tmentzer's Profile

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Little Serow Line

We got in line at 4:45 pm yesterday (Friday) and there were already 30 people in front of us. By 5:30, when the door opened, there were another 30 behind us.

A handful of people asked for a later seating and left. That allowed us to eat at the first seating, which we wanted. Only a few people after us were seated in the first wave. I think it was the most organized and the servers could space things properly, which gave them more time to chat. And the service is really good, at least during the first seating.

My suggestion: If you want to eat at 5:30, be in line by 4:30. If you want to eat in the second seating, around 7ish, be in line by at least 5 pm, and that's probably pushing it for Saturday. If you're really flexible, just wander in around 6ish, but be aware that you'll need something to do for three or four hours before they text you.

Note: There are 28 seats (three 4-tops, four 2-tops and an 8-person communal bar). The full meal (with drink pairing, which I highly recommend; two vermouths, two wines and two beers, one for each course) took about 80 to 90 minutes. Since there is no ordering or substitutions, it moves pretty smoothly. Worth the effort, in my opinion.

Apr 06, 2013
tmentzer in Washington DC & Baltimore

Nevis dining review

Not a whole of info on Nevis lately, so I thought I'd do a short info dump on a recent trip.

It was a pretty typical slate of island restaurants: some local "snackettes" that have flexible hours, an above-average group of laid back beach bars and a few upscale restaurants. Overall, I was disappointed that local joints with local fare weren't more prevalent or user friendly. They were almost always closed the week we were there, and once the sun goes down, good luck finding a place. Sounds nitpicky, but small dark signs set back from streets without street lights can get pretty irritating.

Probably the biggest draw of the island (for visitors and cruisers, and locals at least while we were there, around Easter) is Pinney's Beach, a couple miles north of Charlestown. It's a long beach, but all the bars are in one spot, a short walk down the beach from the Four Seasons. Plenty of parking, which is sort of "stop your car wherever" random.

All four bars (Sunshine's, Lime, Chevy's and Double Deuce) are roughly equal, all solid beach fare.

Sunshine's gets the most press. Its rum punch is known as the Killer Bee. It's pretty good. The food wasn't special, a decent lobster salad, average conch fritters, burgers and the like. Lunches are a better value than dinner, but dinner entrees like grilled shrimp were still tasty.

A lunch at Chevy's had a few local specials. The mutton curry was good. In fact any curry on the island is probably a good bet.

Lime had a very good fish taco (both the grilled and fried versions) which was more like a burrito. Also a good house-made habanero sauce. Their rum punch is the Green Flash (supposedly the oh-so-brief instand when the sun sets, there's a green flash). In fact, Pinney's Beach is a great sunset spot.

The Double Deuce (images of Patrick Swayze in Road House) was also solid food, nothing special. Though they did have a few nice details, like fresh nutmeg on their rum punch and fresh cut fries. (Chips, it's owned by a couple Brits.)

One other beach bar of note is on the northwest corner of the island at Oualie Beach Hotel. Drinks are a bit more expensive, but if you buy from the bar they don't appear to complain if you also use their beach chairs and umbrellas/trees, which is nice as Pinney's is pretty much barren of cover. Their rum punch is also pretty tasty. A vegetable roti and fish tacos were passable for lunch. The dinner atmosphere drove us away after one drink: terrible menu and a depressing group of older Brits. But for daytime, I think the best beach option.

Things might be different in high season (again, we were there close to Easter, which is a hopping holiday), but don't wait too late to eat. One night, nothing on the island was open at 8:45 p.m. aside from the Four Seasons dining room. Nothing special there, as you would expect, aside from a coconut souflee that was delicious. Four Seasons is typically overpriced, but also easy if you're not comfortable with the beach or local scenes.

A few takeout options if you're feeling lazy. Youngs Chinese was pretty awful. Indian Summer was actually quite passable Indian food, aside from a tough naan, and a welcome break when you just want to eat at home.

There are a few other local joints north of Charlestown, a drive through whose name I forget (and which isn't really a drive through, make sure you park first!) and Mansa's, a small store that also does some food. Several places do Friday barbecues (we weren't there over a Friday).

