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Akasaka (Izakayas, ramen, casual places, etc...) recommendations

Thank you both for the recommendations. @Gargle: Horuchan looks really interesting, but I can't quite figure out what their deal is from tabelog. What can I look forward to?

Apr 03, 2014
mstacey42 in Japan

Akasaka (Izakayas, ramen, casual places, etc...) recommendations

My wife and are I going to be in Tokyo from April 18-22nd, and May 5-9th. We are staying at the B Akasaka, which seems to be pretty close to Akasaka station. Does anyone have any recommendations for places nearby for dinners that can be done as walk-ins? Our Japanese ability is minimal (i.e. I have assiduously devoted myself to a set of Michel Thomas cds). Any help is much appreciated, though I will suspect I will not have difficulty finding delicious things to eat.

Mar 30, 2014
mstacey42 in Japan

Osteria Dei Ganzi

I'm frankly glad to see that the ambiance is "unpatrolled." Hiding from the patrols at other restaurants has become tiresome. Face it folks: the trend is dead.

Galatoire's POOR service and CANNED Peas!

I think that we might consider the wisdom of cutting the OP some slack. Before I visited Galatoire's for the first time, I was very nervous about the rumours I had heard (here, on chowhound!) about non-regulars being served rather ordinary food, and being given brusque service. I scoured the internets for every piece of info I could find about the proper way to dress, behave, the right questions to ask. Of course, it was great fun, and I learned that I (mostly) hadn't needed to be so nervous. One has to make allowances that most of the world does not nervously, obsessively, (and in a spirit of due humility), prepare themselves to encounter a restaurant; most restaurants neither require nor reward such preparation. Part of what makes Galatoires so delightful is that it doesn't work like any other restaurant, and part of what makes it so frustrating for many newbies is that if you treat it like any other restaurant, it sometimes doesn't work.

Dec 29, 2011
mstacey42 in New Orleans

Carpano - the new Negroni

Had a great, reasonably priced meal at Carpano last night of spaghetti carbonara (a really wonderfully cheesy rendition, with a sorta cooked egg on top) and a negroni. They brought some truly excellent oily/crispy foccacia for egg-o-dipping. My friend had some pan fried gnocchi which he enjoyed greatly, but which I did not get to sample. Glad they have a few more cocktails on the list now. Sad they wouldn't keep the tuna or BLT sandwiches. Also, too bad the place only had a few other tables with people in them. Now that they have nice pastas, at very reasonable prices ($14 for my spagcarb!) along with good drinks, it seems even more absurd that people should not flock to the place. Don't close the Carpano! Eventually your faithfulness will be rewarded!

Fried Chicken on French Toast and the BBQ at Hadleys

My experiences at Hadley's are more mixed (I've certainly been to Triple D places I didn't like as much) but my overall feelings are quite good (it is around the corner, after all) and the fried chicken french toast was an excellent piece of fried chicken. Not sure if it's better than the chicken and waffles at Stockyards, but it's certainly up there. Actually...my experiences aren't too mixed. A mediocre burger one visit, a disappointing encounter with some smoked fish whose attached skin I found pretty gross but was assured was the way some people liked it, otherwise pretty happy. I've been for a few brunches and two dinners.

I have had good to great experiences with the mac and cheese. They used to put a bit of bacon in it for a small supplement (but I was not offered on my last visit). They put a side salad on many of the breakfast dishes, which to me is the kind of unthinking sop to the try-to-please-everyone school of bruncherias that I find most loathsome--- OTOH my GF actually likes their side salad, and she's sat through enough of my side-salad tirades to know.

They make a good Caesar. The place is comfortable and the staff are friendly and very earnest in the pride they show in their stuff. Likeable.

For reference, I suppose I will say that I live closer to Mitzi's on College, but I gave that place the Lamia years ago. Hadley's keeps calling me back. Part of it is brunch-o lazyness, but definitely not all of it.

Deep Fried Pickles!!! Where are they?

Best I've ever had came from the Cloak and Dagger on College. Which also has a great beer selection.

Acadia: Who knows what?

I think those pictures look pretty darn good. The menu reads right to me, too. Somebody get down there and tell us what it's like.

Best Thing You Ever Ate - Toronto

Pancakes with hay ham at Hoof Cafe (RIP)

Chicken and Waffles at Stockyards (can't get that spicy syrup off my mind...too much soicy syrup, though.)

double cheeseburger at burger's priest.

Breakfast pocket at Auntie's and Uncles.

rabbit ravioli with walnut cream sauce at Gianni e Maria (RIP)

Tori Kara Age at Guu

ham and cheese croissants at Manic Coffee (which I believe are from Wanda's but I don't know if Wanda's sells the ham/cheese version).

Chilean salad at Jumbo Empanadas.

Hiyashi Chuka at Tokyo Grill

Baked mini puff pastry filled with cured ham, shrimp & pork at Lai Wah Heen

Pumpkin Dumpling at Yang's.

Veal Sandwich from California Sandwiches.

BLT sandwich from Negroni (whatever the new name is?)

Jame Kennedy's Fries

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Lai Wah Heen
108 Chestnut St, Toronto, ON M5G 1R3, CA

Jumbo Empanadas
245 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L8, CA

Tokyo Grill
582 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4Y1Z3, CA

Guu
398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA

Your Favorite Pizza in Italy--worthy of a train ride or a long wait in line

I will second the Pellone recommendation. It was tied for 1st with Starita A Materdei of about 15 pizzerias I visited in a week in Naples. I say, you are two people; eat two pizzas, one at each of two pizzerias. Go to Da Michele because you will regret it if you don't visit the most famous place (I found it a little disappointing) and then go see a museum (after walking around a bit) and then on your way home go to Pellone (where you might even eat a fried calzone) because it is near the train station.

