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Napa Valley Lunch - Saturday, Late September

Thanks for that. I checked a few websites and they are not restaurants but offer wine tours with some food pairings. We're looking for a proper restaurant with a menu.

Napa Valley Lunch - Saturday, Late September

Am planning a day trip to Napa Valley (from hotel in Sausalito) to visit a couple of wineries and generally see the sights. We had hoped to lunch at a vineyard but this doesn't seem to be an option at all.

We are planning to do a couple of tastings but haven't decided where yet. For lunch we'd really like somewhere that does really nice charcuterie and cheese. We are flexible on both location and price and happy to work our itinerary round a good lunch venue.

Any suggestions gratefully received.

some Hobart reviews

Just back from 5 days in Hobart. From a wine perspective there's plenty in the Coal River Valley (within 30 minutes of Hobart) to keep you entertained. There are also a couple of places by the Derwent. If you fancy a trip up the East Coast towards Freycinet, then that would be rewarding/entertaining too.

As for the dining scene in Hobart we visited the following:

Smolt: Friday night so service was a bit chaotic. Over a half hour wait for mains to arrive. Was expecting to see more fish/shellfish on the menu given the name and the website. However, my trio of appetizers (tempura oyster, chicken liver parfait, beetroot carpaccio) was very good as was the Monkfish/Harpuka fish special to follow. Definitely worth a visit.

Monty's: Sunday night, pretty quiet, very attentive service. Pork belly & black pudding appetizer delivered great taste, if not much variety in texture. Perhaps this is more my problem for anticipating crackling with the pork belly. Rack and shoulder of lamb main was next, the shoulder being the stand out (along with the pommes mousseline).

We followed this up with 6 selections from their outstanding cheeseboard. They obviously make a big effort to source quality cheese both locally and internationally. Their passion for food in general is very clear. Highly recommended.

Ball & Chain Grill: blaming the mrs for this one as she fancied steak and very few places were open. Had their website mentioned that the all you can eat salad bar is a major part of their offering, we'd never have set foot inside. If you use Chowhound for reference and research, DO NOT GO THERE.

Birthday dinner wine pairing help

I'd like to suggest a Chardonnay with the smoked chicken leg, preferably something with a bit of oak.
in addition to the below suggestions to accompany the tenderloin, a new world malbec.
if there is blue cheese amongst your assortment, i'd consider port or a dessert wine. if not, the red would be fine.

Nov 06, 2011
ardbroilach in Wine

Big Favor ... Calling all the "Experienced" and "Professional" wine NUTS ...

Some recommendations from down under.

Australia produces a lot of very good wine but am not sure how much is available in the USA. Shiraz is their best red and is produced all over the country although South Australia is recognised as the best producer (Barossa, McLaren Vale and others). Cab Sav from there can be good too (Coonawarra). I can also recommend wines from the Mornington Peninsula (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay), West Australia (Chardonnay, Cab Sav and Shiraz), Yarra Valley (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay) and Tasmania (Pinot Noir). My personal favourite is Heathcote Shiraz (from Victoria) which is where Wild Duck Creek Estate is produced.

If possible, try to get your hands on some New Zealand wines too. Central Otago Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris would come top of my list, swiftly followed by Hawke's Bay Bordeaux Blends (particularly from Gimblett Gravels), Pinot Noir from Marlborough and Martinborough. NZ Sauvignon Blanc has been a huge success over the last 10 years but is now suffering from overproduction. Good quality Sav Blanc from Marlborough or Central Otago is still worth trying though.

Nov 01, 2011
ardbroilach in Wine

Dinner in Port Douglas

Second the recommendation for Zinc. If you'd like a more scenic setting I can also recommend Harrisons or On The Inlet. Not a coat and tie in sight.

Need Recs from Wynn afficionados


Staying at the Wynn for 3 nights in late November.
Very grateful for any feedback on which of their dining options are definitely worth a visit/worth avoiding. Both lunch and dinner options considered.



Oct 11, 2011
ardbroilach in Las Vegas

NZ South Island

Queenstown is a great place for food wine. Top of our list is Amisfield Vineyard and Bistro. Beautiful setting, consistenly top notch food, great wine. Also had a great meal at Mt Difficulty Vineyard about 30 minutes away in Bannockburn. In Queenstown itself have eaten at Flame (nice ribs), Wai Waterfront (decent standard, probably overpriced) but never braved the lines at Fergburger.

Did the drive from Queenstown to Fox via Wanaka last year. The scenery will more than make up for the lack of dining options. Stock up before you leave Queenstown and have a picnic somewhere glorious. Same goes for Milford Sound - there's "nothing" there...... apart from really incredible scenery.

Westside/Bay Cities Recommendations Needed.

Lived in Marina Del Rey for 2.5 years between 2006 and 2008. Am spending a week in November in Santa Monica and was hoping to hear of any good/great additions to the Westside dining scene since the end of 2008. We have a car and have a budget of up to $150 per person. Interested to hear of anything from hole in the wall to fine dining. Happy to drive a ways for an outstanding experience. As we are going to be there over Thanksgiving, any lunch/dinner recs also gratefully received.

Sep 01, 2011
ardbroilach in Los Angeles Area

More suggestions needed - this time for NZ

If you are in the Queenstown area you really need to try the restaurant at the Amisfield vineyard. One of the best dining experiences (food, wine, location) I have ever had.

Nautilus Port Douglas

We arrived with high expectations having received personal recommendations.
We were sorely disappointed, both by the food and the service.
The outdoor setting is very nice although you should try to make sure that your table will be under cover if it rains.
There were several tables near us that had to be relocated because the canopy (which is extended in case of rain) afforded them no protection at all.
Fortunately for them there were other tables free.

