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BEST restaurant in Portsmouth NH for this wknd

Hi Andy, we just returned from a great meal at Pesce Blue where we were also delightfully removed from all the hordes!
Let me go over everything we ordered!
To drink to begin: Bellini for me (delicious with white peach essence and fresh blackberry on the edge of the glass), a glass of Pinot Grigio for my mother, a glass of Gruener Veltliner for my father. Everyone was happy, though my mother says she also wants a Bellini next time.
To eat to begin: 3 antipasti (for $13.50). Baby artichokes, heirloom tomatoes, and arancini. We enjoyed all of them, though the arancini got the most wows.
Next to drink: a bottle of the Peter Zemmer Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige, a great choice for $34.
Next to eat: one Caesar salad for the whole table. This is a great Caesar for those who like them with anchovies because it came with their amazing white anchovies. My mother, who rarely eats croutons, ate all of hers with relish. It's also notable for not being overbearingly dressed or cheesy (unlike its insanely wet and cheesy competition across the street at the sadly sub par Jumpin' Jays).
Main courses: for my mother of course that wonderful spaghetti alla vongole (which is a clammy one rather than a heavy creamy one, also unlike the grease laden version across the street), for my father the linguine with shrimp (not local alas) and roasted sun gold cherry tomatoes (delicious, if not quite as remarkable as the vongole, the tomatoes were the real highlight of the dish) and for me the grilled yellowfin tuna which came with Saffron and Black Venus rice cake, roasted organic baby squash, herbed ricotta cheese, and Chanterelle mushroom cream sauce. I wasn't sure why the cheese was necessary, but the fish was outstanding and I enjoyed the complementary flavors (maybe a touch more salt than necessary somewhere?). My father especially loved my fish, so I gave him more of that and then I finished my mother's linguine.
Overall we were quite happy and already planning to return next week. If there's anything else you want to know, please feel free to ask! I really hope you have a good experience there, too!

Jul 16, 2008
Epicure in All New England Archive

Portland, ME - Cinque Terre, 555 or somewhere else?

Thanks for the information. As it turns out, I called Fore Street yesterday afternoon and got a 9:30 reservation for this Sunday. Since we'll only be in town for one night this time, CT ultimately sounded like a less than ideal choice. The menu does look interesting, however, as you point out with your comment about the farm-to-table movement, so I'd probably be willing to try it during a longer stay in the city.

Jul 16, 2008
Epicure in All New England Archive

BEST restaurant in Portsmouth NH for this wknd

Is the chef the same one who was there last year? If so, I thought the food was terribly overcomplicated and suffering from a heavy hand on sweet ingredients. I posted about my very disappointing experience:
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/427794

Jul 15, 2008
Epicure in All New England Archive

Portland, ME - Cinque Terre, 555 or somewhere else?

Could you tell me what made it disappointing? Have you been there recently? My family could not get a reservation at Fore Street this coming Sunday, so we thought we'd try CT. If you could give me some more details, I'd be very grateful.

Jul 15, 2008
Epicure in All New England Archive

BEST restaurant in Portsmouth NH for this wknd

Well, Andy, we've been happy with all the food so far; my mother is especially crazy about the spaghetti alla vongole which comes with local clams, currently countneck. She orders that every time! In fact, my parents and I are going tomorrow night, so I'll let you know what we order.
By the way, the lobster pound you are referring is Chauncey Creek. How lucky you are to be friends with the owners!

Jul 15, 2008
Epicure in All New England Archive

BEST restaurant in Portsmouth NH for this wknd

Pesce Blue is a very stylish, reliable choice with great local ingredients, sort of Italian by way of the New England seacoast. My family has a vacation house in Portsmouth, and even when we have a limited number of nights we always go to Pesce Blue for at least one. It's probably our favorite restaurant in town. Also, if you like bloody marys, the Oar House has our absolute favorite in the region, if not the world (and it's not a clammy one, nor an overly peppery one). The food there is pretty good, too, especially if you like haddock and a nice view of the water.
By the way, which lobster pound are you visiting? Cape Neddick? In any case, it would be great if you could report back whatever you do!

