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9 days in Nice

Strongly second this. We had dinner at Le Comptoir du Marche last night and 5/6 of our plates were perfect. The only flaw was an overcooked mille feuille. Pricing is ridiculous. We would eat here once a week if we lived here.

Jun 20, 2015
JamesSanders in France

Paris trip report!

Chambers Street is one of the best wine shops anywhere, but it's not the place to go if you find wines served in Paris too tart. Onzieme's recommendation for 2009 Burgundy is a good one, as is the Southern Rhone, such as Cotes du Rhone or Chateauneuf du Pape.

May 15, 2015
JamesSanders in France

French Quarter Eats after Midnight on a Wednesday?

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. Here's a quick recap. We arrived at Coop's around midnight. It was about half full, but the waitress said they'd had two people quit that day and she was exhausted, so she was closing early. She was helpful in recommending Buffa's. We arrived there around 12:15. The front bar was packed, so, after confirming the kitchen was still open, we heading to the back, which was about a third full. There was a group of five people ahead of us and the waitress turned them away, saying if she let one or tables come in every hour she would be here all night. We doublechecked with her and she said the back section was closed. We went back to the front bar, but there wasn't even room to stand and eat, so we headed to Bourbon Street figuring something would be open. Le Bayou was closed at 12:30, which was my next option. We ended up at some touristy place on the far end of Bourbon Street and had serviceable etouffe and a catfish po boy. Oh well.

Mar 27, 2014
JamesSanders in New Orleans

French Quarter Eats after Midnight on a Wednesday?

This looks right up our alley. Thanks

Mar 25, 2014
JamesSanders in New Orleans

French Quarter Eats after Midnight on a Wednesday?

Hello Chowhounds,

Anyone have good suggestions for food around midnight in the French Quarter on a Wednesday night? Any price range, but we'd prefer something with a NOLA flavor.

Many thanks

Mar 25, 2014
JamesSanders in New Orleans

Post STP Dinner Recommendations

Wildwood is looking like the best option. Thanks.

Jul 13, 2012
JamesSanders in Metro Portland

Post STP Dinner Recommendations

Hoping for a few good Chowhound recommendations for dinner following Saturday's STP. For the non-riders, STP is the annual Seattle to Portland bicycle ride. It's a little over 200 miles and our group (4) will be doing a one-day ride. So, here are the key criteria:

1) Must be located downtown (or reasonably near the St. John's Bridge or elsewhere along Route 30 on the way into PDX);

2) It can't involve a meaningful wait. So, the place must either take reservations or the anticipated wait must be less than 15 minutes. Quick service is also a plus as we'll be hungry.
3) High caloric food is a plus, but not necessary. Spicy or high acide is not ideal, as a long day on a bike tends to result in a sour stomach.

We get down to PDX periodically and are fans of Pigeon, Pok Pok (too far), Wildwood, Clyde Common, etc. Have not been to anything new the last few years.

Thanks in advance for any help!

Jul 12, 2012
JamesSanders in Metro Portland

Best food city in Mexico

Mmmmm. Aguachile

Jul 05, 2011
JamesSanders in Mexico

Etxebarri review

We were there Saturday, too, and our impressions were as yours, Robert. We did one degustacion and then ordered a few plates off the ala carte menu. Shrimp, butter and fish were standouts, and I'd add the oyster, the baby octopus and the squid to that list. We didn't much care for the bacalao (an ala carte choice) and while we enjoyed the Chuleta, it wasn't as flavorful as I'd hoped it would be.

We were a little disappointed by the decor, perhaps hoping for something a little more rustic..

Definitely a fan of the simpler is better philosophy, and of all the places we ate on this trip, Etxebarria is the one we'd make a point to go back to. I wonder what you get if you order food in the bar?

Jul 05, 2011
JamesSanders in Spain/Portugal

Mexican Wines?

Here's a recent note for a Mexican wine with some cellar time.

