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Venice in August

Thank you for this information. I really appreciate the help!

Jul 11, 2013
sheils628 in Italy

Venice in August

I will be in Venice in mid-August and I'm worried that many of the restaurants that have come highly recommended on this board will be closed (Osteria alle Testiere, for example, has already informed me that they are closed until the end of the month).

Does anyone have any insight into the likelihood that other restaurants will be closed? And if that is the case, has anyone had experience traveling in Venice during this time and can recommend some great spots that will (probably) be open?

Thanks in advance!

Jul 09, 2013
sheils628 in Italy

recent visit to "Eve" did not disappoint

I was just in Chicago for two days and happened to enjoy a really great meal at Eve. I haven't read too much about this restaurant but my family has been a few times since it opened and has always been pleased. I found their menu to be really creative and the food delicious. Everything the table ordered was fresh and inventive, particularly the halibut with strawberries and radish vinaigrette, and the grilled lobster sausage. We had an opportunity to sit outside which, while a little dark, was quiet and comfortable -- perfect for a week night in Chicago. I'm surprised there isn't more buzz about this place!

Aug 13, 2009
sheils628 in Chicago Area

Spending a week in Old Town - Not to miss?

For a slightly more contemporary take on French food, Old Town Brasserie is very good. Outdoor seating and live piano music contribute to an overall satisfying experience. Menu is small, but everything is executed well. Just down the street, Salpicon is also delicious.

Jul 16, 2009
sheils628 in Chicago Area

Mother's Day Help

Just returned to Poste and had a moderately unpleasant dining experience. The service was poor, but mostly the food just didn't "wow." The menu is very inventive, but the dishes weren't as impressive as I expected from their descriptions. Also, in my opinion the menu is too heavy for the warm weather we're getting in DC these days!

Apr 28, 2009
sheils628 in Washington DC & Baltimore

restaurants open on Armistice Day?

Just wondering if anyone knows what the likelihood is that many restaurants will be closed in Paris on November 11th, the French national holiday celebrating Armistice Day? Thank you!

Oct 21, 2008
sheils628 in France

trip report - annapolis and maryland's eastern shore

Just wrapped up a lovely quick trip to Annapolis and Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Although we stayed in Easton, we stopped in Annapolis on the way from D.C. to explore the town and sample its culinary offerings. Dining-wise, here’s what I thought of the trip:

Friday Lunch in Annapolis – After a relaxing walk along Main Street and the Bay, we grabbed a quick lunch at Pusser’s. The location is great (right on the bay) and the atmosphere is fun – or at the least, easy going. I’d strong advise eating on the outside deck because the view of the harbor is very nice (if you have a boat, you can dock it at the restaurant). I can’t speak much for the rest of the menu, but we enjoyed the crab and corn chowder (the consistency was creamy but wasn’t so dense that you could stand your spoon in it) and the crab-cake appetizer (pure crab, practically no breading). With the large menu, decent looking outside bar, friendly service and nice location, this place seems like a spot that you can go to with kids, friends and parents if you’re in the mood for a casual spot.

Friday Dinner in Annapolis – We tried Carrol’s Creek Café for an early dinner after hearing from chowhound reports that it was a good place to choose for seafood with a view. Although I wouldn’t disagree with the latter (the view of the harbor at sunset was absolutely beautiful), I didn’t love the food. The menu was pretty predictable and I didn’t feel that there was anything that jumped out at me. I had the crab cakes (served with mashed potatoes and “ratatouille” (I put that in quotation marks because what I was served didn’t live up to what I expected from the description). Even though the crab was fresh, the crab cakes were too bready for my tastes. My mom got the special: grouper set over purple mashed potatoes, topped with spinach and flanked by a crab spring roll. It wasn’t bad, but there were too many contradicting flavors for it to be a really solid dish. Final verdict: prices were higher than restaurants in town without a view, service was friendly, go for the view, and don’t expect marvels from the menu.