Jul 15, 2008
Epicure in All New England Archive

3 Square Café-Venice

I have been a couple of times recently and was very happy both times. The pretzel burger is always a hit, but I also like the crunch salad and the homemade spaetzle (southern German egg noodles). In fact, on request the chef will make Kaesespaetzle, which is like a German mac and cheese--utterly delicious and authentic (except without the sauteed onions that usually grace the top of the dish). The desserts are always good, too--the last time I was there (about three weeks ago), I had a local peach cobbler, which was outstanding. The wines by the glass, many of which are Austrian (including a Blaufraenkisch [$14], which is difficult to find by the glass or bottle anywhere), are very good, though drinking a few really jack up the bill. Overall I just love the place--what a great addition to the neighborhood!

Jun 25, 2008
Epicure in Los Angeles Area

Advice urgently sought for 1 day in Livermore, 1 day in SF

I just returned to L.A. late last night and wanted to let you all know how the meals turned out and what I ate.

Breakfast on Saturday: El Charro Taqueria. I went with my parents and two of my mother's cousins, and we had one order of chilaquiles verdes, two orders of chilaquiles rojos, and two orders of huevos rancheros. Two aguas frescas were available, strawberry and cantaloupe, but everyone got the cantaloupe, which was delicious. The huevos rancheros and the chilaquiles rojos were both very spicy and delicious, but I think my favorite of the three dishes was the chilaquiles verdes, which was not quite as hot but a bit more complex tasting and for me slightly edged out the other dishes. Everyone was delighted with this breakfast. The men followed up with Dos Equis.

Breakfast on Sunday: El Castillito opened at 9, and we were the first customers. I got my Mission style burrito despite the early hour: steamed tortilla with guacamole, sour cream, rice, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, and cilantro. My father enjoyed his huevos con chorizos, but we were all especially excited about the burrito. I do not think I have ever had such a messy burrito, and I can see how taking it in that form on the plane would have been disastrous. We often transport burritos between L.A. and NJ--from Tacomiendo, Gallegos, and El Tarasco--and they create no mess whatsoever, but this luscious burrito from El Castillito would have been a horrible traveler.
P.S. While I am far from an expert on burritos, I have never had one in L.A. that was quite like the Mission style. Anyone interested in the debate can check it out:

http://www.chowhound.com/topics/493655

Sunday after breakfast: a stop at the Ferry Building for some delicious local products.
We got many local cheeses at Cowgirl Creamery (though I was sad to have to pass up the butter), breads at Acme (sourdough of course, but also a gorgeous looking rye and some cheese rolls), pastries with fresh fruit from Frog Hollow Farm, and assorted Japanese delicacies from Delica (rice balls, roast beef sushi, kakiage). What fabulous offerings! I would kill to have this Ferry Building in L.A.--just as I would kill to have a Chelsea Market. I stuffed my suitcase!

Brunch at Foreign Cinema, 2pm: What a divine brunch! My parents loved it (crowd was mixed age ENOUGH) from start to finish. We started with cocktails--killer bloody marys and a fascinating one called the Saint Germain Cocktail (elderflower liquer with champagne on the rocks), then moved on to wines by the glass because the selection was so good. We tried a pinot grigio from Santa Barbara County, a white burgundy from Macon, and an especially alluring pinot noir blanc from Alsace. For starters my parents got a dozen oysters (Kumamoto, Miyagi, and Pearl Point), and I got a strawberry pop tart (rich strawberry preserves--I'm guessing--encased in the most lusciously buttery shortbread). For main dishes my father got the Loch Duart salmon with corn and porcini hash and blue lake beans, and my mother and I both went for egg dishes (since we'd had no eggs for breakfast it was okay!); she got the fried eggs deglazed with balsamic and I got the asparagus frittata. What fabulous dishes! My mother was thrilled with the unusual flavor of the balsamic with the fried eggs, and my frittata was full of fresh vegetables and just gorgeous to look at. I'd also like to praise the service, which was seamless and professional (our server was Jenny). At one point, just as the main dishes were arriving, she told us the salmon would take longer than expected so she brought my father a divine arugula salad on the house so he could eat something at the same time as us. Quite a class act. If anyone's interested, the total with tip came to $190, which was not bad for three people getting so much food and drink.

