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Help needed to sort through Bay Area budget dining options, please!

Not sure that this will help you, but have a look at our June 2014 Chow post of SF Bay Area Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM at:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/984667

Sep 22, 2014
aledm in San Francisco Bay Area

Restaurant recommendatins in the Princeville area of Kauai?

2014 Kauai, HI Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM that we posted on Sept. 9, 2014 and have fun!

Sep 09, 2014
aledm in Hawaii

2014 Kauai, HI Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM

NOTE: we practically always share our meals, typically ordering one starter, one main and one dessert for the two of us. That makes a big difference in the cost of our meals and the expansion of our waistlines. We don’t have the kitchen split the meals because ALE doesn’t eat as much as DM. We just ask for an extra plate and ALE takes what she thinks she should eat.

ALE and DM discussed adding ratings to our restaurant reviews and compromised on the following ratings:
HR: Highly recommended
R: Recommended
NR: Not recommended
A: Awful

Okay, now the reviews:

1. Princeville, Hanalei and Kilauea Area

1.1. HR: Postcards Cafe, 5 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 96714, (808) 826-1191, http://postcardscafe.com/. We sat on the front porch under a fan and it was lovely. We had a very nice meal and had a very nice server. We chose the monchong fish (a delicate fish like halibut called sickle pomfret) grilled with a peppered pineapple sage sauce ($34). That came with rice, a grilled tomato, green beans and a dollop of squash. There was plenty of fish for the two of us and the sauce was very good too. We also ordered the Baked Portobello Mushroom ($10) which was a mushroom cap, marinated with aged balsamic vinegar, filled with vegetables, topped with parmesan cheese, and served with a silky tomato basil vinaigrette. It too was very good, as was the vinaigrette. We each had a glass of the Italian pinot grigio ($9 x 2) and we enjoyed the meal. There was no dessert we wanted so we spent $69.29 plus tip.

The second time we went we also sat on the front porch under a fan and it was lovely. We had a very nice meal and had the same very nice server as we had the first time we went. We had one appetizer, one entrée, one dessert and one bottle of wine. It was just as good a meal as the first time we went. For our appetizer, we had the seared polenta cakes encrusted in hemp seed that came with a salsa, a pumpkin seed sauce and a cabbage salad pickled in a rice wine and sugar marinade ($10). Each had very good individual flavors; the cabbage salad was great. For our main we had the Sorrento fusilli pasta with the shrimp, fish, mushrooms, greens and garlic in a chardonnay, chevre sauce ($24). The fish and shrimp were cooked rare as we requested and had a delicious flavor and a tender texture. For our wine we had a Pinot from Alsace that was very good too ($30). For dessert we had the lilikoi (passion fruit) mousse and it too was delicious. We were very happy and happy that we had waited the 20 or so minutes for a table. We spent $66.67 plus tip.

1.2. R: Neides Salsa & Samba, 5-5161 Kuhio Hwy., Hanalei, HI 96714. We sat outside on the covered porch and had a great view of Namolakama Mountain. We ordered too much but wanted to try two Brazilian dishes. We also ordered a bottle of Zolo Malbec 2012 ($34) that was good. We had one Muqueca ($28) a special stew made with ono, jumbo shrimp, Brazilian coconut sauce served with a side salad of local organic greens, tomatoes and house balsamic vinaigrette and Brazilian rice. The second dish we ordered was the Ensopado ($12.95) which was whole chicken parts (2 thighs), carrots, potatoes stewed in a tangy Brazilian sauce and served with Brazilian rice and black beans. Both dishes were good and we had enough leftovers for another meal at home. The service was good enough and friendly enough. We spent $80.10 plus tip. See a review of this restaurant at: http://www.thekauaivoice.com/food-rev...

1.3. R: The Hanalei Dolphin, Hanalei Dolphin Center 5-5016 Kuhio Highway, Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii 96714, Phone: (808) 826-6113, web: http://www.hanaleidolphin.com/index.htm. We had a nice lunch on the porch. We shared one salad with ahi tuna, char-broiled. It was a good salad and enough for two. The piece of ahi was rare and actually tasted of the charcoal. It was very good. We chose the spicy vinaigrette and it was good and not too spicy. The service was okay. We spent $18.75 plus tip.

1.4. R: Tikiiniki, Cocktails, Cuisine and Mele, 5-1280 Kuhio Hwy., A101, Princeville, HI 96722, tel. 808-431-4242. We sat on their porch overlooking the food court that had live music. The music was nice. Alessia was our server and was pleasant. We had one entrée and a side dish. The entrée Mac Nut Crusted Roasted Pork Loin with Hawaiian Lilikoi (passion fruit) Dijon sauce, roasted potatoes and sautéed onions and peppers ($21). The pork was juicy enough to please Dimitri and he was happy with the dish. We had one side of Vietnamese eggplant ($6) which was large but not Vietnamese. The eggplant was in a cheesy sauce with onions. It was good. We each had a glass of red wine from the Languedoc- Roussillon region of France ($8 x 2). We spent $44.79 and had enough to take home for lunch.

1.5. R: Hanalei Gourmet, 5-5161 Kuhio Hwy., Hanalei, HI 96714, tel. 808-826-2524, web: http://www.hanaleigourmet.com/. Our meal was good. We sat outside so that we were prohibited from having wine. The band (playing until 9 p.m.) was very loud inside so we didn’t want to sit in there. We had one order of mussels that were good and in a very good sauce. We had one order of the pasta of the day with spicy sausage. It was huge. The mussels came with homemade baguette that was very good. The pasta came with homemade foccacia that was not good. There was no dessert we wanted. We spent $26.98 plus tip.

1.6. R: Kilauea Bakery 2484 Keneke St, Kilauea, HI 96754 in the Historic Kong Lung Center, tel. (808) 828-2020, web: http://kilaueabakery.wordpress.com/. We had a couple of nice lunches there. One day we had the soup and salad special and it was good. We spent $10 for lunch. Dimitri liked the bread pudding and we got some to take away for his desserts.

1.7. R: Bouchons, 5-5190 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 96714, (808) 826-9701, web: http://www.bouchonshanalei.com/. Our server was good. Chicken and scallop entrée. It was good. We had 2 glasses of wine. The bill was $39.84 plus tip.

1.8. R: Hanalei Taro and Juice, 5-5070A Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 96714, (808)826-1059, http://www.hanaleitaro.com/Home_Page..... We sat at their picnic benches. We had one Lau Lau Plate ($9) with pork steamed in taro leaf served with poi, rice, taro mac salad. It was very good and a good change from restaurant food. We also had a watermelon juice ($3) that was good too. We spent $14.