We both ordered the tasting/degustation menu ($110 each for 6 courses) and I had the wine pairings (another $50).
None of the courses was entirely satisfactory and the service was pretty shambolic.
My wine arrived either 3 minutes after the course, or 10 minutes before.
When we complained about a 25 minute wait (following on from varying intervals for other courses), the waiter claimed that this was an acceptable amount of time to wait for a "main course".
We had previously sent this course back as the pea puree that came with the beef was the most solid puree i have ever seen.
We were told this was because it had been baked and they hadn't really been able to come up with a good name for it.
I see the menu now shows this as a fritter, in which case it was very tepid.
Course reviews below:

Duck and ginger consomme, duck spring roll: consomme greasy, spring roll quite good
Prawn, avocado and pink grapefruit & vanilla dressing: ok, no sign of the grapefruit dressing, consequently the avocado and prawns were cloying
Seared and rolled wagyu: i liked the texture of this dish but the flavours were weak
Seared scallops with vanilla cauliflower puree: best course of the night, tried and tested combination, not outstanding
Smokey pepper eye fillet: looked and tasted like it had been sitting for some time, fondant potatoes completely overpowered by garlic
Vanilla creme brulee, white chocolate ice cream: no trace of white chocolate in the ice cream, my creme was warm, the other was not.

After spending around $370 the only thing I could honestly recommend about this place is the chili margarita.
Try Harrisons or On The Inlet instead.

Monterey Peninsula Short Report

Recently returned from a short vacation in Monterey. Having done some research on this board beforehand, I thought I'd share our experiences:

Lattitudes at Lovers Point
Nice sand dabs, poor crab cakes and nothing much to recommend.
Location, location, location does not mean you can get away with worse than below average.

Duck Club Grill
As a French Onion Soup connoisseur I was very pleased with my appetizer.
Braised pork shank which followed was competent but lacking seasoning and character.
The Mrs had a golden beets appetizer which she loved, followed by the Steinbeck duck which also went down very well. She also had a chocolate dessert of which I can’t remember there being any left on the plate. My Armagnac to go with my double espresso was poured by a generous hand too.

Café Fina
Firstly, it was July 4th so they were busy. Service was consequently patchy if well meaning. Twice the drink I had ordered was delivered to the next table. Our clam chowders were very nice, as was the garlic butter which came with the bread.
After that it all went downhill. Our waiter told us the reason our entrees took 40 minutes to arrive was because the Mrs had ordered a Pizza Puttanesca. (Pizzas taking so long to cook, of course). When it did arrive there were no anchovies on it and it was clear my halibut had been sitting for 30 of those 40 minutes. Cue one complaint, and to their credit, no charge for either entrée.

Pacific’s Edge
Go for the view and be delighted by the food and the ambiance. If you are a fan of Manhattans, have the “Aristocrat” before dining.
I had abalone to start, which was a first for me. Good sized portion came with lemon coulis and a garlic flan. Loved it from first bite to last. The Mrs had a brussel sprout salad with dry ricotta, grapes and an apple-bacon vinaigrette which was fine.
We both had the rack of Colorado lamb with turnip, gorgonzola bread pudding and rosemary glaze. Turnip was a bit pale and superfluous, but the rest was heavenly. Devoured by both of us. I couldn’t resist the cheese plate to finish. Idiazabal and Epoisses were very good, Montbriac was average compared to the first two.

Jul 07, 2008
ardbroilach in California

Meeting for drinks before dinner at Postrio

Having dinner at Postrio next Friday night.
Can anyone recommend somewhere nearby that would be a good place to meet for drinks/cocktails?
Some of the party are not familiar with SF so don't really want any hard to find places.
Others are over from England so memorable would be good too, but not young, trendy and loud.


TESCO Fresh and Easy

How many times do people have to point out that selling niche British items is commercially unviable? What F&E are doing is very different to your usual US supermarket model. Because they don't have displays of gleaming fruit and veg piled high, they avoid much of the wastage that afflicts other operators. Means lower prices but also the occasional empty shelf. They also restock stores using only one delivery truck and everything gets there in shelf ready packaging. When push comes to shove, I'd take prices and quality over interior decor and muzak any day.

In comparison to TJs, find their packaging much cleaner and classier. Their store layouts are more logical and navigable and their prices as good if not better. The quality of items seems far more reliable. Some TJs stuff is really great, other things not so much (or totally out of left field). Have sampled a variey of the F&E ready meals and definitely prefer them.

Tesco in the UK is a powerhouse for good reasons. They do their homework, they know their customers and they always expect the competition to be coming at them hard. The F&E chain will grow faster than people think in SoCal, Nevada and Arizona.

Nov 20, 2007
ardbroilach in Chains

LA area Christmas Lunch/Dinner

My wife and I are British expats spending our first christmas alone here in sunny SoCal. We live in Marina Del Rey and would like to go somewhere upscale/glamorous/flashy (without sacrificing food quality) for Christmas Dinner, as we Brits would call it. Within reason, price is not an issue. I know she'd like to go to a flash hotel like the BH or the Wishire. Any other suggestions gratefully received.


Oct 18, 2007
ardbroilach in Los Angeles Area

Seattle Long Weekend, July 07

Visiting Seattle (from LA) for a long weekend in mid July, staying at the Grand Hyatt on Pine Street. Celebrating my wife's birthday on the day of our arrival.
Would be very grateful for any recommendations for a special place (preferably) within easy reach of the hotel.
Somewhere smart but not too stuffy, maybe with good views and/or a romantic atmosphere. Prefer modern American/Pacific Northwest style, budget of around $150-200 total for the 2 of us (only me drinking alcohol).

Also interested to hear any other recommendations for Seattle first timers likely to be following the usual tourist routes over the two and a half days. Always nice to make informed choices......

Feb 13, 2007
ardbroilach in Pacific Northwest