Saturday Lunch – Even though we spent the morning in historic Easton, we drove on to St. Michaels for the afternoon and had lunch at the Crab Claw Restaurant. Located on the harbor (even more picturesque than that of Annapolis), the Crab claw has two levels, one which is on the upper level and indoors, and the other which is at water level and outdoors. We opted for the outdoor seating, which is more casual (read: picnic tables, paper plates, beers brought to the table in buckets or pitchers, and dozens of crabs dumped nonchalantly in front of you). There wasn’t a disappointing bite in the whole meal, from the local, flavorful oysters, to the delicious, artery-clogging onion rings, fried oyster sandwich, and soft shell crab sandwich. Even though my stomach was about to explode when the meal was through, I’m really glad we stopped here.

Saturday Dinner – Mason’s in Easton. In a town that boasts a large variety of good restaurants, Mason’s stood out with its quaint setting (outdoor and indoor dining) and simple yet gourmet menu. My mom tried the five-tomato salad, topped with gorgonzola, balsamic vinegar and basil, as well as the soft shell crab, set on top of a bed of roasted corn and vegetables. I had the watermelon/feta salad and roasted halibut, served with tomatoes, calamata olives and set atop an “eggplant jam” (delicious, although I don’t know how they did it). For dessert we had Mason’s take on a crème brulée, which consisted of a malted vanilla crème topped by chocolate mousse. Every bite was a delight, the ambiance was very nice, and the service was professional and pleasant. Highly recommended!!

I wish that we had allotted more time on the Eastern Shore, as the towns are really charming and there are many interesting restaurants. We’ll surely be returning again!

Aug 16, 2008
sheils628 in Washington DC & Baltimore

Trip Report: Annapolis and Maryland's Eastern Shore

Just wrapped up a lovely quick trip to Annapolis and Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Although we stayed in Easton, we stopped in Annapolis on the way from D.C. to explore the town and sample its culinary offerings. Dining-wise, here’s what I thought of the trip:

Friday Lunch in Annapolis – After a relaxing walk along Main Street and the Bay, we grabbed a quick lunch at Pusser’s. The location is great (right on the bay) and the atmosphere is fun – or at the least, easy going. I’d strong advise eating on the outside deck because the view of the harbor is very nice (if you have a boat, you can dock it at the restaurant). I can’t speak much for the rest of the menu, but we enjoyed the crab and corn chowder (the consistency was creamy but wasn’t so dense that you could stand your spoon in it) and the crab-cake appetizer (pure crab, practically no breading). With the large menu, decent looking outside bar, friendly service and nice location, this place seems like a spot that you can go to with kids, friends and parents if you’re in the mood for a casual spot.

Friday Dinner in Annapolis – We tried Carrol’s Creek Café for an early dinner after hearing from chowhound reports that it was a good place to choose for seafood with a view. Although I wouldn’t disagree with the latter (the view of the harbor at sunset was absolutely beautiful), I didn’t love the food. The menu was pretty predictable and I didn’t feel that there was anything that jumped out at me. I had the crab cakes (served with mashed potatoes and “ratatouille” (I put that in quotation marks because what I was served didn’t live up to what I expected from the description). Even though the crab was fresh, the crab cakes were too bready for my tastes. My mom got the special: grouper set over purple mashed potatoes, topped with spinach and flanked by a crab spring roll. It wasn’t bad, but there were too many contradicting flavors for it to be a really solid dish. Final verdict: prices were higher than restaurants in town without a view, service was friendly, go for the view, and don’t expect marvels from the menu.

Saturday Lunch – Even though we spent the morning in historic Easton, we drove on to St. Michaels for the afternoon and had lunch at the Crab Claw Restaurant. Located on the harbor (even more picturesque than that of Annapolis), the Crab claw has two levels, one which is on the upper level and indoors, and the other which is at water level and outdoors. We opted for the outdoor seating, which is more casual (read: picnic tables, paper plates, beers brought to the table in buckets or pitchers, and dozens of crabs dumped nonchalantly in front of you). There wasn’t a disappointing bite in the whole meal, from the local, flavorful oysters, to the delicious, artery-clogging onion rings, fried oyster sandwich, and soft shell crab sandwich. Even though my stomach was about to explode when the meal was through, I’m really glad we stopped here.

