75 percent cacao's Profile
I am so grateful to you for the extensive -- more Olympian than Parnassian, je me sens -- list of recommendations.
Plutot, your implicit criticism of my request -- just what was I looking for? unpretentious bistrots are off almost every coin in Paris -- has made me think harder about what I'm after.
I guess that I seek the kind of bistrot that is almost unknown in NYC: Here, French means fancy as well as properly prepared and cooked -- or, as Root discusses, >bourgeois< (when used, here, in that sense, and not as it is used by the French). He opposes to that, for his US readers, >paysan<, to describe food that's unstuffy or dwelled over in its preparation, but food that respects terroir.
My wife and I will be >returning< to Paris, where I lived. I seek places that, if they're not unpretentious bistrot, manage to respect the food of the region that they serve without making such a fuss about it.
Those, and to learn about the places that I used to go to.
But if we have one meal that >is< pretentious, while being exceptional in quality, we won't suffer much. A place that I used to find just this side of pretentious -- but, because of its location and, therefore, price, attracted tourists -- was the old-fashioned place alongside Notre Dame. Vieux Bistrot, it might have been called.
I had good meals there even though, it seemed, the tourists came from a sense that they were avoiding the tourist traps . . . which made this almost a trap itself.
What is at about tourists, that while they complain when the bill is expensive, don't seem satisfied with the choice of restos unless it is high-priced?
Another place that I found this side of pretentious: Cartet, 11eme, when it was run by the old lady.
In general, I don't like to dine where I feel that someone is giving me special treatment or some sort of display.
That's why I used the word >grub<.
Parnassien: You have been terribly generous with your time and suggestions -- even if, from the tone of what you wrote, you could have sent twenty more unpretentious places.
Thank you so much for the help.
I remember the name of the place off Vaugirard:
While wondering if it's still around, what about:
These were once favorites; of those still standing, which have retained their, er, >standing< with Chow'ers?
Oh -- thanks, John, for all of your contributions -- I'm grateful.
Thanks for the reply.
If you know the 15th, can you tell me if Belisaire is still in business? I lived around the corner from it in the early 2000s. It was the best bistrot for the money in the area. There was, as well, a real working-class place off rue Vaugirard -- in the 15th, near to Blvd Montparnasse. Felt like a cafeteria; authentic, cheap-but-good grub -- qui s'appelle?
I haven't lived in Paris since 2004, so I've been telling US friends (for a couple of years at least) that my resto choices can't be trusted. Things change too quickly.
Now it's my turn to ask, as my wife and I will make a visit:
Good North African? West African?
Reliable southeast Asian, 13eme or not?
You get the idea: I'm not interested in the latest, fashionable, yadda-yadda; I lived in Paris long enough to know what I like, and it's >good grub<.
Can anyone get me >down< to speed, so to speak?
Oh -- no fusion, please.
To Fintastic and Others Who Generously Opined:
Lawrence was tops. As serious a meal -- as distinct a chef's palate -- as it was unpretentious and fun to be a part of. Did you know, F-tastic, that the chef is from London? I had a fish dish with saucisses and cabbage that reminded me of the plates that Vinegar Hill, my favorite Brooklyn resto, serves. Excellent.
Laloux was as different in ambiance and attitude as can be imagined. If the food wasn't as good, it was nearly so. Its tete de fromage was the equal of any that I've had in France, and its framboise noir gelato was the highlight dessert (though Lawrence's souffle was close). The decor brought back brasserie memories of my years in France -- if, while not on the scale of such a classic venue and not providing its huge, diverse menu . . . it managed to evoke it just the same.
Brasserie T was a lot of fun. While once I tuck in, the decor or design/layout concept fades in importance, I now recall the uniqueness of its look with fondness. The food was very good if, by my placing it third, not of the calibre of the first two.
While Brasserie T was the cleverest-looking, Dominion Square Tavern wins the prize for most distinctive/tasteful decor. A great-looking place, from the heralds and detailing down to the wood grillwork that covered a heating unit. I had the cornish hen; cooking and serving it in a skillet was a great idea -- my wife roasts chicken that way at home -- but the slathered goat cheese was an odd 'effect'. Better was the salmon/blini starter.
The only resto mistake: Ali Baba. Ignoring the dancing and the low-fi, ear-splitting recorded music, the food was substandard. I don't know how this makes it to any list of resto reco's.
Maybe what impressed as much as the resto's -- and, of course, Jardin Botanique and the museums' exhibits of Inuit art, the latter of which was a revelation -- was being in Montreal for the peak of its brief but fructuous(!) season. How you manage to have all kinds of berries and wine grapes a month past their NY-area season, while offering apples a month >before< they're off the trees in this vicinity . . . I can't fathom. Can anyone on this list explain the extraordinarily diverse Montreal-and-environs bounty, no matter how brief it's available?
