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Downtown Charlotte for a Large Group - Your Recs?

Thanks everyone! We got a reservation for 17 at Roosters Uptown - looks like it fits the bill in every regard!

Now to catch up on the musical stylings of .38 Special, so we can enjoy the Speed Street festivities after dinner...

May 15, 2014
sir chowalot in Southeast

Downtown Charlotte for a Large Group - Your Recs?

Oh gosh. You are right. Is this nutso?

May 14, 2014
sir chowalot in Southeast

Downtown Charlotte for a Large Group - Your Recs?

Hello Charlotte 'Hounds,

A far-flung group will be gathering in Charlotte for a wedding party over Memorial Day weekend and about 20 of us have a night to fend for ourselves with our kids. Most of us would be pretty unhappy at a chain or a hotel buffet, but given the size of our group, we don't expect to be able to hit any farm-to-table market-driven holes-in-the-wall (ok, think I used up my hyphen allotment there.)

We are staying at the Marriott City Center hotel on W. Trade Street, and not all of us have cars, so something in walking distance would be the best option. Would like to find something fun and casual, with good quality food and cocktails. Food can be simple, but we do have a selection of red meat adverse people, so a straight up burger joint won't work well. Would like to keep entrée price point under $25.

We are looking for a place that will take reservations for Saturday, 5/24.

Thanks so much!

May 14, 2014
sir chowalot in Southeast

Charlottesville

Others that should be on your list: Mas Tapas in the Belmont neighborhood (get there early or be prepared for a long wait); Public Fish and Oyster on W. Main for a great raw bar (check out their current oyster list on its Facebook page), Brookville on the pedestrian mall, if you have a hankering for pork in particular (chef sources 90% of his menu from within 100 miles of Cville); El Tepeyac is a small Salvadoran/Mexican place off Rt. 29 - it lacks atmosphere and wine, but is a foodie destination for its authentic eats.

May 12, 2014
sir chowalot in Mid-Atlantic

Al Carbón, Pollo Asado, Charlottesville VA

Saw their sign announcing their opening and got excited! I pulled into the parking lot to see the shopfront, and it looked very modest - in fact it looked closed, so I'm really glad to hear confirmation that it is in fact in operation and that it is tasty. Thanks for the link.

I'll be giving it a try in the next week or two - it is a welcome addition to Cville, especially if the elote is any good.

Apr 03, 2014
sir chowalot in Mid-Atlantic

Banquet hall or large room near Charlottesville VA

Presumably your event has come and gone, but for anyone searching for similar information, there is a new place on the Downtown Mall, the Old Metropolitan Hall, which is an event space/banquet hall. Seems nice, though I've never attended an event there. http://oldmetropolitanhall.com/about/

May 31, 2013
sir chowalot in Mid-Atlantic

Paris with a 6-year old foodie (July 11-19 2013)

Thanks for the info, helpful to know.
We are not looking for "exotic" food, just places that would provide friendly (or no worse than indifferent) meals in interesting settings with high quality French food. Le Cinq is a good suggestion for one of the blow-out meals, but also looking for bistros, regional French cuisine, etc. For example, some places that I've already gleaned from CH and other sources include Bistro Paul Bert, Cafe de Musee, Chez Georges, Jeanne A., and Ambassade d'Auvergne.

May 29, 2013
sir chowalot in France

Paris with a 6-year old foodie (July 11-19 2013)

Bonjour all. My 6-year old daughter and I will be in Paris July 11-19. We are staying in an apartment in the 3d Arr. right near rue de Bretagne, so we are excited about all the food shopping nearby. Couple of questions that we haven't seen answered in our Chow searches: first, my girl is an adventurous eater (lamb's tongue, head cheese, escargot, and pasta vongole are all in her repertoire) and she's a well-behaved, enthusiastic restaurant patron (We are ex-New Yorkers, so she's been going to restaurants and living up to high standards since she could sit in her own chair). All that by way of background to ask about restaurants that would be welcoming to her and that would give us more that just the croque madame or crepe that may appeal to fussier eaters. We expect to hit restaurants pretty early - at opening time - so hopefully that will give us a less rushed experience.
We are not particularly budget minded, but don't want to spend 100s of euros on every meal. A couple blow-outs would be fine, but otherwise want to stay in the moderate range. We'd like to sample a variety of more traditional places, along with more modern bistros, and are fine with cabbing around or taking the Metro. We are not particularly interested in non-french foods like Japanese, Chinese etc, but for a remarkable experience, would consider exceptions.
2 other questions - will it be difficult to find a meal on Bastille day this year? July 14 is a Sunday this year, and we've heard that Sunday's are already somewhat problematic for restaurants. Finally, if anyone has a recommendation for a lunch spot between Republique and Saint Emilion metro stop, please let us know. We will be at the Musee des Arts Forain at 1430 on July 14, and want to get lunch on the way (note that this is on Bastille Day).
Merci beaucoup!!