Anyway, I'd like to thank everyone again for guiding me so wisely. It was such an exciting food trip, and I will definitely return again soon to try more places.

Jun 23, 2008
Epicure in San Francisco Bay Area

Advice urgently sought for 1 day in Livermore, 1 day in SF

Actually, there was a huge debate on the L.A. board with the San Francisco people largely arguing that there is nothing as good. That was why I didn't want to miss it. However, now I'm thinking I may instead get a burrito for breakfast. I read on this board about a place in Livermore called El Castillito, and then we dropped by to pick up a menu earlier today, and the burritos seem to be the Mission style, if I'm understanding that correctly.
Susaninsf, it sounds like you're right, but is there anything, in your opinion, that would be better and less messy to take back on the plane that I really can't get in L.A.? Also I have one checked bag, so I can always stick stuff in there.
And we do have a reservation for FC for tomorrow at 2 pm.

Jun 21, 2008
Epicure in San Francisco Bay Area

Advice urgently sought for 1 day in Livermore, 1 day in SF

Thanks! And do you recommend El Farolito if I can just get one to take home with me?

Jun 21, 2008
Epicure in San Francisco Bay Area

Advice urgently sought for 1 day in Livermore, 1 day in SF

Cafe Garre is a great recommendation: my mother got a salad with roasted salmon and spinach with pine nuts, feta, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and an outstanding lemon vinaigrette, and my father got the shrimp and crab melt which came with a pasta salad. My mother's dish was definitely better! Also, the onion focaccia was very good and not greasy! Wines by the glass were also good (Merlots were good despite Sideways reputation).
Panama Bay got lots of points for the coffee!
Casa Orozco, which we didn't have a choice about, was only okay. My mother and I got shrimp enchiladas (not that bad because there was no filler, but the beans and rice were very greasy) after we read the meat and vegetable dishes were to be avoided, and these were edible after three margaritas. Not to sound like an undergraduate, but I'm less critical when I'm not paying and I can drink as much as I want.
After being in Marina del Rey, the temperature here was very unpleasant, but I'm excited to try new places.
On Sunday we're going to Foreign Cinema for brunch at 2 (do you like that choice better than Zuni?), but I want to take a burrito back to L.A. so I'm thinking of El Farolito. Will that travel okay? I brought a Ziploc bag. I will be eating it around 10 pm (ca. 5 hours after I buy it). If there's a burrito that will travel better, I'd like to hear about it.
Thank you very much. More reports to follow.

Jun 21, 2008
Epicure in San Francisco Bay Area

Advice urgently sought for 1 day in Livermore, 1 day in SF

Yes, the wedding will be at Wente, so we'll be eating there tomorrow night.
My parents tried and greatly enjoyed El Charro Taqueria, which I read about on this board, but is there anywhere else you'd recommend? I read that Sai's has very good Vietnamese food, but there has not been much posted on Livermore recently!

Jun 20, 2008
Epicure in San Francisco Bay Area

Advice urgently sought for 1 day in Livermore, 1 day in SF

Oh, I love bloody marys. Just one question: is the crowd mixed-age enough that my 60ish parents won't feel uncomfortable?
Thanks again!

Jun 18, 2008
Epicure in San Francisco Bay Area

Advice urgently sought for 1 day in Livermore, 1 day in SF

Thanks for responding, Ruth. It actually seemed that quite a few places are available on Open Table, but is Fisherman's Wharf the tourist area to avoid? Foreign Cinema sounds interesting; at 3 it's serving brunch. Is that a meal you recommend there? If so, anything in particular?

