TomOHaver's Profile

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Ren's Ramen reopening in Wheaton

I had never been to the Bethesda location, but I tried the new Wheaton location yesterday for lunch, and it was great. The place is small, neat, and tidy (It's right next door to the newly renovated Ruan Thai). The ramen was amazing - I had the miso, with fatty pork add-in - a big bowl of rich savory broth with chewy noodles, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, and spring onions. Absolutely delicious. And with the addition of nice chunk of fatty pork belly, it was downright decadent. Who knew ramen noodles could be so good? I'll be back, and I'll bring friends.

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Ruan Thai Restaurant
11407 Amherst Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20902

Do all farmers markets in Florida stink?

I stand corrected. Thanks.

Sep 10, 2011
TomOHaver in Florida

Lunch at Bistro Provence in Bethesda

I would not like that at all. Sounds like a completely different restaurant. Good to know.

Do all farmers markets in Florida stink?

There are several farmer's markets in the Naples (Collier County) area. The ones that we frequent, at least during the cool part of the year we spend in Naples, are in Old Naples (behind Tommy Bahama's) on Sundays and in North Naples on Saturdays (it moves around, check local sources for current location). The North Naples one is bigger - and it has both organic and regular produce, fish, baked goods, flowers, plants, and a few crafts.

Sep 06, 2011
TomOHaver in Florida

Is the anything GOOD in Fort Myers!!??

Sep 06, 2011
TomOHaver in Florida

Lunch at Bistro Provence in Bethesda

Recently, my wife and I had a mid-week lunch at Bistro Provence, on Fairmont Ave in Bethesda (run by respected local Chef Yannick Cam), and it was absolutely wonderful. We ordered from the daily specials - escargot (sauteed with chanterelle mushrooms and thinly sliced potatoes in a garlic/parsley sauce), duck breast with turnips, and seared scallops on shaved fennel and Parmesan with fresh figs, and a fig and mascarpone tarte for desert. Wow! Beautiful presentations and out-of-this-world flavors all around. The food was perfectly cooked and not over-salted. Service was excellent and the place is very charming; we sat in the lovely courtyard in the back. I can not recommend this place more strongly; the food was better here, in my opinion, than anything we had during a two week driving tour of Provence a few years ago. It was a little expensive - the bill came to $60 for two, without wine (excellent list, but overpriced). We will return.

Are Yelpers Foochebags?

So what's wrong with Yelp? Is there a problem with the design of the site? Or is it dominated by relatively young techno-savvy people who are not so experienced with food? Or are restaurant owners getting all there friends to write great reviews in exchange for free food or something?

Apr 15, 2011
TomOHaver in Features

Piola in Mercato, Naples, FL

We ate there yesterday and it's just like any other Chipotle - delicious fresh food and long lines. It's one of my favorite (gasp!) fast-food places and I'm happy to see them here. .

Apr 14, 2011
TomOHaver in Florida

looking for Naples recommendations

When we ate a Inka's Kitchen a couple of weeks ago, the owner said he was thinking about expanding into the empty storefront next door.

Restaurant owners who are struggling should some and see how Inka's Kitchen does it.

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Inka's'
250 E Palm Dr Ste F20, Homestead, FL 33034

Apr 09, 2011
TomOHaver in Florida

Barbados- Long

We were in Barbados last week and asked our cab driver to take us to a local place (not touristy) for lunch - he took us to the Sand Dunes Bar and Restaurant, on the Emry Bourne highway between Belleplaine and Windy Hill on the northeast side of the island. (It was during the recent cricket world cup games, so most patrons were glued to the TV).

Most of us had fried flying fish, plus we ordered a bowl of souse and pudding and breadfruit to try. It was all really good, although some objected to the souse (basically pickled pig parts). Very tasty, a little bit hot and spicy, and great when washed down with lots of Banks beer. My favorite was the flying fish: fresh, crispy, and nicely seasoned. Lunch and beer for 6 of us, plus the cab driver, including VAT and service charge, came to $198 Barbadan (about $14 US per person).