Maybe that the season is so short means that this bounty must be celebrated -- coveted? -- all the more.
At these markets, the vendors' kindness reflected this -- as, more generally, it reflected Montrealers' innate graciousness and warmth. People were kind everywhere.
The market in Quebec outdid Jean-Talons', even. (Didn't see what the big deal was about Atkins's fish; it was all right, but . . . .)
I found no serious locally manufactured cacao, though one fournisseur (name not noted) had a single-origin tablet of Peruvian beans. These are rarely used but are very good.
Thank you, all; thank you, all of Montreal. Lovely city, lovely people.
To Fintastic and All Other Montrealers Who Have Posted:
My wife and I arrive in your city in five days.
We're terribly excited as, aside from the great ideas that all of you have given us, we've gotten some suggestions for hikes to take outside the city. We like to combine art and nature when we travel . . . then discuss it all over good food.
We're grateful to you all. You've given us a lot to go on as we find our way around town.
One thing that we haven't asked about: Quebec City.
We assume that if we arrive early enough for a day's exploration, we won't be there long enough for dinner. But . . . if we are . . . is there a serious (but, again -- not >gravely< so) place that we must eat in? To remind: We don't like scenes of any kind, and we get no >charge< out of maxing out our AmEx.
Final word, for Fintastic: We made a reservation at Lawrence for Thursday, 9.VIII.12, at 20:00 -- it will be our anniversary dinner. If you (or anyone else) happen to be there, stop by our table to say hello. We're New Yorkers, about sixty, dark featured.
THANK YOU ALL AGAIN FOR TAKING THE TIME TO CONTRIBUTE. IF THE CITY IS HALF AS HOSPITABLE AS YOU HAVE BEEN, WE'LL HAVE A GREAT TIME.
I appreciate the time that you've taken to respond already.
And I followed your advice, and read your and others' comments about Outremont in an earlier post -- yet I didn't come away from them with one recommendation.
So, I'll stick my head in the lion's (or cat's) mouth: Is there a serious meal to be had in this area of the city?
75 percent cacao
O Fintastic! O Mores!
Thanks for such a detailed, thoughtful reply. Chow at its best provides the most subjective yet revealing opinions; I mean, the more I know about the poster, the better I can gauge if his or her sensibility is akin to mine.
How much better than such as Zagat's, which is an aggregate vote: I mean, if I don't know who has voted, how can I gauge if their tastes have relevance to my own?
Deciding where to eat -- and, then, what I think about the food -- has nothing in common with voting for a candidate. I'm not looking for popularity in deciding where to eat. Zagat's is founded, however, on the principle that these two decision-making processes have much in common. That' silly.
I thank you, Fintastic, in addition, for sharing something about the demographics of eating in your city.
We don't mind being the oldest people in the room. But when a place is trendy, it tends to be noisy. We prefer quiet dining -- or, if the place fills up with noise, we prefer to go before it does.
We're staying on Sherbrooke St West, at Versailles. I paid little attention to >that< choice, as we'll spend so little time there.
We just want to explore, explore, explore the city -- everywhere on foot. I would walk from the airport if my wife wouldn't object. I have lists of the museums and parks; I don't, however, have a sense of theatre and music. Is there an alternative weekly that focuses on the arts?
We'll also do what we can to explore nature. Any recommendations of places outside the city, those that we can get to by public transportation, are welcome.
To return to food: My wife and I are a mix of discriminating and demotic. We aren't easily impressed, especially by showy displays or by being coddled by resto types; it offends our democratic values. Just give us something good to eat and leave us alone; we'll oblige by eating it and not bothering you. Please don't tell us who you are or what you're doing for us, or that you do so better than others, or have done so for longer.
We are passionate yet latent amateurs, I guess. >Amateurs< in the French sense.
(We do enjoy, occasionally, greeting the people at the next table, but we would prefer to have the brief exchange about something other than the food. Last night we learned that the guy sitting next to us is a guitarist; as I write about music, we plan to go to see him at a small NYC joint that he's playing in in three weeks -- after Montreal.)
Your touching words, Fin-Man, about Lawrence and Dominion Square lead me to book one of them for our wedding-anniversary dinner.
Thanks again for taking the time to be yourself and, at the same time, share so much information.
Oh, Porker -- good question. By unusual seafood I guess that I meant, not such as I find all around me in NYC: French and Italian fish restos that are all about the show and their rep. It seems that, by serving fish, they feel justified in charging a ton. I just won't pay that much for any meal.