Jun 18, 2008
Epicure in San Francisco Bay Area

Advice urgently sought for 1 day in Livermore, 1 day in SF

Hello SF Hounds,
My parents and I will be going to a wedding at the Wente Winery in Livermore this Saturday evening, and I need some guidance for a few other meals.

1. We have to go to a dinner on Friday night at Casa Orozco, which does not seem to get much love here. Is there anything in particular that's safe there? Anything definitively to be avoided?

2. On Saturday we will need either a late breakfast/brunch or early lunch in Livermore. We would like something casual since we'll be eating and drinking quite a bit in the evening. I've heard good things about El Charro Taqueria, but in case my parents don't want Mexican again the next day, any other cuisines would be fine.

3. The biggest question of all: Sunday in SF. We will have a car in the city because my parents are taking me to the airport (SFO) for a 6:50 flight (I hope this will not complicate things too much), so we cannot have dinner at a traditional hour. I don't know how much time we'll have to allow from the city to the airport, but I'm thinking we won't want to be starting the main meal later than 3. If possible, we would like local, seasonal food, main dishes no higher than the $20-30 range, and a nice local wine list. My parents are from the NY met area (New Jersey, I am not ashamed to admit!), and I live in L.A. so we would most prefer something unique to SF and not well represented in NYC or L.A. We would also like a place to have breakfast. Vegetarian options, artisanal bread and organic eggs would be a real plus!

I hope some hounds can help me. I know there is so much great food in your city, and I don't want one single bite (or sip) to be in vain!

Jun 18, 2008
Epicure in San Francisco Bay Area

Los Feliz-ish area

Would you consider Echo Park? If so, there's a new restaurant called the Park (Sunset around Douglas) that has some very good vegetarian dishes, such as a grilled polenta and asparagus dish with a mushroom cherry pepper ragout, gorgonzola sauce, and crispy onions ($12) and a house made veggie burger ($10). There's also a nice butter lettuce salad with beets and blue cheese ($7), too, and then there's the added bonus that it's BYO with no corkage.

Jun 15, 2008
Epicure in Los Angeles Area

Inexpensive but good heirloom tomatoes on the westside or midcity?

The Culver City farmers' market, Tuesdays from 2-7, is perfect for after work and currently has one stand with very respectable, not overpriced heirloom tomatoes (as well as divine beefsteak tomatoes and Persian cucumbers).

Jun 15, 2008
Epicure in Los Angeles Area

FAVORITE BAR MENU

I LOVE the bar menu at Lucques! If you go after 9:30 on weekdays and 10 on weekends, they also offer steak frites, spaghetti carbonara, an herb and cheese omelette, and an utterly delicious grilled cheese sandwich--all of which are MUCH cheaper than the items on the regular menu ($11-$16 compared to the high 20s and beyond). They also currently have a delicious seasonal cocktail called Celerity which has vodka and fresh nectarine puree! I could go there all the time!

Jun 15, 2008
Epicure in Los Angeles Area

Veg and Drinker Friendly on the Westside

Wow, thanks for these recommendations! What's the ambiance like there? Is it conducive to not-rushing/relaxing with a bottle of wine?

Jun 13, 2008
Epicure in Los Angeles Area

Veg and Drinker Friendly on the Westside

You know I've never been to Jack Sprat's or A Votre Sante because I heard the food tasted "too healthy," but could you let me know what you like in those places? Even if we don't go tonight, I know I will want to check them out upon your recommendation.

Jun 13, 2008
Epicure in Los Angeles Area

Veg and Drinker Friendly on the Westside

Well, I'd rather not drive too much, but the Promenade area is rather difficult. Also, I'm coming from the Marina and my friend from Hollywood, so I'm trying to be flexible...

