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Denver recommendations?

Thanks very much for these two recommendations. Their menus and ambiance both look terrific and the Tripadvisor comments are excellent.

Much appreciated.

Nov 06, 2014
cortez in Mountain States

Denver recommendations?

For an upcoming visit to Denver, I'd love your thoughts on great places for lunch or dinner. We'll be staying at the Hotel Teatro downtown and are likely to sample dinner at Nickel, the hotel restaurant, due to our late arrival and its new chef. He's from A16 in San Francisco, one of our favorite places.

We are looking for lively and fun with delicious food and an active bar rather than a more formal white table cloth environment. To give you a flavor of the places we enjoy in other cities, we really like the Purple Pig in Chicago, Bar at the Modern in NYC, Gjelina in Venice, The Walrus and the Carpenter in Seattle and Tosca in San Francisco.

We'd love to be able to walk to the restaurant or take a short Uber ride to the destination.

Thanks very much for your advice.

Nov 05, 2014
cortez in Mountain States

Wine or beer at Omae?

Just made a reservation for 4 at Omae for dinner in mid November. Two questions:

* does Omae have its liquor license yet?

* if not, can patrons BYOB or is it no alchohol for us?

Thanks for your help.

Oct 07, 2014
cortez in Las Vegas

Treasury Wine ends talks with bidders KKR and TPG

Too bad. Treasury badly needs a new direction together with a solid plan, top leadership and new cash. It's drifting.

Sep 30, 2014
cortez in Wine

Seattle trip report

Le Pichet has air conditioning. But, the manager chose to keep it off until we had been there an hour or so, eg, 7:30pm. It never had time to cool the room down.

Sep 11, 2014
cortez in Greater Seattle



The Boon Fly and Carneros Inn came through in great shape. Lots of broken glassware but no apparent structural damage. I suspect modern construction codes and the lack of brick and stone prevented greater damage.

Downtown Napa, though further from the epicenter, suffered the most. More than 150 buildings were "red tagged" making them off limits for residential and commercial use. The concentration of older brick and stone buildings in central Napa proved very vulnerable to the quake.

Sep 07, 2014
cortez in Wine

Seattle trip report

Just finishing 4 days in Seattle celebrating a significant birthday of my brother. On this bros trip, we started w football at Century Link (try the spicy vegetarian chow mein at Section 108) and continued with more oysters than we thought possible. Had a great time.

Our list of favorites is below in order of our preference from best to disappointing.

* The Walrus and the Carpenter: the uber driver actually found this hard to reach place in Ballard. We would have perished en route if on our own. Wow. We loved it at the counter, ordering one course at a time: oysters, more oysters, Sigalas Assyrtyko, grilled sardines, padron peppers, more Sigalas, salmon. Fun, engaging and delicious.

* Quinn's Pub: we were a bit embarrassed to have neither tats nor piercings. But, felt entirely comfortable as the knowledgable bartender delivered excellent recommendations: beef tartare, tempura green beans, roasted tomatoes and grilled short rib steak. Wonderful and convivial.

* Seatown: breakfast near Pike Place Market. Rotisserie hash, egg sandwich with Dungeness crab. A keeper.

* Nola's on Bainbridge Island: comfortable Saturday brunch on relaxed and relaxing Bainbridge. Cioppino stocked with fresh seafood and a rich broth. Dungeness crab melt. Pinot Gris from Oregon on a sunny day on the patio.

* Shuckers at the Fairmont: this cozy, wood paneled bar surprised us. Great bartenders and multiple types of oysters to rival The Walrus. Friendly and fun.

Less successful:

* Le Pichet: had high hopes for this French bistro. Disappointing. Interior of the restaurant was way too hot for comfort. The dishes were routine and uninspired. Bland.
Wine was too hot to consume before 15 minutes in a bucket.

* Sazerac: at the Hotel Monaco. Looked like fun but was dead and not delicious. Oysters felt old and tired. Same with the menu.

Thank you Seattle. Very fun trip.

Sep 07, 2014
cortez in Greater Seattle

Del Mar suggestions?