On the other hand, we have, in south Brooklyn, terrific Greek and Russian seafood places that serve grilled fish, almost alone on the plate, for a reasonable tariff. I also like Japanese and Cantonese/Fukienese seafood, but I can also get that easily here.
Now, seal . . . that would be worth walking across Montreal to try. Where do I go for that?
I've just read the 5 Days in Montreal novel -- er, post/thread -- and boy, am I exhausted.
My wife will thank me for taking all of that time . . . >after< our trip . . . assuming that I gleaned the right choices from that long, long discussion. So, please help my marriage!
But I have another list to throw out to the Montreal Chow-ers:
These are among the selections in Eyewitness Travel's *Top Ten: Montreal and Quebec City*.
I'm not attached to anything on this list (nor to that guidebook); I just chose these from the longer list that it had.
To help to gauge how you should react: My wife and I are, I guess, less interested in expensive/trendy places than are those who posted to Five Days. We don't eat beef and don't need seafood unless it's really unusual.
We are about sixty, serious but not grave when it comes to dining out, and willing to walk far, eat early, or put up with less than spotless surrounds.
Of places mentioned in the Five Days thread, I do have three questions:
My wife will be flying to Portland and using public transportation while there. (She doesn't drive, anyway.)
For this last, special meal -- the others will be brief and possibly tedious affairs, in and around her hotel -- she is prepared to take a cab. If necessary, she would take one from the hotel and, after the meal, to the airport.
Thanks for your interest. My wife is a good person, honest -- and she deserves one good meal.
My wife prefers quiet with her quality dinner when she's at a restaurant without me.
(When we're together, we definitely prefer to hear >each other< to hearing everyone else.)
She doesn't know Portland at all. She'll be flying back east on a Friday night.
Of the following, which provides the best meal and an uncomplicated trip from it to the airport?
. . . or have I missed something better from having read only recent posts? (Write-in candidates welcome!)
Thanks for all thoughtful replies.
My wife and I love O. If its other places aren't in its class, we'll just return to O. on our next visit to the city.
Cuisine type doesn't matter; quality does.
I CAN'T DECIDE BETWEEN ZUPPA AND XO.
CAN WE HAVE THEM SQUARE OFF HERE?
I CAN'T DECIDE BETWEEN ZUPPA AND XO.
CAN WE HAVE THEM SQUARE OFF HERE?
A REPLY FROM THE LEGENDARY LIMSTER; HOW HONORED AM I!
In truth, sir or madam, you are a wise counsel on most but not all comestibles.
You've got some maturing to do about chocolate (take it from 75 percent cacao -- >please<).
The makers whom you reference here, I'll wager, specialize in couverture. As my name implies, this kind of chocolate is frippery: Serious cacao people don't even think about fillings.
Do Cocomaya and William Curley even make tablets without flavorings or other filigree? If they do, check the ingredients; if they use lecithin or vanilla, they're not to be considered among the elite.
Maybe there should be two distinct categories. What I'm talking about is the pure experience of a single-bean-origin tablet. Just as most serious coffee drinkers focus on the roast and the bean, so do most serious chocolate people.
I know that flavored coffees exist. But it's hard to listen to people talk about them -- and I don't drink coffee at all. I have a tablet of the good stuff every morning, first thing.
L'Artisan shocked me it was so good. If you know the great tablets of France -- Bernachon, Bonnat; there are others -- then you know that it's high praise if I, a former Parisian, put L'Artisan in their class.
My wife excoriated me for leaving out our fish-and-chips lunch: another Chow recommendation, GOLDEN HIND in Marylebone Lane.
Best we ever had; it must be the plaice. It must be; the haddock, while good, wasn't in its league.
Thanks to all London Chowhounds for making our meals special.
Had the week's best plate at GRAM BANGLA: mutton with chana dal. Ask for it. (Thanks to those who'd recommended the place. Brick Lane has changed, but to a tourist it is still worth strolling.)
Got lucky and made it to MELA in time for its Rajasthani festival: a hare dish and a duck one that had been cooked in yogurt were outstanding. Went back post-Rajasthani and was less impressed, though the vegetarian dish with cheese curd was very good. Post-festival, the waiters' outfits were less, er, festive.
Found RACINE'S more than acceptable for a London take on a French bistrot. As a former Parisian, it wouldn't pass muster there; but as a onetime Londoner, I can say that such places didn't exist there in the Seventies and early Eighties.
The pizza at HARROD'S counter resto wasn't bad. Given how disappointing the food halls were -- chocolate selection meager and prices on everything outrageous -- that meal was a fillip. Would never return there to buy packaged food.
HOPE & ANCHOR, Waterloo, might be among the best of the gastropubs. But maybe the concept is lost on me: If you want pub grub, you want one of those noisome sandwiches that you drown with two or three liters of ale. If you want something subtle or fresh, why go to a pub?