May 28, 2013
sir chowalot in France

Open Mondays/Tuesdays? Road trip help needed!

That looks great - and the timing should be just about right to hit it around lunchtime. Any particular recs as to what to get? Looks like the fried chicken is a top pick...

May 05, 2012
sir chowalot in Southeast

Open Mondays/Tuesdays? Road trip help needed!

Hi 'Hounds,

We're driving from Charlottesville VA to Orlando FL next Monday and Tuesday and after much searching, I'm having difficulty in these boards finding places that are open on those days. BBQ? Forget it!!

So I'd love some recs for Hound-worthy food between Greensboro, NC and Orlando FL that will be OPEN on Monday and Tuesday. We're not looking for chains or corporate fast food - looking for unique, delicious, regional surprises. Unfortunately, we will not have the time to wander far from the highways, and Google Maps recommends I-74 to Rockingham, then Rte 38 to I-95 for the duration, so that is the route we expect to follow.

Many thanks in advance for any assistance!!

May 03, 2012
sir chowalot in Southeast

dinner/grocery delivery ideas in charlottesville -- please help!

Presumably your friend is cooking again (hope so!) - but if not, you can certainly identify delivery restaurants in Charlottesville by using Google and typing in "Charlottesville restaurant delivery". It shouldn't take you more than 10 minutes or so to find all of the delivery places, but your universe will be pretty limited - pizza, burgers, sushi, chinese - and none of it is particularly noteworthy.

There is also an online grocery delivery similar to Fresh Direct - called Retail Relay - which will deliver to homes or provide pickup service. They source items from dozens of local retailers, including Whole Foods, and are extremely service oriented. You can find Relay on line at www.relayfoods.com.

Good luck!

Sep 20, 2011
sir chowalot in Mid-Atlantic

EMP Menu - Scam or Not?

as an aside, since you mention lamb...we went to Del Posto for lunch just two days after EMP and absolutely loved it - the roast lamb there is the best I've ever had, and my wife's arctic char was also right up there with the best we've tasted. Super service, generous portions and wonderful food for $29. Highly, highly recommended.

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Del Posto
85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

Aug 12, 2011
sir chowalot in Manhattan

EMP Menu - Scam or Not?

Yeah - I figured there must have been discussions, but the search and review I did before posting didn't really show me anything completely on point. Could be I just missed them. And my use of "scam" is, of course, somewhat provocative, as I pointed out in my original post, what does the restaurant stand to gain from disappointing customers? That is the part that baffles me. Next time I go, if I do go, I would either take Kathryn's good idea and review the bar menu or spend 15 minutes going through each menu item. Perhaps the lesson is that you should narrow down your potential wants and then walk through those in detail with your server to ensure that you get a dish you like. But from what I'm gathering on this thread, most people seem less than enthusiastic about this menu gimmick, as are we.

Thanks!

Aug 11, 2011
sir chowalot in Manhattan

EMP Menu - Scam or Not?

I'm interested in the experiences/opinions of other Hounds at Eleven Madison Park respecting the menu format. At first it seems adventurous and flexible, but when we went for lunch the other day (had the 3-course lunch), our waiter explained that the kitchen would create dishes based on the main ingredients we chose and then asked if we had dietary restrictions. He didn't make any other efforts to learn about our likes/dislikes or tastes/desires. We bought into the approach and I ordered "Lobster" and "Beef", with "Sheep's milk cheese" for dessert and my wife went with "Black Cod" and "Octopus", with "Chocolate". The waiter asked if my wife preferred intense chocolate or not, and also suggested that the cod be served before the octopus, as it was a "lighter" dish.

Had we been thinking about what he said, and not just enjoying our expectations, we would have realized that the dishes were already planned, otherwise, how would he know the black cod was a lighter dish then the octopus presentation? He also didn't mention to my wife that both her selections were considered appetizers, although after she ordered she overheard another waiter mention that to a different table. She said she would have ordered differently had she known that.

