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Charleston Trip Report, 4/13-4/17

Thanks Sue! Your posts were very helpful in my pre-trip planning. We almost went to Anson the night we tried to go to Cru Cafe! Should've gone there instead of SNOB....darn! We'll just have to come back soon.

Apr 26, 2012
middyboo in Southeast

Charleston Trip Report, 4/13-4/17

FIG served some of the best food I've had in a long time, and we live in NYC! I do think Husk might be a bit overrated (but wouldn't anything be after all that press??). I would've liked to try McCrady's but we didn't get around to it.

Apr 26, 2012
middyboo in Southeast

Charleston Trip Report, 4/13-4/17

We had an amazing trip to CHS! The eating definitely rivaled our trips to NOLA and Barcelona -- it was that good. Before I begin, I should note that we made reservations at Husk, FIG, and Tristan about a month & a half in advance.

4/14
Amen Street for late lunch
Dz gulf oysters & 1/2 bull bays
Calamari
Drank: cucumber infusions (Hendricks)
Comments: Oysters were incredibly fresh and served with a nice vinegar, cocktail sauce & horseradish. The calamari was a bit of a revelation! Thick long pieces of squid lightly battered, and served with this fresh corn salsa. So yummy! Cocktails were refreshing and somewhat cheap at $6 per.

Husk for dinner
Chilled Strawberry Soup w/blue crab
Pecan smoked ribs
Catfish w/stewed tomatoes, kale & beans
Wagyu beef w/mushrooms, spinach & confit potatoes
Strawberry shortcake
Drank: Aged Manhattans & a copperhead (absinthe, bitters, citrus)
Comments: The service was surprisingly poor here. The server was brusque and didn't explain much. Something happened with the printer, so we didn't get our pecan rib app until the entrees came out. They did comp us the ribs, at least. The strawberry soup was exciting & memorable. The ribs were delectable. The catfish was delicious, but the stewed tomatoes were my favorite part of the dish. The wagyu beef left my SO somewhat unimpressed and he didn't care for the vinegary marinade on the mushroom & spinach. The strawberry shortcake was yummy but pretty standard and I found the serving dish (a cast-iron pot) kind of strange. Overall a great meal, but it was dragged down by the service.

4/15
Tristan for late brunch
Foie gras torchon w/housemade brioche
Buttermilk custard w/truffle popcorn, candied peanuts & pickled blueberries
Crab carbonara x2
Drank: Mimosas
Comments: Tristan was the big surprise! I booked it because I wanted a nice relaxing jazz brunch. The service was the best of the whole trip. The baked goods were so good we ate through two baskets and took leftovers back to the hotel for an afternoon snack. The unlimited Mimosas for $10 were a great deal too (fresh squeezed orange juice). Torchon was excellent. Custard was very texturally interesting, though I could’ve done w/out the popcorn and just had more pickled blueberries & peanuts. The crab carbonara was luxurious and a very generous portion.

S.N.O.B. for dinner
NOTE: We’d tried to go to Cru Café for dinner that night, but apparently they’re closed on Sunday nights?! We were surprised to find it shuttered. We tried to go back there for lunch on our last day but had to give up because of an hour & a half long wait. Moral – if you want to eat at Cru Café, be prepared to wait & check the hours first.
Braised Oxtail & gnocchi
Bibb salad
Stuffed quail w/buttermilk fried quail legs & greens
Duck breast w/honey thyme reduction & Carolina gold rice pilaf
Wholly Cow vanilla ice cream
Drank: Quattro Mani (white wine)
Comments: The place was packed and we had no reservation, but we managed to be seated within 5 minutes (party of two). Good service but not exceptional (everyone seemed a bit harried). The braised oxtail was decent, but the gnocchi was a bit rubbery. My Bibb salad was refreshing and there seemed to be some nice local microgreens in the mix. My stuffed quail had a nice crispy skin, but the stuffing was a bit wet. The favorite part of my dish were the fried quail legs – yum! The duck breast was also good, but not outstanding. We had a very decent meal here, but felt that is was a trifle overpriced for what we got. A highlight was a simple bowl of Wholly Cow vanilla ice cream that we split at the end.