Along with aforementioned mutton with chana dal, the peak was reached in discovering L'Artisan du Chocolat. It can compete with the best of the French -- honest. Try its Congo tablet while it still has some left. Best overall: Java
I'll be in London for a week, from 24.xi.08.
As I used to live in Paris, I know that the chunnel has made cross-fertilization of all kinds of seeds possible.
Where are those disaffected French restaurateurs who moved to London and opened bistros?
I'm not one for atmosphere, reputation, or who needs to have lots of people around to attest to the authenticity of the (French) cooking.
Thanks in advance for your help.
My wife and I are coming to Philadelphia to see *Ying Tong*.
We've decided to eat, beforehand, near to the theatre.
These two seem to be the best Italian choices.
Which gives the better meal? We don't care for ambiance or for which is trendier.
It's the gastronomy, stupid.
Thanks in advance for all opinions.
Thanks to all who opined.
To answer the person who asked why I chose these places: Their names all cropped up in recent Chowhound discussions of Philly restaurants.
I have narrowed my choice to Little Fish and Osteria in town, and to Sola if we are going to be in Bryn Mawr.
One more question: There are two Osterias: One is at 640 North Broad, the other (Sole Osteria Italiana) at 4247 Main.
Which is the one that I want?
Again, I appreciate all who've particpated . . . . Last-minute opinions are welcome.
My wife and I are coming to town after Christmas and looking for a great place for dinner.
Let me define what >great< isn't:
(. . . how often these three go together . . .)
Also, >great< needn't be expensive or, for that matter, have an attitude at all -- such as: 'We're doing all of this wonderfulness just for you -- aren't we the cat's pyjamas?'
My wife and I value decency and authenticity but without the capital D or A.
So, armed with that, would readers be kind enough to weigh in on the following nominees, gleaned as they've been from recent posts here?
PS: We like all cuisines.
Thanks in advance for all honest assessments.
Also: Does Naked Chocolate Cafe make its own chocolate tablets (bars)?
Thanks to all for taking the time to respond. (Nsxtasy, where are you?)
I have a short list that a colleague has given me:
Does anyone second a place from this list for the more modest dinners that I'm planning for Sunday and Monday?
Everyone responded to the question re: the big-ticket dinner only; without smaller tickets, the big one wouldn't be so special. . . .
Again, thanks for the help. It's good to know that Chicagoans are so friendly.
PS: Any non-touristic pizza that's walkable from the dock of the Chi. Architecture Foundation boat tour? Giordano, Gulliver, Bacino, Lou Malnati, Pizano, Pizza Capri?
Of all the Chicagoans whom I've read here, s/he seems to be closest to my age and perspective.
I've read dozens of names of places, but I just can't bring myself to make a reservation at any of them.
I was considering Topolobampo till I saw the website. Chef to Oprah, books and TV spots with his face on them . . . . I'm just a modest, shy writer of serious nonfiction from little old Brooklyn, NY. I'm looking to eat well, not air kiss celebrities.
Of 160 Blue, Everest, Blackbird, Naha, MK, and Avec . . . is any about the food, the >food<, and nothing but the food? (Oh, if success has gotten to it a little, maybe I can't rule the place out peremptorily.)
My wife and I will be in Chicago for Labor Weekend. She wants to celebrate my imminent signing of a book contract with a fine place on Saturday night; but for Sunday and Monday, less pretention (and expense) will be tolerated.
We like all cuisines. It's quality that doesn't beat its proverbial breast that we seek. Decor and location matter not a jot or tittle.
Thank you in advance, Nsxtasy and any others of her/his level of discernment.
Nominees now being accepted.
Must be a dark cookie; regular chocolate chip not eligible (though my three nominees all melt chocolate in theirs, giving the cookies chips or chunks).
I dare anyone to nominate a cookie with nuts. Or bolts.
This may be unseemly: I'll answer my own question.
No one mentioned Lakewood which, I've found, is not only not from concentrate but which doesn't mix the cranberry with other fruit juices. There is but 120mg of grape-seed extract added. I think that it's the one to beat. Besides, neither Old Orchard nor Northland is available at the (persistently overrated) Whole Foods that I've visited in New York City.
I'm looking for a modest-size make, one that will store no more than two dozen bottles.
Criteria: Quality/Durability (as much as possible); Noise (as little as possible); Price (as low as possible).
To begin the bidding: Cuisinart has one for $199 that stores 11 bottles; Franklin Chef has one for $239 that stores 20.
Thanks in advance for honest, unsponsored replies.
My first chowhound query:
Who has the best bottled cranberry juice? (Those made from concentrate take two steps back.)