2000 Vina de Liceaga Gran Reserva (Mexico, Baja California, Valle de Guadalupe) 2/6/2011

Bought this on a trip to the Valle de Guadalupe in 2002. It was tight and unforgiving at the time, but I wanted to buy something and due to its classically structured profile, this seemed to show the most promise. Popped it today with cheese and pate for the Super Bowl. Two hours open, no decant. Sight was cherry red and clear. Lots of sediment, but more red wine solids than dirt. Surprisingly complex, with plum and red fruit flavors, hints of pine resin and a bit of pencil lead. Still well structured, but time has revealed a nice core of sweet fruit and a grippy dry extract. Showed no signs of fading while drunk over a 4-hour period. This was a world class wine that would have gotten lost in a blind BDX tasting. In fact, I liked it a lot more than a 2004 Gravette de Certan that we drank alongside it. Who'd a thunk it?

Feb 08, 2011
JamesSanders in Mexico

Once again... restaurants in Mazatlan... with a 2.5 year old

Chuchupetas is a must if you love seafood. Fresh, authentically Mexican and expertly prepared across the board. As a side note, it was packed and we were the only Gringos.

Bahia was our other favorite.

Nov 22, 2010
JamesSanders in Mexico

Puerto Vallarta - Mid-day meal recommendations needed

Regarding El Repollo Rojo, I'm not sure it's a widely held view that this is a tourist trap. We dined there a few years ago and I thought the food was carefully prepared and authentic. Service was authentic, too, meaning pretty leisurely. Plus, to the best of my knowledge this remains a family business by a long-time PV resident. Be interested to hear if others feel the same as Robt5265.

Nov 02, 2010
JamesSanders in Mexico

Padron Peppers

Spanish Table often has them.

Spanish Table
1426 Western Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

Oct 15, 2010
JamesSanders in Greater Seattle

Weekday lunch suggestions in Downtown Seattle (Pioneer Square/Financial District)?

Add to the Zum Zum and Red Bowls recommendations. I seem to hit those about once a week. The Vietnamese place upstairs from Zum Zum is worth an occasional visit if you're coming from the other direction and not as close to the ID. Good BBQ at Hole in the Wall just below the state courthouse.

Mar 05, 2010
JamesSanders in Greater Seattle

Subi, new sushi restaurant, opening on Bainbridge

Couldn't disagree with that last bit more. I so miss B.I. Sushi. I'll take a few personality quirks in exchange for Koji's food any day.

Feb 24, 2010
JamesSanders in Greater Seattle

A little help in Mazatlan

Bahia for food, El Puntilla for water setting. Eat lots of aquachile. Head to the market and look and see where the locals are eating. We had tortas on the sidewalk that were amazing. Look for the guy on the sidewalk selling the barley aqua. That was a new taste.

Definitely head to Villa Union to eat at Cuchapetas.

Jan 14, 2010
JamesSanders in Mexico

Mexico City - Four Day Visit - Suggestions/Thoughts?

Based on a visit last March, I don't think I would ever skip Contramar on a trip to Mexico City. It's definitely in the expense account league, but worth every penny. And it was all locals--many coming and going in armored SUVs--when we were there.

Nov 24, 2009
JamesSanders in Mexico

Cabo-Mazatlan-Puerto Vallarta - my eats

I'll defer to MazDee as the local, but pass along our info. Bahia was open for lunch when we were there last January. Without knowing for certain, I'd be surprised if they are open for drinks between comida and cena. Definitely not a tourist place. We were the only norteamericanos there during our meal.

Nov 24, 2009
JamesSanders in Mexico

Cabo-Mazatlan-Puerto Vallarta - my eats

Bahia is in old town. Great aquachile there. The other place we had it in old town was Puerto Viejo. Good there, too. In fact, I liked it everywhere we had it.

Nov 19, 2009
JamesSanders in Mexico

Cabo-Mazatlan-Puerto Vallarta - my eats

We ate aguachile every day during a 7-day trip to Mazatlan last year.

Nov 17, 2009
JamesSanders in Mexico

Mazatlan's Best Restaurants??

Nope, wasn't me you're thinking of, MazDee. I picked Mazatlan as our winter destination this year. I hadn't been there since 1985, so I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I had pretty good food memories from that earlier visit. Probably not a culinary destination, but if we lived there, I'd have no doubt we would eat very, very well.

