more restaurants but since we have a kitchen in the condo at Northstar, DH usually just cooks.

Jan 02, 2015
smiles33 in California

Jamestown, Sonora and other Gold Country options?

Oops! You're right, I'm sorry I misspoke re: the brewery. We even made a trek to Turlock to eat at the brewery last year (I remember our girls loved the mac and cheese on a stick!).

Yes, Louie's is quite a place. We often see lots of Harleys out front on the weekends, so it draws a fair amount of out-of-town folks. Great beer, cool ambience (but for the electricity and the beer signs, it could be a 100 years ago), and the aforementioned awesome prime rib sandwich. We haven't made it out there for dinner yet, but Louie's Facebook page has a menu link and says the open-faced prime rib sandwich is only $14 while the prime rib dinner is $25.

I saw Tululah's today but it wasn't open when we first walked by and then my girls saw JDogg's. We ended up waiting until they opened at 11 am and had delicious hot dogs. It's a small cozy diner-type restaurant specializing in hot dogs and burgers. The waitress was awesome--friendly, efficient, helpful, and sincere. Plus I really liked my "snappy" habanero dog--much spicier than I anticipated with their added sauce! I definitely hope to return to try some of the other options.

Jan 02, 2015
smiles33 in California

Jamestown, Sonora and other Gold Country options?

I did a search but most of the posts were from 2006 or earlier....We have made a few treks to Gold Country over the past year and would love more tips on where to get a good meal. For what's it worth, here are a few of the places we've tried:

Willow Steakhouse in Jamestown has been our go-to place because we love their prime rib melt sandwiches. We've probably gone at least 5 or 6 times now. Funny thing is that I don't think many Asians go there, because the one male waiter there recognizes us now on sight. :)

We also have eaten several times at Louie's Saloon in La Grange. This is a tiny town and the saloon is in an amazing old building. We never would have guessed that they have an amazing prime rib sandwich. Yes, more red meat, and prime rib specifically! We've taken family and friends here as well and many rave that this rivals the best prime rib they've had from places in SF (aka House of Prime Rib). Yet they are priced at a fraction of the cost of what you'd pay in the city. I think this is even better than Willow.

We also tried the Lumberyard, which is closer to Lake Don Pedro side of La Grange. This place has burgers and hot dogs, as well as beers on tap (including our new favorite IPA from a Tuolumne County brewery, Hops of Wrath). I've seen signs about their "world famous hamburger" but I wasn't that impressed. The kids liked the play area in the back (lots of toys, including a tricycle that my then 4 year old rode around the area). It used to be an actual lumberyard store, so it's huge, with a pool table and not the best ambience. But it's casual, bus-your-own-dishes kind of place and friendly folks working there. Yet I don't think it's worth the trek out there. They don't have much competition, as the only other establishment nearby is a gas station/mini-mart.

We wandered over to Coulterville one day and ended up having lunch at Coulter Cafe. There was a very friendly woman at the counter, where we ordered our sandwiches. I was surprised when first walking in, as the cafe is part of a general store. It's not a huge building, so there's limited seating (albeit very cozy booths) and you can see customers walk up to the same woman to buy toilet paper and other sundry goods. Basic solid food, but it's one of the few options when in the tiny town of Coulterville with young children (we passed a noisy bar when walking through the one street town).

In Sonora, the big city of the area, we tried Emberz. Menu looked appealing on-line, but execution was disappointing. I think they were sorely understaffed the day we went, too. Anyhow, not worth a return trip when there are so many other options.

We are heading to Sonora again tomorrow to check out a few more options so I'll update when I have more to add.

Jan 01, 2015
smiles33 in California

Stops on I 5 between San Francisco and the Northern CA border

We used to annually make the trek from the Bay to Lake Shasta with our dog and always stopped at Granzella's in Williams, CA for the Big Tom sandwich (basically, your traditional Italian combo with salami, mortadella, turkey, etc.). We always called ahead and ordered them to go and then ate them at the picnic benches across the street in the small "park" (basically a grass strip) adjacent to the parking lot. That way our dog could stretch his legs, too, while we ate.

With the drought and low lake levels, we haven't been in a few years and I know I read somewhere that they suffered a major fire. Still, assuming they're still there, it's a convenient option. They also have a full sit-down restaurant but we always opted for the deli sandwiches and eating outside.