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Da Michele
Via Cesare Sersale, 1, Naples, Campania 80139, IT

Pellone
Via Nazionale,93, Naples, Campania 80143, IT

Jul 11, 2011
mstacey42 in Italy

Ortolan - A welcomed addition to Bloordale

Excellent meal at Ortolan last night.

We ate a socca (chickpea crepe, stuffed with squash, chard and an assertive aged goat's cheese), ravioli with chanterelles stuffed with spinach and ricotta, gnocchi with sausage ragu, kefte (like perfect medium rare Mediterranean bunless little burgers, served with a parsley salad and some spiced yogurt), and a side of vegetable marrow (in actuality a zucchini with a soft centre, served with more spiced yogurt---this is the kind of place where you probably shouldn't mind meeting an ingredient more than once---they're good ingredients, though), vanilla panna cotta with strawberries, a dense, brownie-like burnt almond and chocolate cake.

I was particularly impressed by the skilfully made pastas (which I would put up against anything I had in my single visit to Campagnolo), but it was all very tasty (not a loser in the bunch) and remarkably reasonably priced. Around$110 (after tax) for all that food, a campari and soda, a bourbon, 3 glasses of wine.

Service was very friendly.

After a number of disappointing meals at new and hyped places (how many times have you heard a variant on that opener in this town?) I was so happy to have such good food at what is for now, a little neighbourhood place that has gone mostly under the radar.

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Campagnolo
832 Dundas St. W, Toronto, ON , CA

Jazzfest report--between the weekends.

Having already enjoyed three days of eating with father's birthday troupe, I switch to a slightly cheaper hotel and await the arrival of two friends who will join me for part two of my gluttonous and glorious 3rd trip to New Orleans.

Monday Lunch, Cochon Butcher: Pretty bustly place with appealing and modestly priced meat-wares. We split two sandwiches (muffaletta and a bacon melt), some duck sliders (which turn out to be a 2nd grilled cheese), coleslaw (which never arrives) and a peanut butter and jam cookie (I think they called it a cookie, whatever they called it it turned out to be a soggy muffin but one which had a great peanut butter flavour). As others have noted, the muffaletta loses out because the olive salad just isn't as good as other versions. It's kind of hard to even figure out what they are going for, but as a basic first reaction, you have to ask why they would chop the olives so finely when part of the olive salad appeal is the meaty chunks of olive, right? The meats on the muffuletta were great, though, and so it still ends up being a very good sandwich. Both grilled cheeses are nicely done--and the homemade bacon is pretty special. We also had some headcheese, which is as smooth as I remember from the restaurant, but feels a little muted in flavour--it's pretty much just a meaty butter. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Monday Dinner: Mimi's in the Marigny: We are astonished and disappointed in ourselves to find that we are still full all day from lunch. Tapas in a dive-y bar sounds like just the ticket for non-committal eating. Wow! low expectations might play a part, but I am blown away by Mimi's (having previously thought that going for spanish food in NO seemed like a bit of a waste of time.) We have patatas bravas, a braised pork with dried fruit, and three "trust me" dishes (off menu dishes which might be hot or cold) which include a cold roast beef with aioli and habanero jam, garlic shrimps, and...oh man I feel bad but I don't think I'll remember the last one. Everything was very good, a bit rustic, but the ingredients (especially the shrimp) were very good quality.

Tuesday, Lunch: Emeril's: Great service, though one of my party felt our server was a little green--it didn't bother me...but he did seem to not know what a macchiato was...and in any case never brought the requested one. Food was a little hit or miss. The much praised bbq shrimp were amazing--an absolutely delicious sauce and some of the most perfectly cooked shrimp I've had. The tasso and smoked mushroom angel hair was very good too---but there is something totally strange about eating pasta with bacon cream sauce and angel hair in 2011. Gumbo was pretty decent, but no Cochon. My porkchop was sadly overcooked---what a horrible fate to befall such a beautiful and THICK piece of meat. My friends had the andouille crusted redfish (good), and a malfatti dish called macaroni and cheese involving shrimp (this one really suffered from cream sauce blandness). For dessert we split a scoop of mint julep ice cream (excellent fresh mint flavour) and the famous banana cream pie (maybe this was yesterday's pie, the cream had become a bit too solid and indelicate, though the flavours were good). The general consensus was that we ate a few really good things, but that there was a real similarity of flavours and that a few missteps had occured in the later part of the meal (which can really bring things down). I forgot to mention the bread service, which was very tasty (potato, sweet potato, and corn bread) but all of the breads had an odd mushy texture, which you usually associate with industrial supermarket rolls. The place is lovely--in a 90's BIG restaurant kind of way--and the service is generally of a polished and gracious variety (as has been frequently noted). It seems a pretty tight ship at the old Emeril factory--which makes it more of a shame when things don't go quite right.

Tuesday, Dinner: Coop's: Again...full all afternoon from Emeril's (we are really starting to doubt our eating stamina...about which many outlandish claims have been made in the past)...someone suggests coop's because of the bar atmosphere--it doesn't feel like you are committing to a restaurant experience. My last two meals at Coop's have both been around midnight, as it was one of the few well-regarded places to eat after getting off a late flight. The jambalaya both times has been baby-food mushy, but the flavours have been fine. I really was pretty sure that it was just bar food. Now I understand why Coop's has such strong defenders. Tonight the jambalaya is much firmer (not al dente, but not mush) and the flavour even seems brighter. We also split a fried shrimp po-boy, and some lamb ribs with pepper jelly. We agree that the deep-fry job on the shrimp is excellent...I feel like it's nearly as good as the shrimp I had on a po-boy at Parkway two trips ago. The bun is not great, so we ignore it...but we've got a mountain of great shrimp. One friend doesn't love the lamb ribs (too fatty), but I think they are just right...though a little lukewarm. So...not a perfect meal, but the jambalaya was a real winner--and the place is really fun and has great seasoned bar staff.