The "Lobster" dish I got was a pseudo-lasagna with loads of squash, which I would not have ordered had I a fuller description. I have no dietary restriction about squash, and it isn't offensive enough to me to mention it as an item I would not want served, but I don't care for it as a central focus of a dish and I was not happy with the dish.

The cheese plate was a mess - literally. An unfocused spread of cheeses, gelees, greasy corn bread, corn kernels, micro greens, and dried, peeled and unpeeled fresh and dried tomatoes strewn about. Again, had I an inkling of what this would have been, I would have steered well clear of it. After tasting the components, I left the rest of the plate virtually untouched. (A bit surprisingly to me, given the reputation of EMP for attentive service, no one followed up to understand why the plate went back to the kitchen intact).

So is it caveat emptor at EMP? Is the burden on the diner to ask about the proposed preparation of each and every dish? If so, doesn't that undermine the point of the concept? Both my wife and I talked on the way home about whether the menu is a scam, and we both think that it is, but not sure what the benefit is to the restaurant. Conceptually, if the server makes an effort to understand our palate and the kitchen actually does tailor dishes, then it could be interesting (although surely unworkable), but to have all the dishes already prepared and then just not tell me about them just seems silly and gimmicky rather than clever and cutting edge.

Are we missing something? Is your experience different? Have you learned to micro-manage your meals there? But if I have to do that, then am I not usurping the chef's inventiveness? Is there a charm or benefit to the coyness of the menu that we are missing? Am I just supposed to enjoy the mystery, notwithstanding that I don't like my food? After the experience, I guess we just don't get it. Happy to hear other views.

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Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

Aug 11, 2011
sir chowalot in Manhattan

Xi'an Famous Foods Opens Up Chinatown Branch A Week From Saturday

That is so interesting MacGuffin, because I finally tried Xi'an for the first time today and was not at all impressed. I had a lamb burger and a lamb face salad, and was struck by the saltiness of both, but really no complexity or heat. Cumin lamb tasted of cumin and salt, couldn't detect any lamb flavor, and the lamb face salad was soggy with oil; at least here I got a little lamb flavor, and could even detect a really nice cinnamon undertone in a few of the pieces, but overall, a HUGE disappointment to me, based on all the raves I've ever seen. I wonder, based on your post, whether there has been a turn for the worse here? Anyone else been disappointed recently?

Apr 22, 2011
sir chowalot in Manhattan

Looking for local MILK to use for cheese making? Brooklyn-Williamsburg

go to Marlow & Daughters on Broadway in Williamsburg. THey will have freshest, localest milk around.

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Marlow & Daughters
95 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Mar 03, 2011
sir chowalot in Outer Boroughs

Fresh Direct unreliable

getting a credit is all well and good, unless you're relying on FD to deliver the lobster for an important meal and FD has stiffed you, leaving you scrambling. It has happened to me rarely, but enough that I will not rely on FD for a high-stakes meal. Also, when I need something specific, like mushrooms for stuffing, I can't rely on FD. I've also had problems where the website says that the fish (for example) they will be delivering will be 1.5 pounds, and then it ends up being under a pound, which screws up portions and plans, and can also leave me scrambling. Fine, so I get a credit....doesn't always make the problem right. Just saying.

Mar 03, 2011
sir chowalot in Manhattan

Best Pizza - Former Brooklyn Star space (Williamsburg)

Ordered delivery again. This will be the last time. Slices arrived folded over, took almost an hour, and come on!! i paid $4 for meatballs on the pie - I expect more than one or two little crumbles of meatball per slice. It looked so sad, like one little speck awash in a sea of tomato and cheese. Most of the pie went into the trash; which is astonishing for us. Oh well.

Feb 28, 2011
sir chowalot in Outer Boroughs

Smuggler's Notch

According to the Smugglers Notch website, the road to Waterbury and Stowe is snowed in and closed in winter, so you'd have to go through Burlington to get there....

I've also had a recommendation for Three Mountain Lodge, which is close to SN, but off the resort. Can anyone confirm that place is worth trying? Are there places in the resort that are better than others, or any that should simply be avoided? Thanks.

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Three Mountain Lodge
RR 108, Jeffersonville, VT 05464

Best Pizza - Former Brooklyn Star space (Williamsburg)

We ordered delivery last night. One regular pie with mushrooms and one white pie with pepperoni. Unfortunately, both pizzas were cold when they arrived - need to invest in some heat retention technology guys! - and the delivery guy must have crashed his bike on the way over, as they were messed up inside the boxes - pieces were folded over and stuck together. After reassembling the pies and digging in, found they tasted great, and really liked the sesame on the white pizza crust. Just hope they will work out delivery issues so that the pies will arrive hot and intact.