Jun 13, 2008
Epicure in Los Angeles Area

Veg and Drinker Friendly on the Westside

I was hoping to be a little closer to Santa Monica than Culver City, which certainly does have some good options: Akasha, Fraiche, M Cafe, and even Tender Greens. Does Santa Monica have anything like any of those places? I just can't think of anything.

Jun 13, 2008
Epicure in Los Angeles Area

Veg and Drinker Friendly on the Westside

Yes, as a matter of fact my first recommendation was Fritto Misto but she said definitively she's not in the mood for Italian. Axe is a great idea, as a matter of fact.

Jun 13, 2008
Epicure in Los Angeles Area

Veg and Drinker Friendly on the Westside

I like RFD, but unless something has changed they do not serve alcohol.

Jun 13, 2008
Epicure in Los Angeles Area

Veg and Drinker Friendly on the Westside

A friend of mine and I are going to a 9:45 movie at the Laemmle Monica and plan on having dinner beforehand. She wants healthy vegetarian food and wine or cocktails. She does not want Italian or anything very expensive (more than $20 for a main dish), so these are some choices I'm considering:

Kay N Dave's--I know it's not a Chowhound favorite. I was there seven or eight years ago and didn't find it memorable, but it seems to have a lot of healthy vegetarian options, and some of the things sound okay. Also, is one location better than the other?

California Vegan--I haven't been there recently either but I think I recall they have organic wine? Is that okay for dinner?

Shamshiri Grill--I like their vegetarian menu, and I know they have wine.

Does anyone have any thoughts or strong feelings about the above possibilities? Or any other suggestions? As points of reference, other reasonably priced favorites of ours are Rahel, Bulan Thai, Fraiche (only ordering veg of course), The Park, M Cafe de Chaya, and Indo Cafe.

Jun 13, 2008
Epicure in Los Angeles Area

Mobile Cheese Guy at Culver City FM

Glutton, I agree with you. I shop at that market all the time--and I quite like it, especially because it's easy to visit after work and I can get all my favorite Rockenwagner products there--but I will not patronize the cheese guy even if I need cheese. He has virtually no local products and he offers no samples--his arrogant expertise is expected to suffice. The prices are quite high as well.
Some angst over these off-putting traits is a justifiable reaction.

Jun 11, 2008
Epicure in Los Angeles Area

Best French Bistro on the Westside

Has anyone been to Le Marmiton in the Marina? I live right near there but have yet to check it out. The menu seems to have plenty of French bistro staples.

Nov 07, 2007
Epicure in Los Angeles Area

Best bakeries for bread in Hollywood?

Yes, I read that thread with disappointment, but since I'm open to non-European bakeries as well, I'm still holding out hope that someone knows a place that might not have come up in response to tastycakes' query.

Nov 05, 2007
Epicure in Los Angeles Area

Best bakeries for bread in Hollywood?

Since I'll be at the Arclight for the AFI Fest all week, I'll be missing my usual Culver City farmers' market breads (like from Rockenwagner and the Bread Man), and I'm wondering if there's any bakery that has great bread or rolls in the Hollywood area. I'd rather not buy from a supermarket if I don't have to, but I have no other parameters.

Nov 05, 2007
Epicure in Los Angeles Area

Pit Fire Pizza

Yes, and as a matter of fact the sangria (a tasty and potent recipe that's essentially just wine with fruit in it!) at the Westwood location is complimentary for the next month or so, as they do not have wine or beer yet (right now it's BYO with no corkage fee). I was just there on Saturday and absolutely loved the seasonal pizza I ordered: burrata, arugula, hazelnuts, and tomato sauce. My friend's Tuscan pizza with sliced potatoes and blue cheese was also delicious. They were two of the best pizzas I've had out in California, and I am anxious to go back and try more. I also enjoyed a red velvet cupcake for dessert! The total bill for two pizzas, two side salads, and one cupcake was just under $30, so it was also an excellent value.

Oct 30, 2007
Epicure in Los Angeles Area