Wednesday: I wake up earlier than my friends, feeling the effects of the previous night's revelry quite acutely. As an act of heroic generosity, I decide to lift myself up and make the trek to mother's (not far since we are at the intercon) and return with some black ham biscuits, and coffees. I've enjoyed mother's biscuits before, but a breakfast experiment resulted in some of the worst eggs I've ever had--and the famous debris was both watery and dry (a miracle!). Again, low expectations and better decision-making are my keys to success. The fact that they have a bloody-mary machine is just serendipitous icing on my hangover cake. In line I start thinking jambalaya (after last night's triumph) and a guy who works for the Picayune, behind me, tells his dining partner that Jambalaya is a respectable option here--which is confirmation enough for me. Jambalaya ends up being delicious, with a very flavourful sausage, but it might be more that it is the restorative properties of rice and sweetish tomato sauce that really make this such fine dish for me at this moment--the bloody mary/jambalya pairing turns out to be a fine one as well. So...maybe mother's is a safe bet for biscuits and jambalaya? Even the debris looked and smelled good today.

Wednesday 2nd lunch: A muffeletta from Central Grocery: My friends love this and insist on having it. I think it's good--how could meat, cheese, olives, and an absorbent bun not be good? But I don't dream about it or anything. Very nice to eat one in Jackson Square in nice weather, though.

Wednesday dinner: Brigtsen's: Here's the one I'm really gonna mess up on...unless I check the menu to figure out exactly what we ate. Three drinks at Cure beforehand turns out to probably have been too many----BUT...the bartenders are so charming (explaining their strange bitters and offering tastings of odd bottles) and the drinks so good, that it seemed a worse sacrifice at the time not to continue.

Brigtsen's is a more charming restaurant than you would expect, even if you have been told many times that it is a very charming restaurant. The servers do a perfectly balanced rendition of southern hospitality and big city professionalism. The food is old-fashioned, even quaint...but there is serious technique there, too---evident in things like a butternut squash and shrimp bisque which had absorbed more shrimp flavour than I would have thought possible--or a crawfish cornbread (a concept which I am still not quite sure I understand), that appeared as part of the seafood platter, and which sent one of my companions into "BEST MEAL OF MY LIFE" hysterics. Everything we had was good--though the sweetbreads could have been a little less cooked and it was all very rich. We could only imagine eating a single dessert...the pecan pie, which was a model of its kind. I remember especially the crispness of the pie's surface, as if the sugar had been caramelized.

Thursday: We get up and head to the FQ Camellia Grill, for a bit of sustenance before the festival. I order a cheeseburger and am presented with kind of loosely packed, perfectly browned, well proportioned burger that enthusiasts seem to favour these days. Much better than I could have hoped for--especially in a second location. Fries are diner standard, and my friends' eggs seem competent but less transcendent than the burger. I wish I'd had a slice of pecan pie.

Thursday at the fest: We eat some very good jambalaya--of the more cajun, less tomato-y variety. We try a piece of fish in a pecan meuniere--which is the first of the more elegant jazzfest dishes that works for me. What else? What else? Oh yeah...I have a shrimp bun from a Vietnamese place, which I feel is the best bun I have ever had--though maybe Vietnamese food in Toronto just isn't that good. Obviously the quality of the shrimp is going to be high. A cochon de lait po boy is ordered, and it pleases its owner greatly, I have another bite and can confirm for myself that I think it is delicious...but not more delicious than you would expect it to be.

I'll be back!

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Cochon
930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

Camellia Grill
626 S Carrollton Ave, New Orleans, LA 70118

Emeril's Restaurant
800 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

Brigtsen's Restaurant
723 Dante St, New Orleans, LA 70118

Cochon Butcher
930 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

May 16, 2011
mstacey42 in New Orleans

Jazzfest First weekend report, pt1

Good question, Hazelhurst. Although the wikipedia article about them does not mention it, a quick google search seems to reveal to me that many variants (bastardizations?) of oysters rockefeller are topped with mornay sauce (which would contain some gruyere, wouldn't it?). What my father was expecting was what you will see in many of the pictures if you type "oysters rockefeller" into a google image search--which is a white sauce that has been under the broiler and has burnt on top the way the cheese on a pizza does. He also was probably expecting bacon---which seems to be a component of them up here, too. Now, I should mention the most important thing of all: We are from Toronto, so the name (and recipe) had traveled a long distance before they formed the oysters rock of my dad's youth. Given that I have never seen, nor heard mention of Oysters Bienville on a Canadian menu, I might be tempted to theorize that as recipes for New Orleans style baked oysters moved north, there was some mixing and matching and conflating resulting in a "rockefeller" that had borrowed from other recipes---but that's pure speculation.

May 16, 2011
mstacey42 in New Orleans

weekend trip report from a Toronto Hound

Thanks to the Philadelphia board for their indirect advice, though i did not post directly, reading here was terribly helpful in choosing how to spend my restaurant $ and stomach space while in your fair city, for a weekend trip with my girlfriend sandwiched between New Orleans and NYC. Happy to report that your victuals stood up while against both those cities (though obviously my emphasis was different in each case.)

Friday Lunch: Dinic's Roast Pork--Man...these are good sandwiches, my GF and I split a sausage and sweet pepper and a roast pork with provolone and rabe. I don't really have much to say beyond the fact that these provided an introduction to the bread, oil, sauce alchemy that seems to be a secret to much philadelphia deliciousness.