The second time we had their food, we saw the truck at the Kapaa Wednesday Farmers Sunshine Market. We took a plate to go home. It was again very good.

1.9. R: The Tavern at Princeville by Roy Yamaguchi, 5-3900 Kuhio Hwy, Princeville, HI 96722, tel. 808-826-8700. The setting is beautiful and the service was okay (by Tony). We shared one Grilled White Anchovy Caesar Flatbread ($14). It was like a pizza with salad on top. The flatbread was okay—a little too moist—with parmesan on top. The salad with its dressing and shaved cheese was good. There were four tiny anchovy segments on the salad. If it were not for the meager anchovy offering the flatbread salad would have been excellent. It was definitely enough for 2 people for a light lunch. We spent $14.58 plus tip.

1.10. R: Lappert’s Ice Cream, Kuhio Hwy, Princeville Shopping Center, Princeville, Kauai, HI 96722, tel. 808-826-7393, http://www.lappertshawaii.com/. It was very pricy but Audre liked the Kona coffee in a waffle cone and Dimitri liked the mango in a cup (because it was not too sweet and actually tasted like mango). We think we spent about $10 for the two items. There was a long line and the only place to sit was in the food court. That was fine and there was live music there so it was nice.

1.11. R: The Garden Café at the Common Ground, 4900 Kuhio Rd., Kilauea, HI 96754, tel. 808-977-8371, www.cgkauai.net. It was a beautiful farm and community center type of place. One orders one’s food at the cashier and picks it up at the window. The place is very nice and the furniture is comfortable. We had one salad of the day ($18) and one cup of the soup of the day ($4). Both were good and the setting is lovely. We spent $22.92 plus tip—but what was the service that we left the tip for?

We had breakfast at the Garden Café the second time we went. We were disappointed and put off by the prices. We spent $32.29 for a breakfast which we ordered at the counter and picked up ourselves. We had one Huevos Rancheros described as "Two Organic Eggs, Beans, Daily Grain, Kale, Corn & Wheat Tortillas, Pico de Gallo Add: Shredded Medeiros Grass Fed Beef or Kalua Pork, Sub: Gluten Free Corn Tortilla" and one Acai Pancakes, described as "wheat free Gluten-free acai pancakes, fresh compote 100% pure maple syrup". We had 2 coffees (unlimited refills) for $4 each. Everything was good and we appreciated the pure maple syrup but we will not return—too expensive for what it is. We forgot and left a tip again. We pissed ourselves off.

We walked the Wai Koa Loop Trail for about 2 hours before lunch at the Garden Café. The trail is well marked and very nice, with lovely mountain views. We stopped at the Stone Dam Lookout and took photos. The loop (without the portion to the Kauai Mini Golf and Botanical Gardens) was almost 4 miles. It was made possible by the generosity of Bill and Joan Porter and it was great. The Garden Café was very inviting after our hike and we had the daily special of swordfish on a bed of roasted vegetables in a tasty sauce. The swordfish was marinated and tasty, although a little dry. We were happy we stayed for lunch. We spent $18.75 and this time did not leave a tip since we did all of the ordering and serving and clearing ourselves.

We had a very nice but expensive breakfast at The Garden Café just before we left Kauai. We shared everything and had one acai pancakes that came with maple syrup and a delicious fruit compote ($14). We liked everything. We had one coffee ($) and one juice ($6). The total was $25—no tip—we did all of the work.

1.11. R sort of: Bar Acuda, 5-5161 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 96714, tel. 808-826-7081, http://restaurantbaracuda.com/.We went with another couple and we had a reservation. We were given a nice booth in the corner of the front room. Unfortunately that corner was hot and still. Our server, Lynn, was good but a little brusque. Fortunately none of the four of us were big eaters because the bill would have been much higher if we continued to order. We were brought good bread which everyone liked. We had one Kailana Farms salad with goat cheese that had a very small dollop of cheese on some salad greens for $12. We had one shrimp dish that, fortunately, came with four shrimp ($13). We had the daily special of quail that was very good and one more dish that we can’t remember. We also had two beers. The total bill came to $61 plus tip (ridiculous for that small amount of food).

1.12. NR sort of: Mediterranean Gourmet, 5-7132 Kuhio Hwy., Haena, HI 96714, tel. 808-826-9875, www.kauaimedgourmet.com. Everyone recommends this restaurant. We do not and maybe it is because Dimitri is an expert on Mediterranean food. The place was lovely and Imad Beydoun, the owner and chef, was nice enough. The view is special. The food was not authentic and was not particularly good. We had one cup of asparagus soup that was in a coffee cup and was like water ($4.99) with no asparagus taste. We had one falafel sandwich wrap. The falafel were mushy, not crisp and not tasty. The quinoa salad inside the pita wrap was good and the French fries that came with the wrap were crisp the way we asked for them. We spent $17.60 plus tip and vowed not to return. (See our review of the Little Greek Town food truck.

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1.13. NR sort of: Lei Petite Bakery in the Princeville Shopping Center Food Court. We had one waffle ($10). It was very expensive and not that good. But if you want a waffle and don’t have a waffle maker…

1.14. NR sort of: Kalypso, 5-5156 Kuhio Hwy G4, Hanalei, HI 96714, (808) 826-9700, www.kalypsokauai.com. Our server, Wyatt S, was inattentive and plain poor. We had the Staker poke ($15.95) and the ratatouille pasta ($16.95) as well as a side order of garlic bread for $3.95 (which we didn’t need because the pasta came with 2 slices of garlic bread). The portions were large and there was plenty of food for the 2 of us to share. Dimitri thought it was good. Audre thought it was average. We spent $38.39 plus tip.

1.15. NR: Shave Ice Paradise, 5-5183 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, HI 9671, (808) 826-6659. It was a snow cone and too sweet. We chose what Kauai Revealed suggested: rainbow with mango, pineapple, guava and watermelon over macadamia nut ice cream. The flavors had no taste—no flavor at all. The ice cream had tiny pieces of nuts but no macadamia nut flavor. For $6 it was a waste of calories and disappointing. We had wanted to go to the other “best one” in the food truck called Wishing Well in Hanalei but we got there after he had closed for the day. We wouldn’t have liked the shave ice there either. It’s not our kind of thing.

