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The Cooks House , Good Burmese- Herne Hill (London)

Thanks. My curiosity is now piqued. The last time I had Burmese food, I couldn't stop eating the pickled mustard green dish. I can't remember what it was called but it was definitely the night's favorite dish for everybody. Just thinking about it now has my mouth watering. I may have to ride out to Herne Hill to try it this week. Thanks for the tip!

Sep 28, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Chocolates, Candies, and Confections. Where to go in London

Oooh, I didn't realize Herme has a shop in London. Must get over there soon. Are there any other worthwhile macarons in London?

Sep 28, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Chocolates, Candies, and Confections. Where to go in London

Thanks for the tip about the high postage to the U.S. I was wondering how it would compare to Germany. I am surprised at how much more expensive everything is here compared to mainland Europe.

Sep 28, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Thinking of going to Bibendum for oysters or somewhere else?

I haven't been to Bibendum so I do not know how extensive their menu is but Wright Brother's oyster menu is extensive and very tempting. Although I am allergic to oysters, I succumbed to their French and Japanese offerings couple weekends ago, and although I had to suffer for a week thereafter, it was well worth it. I would recommend Wright Brothers's as a quirky, casual setting in which to enjoy fresh, delicious oysters. Their friendly service was also topnotch and extremely attentive.

Sep 28, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Skye’s the limit for island as second restaurant awarded Michelin stars

I completely agree with Hayler's comments about the difference between stars awarded in each country. I experienced that in France, Japan, Italy, Germany, Canada, S.Korea and the U.S. I don't have too much experience in the U.K, but I hope to change that, now that I am living here.

Michelin is just one of many guides, highlighting the preferences of the members of those guide teams. Sometimes I find that when I go to dine in a Michelin starred and raved restaurant, my expectations are so high that I often feel a bit letdown. I suppose this is true for any place that comes highly recommended or rated. As I get older, my preference is to stumble unto a restaurant that hasn't gotten the raved reviews and attention, that is still passionately trying to reach the pinnacle of what they do best, and be pleasantly surprised by the simple quality of execution and interesting flavors. I like using the Michelin and other guide-rated places as a tool for planning and exploring interesting foods in new places. Food is such an individual preference, and thank goodness there are so many talented chefs all over the planet who make magic with their craft.

Sep 28, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Skye’s the limit for island as second restaurant awarded Michelin stars

Thanks for the info. The hubby and I want to revisit Scotland, now that we're living in the UK. Isle of Skye is on our list and now we have two restaurant destinations to consider.

I see that Clove Club and City Social are included in the London list. Those have been on my list of places to try but haven't gotten to them yet. Have you? If so, what are your thoughts?

Sep 26, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

The Cooks House , Good Burmese- Herne Hill (London)

I walked by there the other day but it didn't grab my attention. Do you know if the cook is Burmese?

Sep 26, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Gojo Ethiopian Restaurant [London]

Thanks. I didn't notice it until you pointed it out; I was daydreaming and thinking about the last time I had good Ethiopian food, which may have been in Amsterdam. I wish there was a way that I could attach a photo to locations I save on my google maps.

Sep 26, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Chocolates, Candies, and Confections. Where to go in London

Oh, another American in London? Yes, I vaguely remember the salesperson mentioning something about gift wrapping for the holidays, but I was too busy chewing and being distracted by all the yummy things that I didn't really pay attention. If you like dried Greek figs, they had some in the shop, which, according to the salesperson, arrived recently: limited supply, just during the season. Those looked really good.

Sep 26, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Gojo Ethiopian Restaurant [London]

Thanks; I have been craving Ethiopian food and wondered if London had any. Is the restaurant in the basement? Are there signs for Gojo outside? Must try it when I'm over in that neighborhood.

Sep 25, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Chocolates, Candies, and Confections. Where to go in London

Like you, I had never heard of Carpo until I walked by the other day. My hubby said the honey-roasted macadamia nuts were delicious so I will go back and buy him so more. I am allergic to them so I didn't try those or the pecans. However, their roasted almonds covered with dark chocolate were tasty so I may pick up some of those as well. Those were also offered covered with milk chocolate or white chocolate: something for everybody's taste buds.