4/16
Closed for Business for lunch
Onion rings
Pork slap sandwich – country ham on top of a porkchop
Cobb salad with fried chicken
Drank: local beer flight for him, Son of A Peach on draft for her
Comments: We just randomly walked in here for a late lunch after our boat tour. I’m so glad we did! We had an excellent beer-y lunch. The onion rings were INSANELY good after a boat ride – thin cut and freshly battered & fried. I didn’t get to try his pork slap sandwich because he ate it so fast, but the French fries that came with were also the perfect texture and seasoned well (they had a great person working the fryer that afternoon). My Cobb salad was huge!! The plate was 6 inches wide and filled to capacity with fresh veggies. I gotta admit that the best part were the chicken bites. They were like better Chick-Fil-A nuggets. This place has a ton of beers on tap, so definitely stop by if you appreciate a cold brew. I thoroughly enjoyed my Son of a Peach and I’m more of a whiskey-drinker.

Fig for dinner
Coddled Farm Egg w/stone crab & chive
Ricotta gnocchi w/lamb Bolognese & shaved parm
Grilled swordfish w/eggplant caponata
Rapini for shared side veg
Drank: 3 different cocktails and they were so amazing/effective I forgot to write them down
Comments: As it happened, we saved the best for last. Our meal at Fig was hands-down the best. First course (the coddled farm egg) was so incredibly delicious that I didn’t think anything could top it. And then, the most amazingly light & flavorful gnocchi I’ve ever had followed. The egg was served in a small creuset pot. The texture was so silken; the crab and seafood flavors were perfectly married. It vaguely reminded me of chawan mushi I had in Japan, if that chawan mushi was made richer by the best buttery/creamy binding. The gnocchi was a revelation and the lamb Bolognese was perfectly rich and tasty (it’s making my mouth water writing about it now). The tart rapini was the ideal accompaniment to the rich gnocchi dish. He got the swordfish and once again I only got a bite of his eggplant caponata. He was very pleased as well. We wanted to take this restaurant home with us to Brooklyn.

When we go back, I want to eat here:
Dave’s Carryout for fried seafood – recommended to us by our pedicabber & it has great Yelp reviews
Grocery – great reviews and local rep
Carolina’s – recommended by our walking tour guide, seems to be a good local spot
FIG again
…and a trip to Mount Pleasant!

Apr 25, 2012
middyboo in Southeast

Charleston rez critique

Hi everyone! Coming down to CHS 4/13-4/17. It's our first visit and we're excited to experience the happening culinary scene. Please critique our current restaurant itinerary and let me know what else we may be missing. We're looking for authentic, unique places, generally less than $40/pp (unless it's a special occasion kind of place). I'd also love to hear any specific dish recs (i.e. the fried catfish at XX is incredible).

4/14: Husk for dinner (no lunch plans, but I'm thinking we'll want to eat light that day?)
4/15: Tristan for jazz brunch (no dinner plans)
4/16 FIG for dinner (no lunch plans)
4/17: no plans!

Cru Cafe and Amen are on my to-try list, if we're in the neighborhood. I grew up in MD, so I love fresh seafood.

Mar 19, 2012
middyboo in Southeast

Looking for foodie restaurants in historic Charleston

This is really fascinating!! Wonder where that originated from then...

Mar 19, 2012
middyboo in Southeast

Looking for foodie restaurants in historic Charleston

P.S. - Any standout chicken & waffles to be had?!

Mar 02, 2012
middyboo in Southeast

Looking for foodie restaurants in historic Charleston

Have a similar query so I thought I would just revive this thread w/a few more qualifications. (By the way, mkellom, would love to hear your report!) I'd like to know what dishes are not to be missed or are particular to the Charleston culinary scene. We had an incredible food-centric trip to New Orleans and there were many specific dish recs. Would like to repeat that experience in CHS! We live in Brooklyn, work in NYC, so we get plenty of foodie delights here (but they still can't cook collards for some reason). I grew up in MD & NC, so I'm looking for great Southern food as well. Thoughts? Specific dish recs? On twitter, folks have suggested Tristan for brunch?

Mar 02, 2012
middyboo in Southeast

Hopeland on Atlantic Avenue

Thanks for this report! Saw the FloFab notice in the NYT and was wondering.

Feb 24, 2012
middyboo in Outer Boroughs

Random question for Wagnerians

Thanks!! Glad to hear that about Bar Boulud. That'll be our stand by.