2. Kapaa and Anahola

2.1. HR: We had a very good meal and lovely service at Mema Thai and Chinese Cuisine (4-369 Kuhio Hwy., Kapaa, HI 96746, tel. 808-823-0899, https://www.google.com/#q=mema+thai+k...). The room is nicely decorated with rosewood furniture. We sat in the back near the window (and away from the air conditioners). We were surprised that there was no highway noise inside. We BYOB’ed and there was no corkage charge. Yeah! We started with one Thai Ginger Coconut Soup (Tom Kha) with chicken ($10.25) that was delicious. It is described as “coconut milk, Thai ginger, kaffir lime leaves, mushrooms, green onions and parsley” and it indeed had all of those ingredients. We shared it and still there was plenty to take home for a lunch. For our main we shared the Mema’s Curry with fish described as: “kaffir lime leaves, ground lemon grass, garlic, coconut milk, potatoes and mild seasoning” ($13.50). It was great! With it we had one order of sticky rice ($2.25). For dessert we had a Thai Tapioca with coconut milk ($2.50) that was also delicious. We spent $29.69 plus tip and were very happy.

We had the same server as the first time we visited and she remembered us too. Very nice. We ordered on Spicy Lemongrass soup (Tom yum) with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, green onions, Thai parsley and spices in a clear broth, with chicken ($10.25). The soup, with all of the listed ingredients was very good; the texture of the chicken was not good. It was kind of like paper. We also ordered one Green Curry cooked with coconut milk, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, eggplant and fresh basil, made with fish ($13.50). It was scrumptious. The fish was tender and tasty and there was lots of eggplant. Didn’t taste the kaffir or the lemongrass but that was okay; the dish was superb. We had one sticky rice ($2.25). We didn’t have any dessert because they hadn’t made any that day. We spent $27.40 plus tip and were very happy.

2.2. HR: Restaurant Kintaro, 4370 Kuhio Hwy., Kapaa, HI 96746, tel. 808-822-3341. This was a very good restaurant with very good service. We ordered too much and had enough to take home for another entire meal. We were each brought a small plate with pickled cabbage and turnip—we liked it! We ordered one Sukiyaki Dinner ($19.95) and one Nabeyaki noodles ($11.95). The Sukiyaki Dinner came with Sunamono Salad and Miso soup. Our server brought us 2 of these; how nice. The soup was very tasty and so was the salad—very flavorful with tiny shrimp and crab and other interesting ingredients. The Sunamono Salad was described as “an Oriental classic with a variety of seafood on island cucumber with a light vinaigrette dressing.” We had a lot that we couldn’t finish and took that home too. We ended up taking all of the Sukiyaki entrée home. It was described as “tender beef, bamboo shoots, yam noodles, mushrooms, tofu, fresh island vegetables cooked in a sweet soy sauce, accompanied by a raw egg and served in a traditional iron pot.” We ate all of the Nabeyaki noodles which were described as a “traditional Japanese iron pot filled with udon noodles and fresh island vegetables, topped with shrimp tempura and egg, simmered in a clear Japanese bouillabaisse broth.” It was excellent. With our Nabeyaki noodles we had one large hot sake ($8.50). We were happy and spent $42.08 plus tip.

We had another very good meal at Kintaro. We were brought a small plate of picked diakon and pickled cabbage. We like an amuse bouche like that. We ordered a mixed sashimi plate that came with ahi (yellow fin) tuna, hamachi (yellow tail) tuna and Atlantic salmon (about $18.95). The hamachi was unusual for us and we really liked it. It is denser than ahi yellow fin and just as tasty. The salmon was good too. The dish was garnished with shredded diakon and ginger. We had 1 ½ hot sakes (about $15) that evening too. For our entrée we ordered one Nabemono of YoseNabe ($18.95) that was so much food we took a lot of it home. It was described as having clams, crab, mussels, scallops, shrimp, fish cake, island fish, and island vegetables of zucchini, carrots, shitake mushrooms, wonbok and bokchoy. It had all of those things in it; they were tender and the broth was delicious too. We were glad we went again.

2.3. HR: Eastside Cafe, 4-1380 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa, HI 96746, tel. (808) 823-9500, https://www.facebook.com/theeastsider.... We were delighted with our meal at the Eastside. It was surprising because it looks more like a bar and when the music begins at 7 p.m., it’s like a bar with music. Our server, Alicia, was personable and professional and we liked her. We were brought pickled glass noodles with seaweed and 2 pairs of chopsticks. Very good. We shared everything and only had one entrée and one dessert. Bread isn’t ordinarily served and we asked for some ($2); it was good enough. We didn’t have a glass of wine because we think $11 is too expensive for a glass of red wine. We had one of the daily specials—the rack of lamb ($36). Instead of mashed potatoes that came with the dish we asked for the roasted red potatoes. The dish also came with mixed vegetables. They were cubed and sautéed and very good—particularly with the cubes of mangos in it. The lamb came rare and was tasty with it’s hoisin marinade. It was a very good dish. For dessert we had the bread pudding. It was served warm in a half papaya shell. It had tiny cubes of Granny Smith apple in it with raisins and was very good. It came with vanilla bean ice cream and a guava strawberry sauce. The dish was delicious. We spent $47.92 plus tip and we were happy and full.

We had another good meal, which we shared. We had the ahi special of the day, blackened with a tomato, ginger butter. It came with rice and a small salad ($36). The dish was very good and the fish was prepared the way we asked for it—rare. We had a glass of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc ($7) with it. We had the bread pudding baked in a papaya again and enjoyed it too ($8).
2.4. R: We liked this Sushi Bushido (4504 Kukui St., Suite 5, Kapaa, HI 96746, tel. 808-822-0664, http://www.sushibushido.com/). The décor was simple and pleasing. While the menu is mostly sushi (which we didn’t want), we found entrées we did want. We had on udon soup ($12.95) that Dimitri liked. We were brought a miso soup with our other entrée that was very good. Our other entrée was Teriyaki Beef ($15.95) and it came with rice. The beef was tough but the taste was good. With our meal with had a large, warm sake ($10) and the complimentary tea (that was tasteless). We spent $40.62 plus tip for Kimi (who was pleasant).

We went for dinner a second time and had a very good meal. We started with a salad of lots of lettuce and crispy tempura soft shell crab on top ($15.95). It was huge with lots of crab pieces. The crab wasn’t crispy but was good nonetheless. So was the salad dressing. We had one and one-half carafe of hot sake ($18) with our meal. For our main we had grilled ono ($28.95) that came with rice. We asked for it rare and it was. It was juicy and good. There were 3 pieces of ono and we could only eat 2 of them. So we took one home for lunch. Nicolette was our server and she was pleasant, professional and good. We had a nice meal and spent $65.70 plus tip.