Barbados Dining?

We asked our cab driver for the day to take us to a local place (not touristy) for lunch - he took us to the Sand Dunes Bar and Restaurant, on the Emry Bourne highway between Belleplaine and Windy Hill on the northeast side of the island. (It was during the recent cricket world cup games, so most patrons were glued to the TV). Most of us had fried flying fish, plus we ordered a bowl of souse and pudding and breadfruit to try. It was all really good, although some objected to the souse (basically pickled pig parts). Very tasty, a little bit hot and spicy, and great when washed down with lots of Banks beer. My favorite was the flying fish: fresh, crispy, and nicely seasoned. Lunch and beer for 6 of us, plus the cab driver, including VAT and service charge, came to $198 Barbadan (about $14 US per person).

St. John USVI end of month. Recs?

Four of us were in St. John's last week and had lunch at the Lime Inn based on this recommendation. I'm happy to report that it was excellent. I had the smoked fish salad and the others had grilled Mahi-Mahi ($15) - delicious and fresh. Good local beer, too. If this place had a view of the water, i'd be perfect.

Our waiter (Peter) told us that there was no Wi-Fi there, but in fact you can pick up the signal from the Computer Connection across the street, so were were doubly delighted to be able to Skype some people at home.

Park Shore in Naples

I second the rec for Bha! Bha!; it's nothing like Indian food. It's cuisine probably has more in common with that of Lebanon and Turkey; lots of grilled meats, herbs, nuts, yogurt, and fruits. Really, really good. And I agree: don't miss Inca's Kitchen; the rotisserie chicken there is wonderful and the french fries are literally to die for - irresistible. Reasonably priced, too.

As for French, Escargot 41 is my favorite - small, intimate, and very French - you walk in from a strip-mall parking lot into another world! Call for reservations. Blue Provence is also excellent, and Bamboo is very good and much more informal.

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Escargot 41
4339 Tamiami Trl N, Naples, FL 34103

Bha!
847 Vanderbilt Beach Rd, Naples, FL 34108

Mar 19, 2011
TomOHaver in Florida

SW Florida restaurant changes Naples, Ft. Myers, etc

Four if us dined at Angelina's in Bonita Springs last Saturday night, sitting in the lovely outdoor area (with heaters running on cool evenings). We had salad and fritto misto (basically fried calamari) appetizers, and our main dishes were rack of lamb, black grouper, scallops, and cioppino. Our opinion was that the appetizers were only average but that the main courses were excellent. There did seem to be a tendency to under-season and under-salt some things, but that could just be personal preference (and certainly preferable to over-salting, anyway). The quality of the ingredients was superior. There were some nice up-scale touches: a complementary amuse-bouche served right after ordering and a finishing sip of Limoncello after dinner. (Their wine list is amazing, at the upper end at least; just the thing if you really want a $3000 bottle of wine). It is an expensive place (rack of lamb is $44, for four good-sized chops, perfectly cooked), and it's very popular and crowded particularly on Saturday nights in season), but the service was good despite the crowd. Personally I prefer a quieter and intimate dinner setting (like Escargot 41), but all-in-all we enjoyed our meals greatly at Angelina's and will probably be back.

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Escargot 41
4339 Tamiami Trl N, Naples, FL 34103

Mar 15, 2011
TomOHaver in Florida

Piola in Mercato, Naples, FL

Unfortunately, our experience was less that satisfactory. Six of us dined at Piola on Monday, Feb. 28, the "all-you-can-eat" gnocchi day this month. The main problem was that the gnocchi service was too slow; they bring out only one serving at a time, with one sauce, and it takes 10-12 minutes before the next one is served. There are about 12 sauces, so it takes you nearly two hours to try all of them. (Last year, they were served three at a time - much better). Some sauces were better than others; the red marina sauces were relatively bland, but the white sauces were very good, especially the pink sauce, 4 cheese, and the one with bits of ham. The gnocchi itself was pretty good, but not as light and fluffy as I remembered from last year.