Love your new tactic. :) Ditto re the machinery. I happened to be at that performance of Walkure where one of them fell off their "horse"! She still finished the scene. Quite a few bravas for her!!

Jan 26, 2012
middyboo in Manhattan

Random question for Wagnerians

Thanks Joan. Looks yummy but NY Mag says it closes at 11pm. Don't think we're getting out of the opera until midnight.

Jan 26, 2012
middyboo in Manhattan

Random question for Wagnerians

Gotterdammerung tomorrow night! I really wanted to go to Boulud Sud, but it appears the kitchen won't be open. My friend & I just wanted to get a few small plates and a drink or two to decompress before hopping on the 1/2/3 for home. Is Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar and Grill or Casellula our only options? Did the Siegried folks find that Bar Boulud stayed open late for their performances?

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Boulud Sud
20 W 64th St, New York, NY 10023

Jan 26, 2012
middyboo in Manhattan

Please critique my Restaurant Itinerary Barcelona in September

Yay for Paco Meralgo! See my trip report for details on our meal.

Apr 20, 2011
middyboo in Spain/Portugal

Barcelona Trip Report, 4/9-4/12

It's funny. I tried to describe the service experience there to someone who'd never been to Spain and I had trouble. The service was deeply considerate, deferential, and yet totally unpretentious (not at all like the fancy restos of NYC). We truly felt like these were old friends leading us through a meal! For unalloyed enjoyment, I think dining in Spain is tops!

Apr 20, 2011
middyboo in Spain/Portugal

Barcelona Trip Report, 4/9-4/12

Thank YOU PBSF! Couldn't have done nearly so well w/out your advice.

Apr 20, 2011
middyboo in Spain/Portugal

Barcelona Trip Report, 4/9-4/12

Thanks so much! Next time, I'm hoping we can go for a longer period of time and rent a car to check out some of the places within driving distance. Really want to try El Celler de Can Roca and (someday!) El Bulli.

Apr 20, 2011
middyboo in Spain/Portugal

Barcelona Trip Report, 4/9-4/12

Thanks so much Quizrah and PBSF!!

Our first evening we had tapas at the La Vinya del Senyor in the Plaza Santa Maria. Great place for people-watching and a wonderful wine list, but I wasn’t blown away by the tapas. The oysters weren’t fresh and the rest of the offerings were run of the mill. That said, definitely come here for a bottle of wine and watch the light change on the cathedral.

Our Mercat on Carre Arago rivaled the Mercat Boqueria in terms of selection. Our mercat was definitely not for tourists; people did not speak English for the most part. We picked up picnic lunch supplies here to take to Tibidabo & Parc Guell. If you’re staying in the L’Eixample area, this is a great place to stock up. Make sure you walk past the chain grocery store to the independent fruit/cheese/meat vendors in the back.

Dinner at Paco Meralgo. Totally didn’t think we’d be able to eat here because our concierge couldn’t get us a reservation. We decided to show up anyway at 8:30 to see if we could get seated. It was completely empty when we arrived (surprising/confusing at first), and they seated us at a high table. Forty-five minutes later, the entire restaurant was packed-both sides and at the bar. Moral of the story = get there early. We ordered with total abandon and our meal only came to 60 euro! Our waiter Roberto definitely gave us at least half a bottle of wine for free and entertained us for hours, never made us feel rushed. We left him a hefty tip and are so grateful for the memories. Dish highlights included: snails (served in their curvy shells! With little skewers!), fried artichokes, delicious little lobsters, regional sausage platter (definitely get this!). Incredible food, great service, classy & comfortable ambiance.

Next day, we showed up for the Fat Tire Bike tour (totally recommend! Our guide was Buddha). At lunch, we stopped at some café on the beach in Barceloneta. I ordered a yummy sandwich, called an Uno (I think?) and some fried potatoes. The food was surprisingly good for an obvious tourist trap. The sangria was cold and potent. Didn’t write down the name of the place, but look for a huge bike rack out front filled with Fat Tire bikes.