2.5. R: In spite of its name, we went to Bull Shed Restaurant (4-796 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa, HI 96746, tel. 808-822-3791, www.bullshedrestauarnt.com). It was very good too. We were very careful with our ordering. It could have gotten very expensive. We had one Prime Rib Bull Shed Cut ($37) and it was a gargantuan piece of 24 oz. on the bone. With that came one trip to the salad bar (one plate was enough for the two of us), bread and steamed white rice. We ordered a side dish of one baked potato ($5) that came with all of the fixin’s. The prime was served as we requested-rare and was delicious and tender, like butter. The horseradish sauce was well made and the au jus was good too. We were happy with the food and the $43.75 bill (plus tip) too.

2.6. R: Hukilau Lanai, 520 Aleka Loop, Kapaa, HI, tel. 808-822-0600, hukilaukauai.com is and looks like a typical hotel restaurant in the tropics. We liked our meal and Joe, our server, was pleasant. Jill, the assistant manager, pitched in when Joe was busy so we got our wine and had a nice conversation with her. We had one entrée that came with either soup or salad. We chose the seafood gumbo soup and it was very good. For our main we chose the Ono (Pacific Waho) marinated in a soy emulsion and then char grilled and served in a coconut, tamarind, lilikoi curry sauce with jasmine rice and a pineapple salsa. It was delicious and plenty of food for 2 people. We also ordered a bottle of Sustainable White from Mendocino (a blend of 5 grapes) for $22. It was a good wine. We didn’t want any dessert so our bill was $54.17 plus tip. We were happy.

2.7. R: Art Cafe Hemingway, 4-1495 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa, HI 96746 , tel. (808) 822-2250, http://www.art-cafe-hemingway.com/. The place looks lovely. We sat on the banquette and a chair in a corner and it was comfortable with the fan. The service was annoyingly slow. There was only one server but we don’t think that was the problem. We think that the kitchen was slow. Because the soup that Audre wanted (pea, ginger) was not available, our orders did not come out at the same time. Dimitri got his croissant sandwich with Gouda and ham ($4.50) way before Audre got her small salad ($4.50). Dimitri liked his sandwich and Audre liked her salad with Thai peanut dressing. We had one Affogato (Affogato is a typically Italian way to enjoy ice cream — it's literally "drowned" in espresso or another liquid topping.) Dimitri really liked it. We spent $14.48 plus tip.

For our next lunch, we arrived at 1:43 p.m. and the kitchen was closed already. Fortunately we had telephoned and reserved a slice of quiche and told them we would be late—but would arrive before the 2 p.m. bewitching hour when they close. They had the reserved piece of quiche for Dimitri but since the kitchen was closed, the only thing Audre could have was yogurt. However there was a second small piece of quiche which Audre ate. Each came on a large plate with no garnish. It looked lonely. We were only charged for 1 quiche because the second piece was so small. The bill was $6 plus tip.

We went for dinner and were glad we did. We were the only ones there at 6:30 p.m. but it got busier later. We shared everything as usual and had the duckbreast and mango tartelette ($7) to start. It came with a small salad sprinkled with flower pedals. It was good and tasty. We had a glass of the Rioja ($8) and a glass of the Tempranillo ($7). Both were good. For our main, we had the Moroccan lamb with basmati rice ($17). We were worried that it would not be enough food for the two of us but it was. The flavors were very good and the sauce was yummy. For dessert we had the Valrhona chocolate soufflé ($8) that was delicious if a tiny bit too runny. It was a very good meal and we recommend the restaurant. We spent $56.25 plus tip.

2.8. R: Anahola Cafe at the Anahola Marketplace, located at Mile Marker 12 at the entrance of Anahola, Mauka of the Highway, Anahola, Kauai, HI 96703, tel. 808-631-4134, www.anaholacafe.org . We had a very good dinner. Our server was a delight! We were staying for dinner and she made sure that we had a table cloth, a flower and an ice bucket for the wine we brought. She brought us glasses and made us feel welcome. While we were the only ones eating there at the time, people came to pick up items for take away. We shared one Roast Pork plate ($12) which the kitchen split for us. It came with rice and potato-mac salad. It was delicious. We ordered a cobbler for dessert with ice cream ($6) which Dimitri didn’t like. There was plenty of food for the two of us and we enjoyed it. We spent $18 plus tip. The second time we went we had the ono plate. It was dry and tough and basically inedible. Don’t have that if you go! Dimitri liked the saimin soup very much.

2.9. R: Huli Huli Chicken at Hale O Kanaka Maoli at Anahola Marketpalce, Mile Marker 12 at the entrance of Anahola, Mauka of the Highway, Anahola, Kauai, HI 96703, call Susanne 808-268-6087 or Keo 808-639-2163 to order (only open on weekends). They were very nice and gave us the most undercooked chicken on the barbeque, as we requested. The plate had a delicious salad from Susanne’s garden with a lovely vinaigrette dressing and rice. One plate was enough for the two of us; the chicken was a bit dry to our taste. We spent $12.

2.10. R: Anahola Farmers Market, Cnr. Hokualele Road and Kuhio Hwy., Kauai, HI. It’s open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The BBQ chicken and BBQ pork plates were both delicious. The roasted potatoes pleased Dimitri, the roasted potato expert, pronounced these very good. The corn was not—too much like horse corn and not sweet enough. The mangos sold at the Anahola Farmers Market are the most intensely flavored we’ve had on the island. They are Hadens and reminded us of Alfonsos from India they were so good, intensely flavorful and non-stringy.

2.11. R: Duane's Ono Char Burger, 4-4350 Kuhio Hwy, Anahola, HI 96703, (808) 822-9181. We shared one ono char teriyaki burger ($5.15). This was the description: “All Burgers Are 14 Pound Served With Lettuce, Tomato, And Mayonnaise On A Sesame Seed Bun. This Is Not Fish.” We only have a burger once every 5 or so years. For us this was a good, not great burger. We also shared one order of French fries ($2.50). They were good. Dimitri bought a Kona Brewing beer at the Whaler’s Market next door. We enjoyed our lunch by the noisy highway, even though it took a very long time for our order to be prepared (we had been warned and it was no problem). We shared a table in the shade and talked to our table-mates. It wasn’t overly expensive.