For 6 days surrounding Thanksgiving, We'll be renting a cottage for four people walkable to central Del Mar. Would really appreciate your recommendations for nearby lunch/dinner places reachable on foot or drives within 10 minutes or so. All style cuisines and price points ok. We always like "delicious" and tend to gravitate towards places that:

* are lively and fun rather than formal
* offer seating at the bar for cocktails and dinner
* have great wine lists
* encourage sharing of several small plates

Also, we will probably BBQ at home a couple of times. Any great purveyors of fish, meat, veg, fruit, bread, etc. in the area?

Thanks very much for your advice.

Jul 04, 2014
cortez in San Diego

Dining Solo in LV on or near The Strip

Couple of thoughts for solo diner:

La Cave at Wynn creates rare intimacy in LV with its modest size and Barcelona-inspired food. Sit at the bar

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon is bigger bucks but always a treat. Bar seating is only way to go.

Bartalotta, also at Wynn, at the bar. Small tasting of great pasta.

Jun 17, 2014
cortez in Las Vegas

Michael Mondavi family sells Carneros winery


Do you know anything about the new owner's winemaking plans? For years, I've been puzzled by the multi brand strategy of Michael Mondavi under his "Folio" umbrella at this property which he purchased from Francis Mahoney several years ago. I'm hoping that the new owner can bring focus and a quality orientation to this location.

Any insight you have would be great to hear. Thanks.

Jun 15, 2014
cortez in Wine

Guy's weekend in Seattle?

Thank you

May 24, 2014
cortez in Greater Seattle

Guy's weekend in Seattle?

OP here:

I'm searching for terrific and fun places to eat in Seattle. About 5 days ago, this thread took a radical turn towards all things public transport related. I don't care if we walk, bus, taxi or train to great restaurants.

Any further recs?

Thanks very much.

May 23, 2014
cortez in Greater Seattle

Rose wine I should seek out for the long hot summer.

For me, it's the pale salmon colored roses from Bandol or Cotes de Provence that hit the mark. Two favorites in the $16-20 range: Whispering Angel and Dragon. Delicious.

May 13, 2014
cortez in Wine

Guy's weekend in Seattle?

Thanks to all for these great recommendations. Can't wait.

Two followup questions:

* any opinions about Michael Mina's RN74? I've been one time to his SF location for this wine-centric restaurant. How's it doing in Seattle?

* I'm a college football nut and would love to go to a Saturday lunch at a respectable sports bar with decent to good food. Any candidates?

Thanks again.

Apr 26, 2014
cortez in Greater Seattle

Guy's weekend in Seattle?


Thanks so much. Which vendors MUST we try?

Apr 24, 2014
cortez in Greater Seattle

Guy's weekend in Seattle?

For a significant birthday celebration, my brother and I are coming to Seattle for a three day weekend in September. Looking for some Chowhound advice.

* scored two tickets to the NFL opener, Seahawks vs Packers. Any must eat/drink offerings at Centurylink field?
* we will be staying near Pike Place with no car. Would love to learn about fun and delicious options for seafood, regional specialties and Asian options nearby. Our preferred mode is to sit at the bar and work our way through the menu and wine list in a friendly, not too formal environment.
* to give guidance, some of the places we love in other cities include:
Chicago: Purple Pig, Girl and the Goat
San Francisco: Coqueta, Tosca, Slanted Door
Las Vegas: Raku, La Cave
New York: Spotted Pig, Momofuku ssam, bar at the Modern,
Yountville: Bouchon, Mustards, R+D Kitchen

Thanks for any advice you can add! Looking forward to the trip.

Apr 24, 2014
cortez in Greater Seattle

What are your thoughts of this restaurant corkage fee policy?

In the part of California where I live, the corkage is generally specified to be per 750 bottle. Twice that corkage for a magnum seems logical and fair. My local, local joint waives that corkage for me. But, that is a privilege I don't expect elsewhere.

Apr 16, 2014
cortez in Wine

question for european visitors... what surprised you the most about american restaurant culture

Two practices where Americans and Europeans have different traditions:

1. Eating at the bar: I much prefer eating at the bar rather than a table when I dine alone or with my wife (no good when there are three). An excellent bartender/waiter makes the meal with great service. People watching is great. Had lunch at the bar at Bouchon in Yountville just last week. Nothing better than that. Having lunch today at R +D Kitchen in Newport Beach. Can't beat that tuna tartare in a lively atmosphere.