Jan 01, 2015
smiles33 in California

2 Nights in Avila Beach

I'm not sure if you will see this since you're already there, but I thought I'd chime in with my two cents. We meet up with friends in Avila Beach regularly and Giuseppe's is always on the list. However, since we have a 5 and 8 year old, we try to go to dinner early (like 5:30) or order dinner to go because of the popularity of the place. It's difficult waiting over an hour to sit down to dinner if you have kids!

Splash Cafe in Pismo always has a line out the door, but their clam chowder is world famous and worth the wait. Fortunately, the line moves quickly as it's a counter-service restaurant.

We don't often go to SLO, but I second the rec for Novo. We had a lovely lunch on their patio a couple years ago.

When we go without the kids, there are a few places right on the ocean cliffs that are perfect to enjoy cocktails and appetizers, but less appropriate if your 8 year old is with you.

We also love picking up charcuterie, cheese, wine, and other snacks from the DePalo & Sons deli in Shell Beach. It's overpriced, I know, but they have delicious options from their Italian deli, including specialty items (we love their jars of roasted artichokes imported from Italy). We rarely get out with a bill under $100!

Have a great time!

Jan 01, 2015
smiles33 in California

The often overlooked Fremont/Union City/Newark corridor...

Thanks for chiming in! I just wanted to add that I believe Yuki sold his place last year and we haven't been back since it's been under new ownership. That's why it wasn't on my original list.

There was a big sign on the window on one of our last visits. I think he decided to retire. Too bad, as his was the only Japanese-owned Japanese restaurant that I knew of in the area. I believe Satomi and a few others in FUN are either Korean or Chinese-owned (and the nigiri/sashimi cuts are inferior, IMHO, so it could be they don't have properly trained sushi chefs). My in-laws live very close to Yuki's so we went there at least a dozen times over the past decade.

Etoile, restaurant that helped launch Napa Valley food scene, is closing

How sad! We were wine club members a few years ago and regularly enjoyed lunch at Etoile.

The often overlooked Fremont/Union City/Newark corridor...

Went to Kyain Kyain last night and wanted to report in! We ordered the samosa salad (a winner with spicy kick that snuck up on us!), garlic chicken noodles (decent, but not memorable--fortunately my 5 and 8 year old girls enjoyed it), goat curry with paratha (another winner--and my girls devoured the paratha), pork noodle soup (pork meatballs were bland but DH enjoyed the quail eggs and I was surprised to see both thin vermicelli and thicker wide noodles in the same bowl!), and fish noodle soup (which was a surprise to me given its thicker consistency and crunchy bits of some sort of fried bean or lentil).

When we return, I want to try some of the dry noodle dishes, the tea leaf salad, and order the samosa salad and goat curry again. Totally worth a detour to try this place when in Fremont!

Where to buy Foie gras in East Bay?

I know selling foie gras in California is illegal, but there are loopholes to that law, which was my point. I know you can "give" it away, but Joshu-Ya had a price next to the foie gras so I'm wondering if there is some other loophole that the owner/chef discovered that no other Bay Area restaurant has yet (to my limited knowledge).

Where should we eat dinner? [Cupertino / Saratoga area]

LOL! They have never had a "nice" ambience in their various incarnations, but the food is awesome. We have followed the owners all around the Bay Area as they have moved the restaurant a few times, back when it used to be known as Peking Eastern House. I remember their Campbell location when I still lived at my parents' home in the early 1990s, then Fremont in the 2000s after I finished grad school, and then back to West San Jose within the past 5-7 years.

Where should we eat dinner? [Cupertino / Saratoga area]

+1 for both Chinjin Eastern House and Shanghai Garden. My immigrant Chinese parents live in Saratoga and those are two of our favorite restaurants. We just ate at Shanghai Garden on Saturday and I absolutely love their seaweed/tempura-fried fish filets (I have no idea what the English name is, my parents always order it). At Chinjin, we always order the sesame bread, the lamb with scallions, the beef noodle soup, and the "Chinese hamburgers."

Where to buy Foie gras in East Bay?

FYI, at least some places seem to ignore that law. We were at Joshu-Ya Brasserie in Berkeley last night and their special tasting menu (which also allows you to order individual items a la carte) had Hudson Valley foie on it. I did a double-take and asked the waitress, "Is that REALLY foie gras?" She said yes, so I ordered it. However, she came back later and said the chef decided not to serve any of the tasting menu that night. I was disappointed, but not too surprised given the fact that it's supposedly illegal. I don't understand how they're able to do this! For what it's worth, it was under $20 for the entree and I can't recall how it was supposed to be prepared.

best dim sum Bay Area, late 2014?