Friday dinner: Dandelion--Beautiful place--this Starr guy must be a real pro---even if it seems very calculated. We had a smoked trout pate, an escarole caesar salad, deviled eggs, shrimp and mayo, and a banoffee pudding for dessert. All pretty good. Nice shrimp. Escarole was a good green for the caesar. Banoffeee pudding was really great. Things seemed like they were lacking a tiny bit in either the finesse category or the love category...but the value was fine and if there were such a pub in my neighbourhood I would be very glad.

Saturday lunch: Nick's old original roast beef--again, tremendous sandwich work. The beef itself kind of an afterthought, but the tastiest (not to say best) gravy I have ever tried, and horseradish that makes your nostrils feel shiny and new.

Saturday dinner: Osteria. Pizza: The mortadella and pistachio pesto was one of the best pies I've ever tasted. Not just the fancy/funky toppings, but a crust that was like Neapolitan but with a little extra crispyness or greasyness or sleeziness (maybe?). My GF and I kept saying it was the crust you would get if you made a Neapolitan pie have a baby with a Pizza Hut pie. Freakin' dirty deliciousness.

Pasta: My chicken liver rigatoni was generous, hearty and one of the best cooked dried pastas I've ever tasted. You want to know what al dente should taste like? It was my rigatoni that night. Oddly, my GF really got cheated by her ravioli with octopus, it was like five tiny pillows. The pasta was well made, but the flavour was anemic (I do realize that other foods are definitionally anemic in comparison to chicken LIVER but you get the idea...) and the octopus wasn't incorporated in a useful way. It was strange that the menu descriptions didn't give you a clue as to the range of styles (from hearty and brawny to delicate and refined---my pasta came in a large brown bowl, hers came precisely arranged right to left on a rectangular white plate) represented. Not actually a complaint, but something to keep in mind when anticipating what you're gonna get.

Sunday Lunch: Paesano's: We split a Liveracce (lots of liver that weekend) and a Bolognese. Both were delicious. I was kind of disappointed in the bolognese, though. The egg seemed like overkill, and the sauce and lasagna were delicious enough on their own that both egg and deep fry seemed like a bit of food-nerd overkill. I think you might get a more coherent sandwich out of just a meatball or something. Next time I will order more conservatively. Still...totally delicious. This was the 9th st. location.

Second Lunch: Pat's Cheesesteaks. Not much of a line at 2ish on a sunday afternoon. I think I am just made to like this stuff. Beef (again an afterthought...this was the place where I thought a decently cooked piece of meat might have made a difference), onions, whiz...good bread...what's not to love? Would like to someday try a better version of it, but I could see eating ANY cheesesteak once in a while--'specially if they are open 24 hours.

I followed that up with a cannoli from isgro. It was good.

Sunday dinner: Standard Tap in Northern Liberties. This was kinda disappointing. Nice place, good beer selection. The food (tuna poke, bratwurst and kraut, chicken pot pie) was all good enough that I would be happy to have it around T.O....but I kind of wished that I had used my remaining stomach space to eat some other kind of sandwich. (But what kind would it have been?) We had a good time afterwards walking to some of the bars along the El tracks (Kung-fu necktie, El bar) where we saw young people who we probably would have been (were we a teensy bit younger) if we lived here. Must return to eat the rest of your food.

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Pizza Hut Restaurants
2002 State Route 27, Edison, NJ 08817

May 15, 2011
mstacey42 in Philadelphia

Jazzfest First weekend report, pt1

Thanks everyone for the tips regarding my first lunch with 7 people on Friday afternoon. We ended up at Johnny's (trying to keep it quick and casual) and it was pretty good (great fried shrimp and catfish, very good gumbo--sadly stale bread in a few sandwiches). I'd like to share a few of my other experiences from the weekend (and maybe later from the following week).

Friday, April 29th:

Dinner at Cochon: A real crowd pleaser. I've had (and heard of) service issues at Cochon before, but I think they were doing a pretty good job, especially considering how packed it was given the festival. We were a convivial (not to say drunk) group and our requests to have things repeated, delays in making choices, and demands that we be photographed were all handled with good natured aplomb. The oyster roast was devoured--other favourites I thought were crab stuffed artichokes (like artichoke dip made by the devil), the gumbo with devilled egg (the best gumbo I ate all trip---head-spinning seafood flavour), and the crawfish pie (which featured a very flavourful stew in a tasty fried pie crust). The lima beans--also--a surprisingly potent contender...cooked no doubt with a little of the titular cochon. Desserts were kinda weak--as they have been imo on my two previous visits--the moonshine was not.

Saturday April 30th: Festival food:

I thought the Patton's catering stuff was weak--not too much flavour, sauces seemed industrial, but nonetheless pleasant and pretty to look at.
The real hit of the day turned out to be just a box of boiled crawfish, because I'd never eaten them like that before. Locals were happy to instruct us in the art of twisting, sucking, pulling and tearing apart.
White chocolate bread pudding was great.
Cochon de lait only seemed pretty good (is moist smoky pork with creamy slaw ever bad? Why wasn't I more impressed? Maybe disappointed in the bun it was served on---just imagine it on fresh Leidenheimer!)
The hen, quail and andouilled gumbo from Prejean's was good--the meats being of extreme succulence.
My brother got some plaintains from Bennachin and was not disappointed.