Nov 22, 2010
sir chowalot in Outer Boroughs

Sunday brunch in Williamsburg

I'm a big fan of Traif, so would second that. But my next brunch will be at Fatty 'Cue. Also, Gordon Bennet does a decent English brekkie, so if that's something you're into it could be nice. Its pretty quiet in there too, so easy to talk.

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Fatty 'Cue
91 S 6th St, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Traif
229 S 4th St, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Nov 09, 2010
sir chowalot in Outer Boroughs

Disappointing dinner at Saul

We also ate at Saul recently and were disappointed, after being big fans over the past couple of years. Most egregiously, our vegetarian friend received a ridiculous plate of variously arrayed vegetables, without any sophistication, execution or cohesion as a dish. We had been joking that she would just receive a plate of steamed, undersalted vegetables - and oddly enough, the joke was on us. My food was fine - foie gras app and the loin of rabbit - but far below what I have come to expect there. Just didn't stand out. I guess Saul is overextending himself. I guess I won't be back unless I start hearing good reports again - there are too many great Bklyn places to eat at these days....

Oct 17, 2010
sir chowalot in Outer Boroughs

good steak with the wee one

assuming you meant "humanely", which would narrow the category considerably, my suggestion would be Diner (on Broadway and Berry, in Williamsburg), which sources all of its steak from Marlow & Daughter's butcher store, which sources all of its meat from local, sustainable farms and has primarily pastured meats (ie, grass-fed, not corn-fed). Before going, give the restaurant a call to see what steak is on the menu that night - it ranges from a rib-eye for 2 to a 6 oz bistro steak. It is a very kid-friendly place, to boot.

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Marlow & Daughters
95 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Aug 24, 2010
sir chowalot in Outer Boroughs

Traif review - best meal in a long time...

NY Magazine has recommended Traif as one of its "Cheap Eats" recommendations. Quoting in full:

"Even in the realm of cheap eats, the Underground Gourmet has always prized quality over quantity—as should anyone, we might argue, who doesn’t inhale Nathan’s hot dogs for a living. And with more and more fine-dining chefs scaling back their tariffs, if not their technique, quality has never been better. This is immediately evident at Traif (229 S. 4th St., nr. Havemeyer St., Williamsburg; 347-844-9578), chef-owner Jason Marcus’s tongue-in-pork-cheek rebuke to Jewish dietary law. But there’s more to Traif than bacon and shrimp: The changing menu features offbeat salads, like a recent combo of dark-roasted carrots, orange segments, arugula, feta, and grapes ($6), and barbecue-braised short-rib sliders served with attention-grabbing sweet-potato fries ($8). With prices like that, you don’t expect shot-glass amuses and dainty mignardises, like a juicy pineapple cube adorned with pomegranate molasses and lime zest, but Traif delivers both, as well as an appealing wine list and serious Schott Zwiesel stemware".

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Traif
229 S 4th St, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Jul 16, 2010
sir chowalot in Outer Boroughs

Which restaurant in nyc or nearby serves great pork chops?

Vinegar Hill House fits your needs.

Jun 25, 2010
sir chowalot in Manhattan

Traif review - best meal in a long time...

Just reporting back on brunch. Went with another family, so six of us this time - they pushed two tables together for us on the patio. We ate the following:

Dutch Pancake with fresh berries; Bacon and egg sliders; french toast stuffed with with nutella and bananas; eggs fried in a "bird nest" (thick cut bread with holes cut in the middle for the egg to plop through) with cheese and other stuff; chicken and biscuits; and more bacon doughnuts. All of this was excellent and I wished that I had ordered any of it.

Unfortunately, I had ordered the one bad thing we've had at Traif. It was supposed to be crispy braised bacon with sunnyside egg, udon noodles and smoky miso broth. The problem was that rather than udon, the noodle was some generic ramen noodle. To make matters worse, the noodles were overcooked to the point of mushiness and, for some reason, had been cut into inch long bits, which made them hard to eat off the fork. While the bacon was good it was not generously apportioned, and the "smoky" broth could have been smokier or have integrated a little more umami and a little less sweetness.

Fortunately, the bloody mary was terrific - super spicy and properly focused on the vodka rather than the tomato juice. Coffee was very good too. It would be nice if they added bacon/sausage as sides also.