I'm really curious about East Bay dim sum options. We tend to go to East Ocean in Alameda when we visit DH's grandmother, but I'm curious about other options. Years ago, when I lived in Berkeley, I ate at Restaurant Peony and Legendary Palace. Haven't been to either place in 15 years.

We also tried BK Bistro in Fremont, which is near my in-laws and seems decent but not outstanding. We have not liked May Flower (Milpitas/Union City) the last 2 times we went.

Any other places to try?

Le Bernardin/Daniel

We had a couple stellar dishes (abalone and foie gras!) at the bar at Daniel 2 weeks ago while waiting for our 10 pm dinner reservation. Note that you actually have to sit at the bar. We originally sat down at a table in the lounge area closer to the entry and had to move in order to eat.

FWIW, DH and I vastly preferred Daniel over Le Bernardin, but we loved EMP and Jean Georges even more.

Nov 26, 2014
smiles33 in Manhattan

"Eating weekend" without kids in NYC: We want to live it up!

Actually, we were already home in CA by the time you posted. See below for my brief reports from Betony, Annisa, Daniel, and Jean Georges. I enjoyed myself immensely!

Nov 26, 2014
smiles33 in Manhattan

"Eating weekend" without kids in NYC: We want to live it up!

Sunday:
We had an 11:45 lunch reservation at Jean Georges before flying out from JFK. DH and I LOVED every moment of this meal. Now, to be fair, we didn't have time for the tasting menu so we only had 3 items each.

I started with the Peekytoe Crab dumplings while DH had the Yellowfin Tuna Ribbons. Then we both had the Foie Gras Autumn Salad. I finished with the suckling pig and DH had the roasted sweetbreads (which I loved and ended up switching with DH, as I preferred it over the pig but he said the pig was still awesome!).

I also liked this dining room the best of the 4 restaurants. Betony felt too large and empty. Annisa felt too small and crowded. Daniel felt overly formal and a bit too stuffy (it didn't help that I could see the cameras on the ceiling pointed at the guests). Jean Georges felt elegant but relaxed, spacious but not empty.

Anyhow, I just wanted to thank CH'ers for helping me plan a fantastic eating weekend. Now we go back to eating healthy, homemade, lean protein meals or simpler restaurant meals from the various ethnic restaurants popular here in the suburbs!

Nov 19, 2014
smiles33 in Manhattan

"Eating weekend" without kids in NYC: We want to live it up!

Saturday:

I had a work event all day but DH went to Esca (thanks for the rec, Kathryn!) and enjoyed 6 crudo and the grilled octopus. He was very happy with his seafood!

For dinner, we had a late 10 pm reservation at Daniel. We had talked about possibly going to EMP and having an appetizer or two at the bar. But we weren't hungry at all at 5 pm. By the time we got hungry around 7:30, we figured it would be impossible to get a seat at the Bar. Instead, I called Daniel to see if anyone had canceled so that we could get in before 10. The woman said we could order appetizers at the bar, so we headed for Daniel.

We originally sat down at a cocktail table closer to the walkway into the main dining room, but we were informed we couldn't order appetizers there. So, they moved us to the bar. We had a few rounds of cocktails as we waited for our 10 pm reservation. My favorites were the French 75 and the White Cosmopolitan. I also tried From the Field (lavendar infused gin) but didn't order a second one of that.

DH had the Margaret Thompson (ginger beer cocktail that looked like a coffee!) and also asked the bartender to surprise him with an off-the-menu ginger beer cocktail. I tried it and thought it involved more complex layering and subtle flavors, but ultimately I agreed with DH that Margaret Thompson tasted better. He ended up sticking with Margaret Thompson for subsequent rounds.

Since we were hungry, we ordered the Abalone (which I don't see on the website menu) and the Foie Gras appetizers. They were both OUTSTANDING. I'm not a fan of abalone, normally, but this was the best preparation I have ever had. The foie gras was the best we had all weekend (even better than Jean Georges!).

If we had ended the meal right there, we would have walked out of there blissfully happy and wanting more. However, we still had a dinner reservation so when we were escorted to our table (about 20 minutes early!), we opted for the 7 course tasting menu. I think we should have held ourselves back, but the excessive cocktails probably made us a bit overly ambitious.

