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actarheel's Profile

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Great Brunch on Bleeker at Baker and Company

We're always looking for a yummy new brunch spot and we scored today with Baker and Company on Bleeker. We'd walked by a few times and the menu looked interesting. The space is inviting with an adorable heated garden in the back. The brunch offerings are plentiful and the standout was the eggs benedict with parma and burrata. The avocado toast and nutella stuffed french toast were tasty too. The service was friendly and we'll definitely go back. Not sure why this place isn't more packed?

Dec 27, 2014
actarheel in Manhattan

Yummy Lobster Rolls in NYC

Second Ed's Lobster Bar - excellent lobster roll, well-done fries and a glass of Sancerre!

Nov 16, 2014
actarheel in Manhattan

Tokyo help - family of four

My husband loves Ippudo, but we can get it in NY! Would love to try places we can only get in Japan. Thanks.

Apr 08, 2014
actarheel in Japan

Tokyo help - family of four

I am in the midst of planning a trip to Tokyo for our family of four (children ages 7 and 9) in early June. We will be staying at the Hilton Tokyo in Shinjuku, but are excited to explore. The four of us all enjoy food and the kids are fairly adventurous. They love sushi, but I understand there are many places that do not welcome children. I want our experience to be about enjoying our time and our meals, so want to make sure we choose appropriately. I did my study abroad in Tokyo, so do speak some Japanese, but it is rather ugly as this point as I rarely use it!

I'd love to find some great choices for sushi, tempura, ramen and/or soba, etc. and am very open to direction from fellow chow hounds. We are eager for input for lunches and dinners.

Any favorite places near Tsukiji? I know we will do that one morning.

FYI. We are doing a short trip to Kyoto for two nights, so plan to do kaiseki during that portion of our trip...

Thank your for helping us plan a great trip!

Apr 07, 2014
actarheel in Japan

Excellent Dinner at The Gallery at Villard Michel Richard

We were celebrating two birthdays last night and chose The Gallery at Villard Michel Richard for a celebratory dinner. The entire evening was a joy - the room, the service and the food. I had read a few mediocre reviews of the Bistro, but was tempted by the menu and pictures of the offerings in the fine dining venue and it delivered. My only concern is that the exquisite room was rather empty. It really is worth a visit.

We didn't realize they were running a spring promotion with Dom Perignon (apparently through early May), so our table of four was delighted with a complimentary bottle upon being seated. We then had two different amuses as well as bread service. We chose the prixe fixe option and had many of the offerings between the four of us. A highlight of the first course was the Ruby Begula Shrimp appetizer - israeli couscous tinged dark (like caviar) thanks to squid ink, layered over shrimp and a lightly done egg - all playfully presented in a caviar tin. For the second course, the winner was the Lobster Porcupine. Tender lobster enrobed in threads of kataifi (think thin, greek phyllo strands). The meat course was the most popular at the table, with the Wagyu and Venison coming out on top. We also thoroughly enjoyed a 2004 Margaux Alter Ego thanks to the sommelier's guidance. The service throughout was knowledgeable and attentive without being overbearing.

We moved on to a refreshing mango palate cleanser and then our waiter chose our desserts. He brought out four different beautifully presented plates - the lemon curd in the white chocolate "egg" was beautiful and the chocolate dessert was also a table favorite. In addition, he brought out a show-stopping chocolate covered fruit cake topped with a macaron and a massive sparkler on top.

I was hoping that the meal would deliver in terms of excellent french technique and it did. I was curious as to whether it would seem staid and old school, which it did not. Many dishes were creative and unusually plated or presented. I hope that more people will give this five month old gem a try. It was a really lovely evening - an adult meal in a very special room. Our waiter took the time to share with us the history of the Villard Mansion which is quite impressive. The historically landmarked gallery is simply breathtaking and now graced with a touch of modernity via the lighting and the massive black and white vintage photos along the walls. In a city where you are often cheek and jowl with your fellow diners, it was such a pleasure to have the space and leisure to enjoy our company and the delightful courses being lavished upon the table.

I am not quite sure why it is still so under the radar, but urge fellow chowhounds to give The Gallery a try for a special dinner. You will leave feeling satiated and coddled and not quite ready to be deposited back into the "real world."

Mar 21, 2014
actarheel in Manhattan

Places to eat w/kids and advice on activities

I would say the windows are worth a peek. My kids would be overwhelmed with the lines at Dylan's or FAO Schwartz this time of year. I suppose it depends on how much they are interested as to what their attention span would be.