Saturday Dinner: Iris
--after several drinks at the Chartroom, which I would recommend as an FQ bar if you like bars and don't have an aversion to classic rock and dark--but friendly--places.
--Iris has a terrific bar staff, if you like mixology-heavy cocktails. This was a fun thing to do with a group, even as we waited around the bar for a table.
--Iris is beautiful--and the servers were great.
--the food is pretty good, and can probably be great (would probably be great in another city?) I had a lovely piece of hake, and some slightly overcooked sweatbreads (didn't taste around other people's plates too much). This meal was more about having a party in a beautiful room, where our needs were kindly anticipated (if not subtly directed) then it was about paying attention to the fairly subtle dishes.
--dessert was the high point, and I'm ashamed to admit that by that point I was having too much fun to remember what it was (though partial responsibility for that should go to the soul/r 'n b dance party we stumbled upon at Saturn bar afterwards).
--oysters were the low point, they just didn't taste super fresh.

Sunday: I ate some sort of breakfast.

Sunday Dinner: Galatoires.

Seven of us show up at just after four thirty. We are quickly seated, and introduced to Chris (three visits, three waiters is my record so far). The table is arranged with my father at the head, but my father hasn't been here before, and I know that without intervention we may get menus, order, have appetizers and mains and dessert and leave wondering what all the fuss is about. I have to take things into my own hands (megalomaniacally? YES!) to make sure that menus are refused. That orders are not placed all at once. That whims are followed. That long periods of drinking between courses are strictly enforced. And, of course, that Chris' advice is solicited as frequently as possible--if just to hear the amount and quality of advice that a Galatoire's server can dispense. We do a round of pommes souffle and eggplant, then a few fried soft-shells for the table (they are smaller than I have had on previous visits which scares me, but they still wow most of the assembled crowd), then a couple goutes--with oysters rockafeller which I love, but which disappoint my father who is used to the cheesier preparation more commonly found in the north. Then we ask Chris to select a couple meats and a fish for the table to share. We get filet mignon bordelaise with mushrooms, fried chicken, and a pompano topped with crab yvonne. I don't know if I'd order steak again...but if I was in the mood it was good enough that it might be worth a try, just to taste the various sauces they make. For dessert we had a cup custard, a pecan thing (which was good but not very galatoires--it was a recent addition to replace the now defunct pecan pie), and a fantastic banana bread pudding---and cafe brulot with a not unamusing pyrotechnic show. 4 hours plus, and every second was so much fun. Of course you can get food made with more finesse--though I doubt anyone is doing THIS food with more finesse--but you can't have more fun than Galatoires. Thanks to everyone on this board for putting me in the right mind-set to enjoy my third visit to this venerable institution even more than my previous ones.

I actually did another 4 days of serious eating (Emerils, Cochon Butcher, Brigtsen's, A surprisingly decent meal at Mother's, a surprisingly much improved 3rd visit to Coop's, delicious tapas at Mimi's, drinks at Cure, another day at the festival, a fantastic burger at the FQ Camellia, the bizarre scene and inoffensive edibles of the clover grill at 3am) and will report on it if I feel inclined and have the time. I still feel like there is a lot to eat in New Orleans and look forward to more gumbo filled weeks in years to come.

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Cochon
930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

Galatoire's Restaurant
209 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70130

Brigtsen's Restaurant
723 Dante St, New Orleans, LA 70118

Cochon Butcher
930 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130

Bennachin Restaurant
1212 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70116

May 15, 2011
mstacey42 in New Orleans

Lunch for 7 first friday of Jazz fest

Hi NOLA hounds,

This will be the first meal of my third visit in two years to your fair city. This time around I am with a group of 7 people, between the ages of 25 and 60, celebrating my dad's 60th birthday from this Fri-Mon. We're going to one day of Jazzfest (it'll be the first time in N.O. for a few us, including the birthday boy, so they'll want to see as much as possible in their limited time, besides...I'm sticking around for the following week and another day the festival--so my personal music and food needs are not in any danger) and going to spend the rest of the time eating and drinking and walking about. I've already got Cochon reservations for Friday night (been twice before, have had varied service but great food) and figure we will try for a mid-afternoon lunch at Galatoire's on whatever day we are not at the festival.

It seems very important to me--as the effective guide to these folks--that our first meal in town should be more than merely utilitarian place holding for the feast at cochon later that night. Our flight lands at 11am, assuming 2.5 hours for getting downtown and checking in to the Monteleone; I figure people will have their minds set on hunger around 1.30-2pm. First meals in food centric cities are a difficult proposition--you don't want to go all out right away--and at the same time it can really start things off on the wrong or right foot if chosen well (or poorly). My impression is that for this first meal people will want to follow my lead (as the quasi-expert in the group) but they are also going to want something fast and casual (and maybe not too far from the quarter or Garden district--given that having sated their hunger they will want to get down to looking at some famous and beautiful stuff.) I was thinking Johnny's for Po-boys (I've never been--always ate my po-boys further afield) but wonder if anyone can think of something with a little more punch--given our timing, numbers and the aforementioned importance of the first culinary impression.

Hopping into a cab is not out of the question, nor is a sit-down meal, but I don't think reservations are wise when you are at the mercy of airlines and acts of God.

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Cochon
930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130

Galatoire's Restaurant
209 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70130

Apr 26, 2011
mstacey42 in New Orleans

Other than Lobster Trap, any other place to have good (simple) lobster?

I had a delicous plain lobster at Phoebe's Zee Grill on Mt. Pleasant about 8 months ago--can't remember if it was steamed or boiled, but it was some of the sweetest, most succulent I've ever had. Good fries, as well.

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Zee Grill
641 Mt Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S, CA

Any places in Toronto worthy of being on Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives?

Although I have been to a couple disappointing DDD places in my travels in the US, it seems important to me (for the sake of being honest about our strengths and weaknesses, so that we can properly honour what is good about the TO scene and identify areas of improvement) to note the following: our homegrown, traditional North American (or even Torontonian) food scene is abysmally poor in comparison to many many much smaller cities in the United States. The oft-made claim that our diverse immigrant culture is our greatest strength as far as homemade food is concerned does not (except for Chinese restaurants and even there it seems to me we might get silver medal behind Vancouver) match up with my experiences in the US (i.e. we are not as unique in this regard as we believe ourselves to be).