You can see the tasting menu on-line, but to run through it quickly:

- chilled oysters en gelee
- sunchoke veloute (quail breast, black trumpet custard, and WHITE TRUFFLE!)
- sea scallops
- Atlantic Turbot
- Wagyu Ribeye
- Jardin Exotique (a dessert of papaya, tamarind parfait, pomegranate pearls, passionfruit mint sorbet)
- Atome rouge (tainori sphere, chocolate almond financier, red fruit-black tea ice cream

The absolute best item on the tasting menu was the sunchoke veloute. We were both SHOCKED by how amazing this was. I think it's the white truffle that elevated this dish and made it so exquisite. I could not believe how amazing the smell of that white truffle was when shaved onto our plate.

Sadly, the rest of the meal was filled with more lows and never hit that high note again. I did not like the Aleppo seed crust on the sea scallops. The turbot was good, but I'm not really a fish fan so I wasn't giddy with joy. The wagyu was disappointing--DH thought the ribeye tasted more like flank steak.

I also found the Jardin Exotique dessert off-putting. I like tangy/sour tastes, but this was just too sharp/strident for me. Fortunately, the second dessert was much more pleasing.

All in all, the abalone, foie gras, and sunchoke veloute were exquisitely prepared and possibly some of the best dishes I've ever had. The inconsistency between items on the tasting menu was disappointing, though. If we were to return, I'd love to re-order those 3 items.

Nov 19, 2014
smiles33 in Manhattan

"Eating weekend" without kids in NYC: We want to live it up!

Thanks, Kathryn! That is a great explanation and I agree with the description of the cocktail being very smooth.

Nov 19, 2014
smiles33 in Manhattan

"Eating weekend" without kids in NYC: We want to live it up!

Friday:

Picked up breakfast to go for a friend who is a new mom at Treehaus (see separate Chowhound thread about that). It was a disappointment but it was fast and convenient.

Lunch was a casual dine-in affair/meeting.

Dinner was at Annisa, with DH coming straight from JFK because his flight was delayed.

I had the Fennel Grapefruit Gimlet (delicious!) while DH had the Ginger Vodka Cooler (he has a thing for ginger flavored cocktails). We weren't quite hungry enough to do the tasting menu, so we shared 3 appetizers and then had an entree each. I ordered the foie gras dumplings, while DH ordered the squid with Thai basil, and we shared the sea bass sashimi. Then he had the Spanish mackerel while I had venison.

I was disappointed by the foie gras dumplings. I felt like the skin was just a little too thick in proportion to the delicate filling. The squid was better than expected (I usually don't like squid unless it's fritto misto). The sashimi was solid but not earth-shattering.

I did enjoy my venison and I think it and my cocktail were the highlights of the meal. All in all, I think this was a delicious meal but was overshadowed by our later meals at Daniel and Jean Georges.

No photos, as I usually don't take them if DH is with me.

Nov 19, 2014
smiles33 in Manhattan

"Eating weekend" without kids in NYC: We want to live it up!

I'm back! The trip was a huge success when it comes to indulgent "adult-only" meal experiences. Thank you all for your suggestions and tips.

Let me start chronologically.

Thursday night:
I had dinner alone the first night as my DH couldn't join me until Friday night. I had a 9 pm reservation at Betony. I started off with a cocktail (we didn't drink a sip of wine all weekend--it was a joy to sample so many cocktails!). I decided to ask the server for her recommendation and she urged me to try the Betony Milk Punch (with crystal clear and a spirit of your choice). I opted for vodka. I can't really explain how it was made and still am not quite sure how it is derived from milk. It was very innovative. I don't think it'll be my regular drink of choice, but it was a nice change of pace.

I decided to go for the foie gras bonbons, the hot foie gras, and the grilled short rib. I have to say I was disappointed by the bonbons, as it just felt a bit too gimmicky. The cashew "crust" distracted too much from the flavor and texture of the foie gras, IMHO.

I loved the hot foie gras preparation. It was beautifully presented and I loved the tonkatsu broth (and I think the dark oil was charred scallion oil?). I was very impressed by this course! I thought I had read that it was paired with ham hocks, but it tasted more like pork belly to me.

The short rib was delicious, but I don't think it was mind-blowing (given all the pre-dinner hype). The side included a green vegetable (cabbage?) wrapped around some sort of unknown item (it seemed like shreds of meat but I really don't know). At that point, I just finished the plate!

I took photos of both just to show DH, since he was still in CA with our girls. Yet I ate several bites of the foie gras before I took that photo so I think this is just a photo of the pork belly!

Nov 19, 2014
smiles33 in Manhattan