Sep 25, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

London - place to eat

My hubby and I just tried Lyles in Shoreditch and we were both pleasantly surprised by the quality of food. When I first looked at their dinner menu for the night, I wasn't thrilled at all. Smoked eel soup brought back bad memories of a trip to Brugge in the 90's. Blood pudding brought back bad memories of food from a trip to Scotland many moons ago. But I decided to give Lyle's a try and I'm glad I did. I am not sure if I would classify the food as gastropub, but I think it might be a nice transition between France and London, depending on what type of restaurants you plan to enjoy in France.

It's a relatively new restaurant; I think the server said they just opened in Apr/May. For dinner, it's one set menu. They post their daily menus online each day. If you have any allergies, you need to tell them when you make reservations. They also have vegetarian options, as evidenced by the interesting dishes the vegetarian diners next to us received. For lunch it is a la carte. We tried to just pop in for dinner but were turned away so we made reservations one week in advance. I recommend making a reservation. Their menu seems to change daily with a few items remaining the same from day to day. Their delicious blood pudding amuse bouche and smoked eel broth have replaced my previously held bad experiences with those two ingredients. I plan to return to try their lunch and try another dinner.

http://www.lyleslondon.com

Sep 24, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Chocolates, Candies, and Confections. Where to go in London

Depending on where you are coming from, I second Laduree for their delicious macaroons. Liberty has a healthy selection of interesting chocolates, from the low quality to high quality cocoa beans. They have Amedei chocolates, which you don't see often. I bought some Creighton's chocolates with pop rocks, just because I loved pop rocks as a kid, I haven't come across pop rocks in chocolate below, and because my husband had no idea what pop rocks or 'popping candy' is. I haven't tried them yet but I hope it is pop rocks. I can highly recommend Amedei bars. They are delicious! Liberty had many other brands that I have not yet sampled, many also handmade in the UK. I also stumbled upon Carpo near Pall Mall/Piccadily area. They have nuts, chocolates and truffles. Their friendly staff offered us to sample almost everything in the shop and we ended up leaving with some deliciously roasted Hazelnuts, Pecans, Macademians and dried Greek nectarines. They also have dried Aloe Vera, which I do not recommend at all. I guess it's an acquired taste, but one that I do not want to acquire. I have also heard that Paul A. Young chocolates in Camden Passage in Angel are wonderful, but I haven't yet tried those. They also have a shop in Soho. There's also Paxton chocolates off Brick Lane, but haven't yet tried those either. So many chocolatiers, so little time...

Sep 24, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Apples from the Brogdale Trust

Thanks for the tip on Apples. Their festival in October sounds interesting.

Having just relocated to London from Germany, I am having a difficult time finding local farmers markets where I can find a range of seasonal produce. I went to Whole Foods yesterday thinking I could find a good selection of local apples, but was disappointed to see that they only had one local variety and the rest were from New Zealand, US, Italy, etc. I saw more varieties when I was at Borough Market's Chegworth Valley stand last week. I may have to pop down there to buy some more apples and cheese this week. Are there other growers in the London area that someone could recommend? Being new here, I am at a loss of where to go... Thanks in advance for any tips or suggestions.

Sep 24, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

General question about making reservations

In London, I have found that many places take reservations only for tables above a certain number. Usually when it's for a table of less than 4 PAX, the restaurants tell us they do not take reservations so we just show up early and hope for the best. When it's just me and my husband, we can usually snag a table or grab two seats at the bar. I prefer sitting at the bar and talking food with the bartender/servers; I learn more about the restaurant that way. As stated by others, many of the 'hip, new joints don't do any reservations at all but they are packed from early evening until late. If you have no time restrictions, it's well worth it to get to those places early, have a cocktail or drink and then enjoy a full evening of culinary treats.