Places like the Burger's Priest may be changing this (whether this can really ever be changed by doing an imitation of California style hamburgers--or any other regional US treat-- is another question) but for the time being I think we can say that the best we can offer are places that might be among the weaker entries on DDD. There's no shame in the truth. We ain't New Orleans (seafood), NYC (pizza), Philly (sandwiches), or Memphis ('cue) or any other number of places.

Stockyards, Burger's Priest, and other places (I think Hoof Cafe's brunch would've looked pretty impressive on tv) are hopeful signs that this question will have a different answer in five years time. I guess it's right that we have no reason to be embarrassed, but I don't think that should stop us from admitting what an unsatisfied hunger we have for DDD style homemade renditions of unabashedly low-end food.

Acadia: Who knows what?

All the cocktails look good, which might be enough to draw the crowds (myself included). Admittedly never having been to Barchef (some restaurant names are enough to keep me from walking through the door), it has long puzzled me that Toronto has failed to catch on to the mixology craze while places like Ogdenville and North Haverbrook leave us in the dust. (I'm part kidding, but the thought occurred to me while looking at beautiful cocktail photos from Kansas City--a place whose culinary sophistication most parochial Torontonians--myself included--would not immediately recognize as being ahead of us on the trend curve)

I do have to say that attempts at regional American cuisine have been pretty abysmal so far in Toronto, and that that gives me a moment's pause. If somebody could do a decent plate of shrimp and grits AND a decent sazerac...well that would be worth getting excited about. Here's hoping they do it well.

Big changes in Hoof Land

I agree, dubchild. Best case scenario is that this gives Jen and Grant the canvas that they've been waiting for. My experiences at the hoof and hoof cafe have been mixed---though my last two visits to hoof cafe (one brunch, one dinner) were pretty spectacular, so I'm a little sad that my favourite part is getting the axe. I'm also skeptical about a new restaurant offering tasting menus emerging out of a (fairly) modestly priced one, focused squarely on offal. Whatever side of the "reservations and civility are dandy" vs. "no reservations means cheap eats and plenty o' drink for us under 30's" divide you fall on, you have to admit that many people see a significant gap. Some customers will be lost, and some gained, in such a switch. Despite what an earlier poster claimed (and many, no doubt, wish), waiting around for a table is more popular than ever (cf. Sam Sifton's recent NYT post about advice for taking manhattanites to dinner in brooklyn---the land of no reservations!). Betting on a tasting menu format under these circumstances (when was the last resto like that that opened in T.O., Colborne Lane?) does seem pretty risky.
Having said that, I think that Dubchild is right and that pulling off an ambitious and against the grain venture like this could not only be good for the hoofs, but good for the T.O. scene as a whole. If this is gonna work, it's probably gonna mean really good food.

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Colborne Lane
45 Colborne Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1P8, CA

Nadege Patisserie is Bad

I'm with Justpete. I've been going once every few months since it opened, and trying at least two of the cakes each time---I've also had 'rons on a half dozen occasions. It is far better than any other patisserie (not a fan of the croissants or sandwiches however) that I have ever been to in Toronto--with Rahier and highly uneven Thuet being my runners up. Utterly baffled by consistent bad reviews.

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Rahier
1586 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G, CA

Thuet
609 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

I need help with Naples

I say stay in Naples. My best meals were: at Starita a materdei for pizza--they have a long and creative menu of pies, and they serve fried pizza dough with chocolate for dessert. Pizzeria Pellone (on via nazionale near the train station) for a calzone (this giant and beautifully fried beast was filled with salami and ricotta and could have served an army). Da Donato a trattoria and pizzeria near the train station as well that had the best antipasto of my trip (and excellent pizza with pomodorini).

People really seem to like Europeo Mattozzi on Campodisola Marchese for both pizza and their fixed price dinners. I didn't get there, sadly. I did have a great meal at another unrelated Mattozzi on Piazza Carita, where I had a good salame pizza and a fantastic eggplant and tomato side (I think called eggplant parmagiane but not what you would mean by that in english) which had the most concentrated and delicious tomato sauce I have ever tasted.

In my experience, the top pizzerias according to the guidebooks (Sorbillo, Di Mateo, Da Michele) impressed me less (on the totally questionable evidence of single visits where I tried a maximum of two pies) than the places mentioned above.

In Sorrento I had the worst pizza of the trip (still totally fine). If you do choose Sorbillo--there can be massive line ups--so eating early is better than late---and I also ate the Friarelli and Sausage pizza there and do remember being pretty pleased with the crust.

Sep 22, 2010
mstacey42 in Italy

3 Canadian men in their mid-twenties looking to eat high and low, but mostly: heartily!

Thanks everyone for your helpful posts! Incanto looks particularly exciting.

3 Canadian men in their mid-twenties looking to eat high and low, but mostly: heartily!

I hope this question is not too general. I am a Toronto Chowhound visiting SF with two of my old college roommates. We are 1 PhD student, 1 Indie band bassist, and 1 Vancouverite Video Game designer. We are visiting San Francisco from the 23-28th of June. We are staying at one of the HI downtown hostels--but which one escapes me. We are willing to travel and may have a car. Long trips on public transit/cab are no sacrifice for important eating.

