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josephnl's Profile

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Pepper Mill Recommendation Please

What KR grinder are we talking about? I have 2 KR vase grinders that I've been using very heavily every day for years. I don't see any plastic arms that attach to the grinding mechanism!

about 24 hours ago
josephnl in Cookware

Chowhound Beta Site Part V

Agree completely! I'm a pretty techie sort of guy, and this is the least intuitive interface I've ever seen. Hate it!!

Two dinners in Lisbon & Porto

We'll be in Lisbon & Porto next month and are looking for two terrific restaurants in each city. We are looking for food and wine that reflects the best of Portugal. Also, a great place for fado in Lisbon would be appreciated. Thanks!

Aug 24, 2015
josephnl in Spain/Portugal

Chowhound Beta Site Part V

Absolutely hate the beta version!! Every time I want to follow something new, I'm asked to sign in again. Very difficult to tell new posts on a thread from the old. On iPhone seems impossible to just use origin (not beta) version. Hate it! Unless you make it more intuitive to use, or provide instruction, I'm outta here!

Aug 22, 2015
josephnl in Site Talk
1

Downtown help?

I you want to talk, inside at Bestia is not your place...it's deafening!! Depending upon the weather, outside is better.

I'd go to Redbird.

Aug 18, 2015
josephnl in Los Angeles Area

Maude is really special!

You better recheck your reservation date. The 23rd is a Sunday, and Maude is closed! There's a pretty stiff penalty for no show
,

Aug 15, 2015
josephnl in Los Angeles Area

Maude is really special!

We finally got to Maude last evening, and it was really special. Reservations are very difficult to snag. The restaurant is tiny, seats only 24, and they do 2 full seatings a night for a total of 50 covers. We tried calling for reservations the moment they opened for August. It took about an hour to get through, and although we wanted a Friday or Saturday, the best we could do was a Thursday evening at 5:30pm.

August is "fig" month at Maude, and the dinner was priced at $135. This is obviously quite steep, but we thought it was well worth it. As mentioned, the restaurant is tiny, but quite comfortable. The service was pretty close to perfect...friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. It's the food that clearly shines here...and it's amazing!

Chef Curtis Stone was away, and we were a bit disappointed, but the kitchen is clearly in extremely competent hands. I had the normal dinner, and my partner chose the vegetarian option (the only choices available). We each had 12-13 small courses, which were perfectly paired...they looked almost identical, although one was meatless!

Literally everything we ate was delicious and beautiful. The few real standouts for me were the chicken liver mousse tart which had a wonderful sweet fig topping, the perfectly roasted quail breast with a fig sauce, and the cheese course which consisted of thin slices of a peppered Tuscan pecorino accompanied by an amazing fig, strawberry and balsamic jam! OMG...and how could I forget the spectacular 10 layer fig and Gorgonzola lasagna? Although many courses we were both served were vegetarian, and thus identical, the vegetarian alternates to my meat courses, were equally wonderful. What was amazing was, that although each course was very small, by the time we left we were very sated, not quite, but almost too full. We were each given a small bag of fig pastries to take home for breakfast!

This is truly a wonderful restaurant...indeed one of the very best in L.A.

One question...the bill includes an 18% service charge, but there is room for an additional gratuity on the credit card charge slip. What would others do? We felt that a small additional tip was in order and rounded the charge up to bring the total gratuity to somewhere about 22-23%. Is this expected, appropriate or necessary?

Aug 14, 2015
josephnl in Los Angeles Area

Most underrated restaurant in OC?

There are not that many truly terrific restaurants in OC...but there definitely are some. Marche Moderne and Taco Maria immediately come to mind. What do you think is a great OC restaurant that flies under the radar? I know which one I'd pick!

Wildfish Seafoood Grille is my choice. This is IMHO by far the best seafood restaurant in OC, and ranks with the top in all of southern CA. I think it's vastly better than the Water Grill in LA which always gets great press. Wildfish serves some really terrific, pristinely fresh fish which is beautifully prepared. Their Chilean sea bass steamed in soy broth with ginger is outstanding, their halibut is equally wonderful, and their oysters are always great. They serve great cocktails, have a good and reasonably priced wine list, and the service is almost always outstanding. This is my pick for the most underrated restaurant in OC...what's yours?