2.12. R: We wanted pancakes and Island Palm ((Breakfast and Lunch only), 4-885A Kuhio Hwy., Kapaa, HI 96746, (808) 823-8828) has them! We had been driving by this building, noticing it was open for breakfast and lunch but had never tried it. We were happy we went for breakfast. We had one order of their (3) buttermilk pancakes with a mixture of fresh fruit ($9.95), 1 sausage link ($1.50) and one coffee ($2.50) with refills. The room is nice with lots of fresh flowers around. The service was good and the pancakes were light enough to please us too. The syrup wasn’t real maple but the whole dish was good. There was so much food we couldn’t finish the pancakes. We spent $16 plus tip. Why isn’t Island Palm open for dinner?

2.13. R: Pono Market, 4-1300 Kuhio Hwy., Kapaa, HI 96746, tel. 808-822-4581. (owned by Bob and Lynn Kubota). We brought Kalau Pig Plate to take home. It was delicious and enough for the two of us. We also bought some of their poke and rice pudding. The poke was very good but the rice pudding didn’t meet Dimitri’s standards. We spent $17.48. From the café, we tried the “Dirty Chai” made with a shot of espresso. It was excellent and addictive ($5.75).

2.14. R: Verde Restaurant (4-1101 Kuhio Hwy., A3, Kapaa, HI 96746, tel. 808-821-1400, http://www.verdehawaii.com/Verde_Hawa...). We went for lunch and were brought chips and salsa (which could have had more taste). Dimitri liked his Stacked Enchilada with pork. He ordered it medium spicy and it was just right. Audre ordered a side of guacamole ($1.95) and was disappointed with the absence of any taste. The service was okay and because it was not busy, the restaurant was not noisy. We spent $17.60 plus tip.

2.15. R: Pho Kapa'a, Kauai Shopping Center, 4-831 Kuhio, Hwy., Suite 440, Kapaa, HI 96746, tel. 808-823-6868. The man and woman running the place were very pleasant. The place is simple and just fine. We ordered one summer roll shrimp and pork with lettuce and cucumber ($6.99). They were okay but had no basil, mint or cilantro or anything particularly tasty in them. The peanut sauce was okay too. We had one combination pho ($10.99) and that came with basil, bean sprouts and lemon. Audre used some of the basil in her summer roll and that was good. The pho was good enough. The meal was fine and we spent $21.65, including tip.

2.16. R: Kauai Family Cafe, Filipino and Local Delicacies,Wailua Shopping Plaza, 4-361 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa, HI 96746, tel. 808-822-3288. We had a very good meal in a pleasant room. Our server was very good and handled all of the tables in the restaurant. There was a good number of people eating in and more came in for take-out orders. We ordered too much and had enough for another meal to take home. We started with the appetizer of Lumpiang Sariwa (Fresh Lumpia), a traditional Filipino dish which is folded into soft, crepe-like wrapper made with eggs. They contain a mixture of stir-fried ingredients heavy on the veggies and pork and served with sauce ($6.99). For our main we had the sinigang na Bangus which was milkfish with tamarind soup base with ginger, onion, tomatoes and local vegetables ($13.50). It was delicious and the broth excellent. We also had the Sweet & Spicy tofu with Eggplant ($8.50) which was good but a little too sweet and too oily. For dessert we had one Halo Halo (very good) for $5 and one honey dew bubble drink ($4). We were happy and we spent $39.58.

We went again for lunch and had 2 selections from the buffet—vegetables and the vermicelli noodles. Dimitri liked it. We also took home two items for a dinner: an eggplant and green bean stir fry and a pork dish with two scoops of rice. We spent $16.67 plus tip. We were happy.

2.17. R: Al Pastor Food Truck, in Kapaa near the furniture store. We had a fish taco there and it was good and enough for the two of us for lunch. It cost a pricy $13.

2.18. R: Little Greek Town, food truck that moves around, we found it near the furniture store in Kapaa, phone: 808-631-9807, e-mail: littlegreektown@gmail.com. We sat on the benches, under umbrellas, at this food truck. We had one Falafel Plate (with 6 falafel), pita bread, rice, horiatiki salad ($12). Dimitri, the Greek from Egypt, pronounced the falafel very good. We were happy with this lunch.

We went back for another Falafel Plate lunch and it was just as good as the first one. We definitely recommend this place.

2.19. R: We noticed Caffe Coco (4-369 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa, HI 96746, Phone:(808) 822-7990, http://www.caffecocokauai.com/) near Wailua, on our way to Lihue one day and decided to go for dinner. Instead of eating early we took food home. We had one Charmoula Platter composed of Moroccan Spiced Ahi, cucumber yogurt and served with a sweet potato samosa, jasmine rice and a green salad ($25). We also got a bowl of Thai Curried Pumpkin Soup ($7) and a slice of passion fruit cake with a passion fruit sauce. Unfortunately the ahi was a thin slice and even though it was seared quickly, it was dry (as we were warned it would be). There were two sauces, one the yogurt for the fish and one for the samosa. The samosa was good—in a croissant! The sweet potato was purple and very good. The soup was also very good, as was the salad. The dessert too was very good and enough to slice into 2 slices. So the only thing that wasn’t good was the main: the fish. The menu is very limited. One platter was enough for us to share. We spent $41.14 for our takeaway.

Another night we went to have dinner there. Coco (from Venezuela) was our server and she is quite personable. Coco had a helper when she got busy which was good. The garden was nice. We had been warned about mosquitoes so Audre sprayed herself and had no problem. The small pieces of glass being used on the floor (for decoration?) that we also had been warned about were still there and still dangerous. We shared everything as usual and bought a bottle of wine from the Shell Station diagonally across the street (there was $5 corkage at Caffe Coco). Coco brought us an ice bucket and glasses. We started with Potstickers, filled with banana chutney and tofu, with a mango sauce ($8.50). The sauce did not resemble mango and was too sweet and kind of like a barbeque sauce. The potstickers were a little soggy. They were sitting on a bed of cabbage and the sauce went well with that. For our main we shared the Jamaican Jerk Organic Chicken with purple sweet potatoes, coconut creamed spinach, pineapple salsa and served with a salad ($24). It was a good dish with good components but the chicken was a little dry, even though we asked for it rare and juicy. For dessert we had the mango puff pastry with mango sauce. The puff pastry was good and the homemade ice cream was good too but it tasted of coconut milk rather than mango. The explanation was that it was made with coconut milk in order to be vegan. Thus the mango flavor was drowned out. We had a nice meal and our total was $56.77 plus tip.