Cooking gourmet meals at home if you're in a villa won't be the highlight of your trip; the grocery stores are definitely subpar. Rum is certainly cheap, though. And Carib is always a delicious beer.

Service is average. I didn't see much of the so-called "Nevis Nice," more like bored and not really interested in being there, but pleasant enough folks. And if it's slow, most of the cooks get high, which makes them much more friendly.

Overall, even quieter and fewer choices than St. John in the USVI, which I would consider pretty similar overall, but still decent. The bars on Pinney's Beach are a great way to relax. Bring bug spray, especially at night, and use it liberally.

Apr 06, 2013
tmentzer in Latin America & Caribbean

A trip too safe?

Thanks for the responses. Lean toward Asian but not exclusively. Think I'll drop Saucebox for Oven & Shaker. Looks like a great place! Excited to spend some time in your city, thanks for the advice.

Mar 20, 2012
tmentzer in Metro Portland

A trip too safe?

An upcoming trip will leave me in PDX for four days, staying downtown. Below is the itinerary, but I'm worried it's too safe/dull? Thoughts on additions/substitutions? Any updates on the spots below?

General desires tend toward Asian/ethic and cocktails/beer, not necessarily at the same venue. Also a great affinity for restaurants where two can sit at a fun bar. Thanks in advance, and thanks for the input on the previous posts, which helped build this list.

Day 1 happy hour, Clyde Common
Day 1 dinner, Park Kitchen

Day 2 coffee, Public Domain
Day 2 happy hour, Kask
Day 2 dinner, Ping

Day 3 breakfast, Detour Café
Day 3 coffee, Oblique and/or Heart Coffee
Day 3 lunch, food carts
Day 3 happy hour, Bailey's Taproom or Teardrop
Day 3 dinner, Saucebox

Day 4 lunch, Olympic Provisions
Day 4 coffee, Water Avenue and/or Cellar Door
Day 4 dinner, Whiskey Soda Lounge

Mar 16, 2012
tmentzer in Metro Portland

Handling Valentine's Day?

To close the loop on this (five months later) we went to Lers Ros Thai and it was great. Some of the best Thai I've had. Went home stuffed and quite content. Thanks for the tips, and highly recommended.

-----
Lers Ros Thai
730 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA

Jul 18, 2010
tmentzer in San Francisco Bay Area

Is Sarticious still around?

Thanks for the tip, Melissa.

Jul 18, 2010
tmentzer in Spirits

Mavericks broadcast in a bar?

Anyone know of a bar (preferably near Union Square) that will broadcast the Mavericks surf contest? Not really up for going to AT&T. Thanks.

Feb 11, 2010
tmentzer in San Francisco Bay Area

Handling Valentine's Day?

Ha! Cracks me up that there was a post from last year, nearly identical. Didn't go back far enough! Thanks for the advice.

Jan 12, 2010
tmentzer in San Francisco Bay Area

Handling Valentine's Day?

Traveling to SF with wife over Valentine's Day, but not FOR Valentine's Day. Always avoid the amateur hour of V-Day and cook at home, but since we'll be on vacation, we need something to do.

Thoughts on somewhere to go, likely close to Union Square?

Something that won't be packed with bozos or offering crappy set-course menus or overcharging on cheap Champagne would be great. Would lean toward uber ethnic to avoid the crowds, but would still like something with a little atmosphere.

Any ideas? Or is to be Naan-N-Curry on the hotel room floor with some sparkling Thunderbird?

Jan 11, 2010
tmentzer in San Francisco Bay Area

sydney itinerary, looking for feedback

I went last night and they offered me a copy without me having to ask. Even included the Champagne we drank before the meal began. They may even have the ability to print out a menu from a particular evening if a diner calls and asks. The last restaurant with a degustation menu kept each night's menu on its computer. (Tet's was great, perfect meal. Wonderful wine pairings, amazing food.)

Sep 04, 2009
tmentzer in Australia/New Zealand

Sydney pubs

I've seen suggestions that this would be a good thread, but haven't seen the actual thread created.