Aug 25, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Several Days in Istanbul and the Princes' Islands - Report

Hi Dave,
thanks for the wonderful and mouth-watering trip report. Your report entices me to go back to Istanbul. It's such a fabulous city with amazing food options, mostly in small mom and pop shops. You seem to have captured so much of that. Thanks again for sharing. I will use this on my next trip there.

Aug 25, 2014
lecker in Europe

London dining help sought, please.

London has such a wide variety of restaurants, you will love it. As a soon-to-be expat in London, I have travelled to London about 3 or 4 per month over the past 5 months. All all the places I have tried, these are the ones that I go back to and why:

Salt Yard-Their small portions are perfect for sharing. I like the small, intimate space. I would do this place for both lunch or dinner. For dinner you probably need to book. This restaurant is located on a quieter street than Oxford so, if you do shop on Oxford but want to escape the craziness, head over to Salt Yard, start off with one of their speciality cocktails and then enjoy many of their bite sized creations.

Ducksoup- in Soho. Their food, service and unique wine selection are surprisingly great. Because of their location in Soho, it's an easy walk to Trafalgar Sq and the theaters. I like the pint-sized intimacy of the place and the unique dishes they present. You should probably reserve for dinner.

Mildred's in Soho. I visit this vegetarian cafe for lunch several times during each of my trips. Your cousin will have lots of vegetarian options but so will the rest of your family. Their halloui burger is a fav as is their detox salad. Their food is freshly prepared and this restaurant is the best of all the other vegetarian places I have tried in Soho.

Nopi in Soho. I wasn't too impressed with Nopi. I gave it a try because so many people raved about it. But I thought the food was average at best and the service hurried and very rush, rush, rush. There was no charm, no uniqueness, and nothing original.

Polpetto in Soho. It reminds me of a grungier Ducksoup. I prefer Ducksoup to Polpetto. But this place is very packed in the evenings.

Bone Daddies. You didn't mention Japanese but there are several Japanese ramen shops in Soho. This is my favorite thus far for their addictive broth, chewy noodles, and their fun, chaotic atmosphere. Expect long lines out the door, but it moves relatively fast.

Dishoom in Shoreditch. It's Indian food modernized with eye-catching cocktails. I've only been to the one in Shoreditch and the long wait in the evening was sobering. But their food was solid and tasty. I would probably go back with friends who enjoyed drinking cocktails and eating Indian food. But there are so many great Indian restaurants in London, it's easy to explore some others too.

Lima, not far from Salt Yard and Oxford's shopping madness. I LOVE this Peruvian restaurant. Whenever I go there, I am always surprised by the food and learn something new about a South American grain or ingredient that I have never had before. Lovely place. Reservations recommended for dinner.

Story in Shad Thames, just at the southern end of Tower Bridge. For a special occasion or just for a different lunch experience, I would recommend this restaurant. I will be going back next month. To really enjoy it, you need to have nothing else to do afterward your meal. You need the time to enjoy every single course they bring you; so don't be in a hurry.

Have fun on your trip!

Aug 20, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Western Germany (Mosel & Rheingau) wine & food touring info

Because I am not too familiar with that area of Germany, I don't have any recommendations. Sorry. However, Luxembourg is not too far from Baerenthal (2-hr drive), which does have an amazing restaurant/hotel run by Jean-George Klein. I ate there many years ago and their food is impressive. It is a destination in itself for many foodies. Here is their website. http://www.arnsbourg.com

Between Luxembourg and Baerenthal, lies Bitche, which has an interesting Citadel and a beautiful 360 degree of the surrounding landscape. In Bitche, there is Le Strasbourg, which is supposed to have amazing food. The last time we were in Bitche, we didn't have reservations and were unable to get a table. The next time we head there, we will try it out.

From Baerenthal, it is only a few hours drive to the Moselle or Rhein area, depending on which you prefer. I have eaten at many places along the Rhein, but I found that most were rather tourist and not worth the drive for food/wine. For food/wine experience, I prefer to drive a bit further to the Alsace region or across the border to France.