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Traif
229 S 4th St, Brooklyn, NY 11211

May 24, 2010
sir chowalot in Outer Boroughs

Traif review - best meal in a long time...

Glad you liked it so much. And glad to hear there was a decent customer flow. We're going back for brunch this Sunday. It's hard to avoid sounding like a shill for them, isn't it?

May 21, 2010
sir chowalot in Outer Boroughs

Traif review - best meal in a long time...

I was a little disappointed not to see any results when I searched for Traif on these boards, because it means that it is not getting enough love. What is keeping 'hounders away? Is it the ironic name? the somewhat hard-to-find crappy location by the BQE/Williamsburg bridge interchange? The fact that their daily menu hasn't been updated on their website since what appears to be their opening day?

Anyway, I twisted my wife's arm last Saturday night to go check it out, and we arrived to a nearly empty place at 6 o'clock. We went out back to the garden seating (an actual garden, mind you, with trees, flowers, a yard with a foot path through it and a swinging chair, along with a small patio that has 5 or 6 small tables. Most of the space is green), and grabbed a table with our three-year old. One other table was occupied with some local latinas and their kids - not exactly whom we expected to be dining with, but they were eating pretty enthusiastically.

The concept is sharing plates - and we ordered the following: short rib sliders with sweet potato fries (2 to an order); seared scallops with an avocado cream; sauteed sweetbreads with shitakes, asparagus and artichoke hearts; a sugar pea/tomato/grape/almond salad; and pan-fried softshell crabs.

I also ordered a cocktail - chili infused vodka with thai basil, and a tart component that I can't remember - but it was great - heat, sweet and good flavor from the herb. Only complaints with this was that it was a little light on the booze and the basil was a little bedraggled.

Chef sent out an amuse of chilled cream of asparagus with truffle oil. Beautiful.

Next out came the sliders - shredded beef in a smoky, slightly sweet bbq glaze that was perfectly fine (these were primarily for the three year old), but the sweet potato fries were a knockout - crispy, light, not oily, and soft inside, they were probably the best iteration I've had.

The softshell crabs were two rather big specimens perched atop a small heap of greens, a fat slice of tomato and a crusty slice of bread. Sort of like a BLT, but with the crab instead of bacon. At first the bread seemed too thick and dry, but when you took a forkful of all the elements it was wonderful - the crab was juicy and seasoned just aggressively enough that the whole bite was a great melange. We overheard the waitress telling the other table that the chef really focused on not only flavors, but also textural components and that was pretty clear from this dish. We gobbled that right up.

Scallops were seared beautifully, sweet and tender, and they paired up nicely with the delicate flavor of the avocado "sauce" they were sitting in. Along with the flavors, the other impressive element here was that the dish cost $16 for 4 big scallops. I've paid nearly twice as much for half as many.

The sweetbreads were tender and cooked no more than necessary. The mushrooms, asparagus and artichoke were excellent playmates and the butter from the saute pan held it all together.

My only other complaint was that the red wine I ordered was way too warm.

For dessert we had the bacon donuts - little deep fried doughballs topped with bacon and honey served with a scoop of coffee ice cream; very good; and the strawberry cobbler, which was tremendous.

Please go and check this place out! I want to be able to keep eating here for years!! The place was about a third full when we left at 7:45, but it should be packed. Sophisticated, exciting, clever food...what more do you want?

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Traif
229 S 4th St, Brooklyn, NY 11211

May 19, 2010
sir chowalot in Outer Boroughs

Sophisticated 3 year old + Volcano = ???

Thanks everyone for the suggestions so far!! I actually used to live in DC 8 years ago and NONE of these places were around - or at least on my radar screen (well, Teaism and its salty oatmeal cookie were....)

cheers!

Sophisticated 3 year old + Volcano = ???

We're brooklyn based foodies coming to DC this weekend for a visit that has been thrown into turmoil by the Icelandic volcano: all of our plans have been canceled because our relatives couldn't fly out of Switzerland. So now we need to find new plans, including places to eat. Our three year old loves good restaurants, good food, and is properly behaved. We are looking for non-stuffy, child-friendly (but not child-oriented), restaurants for Saturday dinner, Sunday breakfast/brunch and Sunday dinner. Any cuisines/suggestions welcomed - though would be particularly happy with places focusing on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Also, if there are any amazing snacks to be had - ice cream parlors or treats - that would be great to know about also.

I should also mention that we're staying downtown - near 14th and K streets - and will be getting around by Metro.

Thanks.