I'm looking for a good place to drink a good beer and have casual food. I love gastropub food, but am not looking for a dining room. I'm looking for a real (American for proper) pub where I can knock back a few pints. Prefer in the CBD or within striking distance.

To start the list, three places I've visited:

Australian Hotel. It had a great list of bottled beer and a very good list of beer on tap. Good range of Australian beer overall. Food was decent, pizzas mostly.

Local Taphouse had a great range of beer on tap, 20 total, and another couple dozen in bottles. The bottles were very overpriced, the beer on tap was excellent. The food was good, bit overpriced and too fancy.

Lord Nelson had a half-dozen good beers of their own. Nelson's Blood was especially tasty. The food was NOT average pub grub, unless I'm missing the definition of traditional pub food. No pies, burgers, etc. More modern, goat-cheesey type dishes, fancier food.

Of the three, I most appreciated Australian Hotel and the Local, as they had a fun range of regional beers to try.

Any suggestions for beer-centered pubs along these lines, rather than food-centric gastropubs? Thanks in advance.

Sep 03, 2009
tmentzer in Australia/New Zealand

Is Sarticious still around?

I heard about Sarticious gin (distilled in Santa Cruz) last weekend and took a drive to their distillery. It's no longer there. I went to BevMo in Capitola, and they no longer carry Sarticious gin. Does anyone know what's going on with this producer?

I've read a lot of stories in the last couple years about this boutique gin, but I can't seem to find out what happened to them.

Aug 16, 2009
tmentzer in Spirits

Hunter Valley suggestions?

Will be traveling to NSW in a couple weeks. Most time will be spent in Sydney, but driving to the Hunter for a couple days early in the trip.

Any suggestions for restaurants, both lunch and dinner spots? Winery suggestions with cellar doors also appreciated.

We're open as far as cuisine/price. Preferably closer to Pokolbin, but can range a little further afield. Thanks.

Aug 16, 2009
tmentzer in Australia/New Zealand

Bobby Van's

Service is great if you look like you're going to drop a big tip (old white guy in a suit). If you're anything else (god forbid you're a young couple), service sucks. Though this is true in most area steakhouses.

The Porterhouse is indeed tasty, and I had a cajun rubbed ribeye once that was pretty good...though a bit too heavy on the rub. They have a salad of green beans, shrimp, etc that's tasty, and their fried calamari is really good. But if you get the wrong server, you're treated like a leper.

Their wine list is also pretty pricy, and not that appealing.

Here's a review I wrote last summer: http://www.dcdishes.com/node/18

Good luck.

Oct 26, 2007
tmentzer in Washington DC & Baltimore

Ballston area Chinese

That's funny, actually heard the Chinese place near the other Harris Teeter was awful. Haven't been myself though. The menu looks good.

Here's a thread from a while back: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/365252

The comments I made re: Hunan Gate (across from Ballston metro) are still valid. You can find some good stuff there, other dishes just average. Try their special sechuan chicken (not regular, special, which uses sechuan peppercorns). Their Kung Pao shrimp is oddly addictive, to me at least. Singapore noodles are pretty good, usually not overly oily. Other suggestions in my posts.

Also, while overall I'm not a fan overall, Panda Cafe (about a mile west down Wilson) does a few things really well. I especially like their pork fried rice, which has big chunks of tasty roasted pork. Again, other items on their menu are very average.

Jun 27, 2007
tmentzer in Washington DC & Baltimore

Layalina - Arlington

Surprised at the negative reviews. The pita is typical of Lebanese restaurants, a vessel for the good dips more than just a free "bread" at the beginning of the meal. Try it with the muhammara (a great roasted red pepper and walnut dish) or one of their many versions of hummos. The mazza are fine, but entrees are better. Many preparations of lamb shank and a wonderful version of shawarma. Their kafta is also excellent. Lebanese Taverna is also good, but I think a very different vibe. It may be a small chain, but it's a chain nonetheless. All things equal, I'll go for the small, family-run neighborhood restaurant every time. I understand the quibbles here, but I say give them another chance, and try something different.