If you do visit the Moselle or Rhein area during your trip, I would love to hear what gems you find.

Another suggestion may be to pick one of your favorite vineyards from either area and see if you can arrange a wine tour. That might be interesting for your group.

Hope this helps. Have a good trip.

Mar 17, 2014
lecker in Europe

Back to London after 10 years away. Where must I eat?

Hi blindlemonjefferson: Where did you end up eating and how did you like it?

Londonlinda, zuriga1, phild, withnail42: Thanks for the clarifications and suggestions. Nopi, Medlar, Anchor & Hope and Salt Yard are top on my list now.

Feb 23, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Back to London after 10 years away. Where must I eat?

mjgauer: Have you done Medlar's Sat or Sun prix fixe? If so, which would be a good intro to Medlar? Also, would you suggest making reservations or can we just show up?

Also, from your lengthy list above, I noticed that you describe some as pubs and some are bistros. I am a little confused. Because I am originally from the U.S., a pub for me is a drinking establishment, where the food is not the focus at all. I usually go to a pub to drink, after I had eaten somewhere else. I think of a bistro more as a quaint restaurant with simple menu and food. What is the UK term for a restaurant that is small, open kitchen perhaps, with a small menu that changes daily depending on the seasonable and fresh ingredients available? I want to experience something like that in London. Is there such a restaurant like that you would recommend?

Thanks in advance for your insight.

Feb 21, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Back to London after 10 years away. Where must I eat?

Hi Londonlinda: What do you like about Nopi? I am heading to London next weekend and have been curious to try one of the Ottolenghi places. I have been drooling over their cookbooks and am curious to know if the food there is as good as the styling in the books. Thanks for anything you can share.

Feb 21, 2014
lecker in U.K./Ireland

Rotterdam Restaurants - Spirit, Oliva,

Couple weeks ago, in planning for an unexpected, quick (2-night) trip to Rotterdam, I was a bit disheartened with the lack of Rotterdam restaurant recommendations on this board. Michelin was always easy to find, but it's more challenging to find good food that isn't on the radar. However, it wasn't as bad as I had feared. I had no plans so we just discovered the different neighborhoods, hoping that something would catch our eye.

After walking around the harbor area, which led us to the Iconic Cube houses, we walked around the Pannekoekstraat (Pancake Street) area (love the name) and stumbled into Spirit, on Mariniersweg 9. It looked like a cute cafe where we could grab a quick bite to eat before continuing on our walking tour of the city. The cafe is cafeteria style. After grabbing a plate and reviewing the items on offer, we realized that it's an organic, vegetarian cafe. My husband is not a vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination, but he was attracted by the fresh, vibrant colors of the food and the diverse options available. Having developed a taste for Tempeh in Indonesia, he went first for the stir-fried tempeh, and continued to pile his plate with other interesting and savory dishes. I opted for mostly the warm dishes like Quinoa, roasted vegetables, tofu, Bulgar, etc. They had a selection of soups and various salad items, but I declined on those because they looked so common. I was intrigued more by the warm dishes that the chefs were busy cooking and bringing out to the buffet stand. After we filled our plates, we took them to the drink counter where the plates were weighed, drinks offered and then, after paying, we took a bar seat near the middle of the room. The food was surprisingly very tasty, fresh, and satisfying. The cafe was packed around 13:00, which is when we entered, and it continued to fill up as we ate. I noticed some diners with ipads and laptops so I pulled out my iphone and noticed that they had free wi-fi. I was able to refresh my email.