Jan 26, 2009
JamesSanders in Mexico

Mazatlan's Best Restaurants??

We just got back yesterday from a week in Mazatlan and focused a lot of our energy on eating and drinking.

Here are our impressions:

I probably ate more shrimp in the last seven days than I had eaten in the last seven years, mostly in the form of aguachiles. It's a very fresh style, meaning mostly raw, and it's one of those things I could eat every day and never tire of. Peel and eat shrimp were also good. But just about every other cooked shrimp dish was overcooked and forgettable.

We hit most of the restaurants in Old Town that get mentioned--Topolo, Il Misto, Pedro & Lola, Tramoyo, Puerto Viejo and Bahia. While there weren't any that were out-and-out bad, the only ones I'd return to are Puerto Viejo (good, fresh seafood, right on Olas Altas) and Bahia (traditional Mexican seafood, fresh and prepared with a lot of care). At Bahia, at the end of the meal they brought us a slice of birthday cake they had prepared for one of the employees. Unlike my wife, I'm not much of a dessert person, but we both agreed it was just a perfect cake. Cajete between layers of buttery moist golden cake and a white frosting. I can still taste it.

Stone Island was worthwhile and we had some terrific shrimp ceviche sitting in our beach chairs at the palapa restaurant next to Lety's.

In town, the best eating was just wandering the blocks around the central market and sampling things at the little stalls set up on the street. A little risky, but we ate and drank everything and neither of us got sick. There's a guy near the market who sells aqua de cebada, which is basically aqua fresca made with sweet malt. According to the many newspaper clippings he has posted, they've been selling there since the 30's. A unique flavor and pretty good.

Maz Tamales was good and I'd go back there.

El Tunel was closed for some kind of construction.

Right now, on the street, they're selling fresh arrayan and green guava (guayabita?), which are pretty interesting, though a little tart and sharp by themselves. We tried to duplicate the arrayan margaritas at El Arrayan in PV . . . but failed. Too gritty. Plus it takes forever to de-seed the things.

The green guava was great on a cream cheese pastry at Panama. I didn't much care for Panama's pastries otherwise. To me it tasted like they use a strong flavored margarine rather than butter. Much better was Naturaleza, a health food bakery on Zaragoza that mostly bakes with (sacrilege!) whole wheat flour. Try their yogurt, too. I forgot how much I love yogurt you can drink.

We ate at La Puntilla one afternoon. The setting is very nice. Sunny and right on the water near the smaller ferry terminal to Stone Island. I didn't think the food was very good, however. Their aquachile wasn't as good as others--thick and clumsy pieces of shrimp. Callo de hacha (giant raw sea scallops) was tough and flavorless and a whole fried fish (Panga, which looks like true red snapper to me) was puny and overcooked. All in all, the seafood didn't seem as fresh and the cooking just didn't seem to show the same care as at Bahia.

We did make it to Villa Union to eat at Cuchapetas and it more than lived up to its reputation. There were five of us and we ordered 10 different dishes. Everything was terrific. The aquachiles, octopus and shrimp ceviche were the best we had all week and, but for the huge portions and modest plating, would not have been out of place in the toniest restaurants of New York or Paris. Everything else was fresh and skillfully prepared, though they tended to overcook the cooked dishes. That's the one place I wouldn't miss on any visit to Mazatlan. A ridiculous deal, too. 750 pesos for five of us, with a lot of beer.

Next trip, well go back to Cuchapetas and Bahia and eat on the street and at the palapa restaurants the rest of the time.


Jan 25, 2009
JamesSanders in Mexico

Campagne on Bastille Day

Well, let me start off by saying that Campagne was were I dined on my very first visit to Seattle back in 1992 and over the years it's been the location of some of the best meals I've had here. I also give it props for training some of the best chefs working in the Puget Sound area.

But . . .