My European (mostly British) can't fathom wanting to get food from the bartender. They were stunned when I searched London (mostly unsuccessfully) for an excellent restaurant with bar seating. Why would you want that, they asked? My only success at the bar in London was at Maze by Gordon Ramsey. Maze is all set up for dinner at the bar -- quite fun.

2. Early lunch: More so in Calif rather than NYC, lunch at 11:30 or even a bit earlier is very normal. At R+D today, I'll need to be there by 11:15 to assure a seat at the bar. My Australian friends were horrified that I suggested an 11:15am lunch at Gott's (formerly Taylor's Refresher). Don't want to be 30th in line at noon, I explained.

For European chowhounds, is there any momentum in Europe towards lunch at the bar or an earlier start time? Just curious to see how things are evolving, or not.

Mar 18, 2014
cortez in Not About Food

Wynn restaurants

Have stayed 3 times at Wynn in last 18 months. Love the the tower suites w upgrade provided by Amex FHR program


La Cave, Spanish theme in Barcelona ambiance in much smaller scale than typical Vegas place. Pre dinner to very late.

Country Club, at midday overlooking the course. Intimate and delicious.. Schockingly pleasant.

Wazuzzu, Asian fusion. Wonderful food. Very fun to watch hip, young Asian tourists eyeballing the cowboys and cowgirls in for the NFR rodeo finals in December.

Tableau: $80 daily breakfast credit from Amex. Wow!

Bartolotta: disappointing. Hyper expensive as you dine w conventioneers pushing their lanyards aside to consume Italian seafood and pasta. Atmosphere kills the cuisine.

Have fun

Mar 07, 2014
cortez in Las Vegas

Tempura: best beverage and appropriate etiquette?

Going to Japan in three weeks for my first visit. Will be trying a wide variety of cuisine styles including a high end tempura restaurant where each item (rotation of seafood and vegetables) is served individually at the counter, one piece at a time. Two questions:

* I've tried sake but can't get motivated for it even after a two hour tasting class covering wide ranging styles and price points. I drink more wine at home (Napa), but also enjoy beer from time to time. Any Chowhound beverage recs for fancy tempura?

* do you use chopsticks, your hands or both for tempura? I'm trying to avoid a major faux pas at my very first dinner in Japan. I couldn't find any mention of this issue in various articles and guidebooks covering tempura.

Thanks for your advice.

Mar 05, 2014
cortez in Japan

North American winery numbers

Yes, wine is completely distinct and not juice shared by other wine producers. And yes, fed tax is paid via the bonded winery when wine is removed to offsite storage.

Financial boundaries for small/medium producers and financial incentives for somewhat larger bonded wineries make this rational for both.

Go virtual!

Feb 09, 2014
cortez in Wine

North American winery numbers

Good discussion. I believe I own one of the so-called "virtual wineries" with these characteristics:

* Fed TTB approval to be in the wine business, eg background check, etc. TTB (formerly ATF) also approves every label for every wine every year through their COLA approval system.

* applied for and received CALIF ABC licenses 17 and 20 permitting retail and wholesale of wine.

* no vineyard, no brick and mortar. Grapes are purchased from growers under long term contract and wine is made by a winemaker at a bonded winery under a custom crush agreement. No bond required for a custom crush client. The bonded winery we work with has 5 "virtual clients" like me. It gives them additional steady revenue and helps them leverage their large investment in facilities and equipment. It also allows the winemaker to have fun with small batches of wine apart from his employer's usual stuff.

* we own the company, the brand and it's trademark and are responsible for all sales and sales tax payments.

* we buy labels, corks, bottles and pay fees to make the wine, bottle it and label it to our specifications. We then move it offsite to temperature controlled storage (for a fee) where wine sits prior to distribution.

All revenue, or lack thereof, goes to the private crush client --me. Neither the winemaker nor his bonded winery participates in profit or loss.

This sounds like a real wine business to me, but one where the facilities and vineyards are contracted for rather than owned. Makes every sense for small to medium producers. Owning vineyards, a winery and equipment makes no sense whatsoever for this segment of the wine producing business.

What do you think?

Feb 08, 2014
cortez in Wine

San Sebastián Michelins- How to choose?


Wow, these responders have shut you down totally. Very tough crowd.

Dec 30, 2013
cortez in Spain/Portugal

Spago - Strangely never mentioned here

Just dined at the bar of Spago for lunch and at the Country Club at Wynn. Liked them both.