I would suggest:

-sweets treats from Bouchon Bakery and a look at the tree/skaters at Rockefeller Center
-lunch at Soba Nippon - we've always enjoyed their noodles with the kids and it is a bit tucked out of the way from the tourist crush -
-Toloache - easy walk from Radio City and well received food -
-a good Neapolitan pizza option Don Antonio (50th and 8th) -
-Num Pang - our favorite bahn mi shop has a midtown location now. They have delicious sandwiches, but be warned with the kids that they won't make any substitutions/changes on the sandwiches -

Another idea which my kids love is a walk along Central Park South to see the horses and carriages and then a walk through the Plaza Food Hall downstairs for a treat. They have a few great bakeries, Luke's Lobster, a Todd English restaurant and there is even an Eloise at the Plaza shop if your kids are into that? -

Max Brenner has the chocolate novelty thing going for it, but I agree that the food is less than stellar and quite expensive for what it is. That being said, sometimes you do the touristy thing because you are there and you can!

Have a great time….

Dec 19, 2013
actarheel in Manhattan

Help us eat our way through Seattle!

We are planning to stay at the Fairmont. We don't have any firm plans. We'll want to do some touristy things since it is our first visit - Pike Place Market, strolling around town exploring, maybe a trip to Bainbridge? Really just want a relaxing weekend studded with lots of yummy local food….

Dec 18, 2013
actarheel in Greater Seattle

Help us eat our way through Seattle!

My husband and I will be visiting Seattle for the first time at the end of March. We are complete foodies and really enjoy all types of cuisines. We'd like to taste the best Seattle has to offer over our long (child-free!) weekend. Ideally, one fine dining meal (as we'll be celebrating my birthday) and we're open from there….. We really have no restrictions and would love help from those who know Seattle food best. Thanks, 'hounds!

Dec 14, 2013
actarheel in Greater Seattle

Piedmont Itinerary Help

We will be in the Piedmont staying near Monferrato in the first week of August (myself, my husband and our two foodie children).

There is a glut of information on the boards and this is our first visit to the region. I'm trying to narrow down our choices based on where will be each day. We are planning to do a bigger lunch and a light dinner based on the driving between areas. Would love 'hounds input on our proposed five day itinerary:

Day One - settle in; dinner around Monferatto - Osteria L'Ermite in nearby Castell'Alfero?
Day Two - Torino - breakfast/bicerin at Caffe Al Bicerin; lunch at Consorzio; go to Juventus stadium in the afternoon
Day Three - guided wine tour
Day Four - Alba- La Libera for lunch or worth driving to La Torre in Cherasco?
Day Five - Asti - Trattoria I Bologna or venture to Da Bardon in San Marzano Oliveta?

Also, any other ideas for light, tasty dinners near/on the way back to Monferrato?

Thank so much for making our trip yummy and manageable in terms of travel!

Jul 10, 2013
actarheel in Italy

Tuscany stop for cheese near San Casciano - Corzano e Paterno

Go! The property is quaint and tucked away, but the cheeses and wines are quite special and the staff are lovely. A great find.

Jun 24, 2012
actarheel in Italy

Sunday in Naples - Best Pizza?

We will be on a cruise that makes one of its final stops on a Sunday in Naples. We'll only be in town for the daytime and we've been before, so are going to skip the trips to Pompeii, Capri, etc. What we'd like to go instead is go (with our kids) for a great Naples pizza experience. Not sure how being in port on a Sunday will affect our choices. I think a few are closed? Would love for 'hound input to get us to the best spot in terms of pizza, location and overall experience. Any favorite gelato spots to top off our outing would be fab. Thanks!

May 27, 2012
actarheel in Italy

Istanbul - Proposed Itinerary - Input Please!

I wanted to post with a bit of a trip report as we just returned from Istanbul. Thank you for all of the suggestions and ideas. We had an amazing trip. Everyone doted on the kids left and right and we all had a fabulous time.

We did end up eating at Antiocha and they were not only accommodating with the kids, but gracious. The food was delicious - the meze, the meats and we had probably the best Turkish Coffee of our trip.