La Dama for dinner on Sunday (this was our one reservation of the trip). We both ordered the six course tasting menu. The décor is just incredible – marble, peach walls, fancy ironwork, beautiful carved moldings, antique mirrors, etc. The food was very traditional in both flavors and plating. Standouts included: lobster raspberry and green bean salad, the stuffed morels (my mouth is watering as I type that one), and the roasted leg of lamb (prepared tableside). Our sommelier looked like Peter Lorre (he was so amazing. Totally sized up our budget and tastes. We started with a rose cava, went on to a Grenache blend and finished with a spicy local red) and our waiter had the craziest walleye, and yet it was the best service experience we’d ever had! The Michelin stars are well-deserved.

Tried to go to Cal Pep for lunch on Monday but they were closed! They have limited lunch hours so make sure you check before you go. We settled for one of the tapas places across the plaza (for good but largely unremarkable tapas) and plotted our return to Cal Pep for dinner. We had tickets to a show at the Palau de Musica, so we knew we weren’t going to be able to get back until late.

We decided to keep our eyes peeled for a pastry shop, since we’d read so much about the Spanish sweet tooth. Around tea-time, we stumbled into Caelum in the Gothic quarter. OMGSOAWESOME. The shop specializes in regional sweets made by monasteries/nunneries from around Spain and has two seating areas: one upstairs with great windows for people-watching and one downstairs in an ancient cellar (with what looked like remains of old Roman walls?!). Two cups of perfect coffee and stuffed with sweets, we toddled off to bask in the afternoon sun until showtime. (Fabulous program of Schumann and Mendelssohn performed by a Swiss orchestra. Can you tell what a fabulous time we had??)

We made it to Cal Pep just in time; we were the second to last table sat that night and we saw several other parties turned away. I knew it was very well-known to Western tourists, so I was thrilled to see/hear a good number of locals at the bar. For those who don’t know, there is no menu at Cal Pep. You just tell the stern-looking bald guy whether you prefer fish or meat and he just throws platters full of the most delicious stuff in front of you until you can’t eat anymore. This experience is totally reminiscent of old-school New York joints (think Katz Deli or my local Brooklyn bagel guy…or the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld). “You eat what we give you and YOU LOVE IT.” We did love it. I’m pretty sure we impressed stern bald-guy with the amount of food we put away. We asked for combo fish & meat. We started with tomato bread (of course) and a plate of Iberico ham. Then we had a plateful of just-fried squid and green beans & potatoes. Next came the ham & cheese croquette smeared with some kind of aoli. Then we had a plate of perfectly medium-rare beef with garlic potato coins. Closing with a link of incredible sausage (huge chunks of delicious fat) and more beans. We actually ordered dessert after all that and ended with these chocolate cream biscuit-type things.

This trip was one of the best vacations we’ve ever had, and was undoubtedly the BEST we’d ever had in terms of food. We can’t wait to go back!!

Apr 19, 2011
middyboo in Spain/Portugal

Trip Recap, Barcelona 3/18 - 3/24 (LONG!)

You are a saint. Printing this out to take with me. If you're ever in NYC, love to meet up for a good meal! Sorry for hijacking the thread OP!

Mar 29, 2011
middyboo in Spain/Portugal

Trip Recap, Barcelona 3/18 - 3/24 (LONG!)

Thank you PBSF! If the weather is fine, we're definitely going down to Barceloneta on Sunday afternoon. Can Ros sounded like a good pick there. These restos below are on my list in no particular order. If there have been any drastic quality drop-offs, I'd very much appreciate a heads-up!

Santa Maria
El Asador de Aranda
Lolita Taperia
Can Ros
La Tomaquera
La Dama
Gelonch

Ah! So excited. We're leaving on 4/8. Any of the above have particularly awesome octupus? I love octopus and squid. Totally psyched about visiting another seafood city. My last big trip was to Japan and it didn't disappoint!

Mar 28, 2011
middyboo in Spain/Portugal

Trip Recap, Barcelona 3/18 - 3/24 (LONG!)

Thank you thank you thank you! This post is exactly what I was looking for when I came to the Barcelona board. Chowhounders never let me down. I esp loved the bit about the cadence of your CAN ROCA meal. I know exactly what you mean by that.

Quick general question: Are that many restos closed on Sunday? We're getting there Sat morning and leaving Tues night. So, Sunday will be one of our two full days. I'm wondering whether I should go ahead and plan out all 3 meals for Sunday.

Edit: Just saw the post about La Dama from PBSF. I've added that to my Sunday itinerary. Thanks PBSF!!