This review is from last year, but holds up.

http://www.dcdishes.com/node/11

Jun 16, 2007
tmentzer in Washington DC & Baltimore

I see Liberty Tavern is open--any good?

It's got potential, but can get VERY loud. To be expected in the downstairs bar, but the upstairs dining area can also be deafening. Maybe they need to take some hints from Veridian.

The food was OK, a few gliches but nothing killer. I thought the menu was interesting, others in my party were underwhelmed. The wine list was reasonable. On Saturday it was a flesh market, with bared bosoms galore. But a nice upscale option for Clarendon.

I did a more thorough review on the food here: http://www.dcdishes.com/node/108

Jun 10, 2007
tmentzer in Washington DC & Baltimore

Hounds on a Plane (SEA)

Will do. Might even stay closer to ID for better access!

And I'll make sure to bring my BESTEST jeans! (Or at least wear them to a primping steakhouse here and bask in the snotty service.)

Thanks again.

May 22, 2007
tmentzer in Pacific Northwest

Hounds on a Plane (SEA)

I'm guessing I saw so many jeans for the same reason you did: Old Ebbitt is touristy and Circle Bistro in a hotel. I was so close to the market, I'm guessing visitors were very much in the majority. Not that I was complaining, was still a nice vibe.

May 20, 2007
tmentzer in Pacific Northwest

Hounds on a Plane (SEA)

Great trip. As expected, the food was excellent. I made it to many of the places I wanted to try. Some were just fillers because they were close at hand when we were hungry.

Union was the best meal of the week. Braised pork belly appetizer on young garlic was amazing. Ran out of two of their half-dozen entrees by 8 (strange) but cut up some black bass and cooked it perfectly. Pouisson was also great, as were desserts.

Serious Pie was perfect. What a fun place. Excellent food, reasonably priced wine, great service. That space would make a killing in any city. Wish I could go back.

Purple Cafe had some honestly high-quality wines in their flights, which is rare. Generous pours too, though one Portugese wine was off. RANK city. The upstairs bar area was great, and their small plates were pretty tasty as well. And plenty of seats on Friday at 6 or 7. I was surprised at that.

Took us a while to find Zig Zag (had the wrong address in my head, so I was looking on the wrong side of Western...derrrr....) but neat place. Great stock of booze, interesting drinks.

Salumi. God I'd love to have this place close to home. Zeitgeist was also an excellent coffee shop. Two great local institutions.

Saitos I would recommend to anyone. The younger guy behind the counter was a wet fish, pardon the pun, but we were there after any lunch rush.

Steelhead Diner was tasty, but not in a wow sorta way. Except the Beechers fried cheese curds. Best take on mozzarella sticks ever!

Etta's Seafood was also just so-so. I expected more. The salmon preparation was too busy. Salmon, bread pudding, orange segments, shitake garnish, some kinda sauce, and asparagus (a half-dozen slim spears and one hefty spear, unpeeled...very curious). It just didn't let the fish shine. But it WAS cooked perfectly. And the skate was excellent, again a huge portion.

Virginia Inn. A dozen excellent local taps, nice drinks, well-made, good service. A great low-key bar near the market.

Cascadia was a beautiful space, but I expected a bit more energy. If it was more lively, the bar area would be great. I was actually a bit susprised at the lack of downtown energy in general, even Thursday and Friday nights. I guess too far from most of the residential centers to pull in big crowds?

Piroshky Piroshky was CLOSED Monday through Friday! The horror!

Accceptable: Bambuza and Typhoon. Again, they were close. Not first choices, but they worked. Typhoon's tea menu was fun, and Bambuza had a surprisingly nice bar with well-made drinks.

Observation 1: Portions are huge, even in top-tier restaurants. Not used to that.

Observation 2: Very casual, even more so than I expected. I was overdressed just about everywhere we went. Granted the area we stayed was touristy, but jeans on guys in restaurants where you're dropping almost $100/person is tacky.

Observation 3: People in Seattle always wait for the walking light to change! No cars within miles, and they're still waiting at the corners. Creepy.