2.20. R: Shivalik, 4-771 Kuhio Hwy., Kapaa, HI 96746, tel. 808-821-2333. We had a very nice meal at Shivalik. Our server, from Calcutta, was good. His helper, a young woman from Jordan, was delightful. The place is nicely decorated so it was pleasant. We shared everything and started with Mulligatawny soup ($4.50). It was good but kind of thin. We ordered one lamb sag cooked with spinach and pepper and garnished with ginger ($19.50). It was served with rice. We also had one Peshawari Naan stuffed with finely ground nuts and raisins ($4.25). The meal was good. We probably should have ordered another dish because we were a little hungry. Each dish on the menu seemed a little pricy and, to order a vegetable dish for $15.95, seemed excessive. For dessert we had one Kheer (rice pudding) costing $5.50 that Dimitri did not like—too mushy. Our total bill was $40.36 plus tip—not too expensive.

One day, we took home two lunch special thalis to have for dinner and both were very good. They both came with basmati rice, yellow dal, vegetable curry of the day, achar, half naan and salad. There was also a small dessert in the thalis. One thali was the lamb curry ($12.95) and the other was the Dal Makhani ($9.99). There was plenty of food and it was tasty. By taking away the special lunch thali for dinner we saved money and we enjoyed having at home with wine. We spent $23.90. We also had one (expensive) mango lassi for $5 (which Dimitri didn’t drink with dinner because he was too full!)

2.21. R: Korean BBQ Restaurant, Kinipopo Shopping Village, 4-356 Kuhio Hwy., #E, Kapaa, HI 96746, tel. 808-823-6744. The staff was friendly and pleasant. There were a goodly number of people and a nice buzz in the restaurant. We had the Steamed Mandoo dinner served with potato-mac salad, vegetable and rice ($9.50)--the 10 steamed dumplings which were okay and the sauce of soy and sugar was good. We couldn’t finish them all and so we took some home; they were good re-steamed for lunch. We also had the Chop Chae, the long rice glass noodle mixed with chicken ($13). It had carrot and cabbage in it as well. It was good but not particularly flavorful. To start we were brought a soup that had seaweed and chicken in it. It was good. We were also served kim chee that was just the right amount of spicy. It was a good dinner and we spent $23.44 plus tip.

2.22. R: Sukhothai Restaurant, Kapaa Shopping Center, 4-1105 Kuhio Hwy., Kapaa, Kauai, HI 96746, tel. 808-821-1224. We went for lunch and had one noodle Pad se wu stir fry with pork ($10.95). It was good. We spent $12 plus tip and were happy.

Another time, we took home dinner for 4 people and spent $59. It was good (but without enough lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and basil) and we had enough leftovers for yet another meal.

2.23. R: Wahooo Seafood Grill and Bar, 4-733 Kuhio Highway, Kapaa, Kauai, Hawaii 96746, tel.(808)822-7833, web: http://wahooogrill.com/. We enjoyed our meal. We sat side by side looking at the field next to the restaurant and the mountains beyond. While we could hear the highway noise, it was not intrusive. The jazz band playing kind of drowned out the noise and was mellow and enjoyable. Our server, Billie-Kay, was born on Kauai and was pleasant and good enough. We ordered too much but the items on the menu tantalized us. We ordered a bottle of the Starborough Sauvignon Blanc ($32) and it was good. (We had just that day bought a bottle at CostULess of the same wine for $11.99 so this mark-up was typical of a restaurant). For our starter, we had the wok-fried soft shell crab ($14), complemented with sushi rice, avocado, crab salad and micro greens. There were two crabs and they were very good (and filling). We got permission to have just one salad bar and soup ($5). The salad was good; the soup was a gloppy rendition of clam chowder. For our entrée, we ordered the scallops and shrimp ($28). It was very good and the shrimp and scallops were left “rare” the way we like them. There were three of each on a plate with a good sauce but we were so full we took one and one-half home. There was a “processing fee” for using a credit card. Our total was $83.53 plus tip and we were happy.

2.24. R: Kauai Pasta, 4-939 B Kuhio Hwy., kapaa, HI 96746, tel. 808-822-7447, www.kauaipasta.com.It’s a set of two utilitarian rooms with some Italian-inspired pictures on the wall and a bar in the back of the restaurant. We sat in the front room, away from the air conditioners. Ashley B was our server and she was okay. We ordered a bottle of Bulgarian wine called Vini Merlot (Thracian Valley) for $27 and it was our first bottle of Bulgarian wine and it was good! To start we shared the Crab Stuffed Mushroom with grilled asparagus and yuzu hollandaise ($11.95). It was a little too rich but good. The restaurant serves bread and that was good. For our main we shared the House Pasta described as: home-made meat sauce of mushrooms, Black Angus beef and Italian sausage. It was good enough but there was not sausage taste in it at all. The dinner was good and we spent $53.02 plus tip.

2.25. R: Lappert's Hawaii, 4- 484 Kuhio Hwy., Coconut Marketplace, Kapaa Kauai Shopping Center, Kapaa, HI 96746, tel. 808-822-0744. We went back to Lappert’s for the Haden Mango ice cream. Again, it was very good and at $3.95 for one scoop, still very expensive. Audre tried the Kauai Pie - Kona coffee ice cream swirled with chocolate fudge, coconut flakes, macadamia nuts and vanilla cake crunch ($3.95 plus waffle cone $1). She liked it. So we spent $9.27 for after dinner ice cream and sat at one of their tables in the courtyard. BTW, the Coconut Marketplace was kind of dead at 7:30 p.m.—such a shame. (See our review in section 1 of Lappert’s in Princeville.)

2.26. R sort of: Oasis on the Beach, 4-820 Kuhio Hwy., Kapaa, HI 96746, tel. 808-822-9332, www.oasiskauai.,com. The setting of the restaurant by the shore is excellent. We liked our server, Jennifer. We shared one couscous wrap that came with a salad ($13). It was all vegetarian and good. It was also plenty of food for the two of us. We had one vanilla homemade gelato ($7) and Dimitri liked it. We spent $20.83 and were happy.

We went for dinner the second time we went. The evening was annoying. The same bartender who was too loud and intrusive during lunch was truly off-putting during dinner. Our server, Adam, was slow and inattentive. The dishes were tasty but small for their prices. We ordered three appetizers, and while we had enough food, the plates looked empty when the dishes were brought to us. The best dish was the Okinawan sweet potato chips with truffle hollandaise ($7). The chips were thick and crisp and the truffle oil actually tasted of truffles. We had the next two dishes brought together. The fresh catch crudo, hard-boiled egg, radish, salsa verde & truffle vinaigrette ($10) had so little ono in it that it was difficult to actually taste it. The clams, ginger pork sausage, cilantro, garlic, shallots, lemon juice, white wine & toast ($12) were too tiny to appreciate. The ginger pork sausage didn’t taste of ginger and the consistency was not pleasant—kind of like dog food. We had two glasses of the Sangiovese $8—the only reasonably priced red wine by the glass. We spent $46.87 plus tip.