I would recommend Spirit for a healthy, delicious lunch, especially if you are short on time, do not have time to linger in a restaurant, or dining solo before heading off to see the sights. Actually, they had some decadent looking dessert that I would have ordered if I hadn't gotten full on Quinoa (Quinoa is surprisingly very very filling). The atmosphere reminded me a bit of Whole Foods, but with fresher and tastier food. I love grocery shopping at Whole Foods, but their prepared meals are always disappointing. Would I go back to Spirit for lunch if I return to Rotterdam? Yes, especially if I was planning a big dinner at a Michelin restaurant. The cafe is also attached to a cool home-furnishings shop next door, a new-age book shop upstairs and what looked like a grocery store (probably organic) on the other side.
http://www.spiritrotterdam.nl/

We met some friends at Dudok for afternoon cafe. It's a big two-level space that seems to be packed in the afternoons with families, couples and friends. It's very loud on the first floor but a bit more quiet on the second floor. Although we intended to only have coffee, we ended up ordering a tea tray of savory treats including sandwiches, spreads, dips, etc, and some small bowls of soup. The food wasn't memorable or anything that I would return to again. Although it is located in a hip shopping area, I found the atmosphere of the cafe (and people watching) more interesting than the food. Enough said. Would I go back? Probably not.
http://www.dudok.nl/

For our last night we wanted seafood, but the place we wanted to try (Schmitt Zeevis) wasn't open for dinner so we went with a recommendation from our concierge. She suggested Oliva on Witte de Withstraat, which is a funky/artsy street with cute shops, restaurants, galleries that we had walked earlier in the day. It was a short walk (about 15 min) from our hotel. Everything in Rotterdam seems within walking distance. As we walked into the restaurant, I immediately like the atmosphere. With an open-kitchen, it reminded me of places I have visited in Portland, Tokyo, San Francisco, NYC, London, etc. Very modern, hip and fresh. I'm not sure how to describe it, but from the warm welcome we received to the consistent care of the staff, Oliva felt like a neighborhood restaurant in a hip, happening city. The menu was another plus for me. I love eating in places where the menu is small, intimate and changes each day to reflect what is freshly available and in season. Olivas' menu does exactly that. And their food was delicious. We were a party of three and each of us had a starter, a main and dessert: Braised artichokes, pumpkin risotto, carpaccio, etc.. (Unfortunately I didn't take any photos or notes so I can't remember all that we ate). I think I eat out too often and that is why I can't remember what I ate yesterday! We drank Champagne and then enjoyed a bottle of delicious red wine. I would definitely go back to Oliva if I had a chance to travel to Rotterdam again: Great food, great service, wonderful atmosphere, and very affordable. If we lived in Rotterdam, Oliva would easily become one of our regular restaurants.
http://www.gustoliva.nl/

Feb 20, 2014
lecker in Europe

Planning Portland/Willamette Valley Trip

Congratulations! Portland is foodie, wine and micro-brew heaven, among other things. As others have started, there are so many options, all depending on what you prefer and what your style is. A good reference is the local weekly paper called the Willamette Weekly, or the 'willy week' as I referred to it many years ago when I lived there. It does a wonderful job of reviewing, rating, etc. restaurants, coffee shops, breweries, etc.

http://www.wweek.com/portland/

Four days isn't enough to see all that PDX has to offer, especially in the food/wine/brewery. But I think you're off to a great start. If you can't make it to all your top picks, you can always plan another trip. Have a wonderful trip!

Admittedly, I am SO envious; Portland is one of my favorite places to visit, which I have done at least once a year, but this year I won't have a chance to go back because it's now almost on the other side of the world from me.

Feb 20, 2014
lecker in Metro Portland

Wildwood Closing- what a shock!

Wow! What a blast from the past. I enjoyed them immensely when I was living in PDX back in the '90's. Now, each year I return there seems to be so many new and interesting restaurants on every corner. I just love Portland's food scene.

Do you know why they are closing?

Feb 20, 2014
lecker in Metro Portland

Solo wine trip to Alsace or Burgundy? Miserable or worth trying? Suggestions?

lobsterkiller: Bear in mind that there is no direct train from Strasbourg to Wiesbaden. You have to make 2 or more changes and then connect through Frankfurt or Mainz or Offenbach. I find changing trains so often, especially within a 3-hour window a pain...but if you don't mind, it's doable.

I spent last weekend in Oestrich-Winkel on the Rhein and took the local train from there to Wiesbaden (takes about 25 min). Oestrich-Winkel is a tiny place. We ate couple meals at the restaurant in the Rathaus, very close to our B&B. The food was surprisingly good and very convenient for us. Of course, Wiesbaden or Mainz has bigger and more diverse food options but in the evenings we wanted something local and close to our B&B.