The other problem were the pizzas, which three of our group ordered. Two of those had to be sent back because the porcini mushrooms were bad - tasted spoiled, actually. They were replaced quickly and without complaint, but how could they let something like that out of the kitchen? Moreover, the pizzas and the red sauces were under seasoned, in my opinion.

The place was busy on a Monday night, with most of the tables occupied inside and out. Service was good except for the too-slow gnocchi delivery.

I don't think we will be back.

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Piola
9118 Strada Pl, Naples, FL 34108

Mar 01, 2011
TomOHaver in Florida

Piola in Mercato, Naples, FL

Well, it had to happen. It's a leap year and there is no Feb. 29th this year. So we called Piola's to ask them what they were going to do about their all-you-can-eat gnocchi special. They said it would be on the 28th - TODAY!. And the price is still $13, lunch or dinner. That's hard to beat. We'll be there.

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Piola
9118 Strada Pl, Naples, FL 34108

Feb 28, 2011
TomOHaver in Florida

Cafe Italia replaces Encore in Naples

We live right next to Cafe Italia in North Naples, so we go there often, usually sitting in the bar area. They have good pasta, excellent lasagna, and half-price bar menu 3-6 pm Mon-Sat (closed Sundays).

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Cafe Italia
1810 S Pinellas Ave, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689

Feb 28, 2011
TomOHaver in Florida

Cusco and Lima Peru Food Suggestions?

Yes, we had alpaca two or three times while in Peru and it was always very good - a bit like grass-fed beef. Giant corn was served to us as a appetizer in several places and it was good; I especially liked the toasted corn called "cancha", like "corn nuts" here but not quite so hard on your teeth.

Cooking Class in Naples/Fort Myers

At Naples Tomato, a group of 8-10 diners can make pasta with a pasta chef and have the pasta for dinner! Dinner includes pasta class, pasta chef, antipasto, two pasta courses and a dessert platter. They offer both a $35 and $50 per person menu, 8 person minimum, 10 person maximum.

Feb 26, 2011
TomOHaver in Florida

looking for Naples recommendations

I second the rec for Bha Bha Persian Bistro. We ate dinner there on a Thursday night recently and it was as good as always. Everything there is delicious in a "different", not-your-same-old-same-old-way, with interesting flavor combinations of herbs, spices, nuts, yogurt, and fruits. And to top if off, on Thursday nights there is a belly dancer (and a beautiful young one, at that), which might be a good thing or a bad thing, depending. The vibe is casual chic.

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Bha!
847 Vanderbilt Beach Rd, Naples, FL 34108

Feb 22, 2011
TomOHaver in Florida

looking for Naples recommendations

It's great to see these little restaurants busy. I expect to see long lines at locally popular places like Mel's, Michelbob's, and Carrabbas, but I was surprised when four of us tried to eat at Inka's Kitchen on a Saturday at 6:30 pm and were told there would be a 45 minutes wait! I had no idea it had become so popular. We called for a reservation the next time we ate there. 8-)

Another nice place that has become very popular is Mimi's Cooking, on Pine Ridge at Yahl Street (near the Asian Pok Market). We had a great lunch there recently and every table in this tiny place was filled. (Try the onion soup.) At dinner, reservations are a must there. (Marie-Michelle greets every guest with a kiss-hello. I love it).

Feb 21, 2011
TomOHaver in Florida

looking for Naples recommendations

We've been back to Falafel Grill and Inca's Kitchen this season (twice to the latter) and they are both still the same and still excellent. Prices seemed higher than I remember at Falafel Grill, but Inca's Kitchen is still an excellent deal - $16 for a whole roast chicken with a huge platter of salad and the best and crunchiest "french" fries I've even eaten. Don't miss that. (Inca's Kitchen gets very busy on Weekends - call for a reservation).

Feb 20, 2011
TomOHaver in Florida

Cusco and Lima Peru Food Suggestions?