Overall a great experience. Thanks for the recommendations. Can't wait to get back and explore further afield, into the ID, Capitol Hill, Ballard, elsewhere. Next trip will likely include a car! (By the by, the Seattle Art Museum is great, excellent mix, nice size. Good job Seattle!)

Any questions about DC, feel free to fire them my way. Thanks again.

http://www.dcdishes.com

May 20, 2007
tmentzer in Pacific Northwest

Hounds on a Plane (SEA)

Some of DC's better eateris do have a bit of a complex, Manhattan attitude and prices without quite the quality. Though when Michel Richard is on, he's really on. Same with Roberto Donna, Jose Andres, Fabio Trabocchi, Cathal Armstrong, Johnny Monis, Eric Ziebold, others...

But the food scene here is infinitely better than it used to be, even with the service issues. (Did I respond to your cocktail post elsewhere? There are actually a few really good places, but a whole lotta truly awful ones.)

Thanks for the tips. I think Union has been bumped up to the definite list after these posts. Probably at the bar though. And I do love good dim sum. I'll drop a note with my thoughts week after next.

May 07, 2007
tmentzer in Pacific Northwest

Hounds on a Plane (SEA)

Thanks for the tips. I'm guessing ID will be a lunch after the ballgame, nice idea on the Chinese. I think Saito's was my #1 choice for sushi, so thanks for reaffirming.

I'm excited about Serious Pie (maybe more than Salumi). I absolutely love the idea of upscale chefs opening casual joints featuring food they love. Cathal Armstrong (Best New Chef, Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, VA, etc) opened a fish and chips place, named it after his son. Sounds like he mostly did it because he misses the fish and chips he got back in Ireland. Can't beat that. For a superstar to do pizza I think is cool.

I read the Vietnamese scene was tasty, but my home digs outside DC has a huge Vietnamese population (great Korean too) so I get a regular dose of great pho, rice verm, etc. Hard to beat a good Vietnamese meal though, soon to rival Thai imho.

Still wish there was a good/fun/even decent Mexican place!

Thanks again for the tips. Looking forward to some great food.

May 04, 2007
tmentzer in Pacific Northwest

Hounds on a Plane (SEA)

I generally frown on list posts, but here's one anyhow. So there.

Thoughts on this lineup for a weeklong trip for a longtime-removed area native and his wife, a Seattle first-timer, week after next?

Any items to nix/add? We'll be @ Pine and 7th without a car. Cabs are OK but not preferred. Ethnic preferred over French/American, except when fishies are prominent.

Lunches:
- Serious Pie (love pizza)
- Salumi (love pork)
- Pike Place Chowder (love chowder)
- Baguette Box (love banh mi)
- Maximilien
- Those little pastry-filled whatits near the market
- Campagne (maybe)

Dinners:
- Mistral
- Boat Street Cafe
- Steelhead Diner
- Palace Kitchen (over Dahlia?)
- One of the sushi places lauded on here
...sounds like Matt's@Market won't be open...

Drinks/happy hours/bar dinners:
- Zig Zag
- Cascadia
- Vessel
- Someplace to get a real margarita

Thanks in advance. (Seems like each board should have a FAQ, or highly ranked overview post list, etc...)
----
Tom www.dcdishes.com

May 04, 2007
tmentzer in Pacific Northwest

Private room for 12-15 in DC

So-so food but a nice upstairs wine room that will hold that many: Olives @ 16th and K.

May 04, 2007
tmentzer in Washington DC & Baltimore

How much is too much to pay for a good meal?

Once-in-a-lifetime meals (or two- or three-times, max!!) are events you'll remember forever. If I'm just looking for a meal, the max price drops FAR. When I'm looking for experiences, sometimes I know I have to pay for them.

I rarely talk about the $1,000 tab for two at the French Laundry (leads some folks to choke), but I also consider the alternatives: 20 typical weeknight dinner tabs in DC at $50 a pop, or five (granted, overpriced) $200 dinners at an upscale bistro in town.

That wicked splurge at FL led to more than a dozen courses, some of the best wine I've ever had, and an experience I'll always remember. (Note: experience, not meal.)