Once you are on the Rhein, the local trains run at the most, every 20 minutes or at the worst, every hour. The buses are more frequent, but slower. The Rhein has plenty of wineyards offering German Rieslings, but most of the food offerings are rich German food. Not sure what you would consider 'worthwhile destination' so you may want to check out the various little towns along the Rhein.
There's plenty of destroyed, castles, cute towns, vineyards galore, etc...

Jan 27, 2014
lecker in France
1

Solo wine trip to Alsace or Burgundy? Miserable or worth trying? Suggestions?

Mangeur: Happy to help. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Jan 26, 2014
lecker in France

Two weeks in Benelux

Hi Willem:

Thanks for your exhaustive list of recommendations for Maastricht. We were thinking of a weekend stop over in Antwerp, but after reading your tips, we're thinking of spending it in Maastricht instead. Because this post is almost 3 years old, I wonder if they are still valid or if you have updated food recommendations for Maastricht.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Jan 26, 2014
lecker in Europe

Five days with an architect...where to eat?

It must have been pre-Ducasse, 2000 or 2001. My disappointment may have been heightened by the fact that it was sold to me as the 'best' restaurant in Paris at the time. I have since learned to manage my expectations when someone says that. Maybe with Ducasse, it has gotten better; I would hope so.

Over the years I have come to realize that most restaurants located in iconic places (or at the top of a TV tower, or the top of the highest hotel in the world, the highest skyscraper, etc) attract enough tourists and others that they do not necessary focus their attention on food and service. But if checking off the Eiffel Tower and a meal in it at Jules Verne is what hychka's friends prefer, then they may enjoy it. Given that Paris is full of amazing architecture, art and history, I think hychka's friends will be in heaven. I would also seek out some buildings that Le Corbusier, Renzo Piano or other iconic architects designed and built in the city.

If I were going to Paris to visit friends (sadly, my friends no longer live there), I would want them to take me to little restaurants, off the beaten track, that combine great food, service and have interesting architectural/art references. I am always amazed when I find a little cafe or restaurant housed in a building that is older than the U.S! That, in and of itself, thrills me. I marvel at the history, the people who must have visited that space before me, what the walls would tell me about the past occupants, if they could talk, etc. And when the meal is amazing, I am in heaven. So many of the places mentioned in this discussion above seem to fit that bill, but I just wouldn't include Jules Verne in that selection. Obviously, I am bias because of the meal I had there way back when. Certainly, Ducasse must have improved Jules Verne from when I was there, but Ducasse can be had almost ALL over the world. It's almost like an institution, isn't it? Wouldn't it be more exciting to try a restaurant or cafe by a chef who is only in Paris? My mouth waters when I think about all the talented chefs in Paris, without the obvious publicity of Michelin or the NYTimes, etc..., following their passion in creating and delivering mouth-watering food for all their patrons...Why don't I live in Paris? Anyways, before I digress further, just my two-cents, for what it's worth.

John: My memory of Jules Verne is that it wasn't that big? How did 200 people fit into the restaurant when you dined? Was there another part that I didn't see?

Jan 26, 2014
lecker in France

Five days with an architect...where to eat?

Having had a mediocre meal at Jules Verne many many years ago, I wouldn't recommend it. I felt very disappointed by the lackluster meal and the cheesy 'tourist' atmosphere. The service was also nothing to write home about.

Le George on Centre Pompidou would be ideal for an afternoon break. the iconic building is known to all architects, but to experience it in person is another wonder. Wow! You could also combine it with a visit to an exhibit there.

Jan 25, 2014
lecker in France

Looking for a dining partner?

It's not crazy. It's a great idea. I wish I had thought to do this when I traveled alone in the past. Well, that was before the internet so I don't know how I would have found another willing dining companion. Good luck with your search!

Jan 25, 2014
lecker in Italy