Aug 08, 2015
josephnl in Los Angeles Area

Swiss diamond?

IMHO Scanpan readily available at Sur LT is the best non-stick around. Of course, I only use NS for eggs.

Aug 07, 2015
josephnl in Cookware

Exorbitant cocktail pricing?

I misread a previous post. Of course, Bombay Sapphire is only gin!

Aug 06, 2015
josephnl in Los Angeles Area

Exorbitant cocktail pricing?

I've never seen nor heard of Bombay Sapphire vodka. Indeed a Google search comes up empty. Could you please provide a link to where this vodka is available?

Aug 06, 2015
josephnl in Los Angeles Area

In the Costa Mesa area, can anyone give a NC Hound a dinner rec?

Great bar service and terrific food at Marché Moderne in South Coast Plaza. This is a rather upscale French bistro, not at all like Goat Hill. I don't believe that Golden Truffle serves cocktails, and it doesn't have a bar.

Scott's across from SCP has great drinks, nice bar and good food.

Aug 05, 2015
josephnl in Los Angeles Area

Current restaurant pet peeve

Couldn't agree more. I hate it when you can't talk normally!

Aug 05, 2015
josephnl in General Topics

Exorbitant cocktail pricing?

Actually, I'm the Bombay Sapphire guy. It was my dining partner who ordered the lemon drop, and only selected Grey Goose when the server suggested it!

Aug 04, 2015
josephnl in Los Angeles Area

Exorbitant cocktail pricing?

They are definitely not in the $18-20 range in OC (except obviously for the Island Hotel)! Cocktails at the Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, and Montage are in the $14-16 range. The Island Hotel is way out of line for OC, and I maintain that having a printed cocktail list with almost all drinks being $12, makes charging $18-20 for other drinks deceptive and pretty much unacceptable.

Aug 04, 2015
josephnl in Los Angeles Area

Exorbitant cocktail pricing?

What is QPR?

The cocktails at Balboa Bay and at the Pelican Grill are less expensive. Aside from Mastro's (where the drinks are essentially doubles), I have not seen a $20 Grey Gose martini, or even an $18 Bombay Sapphire martini anywhere in OC?

Aug 04, 2015
josephnl in Los Angeles Area

Exorbitant cocktail pricing?

I find it rather unconscionable that at this hotel restaurant they have a printed cocktail list where all but one cocktail is priced at $12, and these cocktails use premium spirits such as Grey Goose vodka, Nolet's gin, Tanqueray 10, etc...and the when we ordered similar ccktails, they were $18 and $20. They are IMHO clearly being deceptive in so doing!

Aug 04, 2015
josephnl in Los Angeles Area

Exorbitant cocktail pricing?

No, the online menu does not list the specific cocktails we ordered. And no, the cocktails were ordered are very standard drinks and do not contain ingredients significantly more expensive than the $12 cocktails on the list. It seemed to us that we were simply being gouged.

Aug 04, 2015
josephnl in Los Angeles Area

Exorbitant cocktail pricing?

We recently had a very nice dinner at the new Oak Grill at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach. This is a very pretty and comfortable restaurant with good food and service. Everything was fine with our dinner, it was very good although not outstanding, and indeed we commented about how we'd likely return...until we received our check. We were shocked to see the prices we were charged for cocktails...a Bombay Sapphire martini was $18 and a Grey Goose lemon drop martini was $20! These were good drinks, but not special in any way, and indeed were at most, average in size. The very next evening we had dinner at Bandera (a Hillstone property) in Corona del Mar, and ordered the identical cocktails, they were $13 for the Bombay Sapphire martini, and $14 for the Grey Goose lemon drop...and the drinks were substantially larger!

We discussed the high cocktail prices with the restaurant manager, and were told that their pricing was in line with their competition. We eat out a lot, and have never seen cocktails priced this high, except at Mastro's where the drinks are huge, served in a cocktail shaker, and are essentially double pours...really almost too large for one person. Do others agree that $20 for Grey Goose martini ($26-27 with tax and tip) is exorbitant, and unusual?

Aug 04, 2015
josephnl in Los Angeles Area

How Does I Get a Reservation at n/naka These Days??

Thanks guys for clueing me in re AmExp Concierge...it's a great service!