I agree with the "perspective" commenter, though in a slightly different way. It's all about your goals, needs, desires, etc. (And note, my lunch the day of my Laundry dinner consisted of sitting on a curb noshing on taco truck pork tacos, also a very memorable experience.)

May 02, 2007
tmentzer in Not About Food

vapiano (ballston) report

I was a bit more critical of the quality of food and service, though I suspect both will be worked out in short order. I agree that one can't complain for a $6.75 pizza, though my crust was pretty atrocious. (Mixing issues, I suspect.)

The salad ($6.50 for large, plus $2.25 for some turkey) was expensive for a self-serve counter.

I'm not quite sure you would ever pay three or four times more, even for higher-quality food. Even Bebo doesn't charge that much for simple dishes. I also think other sit-down pizza places in the area (Pie-Tanza, Facia Luna, Il Radicchio) are significantly better, though none within walking distance of my house. Also, when it comes down to it, Vapiano is basically just good fast food, so you have to factor that in.

The concept is fun, the design is hip. The food is OK. I'm especially curious to try the veal, tuna cream and caper pizza. Full review here: http://www.dcdishes.com/node/86

And I truly hope the "fantastic" comment regarding Ted's was sarcasm.

Apr 30, 2007
tmentzer in Washington DC & Baltimore

Seattle excells at the following....

Departing DC for a week in Seattle shortly (we do have a FEW good cocktail slingers here...IndeBleu in DC, PX in Alexandria).

Question: Any other recs for downtown/Belltown drinks at nice places, especially weeknight friendly with dinner in or nearby? Staying at Pine and 7th, and up for walking a half-dozen blocks.

Apr 27, 2007
tmentzer in Pacific Northwest

Seattle lunch place?

Of course, I'm visiting from May 12 to 19. Makes sense I would miss a place I was looking forward to!

Apr 27, 2007
tmentzer in Pacific Northwest

Lunch around McPherson Square/White House?

Try Julia's Empanadas on Vermont btw K and L. The chorizo empanadas and black bean soup are great.

I second the recs for Casa Blanca (a bit overpriced, but OK for a sit-down place) and the 15th and K burrito cart, though it's gotten so popular you have to go before 11:30 or after 1ish. The Juice Joint Cafe is also great.

The Roast House (same block) has good salads and sandwiches, paninis, etc, and decent coffee, if you prefer to shun Starbux.

There used to be a GREAT Chinese place that had a Thai chef, called Lim's. Now it's a very mediocre chinese place with a crappy buffet. Not really any good Asian in the immediate area that I know of.

Naan N Beyond on L and about 17th is great. Right next door is an Indian place. It's creepy, in the bowels of the building, dark and a crazy nightclub after dark, but during the day they have a decent Indian buffet, just about the only buffet food I'll eat anymore. Good naan, a few veg dishes, a few meat dishes, lemon pickle, etc. I think a bit more than $10, but something to try when you're hungry.

Apr 18, 2007
tmentzer in Washington DC & Baltimore

Flattop Grill in Ballston gone -- Lebanese place -- Aladdin's Eatery has opened in its place

Agree with posts that it's fair for takeout. Their beef shawarma sandwich is above-average and cheap. Another sandwich, shishtawook, has a decent garlic sauce. If you buy a sandwich, you can get a small side salad for something like $1.50 or $1.95, a reasonable addition.

Their entree salads are overpriced at $8 or $9. (And who shreds feta?) The hummus is good if you prefer the very smooth, creamy kind. They don't usually offer enough pita with it, but they have big bags of pita you can pick up for about $2, which is a nice deal.

Recently tried their falafel pitza, which was interesting. Tahini sauce with tomatoes, chunks of falafel and a big handful of banana peppers.

They have more expensive entrees, but I think the best meal (and best deal) for two is a coupld sandwiches (they call them rolled pitas), a couple side salads and an order of hummus.

A longer review here:

http://www.dcdishes.com/node/67

Apr 17, 2007
tmentzer in Washington DC & Baltimore