Spago at the bar is way superior to itscavernous back room. Intimate and friendly. Bartenders are excellent waiters as well. Eg Kitchen split the two items we ordered in the kitchen, -- very customer friendly. Only beef? Very cool temperature of the space as it's open to the mall. Drafty. Had to keep our sweaters on!

Country club was quiet but delicious. Waiter was solicitous and excellent. When the yuca side dish arrived late and too chewy, he removed it from our bill without any comment from us. Comfortable and intimate space in a large hotel. Worth it.

Dec 24, 2013
cortez in Las Vegas

Wine for spicy cioppino?

I'm in with the crowd who votes "no" on any of the whites (too many spicy tomatoes influences) and "yes" to Rose' ( Chateau Pibarnon from Bandol ) or Rose' Champagne/sparkling wine (Schramsburg Brut Rose'). For red, I like a moderate Zin or lusty Pinot Noir (any wine based on grapes from Pisoni Vineyard grapes in the Santa Lucia Highlands).

A local favorite version of cioppino for me is the Hog Island Oyster rustic Fisherman's stew -- a steal at $18.


Dec 04, 2013
cortez in Wine

3.5 days in December--would appreciate dinner comments and help with lunch options

Agree that La Cave is a great choice throughout the day. Went there 3 times (cocktail/snack pre-show, dinner and late night) during my last stay at Wynn. Intimate atmosphere (tough to achieve in a giant casino) with tasty small plates at reasonable prices.

Ponder, fyi, from memory, I think the pronunciation of La Cave is none of the options you list. I consistently hear "Cave" as one syllable rhyming with "caw."

Oct 30, 2013
cortez in Las Vegas

(Most) winery clubs are for suckers

Agree with the OP that winery-based clubs get old fast and deliver less value over time. Instead, I've joined wine clubs from very selective wine retailers who select hard to find wine matched to your exact price and pallet. You call the flavor profile and price range. They select for you.


ACME in St Helena. It's "under the radar" club gets you access to premier producers who make only 50-250 cases per year. Impossible to find these wines in big stores or outside of CA.

750 Wines, also in St Helena. Similar to ACME: edited, selective with excellent relationships with top producers in the $35-150 range per bottle. My personal club focuses on reds $35-60.

Backroom Wines in downtown Napa. Strong in California stuff but excellent as well in European selections. My personal club covers European whites from $15-50.

D&M, San Francisco. My French Champagne club focused on small grower/producer (RM) Champagnes. Delicious and reasonably priced. No Veuve, Moët, etc in this group. I receive 2-3 bottles each quarter. $100-130 per shipment.

Because of their variety and customization to my tastes and budget, I've stayed with these clubs for years and dropped all winery-based clubs.

Oct 19, 2013
cortez in Wine

Should I make any changes to this Napa itinerary (wine/food)

Nice tour. 2 comments:

* soup and salads at Gotts are excellent. Tomato soup is daily with a second soup special introduced each day. Garden salad is fresh and delicious. My favorite entree, by far, is the rare ahi burger. Thick filet of ahi seared rare. Paired with sweet potato fries and a Boont Amber Ale -- amazing.

* your Wednesday has a huge amount of driving. For me, that's too tough and a bit risky when you add wine tasting into the mix. I'd save the Sonoma tastings for another trip where you can stay in Healdsburg.

Have fun.

Sep 15, 2013
cortez in San Francisco Bay Area

bouchon v. bistro jeanty v. bistro don geovanni (and other trip itinerary dilemmas) [Napa Valley]

Thanks so much for the post trip report. It's great to learn what decisions you made after receiving conflicting advice and what experiences you ultimately had.

Very helpful.

Aug 17, 2013
cortez in San Francisco Bay Area

Singapore: Shinji by Kanesaka?

For an October trip to Singapore, I'm considering a visit to Shinji by Kanesaka as a finale to the trip before heading to the airport. In particular, I'm looking at the Omakase menu at lunch. This level of Japanese food is simply not available where I live (Napa, California).

Any Chowhound comments on the food and service experience at Shinji? If you've had and enjoyed the Omakase menu, how much time should I allocate for the meal? I don't want to rush anything. Rather, I want to go off to the airport happy!

Thanks for your advice.

Jul 16, 2013
cortez in China & Southeast Asia