2.27. R sort of: Holo Holo Paniolo Grill (4-1345 Kuhio Hwy., HI 96746, tel. 808-822-4656) is new—it opened in July 2014. It’s at the corner of Kauwila St., across the street from the Hee Fat Shopping Center. We had their bowl of pork with a Kauaian mole-inspired sauce that was served over rice with salad greens (with an avocado shaving and some cucumber) on the side of the bowl. It was hearty and just a little spicy but not particularly inspired. We spent $9 and were given a bottle of water too. We are recommending it (sort of) because it’s new and we think you should give it a chance. (BTW, sitting outside was a little hot and air-less. That’s why most people take their food to go.

)

2.28. NR sort of: Lemongrass Grill and Seafood Bar, 4-871 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa, HI 96746, (808) 822-2288, http://lemongrasshawaii.com/. We sat inside (away from the highway noise) in the back room. It was pleasant and the seats had padding and were comfortable. Amy was our enthusiastic server. The music by Kelii Kanealii was very nice in the distance. The Hawaiian bread that was brought was good. We shared everything and had two entrées. One was the seafood stew ($27) described as “An array of sea food cioppino style stewed in a tomato based bouillabaisse accented with fresh lemongrass and spooned over steamed Jasmine rice.” We asked for the rice separate so it wouldn’t get soaked from the bouillabaisse; that was a good idea. The soup had an interesting taste but had no lemongrass taste whatsoever. The seafood was overcooked and tough; Dimitri was happy however. We also had the vegetarian linguine. We ate a little of it and left the rest; it was not interesting. We ordered a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc ($22) and a side of garlic roasted potatoes ($3). They were excellent and we ordered a portion to go so we could have them with dinner at home. We spent $66.46 plus tip. We were not happy because we were looking forward to food with the taste of lemongrass—it was in the restaurant’s name after all and, for that matter, in the description of the dish we ordered.

2.29. NR sort of: Happy Snacks Thai Food Truck Kapaa, HI. This is a truck next to the furniture store in the north end of town. Near this truck is El Pastor tacos and the crepe truck. We wanted to try it and now that we have, we doubt we will return. Mema Thai/Chinese is so much better and the restaurant itself is a pleasant place. We had one medium spicy Panang Curry with fish and one Garlic Stir Fried Vegetables with rice. The total for both was $22. We had too much food for the two of us for dinner but only one dish would have been boring. We had one malasada ($1) that we didn’t like at all.

2.30. NR: Rainbow Living Foods (4-1384 Kuhio Hwy, #103-A, Kapaa, HI 96746, tel. 808-821-9759, web: rainbowlivingfood.com).This is not our kind of place. The Falafel plate (5 pieces) for $12.99 was very disappointing (the falafel at the Greek Town Food Truck were much better). The plate was described as “falafel over a bed of lettuce and sprouts, with tahini, walnut cumin bread, olives and tomato and cucumbers.” The falafel fell apart; they were not made correctly and the taste wasn’t right. The tahini wasn’t tahini. There were 4 lettuce leaves, some sprouts, 1 olive in 5 pieces, a tomato and cucumber salad, and some bread that was more like crackers and had no taste. We spent $14 and do not recommend this place.

2.31. NR: Beach Walk Restaurant, 4-1546 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa, HI 96746, tel. 808-822-7887. The location: great. Our server, Iris, was inattentive and vacant. We had one Chinese Chicken Salad ($12.95) which was big enough for the 2 of us for lunch but totally uninspired. The food: not so great. We spent $13.49 plus tip.

2.32. NR: Tropical Dreams Ice Cream, 4-831 Kuhio Hwy, Ste 220, Kapaa, HI 96746, Phone number (808) 822-1010 $6 for the passion fruit cream in a cup. We thought it was too sweet.

2.33. NR: Gopal's Creperie Food Truck, near the furniture store in Kapaa. It crepe with apple banana, macadamia nut butter and honey was a little gloppy. Perhaps it was undercooked. The macadamia nut butter had no taste. Perhaps that’s just macadamia nut butter. The apple bananas tasted of banana, not apple. Perhaps that’s just apple banana. The crepe cost $7. We sat in the area designed by Gopal’s amongst the chickens roosting. It was nice but neither the owner and the substitute worker were pleasant.

2.34. A: Kountry Style Kitchen, 4-1485 Kuhio Hwy., Kapaa, HI 96746, tel. 808-822-3511. We were not happy with our breakfast. We waited about 15 minutes for a table—it’s a popular place that came recommended. Dimitri had an omelet and Audre had a single pancake with coconut. The omelet was thin and dry and the pancake was heavy and doughy. The coffee was good. We spent $23.20 plus tip.

2.35. A: Olympic Cafe, 4-1354 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaa, HI 96746, (808) 822-5825, web: http://www.olympiccafekauai.com/. We went for lunch and the wait was impossibly long. First we waited for long enough to have had the kitchen make the carnitas that we had ordered. Then someone came by to tell us that they were out of carnitas and that we needed to choose something else. We chose a Blackened Chicken Wrap ($11.99) and waited until someone finally came by to take our new order. Then we waited and waited again for the order to come. It was huge and it was good. The achiote sauce gave it an interesting spiciness. We asked for the bill immediately after receiving the order and waited for that. We gave the money to the server as soon as we got the bill and waited for the change. It wasn’t that the restaurant was busy; it was just a terribly slow kitchen and terribly slow servers. On our check the name of our server was Ashley C. but who knows? The bill was $12.49 plus tip.

3. South

3.1. R: Mark's Place, Puhi Industrial Park, 1610 Haleukana Street Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii 96766 | Phone (808) 245-2522 and (808) 245-2722 and Fax (808) 245-2744, http://www.marksplacekauai.com. We spent $12.24 for one daily special Hawaiian plate lunch with Kalua Pork, chicken long rice and rice with a salad ($9.25) and one Butter Mochi ($2.50). The chicken long rice was particularly interesting—pieces of chicken with glass noodles in a tasty sauce. The Kalua Pork was like pulled pork that was marinated and so was not dry. Everything was good and sitting outside at a picnic bench with other people was fun. The people we were sitting with live in Kauai and they had lots of good advice. It was fun.