My favourite restaurants are places like Lupa and Momofuku in NYC, Cochon in New Orleans, APDC in Montreal, and St. John in London. Places where you can eat well, eat large quantities of strange meats/raw seafood and not feel like it would be an inappropriate place to have dozens of cocktails and tell dumb stories about your undergrad days (St. John might not quite fit the bill on that one I know). I feel like we will mostly be interested in stuffing our faces at modest expense (I will do research on Mexican and burritos for that--we might eat some vietnamese, or chinese, but our home cities do those pretty well.) But I think we have budget room for a couple dinners where we spend about $75 each on food (considerably more if we drink a great deal) and where we will not have to dress in anything particular and where they might play Zeppelin IV but where local, seasonal, homemade-y (and meat-y) things are on offer.

I've searched "Momofuku" and "Manly" on the board, and am conscious of the fact that this does not exactly constitute due diligence in the "making sure your question is not asked every day" department. My apologies if that is the case.

Queen Margherita Pizza

Yeah...that don't sound right. But I do think this is where the line of authenticity (which may not be to everyone's taste) and badly done pizza (which no one likes) ought to be drawn. If the soupy crust has never been cooked, and is just gross, then it's just gross. If the crust has been cooked but because it's really thin and supple (not crackery) and has toppings (like fresh mozzarella) which tend to soupify then the soupy crust is to be expected with this kind of pizza. I personally love to pick up my pizza and fold it over--thin, pliant, but with some integrity is best for me--but there is a longstanding prejudice in much of North America (check out the divergent responses on the NY boards to neapolitan pies) that a floppy pizza is a bad pizza---and that just plain ain't true. Of course...if you got a floppy pizza in most North American styles it would be an undercooked and just plain gross pizza. Thanks to pinstripeprincess for what seems to me like a good final word on the floppy/soupy question, which goes something like this: a neapolitan pie can be floppy, but no pie should be raw.

Queen Margherita Pizza

Went to Margherita with my brother on Friday night. No problems related to ordering a la carte. Service still seems pretty chaotic, but everyone was very friendly and enthusiastic. We tried two pizzas (margherita and napoletana). My brother is a libretto fanatic and correctly noted that the crust here wasn't quite as good. Great char, but doughy ends of the pie, almost no cornicione, even in the middle the crust did not have any elasticity or suppleness. I assume that these things will improve as the pizzaioli acquaint themselves with the oven. The toppings were great (I don't know if my anchovies were quite as good the marvelous libretto ones) and overall we both ranked the pizzas significantly above Terroni, but below libretto. I would go back. I will say that for people who object to the soupy neapolitan pie--these held together a little better than librettos. Narrow minded hard-crust adherents may find this a suitable compromise in a neapolitanizing pizza market.

Queen and Beaver

Went a couple of weekends ago with three friends. Second visit. There is something easy to like about the place. Inviting space, agreeable staff. The food does not wow me. The burger was excellent--but it is a weird (very very steak-y) burger that may not burgerate sufficiently for all. The fries (sampled on only one trip) were disappointingly limp. A ham terrine with picallilli had a nice variety of textures about it--and the homemade pickle is tangy. Fish and chips seemed like a nice delicate piece of fish but the batter failed to impress its orderer. A steak with horseradish cream was declared a fine piece of meat--cooked as requested. Duck confit didn't reach any exceptional heights of moistness or crispness, but it came with a curry that showed (not unconvincingly) that there might be a reason to fancify english curry.

A foie gras and quail (??? not totally sure it was quail...but some sort of funny bird) terrine with pistachios was very good. Potted duck with sour cherries came with some boring toast chips but did deliver a hit of "ducky" flavour. The fat on top of the pot--however--was disturbingly the tastiest part of the dish.

Sticky toffee pudding and a creme brulee-ish thing with nice berries in the custard were both nice. I wish they would go whole hog and do an all english dessert menu. Those nice berries would have been even better as part of a giant Eton mess.

No other place to get grastropub food, right? Though the roxton's burger used to make you feel like you were having a good meal even if the rest of the menu made you feel like you were at the Green Room.

mmm...actually...maybe foodwise I have more pleasant memories of the beer bistro...but it's been a few years.

Queen and Beaver is a nice place and the food would only have to be a little bit better for me to love it a lot more.

What's wrong with our lox?

I think those larger fillets make a big difference. Maybe it's all in my head, but it's the gigantic (compared to Toronto) slices of salmon at R & D or Barney Greengrass that seem to be so much more delicate than the (often) dry and pasty salmon that we get in Toronto. Does this sound reasonable, centralepicure? The best salmon I've ever had in Toronto has been from Daiter's---where they also have that awesome extra-fatty cream cheese. I have no particular feeling about Kristapson's.

T.O. visits N.O. redux.

I was lucky enough to visit your fine city last may, and I posted about some of the eating I had a chance to do. I was so excited about New Orleans food that I insisted that more friends come with me for a return visit. (God bless cheap flights from Buffalo!)

Between Friday at 9pm when we arrived and Tuesday at noon when we left, we managed to hit the following places: Coops, Dante's Kitchen, Guy's Po-boys, Cochon, Galatoires, LIl Dizzy's (Esplanade), Adolpho's and Mother's. Since my incessant praising of my last trip's food was the motive force behind this trip, there was a lot of repetition.

Coops: Again, chosen because there do not seem to be abundant cheap and chowish options after 11pm in walking distance of the FQ. I should have probably asked for help on this one. Coops is a fun bar, with great staff, it wasn't too busy to get a table at 10.30 either. We had fried chicken and Jambalaya. The chicken was juicy and tasty---but really salty---even for my salt-crazed companion. The accompanying coleslaw and jambalaya helped a bit to tame it. The Jambalaya supremes were filled with plenty of interesting meats and seafoods, but the rice is a bit mushy for my taste. Kinda baby-foody...but with delicious smoky tasso (I think) and impressive shrimps given the location.