Mar 28, 2011
middyboo in Spain/Portugal

Yelp-like resource in Japan? Can be in Japanese.

Thanks Silverjay! These look like exactly what I was looking for. I'll try and report back my eating adventures.

Oct 04, 2010
middyboo in Japan

Yelp-like resource in Japan? Can be in Japanese.

Hi hounders!

Leaving for Japan tomorrow morning. Super psyched but also overwhelmed - there is so much I want to try! I did a bunch of research on this board, but I also only have a vague idea of where I'll be staying (my O'Bahchan made all the hotel reservations). Is there a Yelp-like resource in Japan? It can be in Japanese, since my O'B *is* Japanese and still reads/speaks it. Does anyone know if Googlemaps would be a good food resource vis-a-vis location? Thanks!!

P.S. - Here are a few spots I've written down. We're doing the touristy Tokyo-Kyoto-Hiroshima route.

in/around Tokyo: Omae XeX, Sushi Dai, Unasho, Mentsu-dan, Tsunahachi, Sarashina-Horii, AYCE at Carne Station, Ramen museum.
in/around Kyoto: Nishiki market, Katsukara, En.
Hiroshima: Okonomi village.

Oct 04, 2010
middyboo in Japan

Some of the best eating anywhere - Trip Report May 7-10

These are AMAZING reviews. Thanks so much for taking the time to report back. I have rez for Cochon, Stella! and Dante's Kitchen, but now I will totally make time for Coquette. Maybe a lunch on our last day...

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Cochon
930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

Dante's Kitchen
736 Dante Street, New Orleans, LA 70118

May 20, 2010
middyboo in New Orleans

Lunches to-go near convention ctr?

P.S. - Is there much of a food truck scene in NOLA? I'd definitely be down for some red beans & rice from a good truck. Lately all the best cheap spots in Manhattan have been on four wheels.

May 06, 2010
middyboo in New Orleans

Lunches to-go near convention ctr?

Thanks so much! YUM.

May 06, 2010
middyboo in New Orleans

Lunches to-go near convention ctr?

Just to follow up on my dinner mentions....

Made a rez for Stella!, Cochon, and Dante's Kitchen. Do I need to make a rez for Acme? It appears to be a big enough place.

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Cochon
930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

Dante's Kitchen
736 Dante Street, New Orleans, LA 70118

May 06, 2010
middyboo in New Orleans

Lunches to-go near convention ctr?

Thanks!! I like the music on their site, too. Ha.

May 06, 2010
middyboo in New Orleans

Lunches to-go near convention ctr?

Thx for the tip re Mother's. Definitely don't want to wait that long for mediocrity! Am making my rez for Stella! as we speak. Going to rack up my Open Table points. :)

May 06, 2010
middyboo in New Orleans

Lunches to-go near convention ctr?

Oh wow! Nice. We just might go here every day then. Just googled Cochon Butcher and it seems like everyone's fav.

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Cochon Butcher
930 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

May 06, 2010
middyboo in New Orleans

Lunches to-go near convention ctr?

Hi hounders!!

I am incredibly excited to be going to New Orleans (my first time) at the end of the month. I'm a huge foodie and I spent every childhood summer in NC, so I have a real appreciation for bbq & collard greens. I spent the rest of the year in MD, so I love every kind of seafood. Now I live in NYC, which is one of the foodie capitals of the world. Sorry that turned so biographical!! Just wanted to let you know that I want real food, not tourist traps.

I will be in NO during the APA convention (5/21-5/26). I've heard the best dinner spots fill up, so I'm going to make dinner rez shortly. These are on my list to try: Cochon, Willa Mae's, Mother's, Stella or Stanley's (which one?), Acme, maybe Cafe du Monde...

My real question is regarding lunch. I don't want to waste precious meals getting boxed lunches or chain meals while I'm stuck in the Ernest Morial convention ctr during the day. Maybe I'm asking the impossible, but are there any good to-go places within a 10-15 min walk of the convention ctr? Thanks for any guidance!

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Cochon
930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

May 06, 2010
middyboo in New Orleans

Most Unique/Local Montreal Foodspots?

Thanks so much! You're sweet.

Nov 13, 2009
middyboo in Quebec (inc. Montreal)