Last night Campagne misfired on all cylinders and, to be blunt, they should be ashamed of the food they were putting out. We're talking about a prix fixe on Bastille Day. In a context where it should really shine, Campagne just mailed it in. The dinner really failed on every level, but here are the specifics:

Tomato/lardon first course was too sweet, almost ketchupy. Lardon's were first-rate, though, and that basically saved the dish for me.

The second course was sauteed sea scallops with corn risotto. That's not my favorite combo for summer in any case, but what killed this was that the scallops were salted to the point of being inedible on their own. Nor were they fresh. They were either sitting around all weekend or Campagne should talk to their purveyer. I've been with my wife for 22 years and this is the first time I've ever seen her leave a scallop uneaten.

The third course was duck breast in a fruit sauce. That was the third course with sweet flavors--are we the only people who prefer savory to sweet?--but you sort of expect sweet with duck. It arrived medium well and with that shiny, colorful scaling typical of meat that's been sitting out too long. It was tough and, like the scallops, over-salted.

We finished with a hard, bland french cheese accompanied by poached apricots that were pretty tasty, but way too powerful to match with the cheese, much less the Minervois that was selected to accompany that dish. Dessert was a passionfruit meringue that was fine, but the Sauternes that accompanied it was unpleasantly flabby.

Service was a mess, too, though thankfully there's not much that can go wrong with everyone on the same menu. We went with the wine flight. The first wine was served so long before the tomato course that our glasses were empty by the time it arrived. Then, the scallops were served without the wine and we had to wait. The timing got a little better as the night progressed, but only once did the wine arrive just before the food.

Anyway, a sad occasion for us because we've always thought of Campagne as one of the truly reliable restaurants in Seattle. And if this isn't clear from the comments above, this wasn't a slight miss. I wouldn't eat that meal again if it were free.

It's been a year or two since I've eaten upstairs, so I don't know whether last night is an anomoly or a trend. I've been in the Cafe more recently, and it's been fine.

Sorry to dish on you so hard, Campagne, but I hate to see a place I've loved go off the tracks so badly.

What's good in Puerto Vallarta?

My wife and daughter spent this week in PV and shared their daily food report with me. Having full faith in my wife's palate, I'll pass along the details secondhand.

They had a pretty good week. El Arayan was great as usual, especially the apps, and they went there twice. Esquina de los Caprichos, they say, was spectacularly good for tapas. I took this as high praise since it's only been a few weeks before we had an amazing price fixe at the Spanish restaurant degustation in the East Village.

She also loved Casa Naranjo quite a bit. Place was empty though. Word was that everyone's been real slow this year since February.

Rio Grande she didn't like so much.

The best food experience was the tamales at Maria Candelaria. She was practically moaning over the phone describing them. My wife is ready to learn (more) Spanish and sign up as an intern. Poor thing. She went there on Thursday. She was so smitten that she walked for two hours on Friday to eat there again only to find it closed for Good Friday and the rest of the Easter weekend.

Mar 23, 2008
JamesSanders in Mexico

Vacation Tamales

My wife and daughter spent this week in PV and shared their daily food report with me. They had a pretty good week. El Arayan was great as usual, especially the apps. And Esquina de los Caprichos, they say, was spectacularly good for tapas. I took this as high praise since it's only been a few weeks before we had an amazing price fixe at the Spanish restaurant degustation in the East Village.

But--and you knew this was coming--after they had tamales at Maria Candelaria it was the only thing they could talk about. My wife is ready to learn (more) Spanish and sign up as an intern. Poor thing. She went there on Thursday. She was so smitten that she walked for two hours on Friday to eat there again only to find it closed for Good Friday and the rest of the Easter weekend.

I sense a short trip to PV in my near future. I hope they don't close in the summer.

Mar 23, 2008
JamesSanders in Features


I'm sure this wasn't the intent of the original post, but it gave me a Proustian moment of being back at Laja. Also on a slow Saturday night Just magical One of the best food memories of my life. Probably helped that we arrived without expectations.

Jan 09, 2008
JamesSanders in Mexico

Best Seattle Sushi

Sad to say, Koji closed BI Sushi about a year ago. Big loss to us Islanders as it was far and away the best meal on the Island.

Jan 02, 2008
JamesSanders in Greater Seattle