Aug 01, 2015
josephnl in Los Angeles Area

How Does I Get a Reservation at n/naka These Days??

Really...I'm surprised, but stand corrected. You know this as a fact?

Aug 01, 2015
josephnl in Los Angeles Area

How Does I Get a Reservation at n/naka These Days??

AmExp concierge works great but you do need a platinum card and of course, it only works at restaurants that accept AmExp. They've never failed me if you give them advance notice...The French Laundry, Daniel, etc.

Aug 01, 2015
josephnl in Los Angeles Area

How Does I Get a Reservation at n/naka These Days??

Just made a reservation a few days ago. It was quite simple. I called exactly 3 months ahead...got right through...and got the reservation!

Jul 31, 2015
josephnl in Los Angeles Area

"A problem occurred with this webpage so it was reloaded."

When the hell is this going to be fixed? I don't know or care if it's a Chow problem or.an Apple problem, but it obviously involves only a very few sites and only happens on the iPad! For me, and I view hundreds of websites per week on my iPad, it only happens with the Chow website. Others have reported that it happens with other websites. It obviously only happens with a very few specific sites and the iPad. Why the hell don't the techies at Chow or other involved sites get together with Apple and fix this? It's so ridiculous that I'm about to sign off Chow forever!!

Jul 24, 2015
josephnl in Site Talk
2

$15 Minimum Wage=No Tip

Of course $15/hr. Is barely a subsistence wage. Nevertheless, please explain to me why if both servers and for example, paint salesmen (who often spend considerable time matching colors for a customer) earn minimum wage, the server should be tipped, and the paint salesman not? Or, if the $15/hour paint salesman goes out for dinner, why he should tip the $15/hour server?

I realize that it's fantasyland, but in an ideal world all workers would receive at least a living wage + reasonable health, sick leave and retirement benefits, and tipping would go away. This is the case in other parts of the world, but why not in the U.S.?

$15 Minimum Wage=No Tip

Tipping has become the norm in the U.S. because servers have traditionally been underpaid, exempt from minimum wage laws, and have depended on tips to make a reasonable wage. Of course, if servers are paid better, tipping should be reassessed. Seems like a no-brainer!

$15 Minimum Wage=No Tip

Yes, and I would hope that all restaurant employees from sommeliers, to servers, to dishwashers receive at bare minimum, a living wage, and receive health insurance, and sick days (so they can stay home when ill and not cough on my food), and yes, for those who make a career in restaurant service, a reasonable retirement plan. I know this is dreaming, but if this could be accomplished, tipping could be a thing of the past. I'm not holding my breath!

Jul 22, 2015
josephnl in Not About Food

$15 Minimum Wage=No Tip

Completely agree. If restaurants are required to pay their servers more (as they should), inevitably menu prices will increase, and of course it makes sense that the level at which customers subsidize the server's wages (via tipping) should reasonably be reconsidered.

Jul 22, 2015
josephnl in Not About Food

Rustic Canyon - good, but way too expensive!

I'm well aware of the fact that many, if not most newer restaurants in L.A., and indeed in much of the U.S. are very noisy. I'm learning to accept this up to a certain point...but certain restaurants are IMHO "over the top". When conversation requires shouting, as it does in places such as Bestia and RC it remains beyond me why anyone tolerates it. (To more specifically answer your question, I do research it in advance, but it's sometimes difficult to appreciate how noisy a place is without experiencing it).

I grew up in a home where conversation at the dinner table was the highlight of the day, and we rarely spoke loudly. I still enjoy this, but unfortunately when dining out, it's becoming very rare to find an ambiance that allows this. To me, and I truly think to many others, a terrific meal is more than just the food.

Rustic Canyon - good, but way too expensive!

Thank you! That was really the point I was making. We enjoyed the food quite a bit, but when we go out for a nice dinner and spend >.$100pp, we want and really expect nicer surroundings and more comfort.

I do however disagree re the health care surcharge and would much prefer that all restaurants charge what they need to to take good care of their employees, provide health insurance and sick leave, and of course make a reasonable profit. We have no way of knowing how the surcharge is being used, and find it remarkable that only the restaurant industry has started this surcharge nonsense...not the hardware store, not the grocery, etc.