Saturday Dinner – Mason’s in Easton. In a town that boasts a large variety of good restaurants, Mason’s stood out with its quaint setting (outdoor and indoor dining) and simple yet gourmet menu. My mom tried the five-tomato salad, topped with gorgonzola, balsamic vinegar and basil, as well as the soft shell crab, set on top of a bed of roasted corn and vegetables. I had the watermelon/feta salad and roasted halibut, served with tomatoes, calamata olives and set atop an “eggplant jam” (delicious, although I don’t know how they did it). For dessert we had Mason’s take on a crème brulée, which consisted of a malted vanilla crème topped by chocolate mousse. Every bite was a delight, the ambiance was very nice, and the service was professional and pleasant. Highly recommended!!

I wish that we had allotted more time on the Eastern Shore, as the towns are really charming and there are many interesting restaurants. We’ll surely be returning again!

Aug 16, 2008
sheils628 in Mid-Atlantic

Bourbon-Marinated Flank Steak

I really enjoyed this recipe -- it was quick and simple, and the steak had a nice taste that wasn't overwhelming.

Question for other chowhounds: I had to cook indoors on a grill pan, and I thought that the steak seemed kind of tough. Any suggestions for cooking a more tender flank steak?

Jun 18, 2008
sheils628 in Recipes

SoBe Next Weekend

This post might be a little too late, but I really enjoyed "Social" at the Sagamore Hotel while I was in South Beach two weeks ago. I went there with four friends and we shared a wide range of delicious tapas sized dishes (the menu isn't limited to one cuisine/flavor range; it has a little bit of everything). Cool vibe inside; not very large but definitely amenable to a group of 5 or six. Reservations are a must for dinner, at least on the weekends (we did ours through opentable.com). Prices for dishes are on the pricey side, but not unreasonable. Enjoy Miami!

Mar 30, 2008
sheils628 in Florida

Paris on Sunday

Despite the limited hours of operation, le P'tit Troquet was delightful and I would strongly recommend it to visitors. It is definitely easy to miss because it is so small (I walked past it twice trying to find it!) but it is oozing with charm and the food was lovely (I went this past June). Reservations are a must, however, and I wouldn't recommend it to those who mind restaurants limited to confined spaces! Delightful dining experience.

Mar 28, 2008
sheils628 in France

Nobu, No way (A weekend of Miami restaurant experiences)

Just returned from an indulgent trip to Miami (over Easter weekend) where my friends and I treated ourselves nightly to a wide variety of excellent food. First stop was Smith and Wollensky, which is a bit out of the way but has a beautiful location at the mouth of the bay (perfect for Sunset viewing). Was a bit disappointed with the pacing of the dishes, but greatly enjoyed my choice of the Indonesian Shrimp with a Thai curry sauce. The Ahi Tuna dish was so-so, as was the side of mixed vegetables, which seemed limp. A friend's Wild Salmon was delectable, as was the Gorgonzola Crusted Filet Mignon, which was simply presented but perfectly prepared. The succulent Truffle Mac and Cheese side dish was probably my favorite (and sinful) part of the meal! Service was attentive at the beginning, although once the restaurant began filling up our table felt ignored. In fact, we ended up sending back our second bottle of wine before the server opened it because it had taken her so long to bring the bottle. All in all, this dining experience was by no means mediocre (as my party greatly enjoyed our meal), but it was also not exceptional.

The next stop on the list was Nobu. Having dined at Nobu before, we were all well prepared for the snobby service by the waitstaff and the hostess. After all, a huge part of Nobu is the "scene" so you have to go in expecting that the hostess won't even look you in the eye. We did not have a reservation, but we arrived early enough that there was immediate available seating in the "lounge" area and we gladly accepted this to avoid the 2.5 hour wait (I've dined in the lounge before and knew that the menu was exactly the same). Started with a simple appetizer of edamame, which took a 1/2 hour to arrive, and followed it with the tuna/jalapeno hand roll, soft shell crab roll, spicy tuna hand roll, and the negi toro roll for the table. One member of our party also ordered the Chilean Sea Bass. Overall, the sushi was very good but not extraordinary, with the exception of the soft shell crab roll, which has never disappointed me. My friend's sea bass arrived a good 20-30 minutes before the sushi, which was very poor timing considering that the rest of our table had no food yet and, as we were sitting near the entrance, her fish quickly got cold. I understand that the food is made ready to order, but this is not a tapas bar -- a place like Nobu should know how long it takes to make the sushi and the sea bass and time the dishes accordingly. Let it be said, I did not taste the sea bass but my friend was unimpressed.