Dante's Kitchen: Saturday at around 11.30, I was totally surprised the place wasn't more full. (Brunch competition is deadly serious in Toronto). We had a couple cocktails (I got to try my first brandy milk punch--wacky and wonderful!) ordered the bread plate to start, a duck confit on succotash, seafood cake and shrimp and grits. The bread plate was pretty good, nice homemade bake-sale type stuff. The shrimp and grits had obscenely creamy grits and very sweet, though maybe overseasoned shrimp. The seafood cake satisfied it's owner, though my bite seemed a bit bland but freshtasting. (I should mention that it came with two awesome looking poached eggs which I didn't try), and the duck confit was pronounced "a little drier than I was expecting" though the accompanying succotash I tried was pretty tasty. Very friendly service, nice laid-backed atmosphere.

Guy's Po-boys: The one time that I had tried a roast-beef po-boy previously was at Parasol's and it was really lacking in beef (or gravy) flavour. That was not the case here, but the texture also wasn't as magical-fall-aparty as the parasol's version. We also had a catfish, which was crisp and moist. The french bread was not as fresh as it could have been, however. A disappointment----since i had been raving about the "special" bread they have in N.O. to my friends.

Cochon: tried a few cocktails, including a "splendour in the grass" which included parsley and was a crowd favourite. Got to try the much lauded broiled (?) oysters and the eggplant and shrimp casserole, among other things. Sadly burnt myself very badly on an oyster shell which must have been straight out of the oven. Had to begin drinking very heavily to dull the pain, which would have been fine except that our server was AWOL for much of the evening. All the food was fantastic---with the possible exception of the alligator which I had heard so-so things about and which tasted like a southern spicy tuna roll. Many of the things I ate here (rilletes for example) are the best versions I have ever had.

Galatoires: After breakfasting lightly at Cafe du Monde (and confirming to myself that I just don't get chicory) we went to Galatoire's for lunch. Homer, who served me last time, was not there, so we were introduced to Shannon---who did a marvelous job and whom I heartily recommend. Got to try the eggplant with powdered sugar (Shannon recommended that we use bearnaise to glue the sugar on, or make a sauce using hotsauce and powdered sugar) and was totally delighted with how good/different it was. We also ate a grand goute and oysters on brochette and 2 pompanos, 1 soft shell crab, and a redfish (all sauteed and topped with crab meat). Galatoires is a total experience kind of place, so it is hard for me to tell whether I love the food so much for its own merits, or as part of the whole. At the end of the meal we all felt like we had eaten a stick of butter. No one was complaining, however.

Lil Dizzy's: Tried to go to Parkway, where I had previously enjoyed best-of-trip poboys, sadly it was closed for Columbus day. Got in a cab to Lil dizzy's on Esplanade instead. Small buffet set-up, with fried chicken, baked chicken, pot-roast, vegetables, jambalaya, potatoes, gumbo, bread-pudding. Everything was very good--particularly the jambalaya which I liked much more than coops. The best thing was that one of my friends was looking over the salad bar (which I didn't visit) when a server came over and asked what she needed. My friend said that she was just looking for potato salad, and the server said: "no problem, I'll bring you some." Minutes later, enough delicious egg and potato salad for the four of us appeared at the table.
Astonishingly rich banana bread pudding. Everyone was stuffed to the point of malaise.

Adolpho's: The place was nearly empty--probably due to a torrential downpour. Very friendly, relaxed young server. We split some mussels and a crab and corn cannelloni at our server's suggestion. Both dishes showed evidence of competent cooking, particularly the cannelloni which were very delicate. Three of us had redfish, topped with various cream and seafood sauces, and one had a rack of lamb. The fish was good, the crab meat was not lump meat, which would have been a miracle at these prices, but the sauces were delicious (in that way where the disgusting pleasure of eating cream is balanced by the refined pleasure of eating something that is better than other versions of a dish.) The lamb was a giant portion for $24, like 7 or 8 bones, and it was---while not spectacular---very respectable given the price and casual environment.

Mothers: We got here early, because it opens early and didn't have much time before our flight. I had the debris and grits, my friends had the breakfast special (eggs, sausage, grits, biscuit). Everything other than the perfectly respectable biscuits was mind-numbingly horrible. Actually, the sausage was o.k. The debris was pretty much devoid of flavour and the meat was dry...even while sitting in a pool of watery gravy-liquid. Bad, oily, scrambled eggs. I'd tried their black ham on a biscuit before and been pretty happy. It's pricy at $4.50 for ham on a biscuit, though.

Soo.....checking expedia prices and trying to justify a trip in the new year... The one place we walked by that I'm really sad we missed was August. It may have been particular to our moods that evening, but through the window it looked like a marvelously elegant place.

Oct 15, 2009
mstacey42 in New Orleans

Negroni

I went for a brunch-time meal last Saturday, with my girlfriend. We split two paninis. Both were excellent. We had the segovia sausage (is that the brand?--it was a tasty and spicy sausage, sliced thick enough that it didn't disappear), roasted onion, red-pepper and fontina and a mushroom, sheep's milk, and arugula pesto. The side arugula salads could have used a bit more dressing, but otherwise everything was very simple and very wonderful. They use excellent bread and the tops of the sandwiches (cheese sides in both cases) managed to achieve that marvelous alchemy of crispy, (a tiny bit) greasy, and light all at the same time. I also had a negroni and---with no real basis for comparison--thought it was delicious. I will return with more friends for lunch/brunch and maybe go back for dinner to get some of that $20 wine. It feels like you are getting real food (i.e. ingredients and combinations that someone has put care into) at a very reasonable price. If this place closes I will be very sad. Skip Kalender; Negroni!