On Saturday, we ate in the bazaar at Kara Mehmet for lunch. It was lovely to sit outside and eat and we had quite a feast. Everything was fresh and hot and perfect. Saturday night we ate at Lokanta Maya. It was a bit more upscale in feel, but we had a fun time nonetheless. My son gobbled up my sea bass and my daughter made quick work of the lamb. It was on the pricier side, but we enjoyed a nice evening out.

Sunday we went on a bit of a wild goose chase to find Giritli (wrong spot according to Google) but we found it and were so glad we did. It was quite empty for lunch, but the staff were so gracious with the kids. It was indeed a beautiful garden and the meze selection vast! As the bread came out, I pointed over to the kids about where the baker was baking it and next thing I knew the kids were over there and getting to bake their own bread. Because it wasn't busy, the baker let them help and they had a blast. The food was fresh, bright and made for a perfect afternoon sitting outside and enjoying the setting, the food and white wine.

Sunday night we did the Kebab Crawl and it was a lot of fun. Our guide painted quite a flowery picture of the various establishments and characters we'd meet and the kids enjoyed being fawned over and doted on. Football was the order of the evening and by the time we made it to our last stop for dessert my son was a Fenerbaci fan and was high fiving the staff over the replays. We definitely tasted some unique things we wouldn't have tried otherwise, but I will say that I think we enjoyed some of our other Kebab food just as much. All in all, well worth doing.

Thank you again 'hounds for helping us plan our trip! Oh, we also really enjoyed the various sweets at Hafiz Mustafa as you come back to the Sultanhamet side from the Galata Bridge. The ice cream vendor next door was also a hoot with his antics and had the kids in stitches.

May 08, 2012
actarheel in Europe

Istanbul - Proposed Itinerary - Input Please!

I've been pouring over the boards in preparation for our upcoming trip to Istanbul. I will be traveling with my husband and our two children, ages five and seven. They are adventurous eaters and dine out frequently, but I'd still like to make sure our choices are fitting. Here is what I have so far. Would love input - what would you add/change/skip? Any foodie/not to miss spots for sweets or Turkish coffee?

Thanks 'hounds!

Friday - arrive
lunch - Galata bridge fish sandwich?
dinner - Sultanhamet Fish House (near hotel) or Antiocha or Mikla (too formal/fancy with the kids?)

lunch - at Grand Bazaar - Kara Mehmet Kebab, Burç Ocakbasi or Havuzlu?
dinner - take ferry to Ciya Sofrasi

lunch - open to ideas (might do a Bosphorus cruise?)
dinner - Kebab Crawl with Istanbul Eats!

depart Monday mid-day - any spectacular place for breakfast?

Apr 20, 2012
actarheel in Europe

Cask - Murray Hill

Went tonight for dinner with a group of seven. Food was all quite good. My salad was tasty and nicely dressed and the crab cake was yummy (although definitely not light). Servers were friendly and the place was packed. Nice call on the suggestion of this spot. Thanks!

Apr 10, 2012
actarheel in Manhattan

Prague Help?

Just wanted to post an update about our weekend. We had a great time, although the weather was not stellar. We had a lovely dinner at U Male Velrby on Friday night. They were very kind and everything was nicely cooked. I didn't realize how small this spot was! On Saturday, we met up with my two girlfriends who texted that they were having a drink - where of all places? Tygra! We walked over and joined them, but were quickly ushered back out as they don't allow kids. So, that answers that. My friends enjoyed their drinks, but that was all we managed. Dinner was at Lokal that night and it was perfect. Convivial atmosphere, hearty food and interesting tastes of local specialties. Just had trouble dragging my five year old away from the smoking side (as that is where they were showing hockey on a giant screen TV!). The half marathon was on Saturday morning and we enjoyed a fun post-race party of sorts at U Flecku. They were welcoming of the kids and we had a large table and enjoyed just hanging out over beers. We then went to dinner at Sansho, which was excellent. I enjoyed everything from the cocktails to the varied courses brought our way. Standout for me were the soft-shell crab sliders. They were also terrific with the kids, who devoured their calamari fritti and chicken with fried rice. Excellent meal and I would definitely recommend it. Thank you for all of your posts, which helped make our trip a success!

Apr 04, 2012
actarheel in Europe

Prague Help?

I'll let you know after next week!

Mar 21, 2012
actarheel in Europe

Dabbous, London

Went tonight for dinner and everything was uniformly excellent. From the fennel salad to the barbecued iberian pork, everything was inventive while still delicious. Wine pairings were spot on as well. An excellent evening, particularly at this price point. Staff was attentive and chef was gracious as well.