By far the most disappointing aspect of the experience was the service. We were treated with contempt by the hostess and somewhat ignored by our waiter, but this behavior paled in comparison to the treatment we received by the Manager, Chris Manti. After our meal was cleared, we continued to sit at the table and enjoy our drinks. After about 20 minutes we finally got the attention of one of the servers and asked for a dessert menu. A good 10 minutes later, the manager came by our table with our check and told us that we had been sitting too long without food and we needed to leave so that he could use the table. My jaw practically dropped to the floor. Our party of four was by no means causing a scene or being obnoxious. Our only crime was that we were taking our time enjoying our overpriced sushi and drinks, which as it was we had waited an inordinate amount of time to receive. Yet the manager felt obliged to refuse to serve us dessert when we asked for the menu, even after we explained that we had already asked for it and had not received it (which was why were sitting without food in front of us). As if he wasn't even listening, the manager merely told us curtly "you've been sitting here for a 1/2 hour with nothing on the table. That would have been a good time to order dessert." I later confronted the manager on the side and explained calmly why I was appalled by his behavior. I even admitted to him that we would have gladly relocated to the bar area if he had requested that we vacate the table, rather than ordering us to do so. The icing on the cake came, however, when I asked him for one or two business cards of people whom I could contact to complain about the service. He responded very disrespectfully, "Sweetheart, I can give you two, three, four cards, I can give you my mother's name and number just so long as you leave." NEVER in my life -- and in my very extensive dining experience -- have I ever been treated so unprofessionally and monstrously by the manager of a so-called "well-established" restaurant. In my opinion, his rude and pretentious behavior is inexcusable. Let it be said, I will never, ever dine at Nobu again, and I strongly caution others to avoid it as well unless you have an incredibly high tolerance for unprofessional service.

On a more positive note, our third evening was far more enjoyable. We dined at "Social" at the Sagamore, which serves tapas-style dishes. We ordered a wide range of dishes, including:
Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese salad - perfectly marinated
Margherita Pizza - nice starter, delicious homemade crust
Crab Cakes atop fried green tomatoes w/harissa mayo - great take on a crab cake
Paella Croquetas - rich and filling, but delicious and addictive
King Crab Thermidor - first time tasting it; enjoyed it but didn't love it in comparison to the other dishes; also very rich
Kobe Beef Sliders - strongly recommend for beef lovers who aren't interested in the wildly new flavors of some of the other offerings
Caribbean lobster tempura - devilishly tasty
Honey and Balsamic marienated Black Cod - light and sweet; just right

Every dish was satisfying and excited our taste buds. The service, by both our waiter and the manager, was very attentive and helpful. On a weekend night you would need a reservation for this spot -- we grabbed an 8:00 reservation and the restaurant began to fill up at 9:00. There is limited outside seating, but the interior of the Sagamore is really interesting so I would recommend requesting a table inside. Overall, a lovely dining experience which more than made up for the horror at Nobu the night before.

Last, but certainly not least, on our final evening we travelled to Versailles for some quality Cuban food. This restaurant is a little our of the way (a good $30 dollar cab ride from Sobe) but worth the trip. Friendly, quick and diner-esque, we gorged on pork, plantains, ricee and beans and the sinfully good Ropa Vieja, as well as decadent cafe cubanos and fabulous mojitos. The one complaint came from a friend who is a vegetarian and couldn't find a lot of options (even the corn tamales had pork). We had to practically roll ourselves out of there when the meal was over, but we couldn't have asked for a better feast to round off the weekend.

Mar 26, 2008
sheils628 in Miami - Fort Lauderdale