Cebicheria "Lobo del Mar", across the street from the Miraflores Colon Hotel, is my favorite place in Lima. A huge plate of delicious flounder ceviche costs about $10 and is enough for two people. Add to that a big bottle of ice cold Cusqueña lager and some cancha (toasted giant corn) and I'm very happy.

looking for Naples recommendations

In addition to Mercato, in North Naples there is also nightlife at Absinthe (sleek, urban club/restaurant in the Vanderbilt Collection at the NW corner of Airport and Vanderbilt Beach Rds) and Fred's (down-home friendly place) in the SE corner of Immokalee and Airport Rds.

For food, don't miss USS Nemo's for great seafood in an urban modern environment. And watch the sunset from the bar at the LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort.

But, yea, this is not South Beach.

Nov 02, 2010
TomOHaver in Florida

New Thai place in Cloverly

A new small Thai restaurant has opened about two weeks ago in Cloverly, MD, in the location of a defunct Pho place. It's Siriwan Thai, 736 Cloverly St. Silver Spring (301-879-2225). We've eaten there twice; the food is quite good, they have the usual range of Thai standards, service is very friendly, and most entrees are under $10. Happily, they offer free delivery (up to 3 miles), minimum $18. Open 11:30 am to 9:30 pm. I'm very happy to see these small family-run restaurants moving into suburban neighborhood shopping centers, rather than fast-food places (which tiny Cloverly is mercifully free of, so far).

SW Florida restaurant changes Naples, Ft. Myers, etc

We were in Naples recently and ate at Loving Hut twice. Altogether we tried perhaps 5 or 6 of their dishes and they ranged from good to really delicious. I'm a confirmed carnivore but I'd go back there any time. The service was very friendly and helpful. Prices are reasonable and everything is freshly prepared. A welcome addition to the Naples dining scene.

Jul 23, 2010
TomOHaver in Florida

Moving from NYC to Silver Spring

Indian Park Terrace is a pretty good location. You're close to the Beltway, about 2 miles from downtown Silver Spring, and 5 miles from Bethesda. Ethnic food abounds in the area, especially Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian. There's even an Italian deli nearby (Santucci's, 10107 Colesville Road). Ironically, the closest restaurant to your place is probably Mrs. K's Toll House, not exactly a foodie destination, but the oldest restaurant in the area (been there since 1930) and actually a nice place to take your visiting grandmother.

Moving from NYC to Silver Spring

These are all good recommendations. I'll just add Mandalay on Bonifant in downtown Silver Spring (Burmese), and Kabob and Karahi on New Hampshire Ave in Cloverly (a few miles north) both best if you like spicy food. Cuba de Ayer in Burtonsville is good Cuban in a nice setting.

Salisbury, MD: Seeking a Haven in the area

Four of us recently ate at both the Market Street Inn and and Sobo's Wine Bistro, both in Salisbury. The Market Street Inn is much more informal and has a nice location on a river, but we found the food there good but not outstanding. Sobo's Wine Bistro, on the other hand, is a more urban-style place, and the food there was really excellent. My favorite thing there was the fried risotto cake appetizer.

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Market Street Inn
130 W Market St, Salisbury, MD 21801

Sobo's Wine Bistro
1015 Eastern Shore Dr, Salisbury, MD 21804

Jun 17, 2010
TomOHaver in Mid-Atlantic

Hampton Roads, VA: Where should we eat next?

Four of us (from the Washington, DC area) ate dinner at Cafe Europa in Portsmouth recently, and it was so good that we made a reservation for the next night right there on the spot. It's not very imposing from the outside, but inside it's a strictly first-class, white linen type of place, and larger than you might expect. Service was very friendly but leisurely in a European sort of way; good food takes time to prepare well. I noticed that many people dress up for this place, but they didn't seem to mind that were were dressed in jeans and polo shirts. I'll be back the next time I'm in Portsmouth.

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Cafe Europa
319 High St, Portsmouth, VA 23704

Jun 17, 2010
TomOHaver in Mid-Atlantic