Mar 16, 2012
actarheel in U.K./Ireland

Recommendation for husbands birthday - we are foodies but i am pregnant

For what it is worth, I dined at EMP when I was pregnant and they were incredibly accommodating and I thoroughly enjoyed my meal.

Mar 16, 2012
actarheel in Manhattan

Szechuan Garden, Phoenix Garden or Tang Pavillion?

We are meeting my parents after a Sunday matinee for obligatory "Sunday night Chinese." There will be seven of us and we're looking for best overall food quality (not concerned as much with ambiance). Which of these (or any other mid-town option) would you suggest?

Mar 13, 2012
actarheel in Manhattan

Family Birthday Dinner - the right Italian choice?

My parents and sister will be dining with us for dinner in early April. It is both my sister and my son's birthday. We've been everywhere from Lupa to Babbo, Scarpetta to Malatesta, Frank to Frankie's Spuntino. What I'm looking for is excellent food that has some straightforward options to satisfy the birthday boy. I don't want the menu to be too newfangled, as he would really like some calamari fritti and yummy pasta. Neighborhood not important, price not that important. Thanks, 'hounds!

Mar 12, 2012
actarheel in Manhattan

Last Minute Recs [London]

Nopi would be nice with a group -

Feb 16, 2012
actarheel in U.K./Ireland

Afternoon Tea in London with Children?

Grosvenor House has a special tea offering for children - - looks worth considering.

Feb 16, 2012
actarheel in U.K./Ireland

One Great San Francisco Fine Dining Experience?


One Great San Francisco Fine Dining Experience?

Another good point...I will stay tuned to the SF board!

One Great San Francisco Fine Dining Experience?

The menu looks great!

One Great San Francisco Fine Dining Experience?

My husband and I will be coming to the Bay Area in early October to celebrate his 40th birthday. We'll be heading out to Napa for two of the three nights, but will have one evening in San Francisco. We're looking for a special meal - tasting menu, ideally with wine pairings, that is extremely well executed with service to match. I've been pouring over the boards and am a bit conflicted. From the menus alone, Quince seems to be top on my list (but saw mixed reviews on the boards?). Saison looks great, but don't really want to do a $500/chef's counter and I don't get much from the regular menu? Benu looks interesting, but the current tasting menu didn't wow us. Atelier Crenn also came up, but not sure the cooking will live up to the hype/techniques? Manresa looks fabulous, but don't want to go to Los Gatos. We are game for adventurous, but not for the sake of it. I suppose our preferences tend towards European/French but we really enjoy Farm to Table and Contemporary American. So SF 'Hounds, where would you send us?!?!?! Thanks in advance....

Prague Help?

My husband and I and our two children (ages 5 and 7) will be traveling from London to Prague for my birthday weekend in March. We're meeting up with two of my American girlfriends and we will be running the Prague half marathon during our stay. We're very much into food and our kids are pretty adventurous, but a nine course tasting menu like Degustation is not in the cards. So, 'hounds where would you send us for a few good lunches and dinners? We'll be staying right by the Charles Bridge. Ideally places that takes bookings as we'll be a larger party. Lokal? The Golden Tiger? La Bella Canzone (as per Kukubura's post) for a good pre-race meal? Thanks for your help in planning a great weekend!

Feb 06, 2012
actarheel in Europe

Hot new restaurants in London?

How about Bocca di Lupo? Great small plates. Modern, inventive Italian.

Bocca di Lupo
12 Archer St, London, England W1D 7, GB

Aug 31, 2011
actarheel in U.K./Ireland

Atul Kochhar's Meza (Soho, London)

The prices did stack up, but the food did not live up to the hype. The server we had knew nothing about the menu and was utterly helpless, so that did not enhance our experience. There were definitely a lot of people around the bar who appeared to be having fun, but as far as the actual food, I was not impressed.

Jun 27, 2011
actarheel in U.K./Ireland

Date Night Spot - Between Florence and Siena?

We will be staying at Corzano e Paterno with our family for a few weeks in July. My sister has graciously offered to watch our children for one night each week so we can enjoy a night out to ourselves. Friends suggested Osteria di Passignano for one night and we'd love chow input on the best food to be had in the near vicinity for our other evening. We'll have a car, but would like to keep the drive about 30 minutes or less. Any favorites?

Jun 24, 2011
actarheel in Italy