3.2. R: Naupaka Terrace, Kauai Beach Resort, 4331 Kauai Beach Drive, Lihue, Hawaii 96766, phone h: 1-808-2451955. The service was very slow, although our server, Erwin (a veteran of 8 years) apologized profusely. When he finally took our order, we had one salad bar ($5.95) and one seafood linguine ($29). We asked for the seafood to be barely cooked. While we were waiting to order, we helped ourselves to one soup. It was a cream of spinach and it was tasty. We had the salad bar and bread while we were waiting for our entrée. The salad ingredients, dressing and the bread were good. Our linguine, when it came was also very good though not tasty enough. The seafood was tender and sweet. Fortunately, the cream sauce was not too creamy and we liked it. We had one glass of Malbec ($8) and one glass of sauvignon blanc ($8). Both were good. We spent $53.07 plus tip.

3.3. NR: Beach House Restaurant (5022 Lawai Rd., Koloa, Kauai, HI 96756, tel. 808-742-1424, www.the-beach-house.com). We don’t recommend this restaurant because the dish we had was tasteless and uninteresting. The view, however, was beautiful with perfect surfing waves crashes outside and surfers entertaining us. Our server, Jorge, was pleasant and good. We ordered one Beach House Ceviche to share ($16). It was described as “fresh island fish, scallops, tiger prawns, avocado, tomatoes, cucumber, citrus, lilikoi juice and Molokai’ purple sweet potato chips”. We ordered another side of sweet potato chips ($2) and a side of bread ($1.50). Jorge warned us that their ceviche was not traditional because the lilikoi (passion fruit) makes it sweet. Well, it wasn’t sweet, there was no taste of passion fruit or anything else for that matter. The fish didn’t have any flavor either. It was actually awful. The chips and bread were good. We spent $20.31 plus tip.

Sep 09, 2014
aledm in Hawaii

Please help me use my Wolf 30" Built-In Double Oven - L Series (electric)

This year, we moved into a condo with a full kitchen of Wolf Appliances. We were the first owners of the apartment and users of the appliances that were originally installed in 2010. Wolf provided us with one year warranties from the purchase date of the apartment. I thought my oven needed calibrating. Two different technicians came to the apartment and said that both ovens were operating within parameters.

Nonetheless, my Wolf double ovens are continuing to drive me crazy. For example, I wanted to bake (conventional) some pastry puffs for 25 minutes at 375 degrees. In accordance with the conclusions that were made with the technician and my husband and me, I set the oven to bake (conventional) at 370 degrees. The reason I did that was because I was told that the oven temperature would vary by 10 degrees after reaching the set point of 370. In order to have an average temperature of 375, the chosen temperature was 370. After 16 minutes the oven ding-dinged that it had reached the set point of 370 degrees. I looked (without opening the door) at my new oven thermometer (set on the middle shelf on the left side of the oven near the light). My oven thermometer read 325 degrees. At 26 minutes my oven thermometer read 370. At 30 minutes my oven thermometer read 375 degrees. At 50 minutes my oven thermometer read 380 degrees. At 60 minutes my oven thermometer read 385 degrees. I don't know whether it ever stabilized because I turned the oven off at that point.

In my 60 years of baking (with non-pedigreed ovens), I have never had an oven that:
1. took so long to preheat
2. did not reach and maintain the set temperature.
3. throws off so much heat into the room

Does anyone have advice as to “work-arounds” that will result in food being cooked the way I want?

Aug 27, 2014
aledm in Cookware

June 2014 San Francisco Bay Area Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM

Hi Again SF Bay Area Foodies,
We've moved on to our next destination but just read (in the Week, I think) about Oakland’s Swan Market "which has three top eateries: Miss Ollie’s, Rosamunde Sausage Grill and Cosecha (ebaldc.org/property/swans-market)." We're sorry we missed it; has anyone been?

Aug 14, 2014
aledm in San Francisco Bay Area

June 2014 San Francisco Bay Area Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM

NOTE: we practically always share our meals, typically ordering one starter, one main and one dessert for the two of us. That makes a big difference in the cost of our meals and the expansion of our waistlines. We don’t have the kitchen split the meals because ALE doesn’t eat as much as DM. We just ask for an extra plate and ALE takes what she thinks she should eat. The other thing of note for these restaurant reviews is that we ate mostly ethnic in the bay area.

ALE and DM discussed adding ratings to our restaurant reviews and compromised on the following ratings:
HR: Highly recommended
R: Recommended
NR: Not recommended
A: Awful

Okay, now the reviews:

1. Oakland

1.1. HR: Jong Ga House, 372 Grand Ave, CA 94610, Phone: (510) 444-7658, E-mail: jonggahouse@gmail.com, web: http://www.jonggahouse.com/. We had an absolutely delicious meal and the service was frenetic, fun and attentive. We were served the first of our Ban Chan all by itself: a tasty cold soup with noodles with very good tea. Then 18 Ban Chan dishes were brought that were fabulous. We ordered on grilled mackerel (#33 Go Deung Uh Gui, pan fried and grilled mackerel) for $15.99 that was moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside. The other dish we ordered was a soup (#103 Buh Sut Sun To Fu, spicy or non-spicy (Dimitri had medium spicy) soft tofu soup with assorted mushrooms, egg and chopped beef and seafood) for $12.99. We both were very happy. We had leftovers to take home. At the end of the meal we were brought a sweet rice drink. A great meal with delightful service. We spent $31.59 plus tip.

1.2. HR: We had a very good meal at Soi 4 Bangkok Eatery (5421 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618, tel. 510-655-0889, www.soifour.com). We liked our young woman server very much. We arrived at 5:30 p.m. just when happy hour prices were in going into effect. All appetizers were $6 at that time and wine and beer was ½ price. We were hungry, having had no lunch. We ordered four starters and that was more than enough food. We ordered miang kum: Fresh cut mustard leaf wrap of roasted coconut, prawns, pomelo, herbs, & sweet palm ($6), keow wan: roti Grilled Indian bread, tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, & basil with green curry dipping ($6), kanom pak gard: Sautéed steamed turnip cake with egg, bean sprouts, & chives with Sriracha sauce ($6), plamuk tod: Salt and pepper fried calamari with caramelised onions and carrots ($6). Each dish was full of flavor and had innovative combinations of tastes. It was fusion, which we normally shun, but this was full of excellent combinations. We had one glass of Concho y Torro wine ($4). For dessert, we had one sticky rice with mango but weren't charged for that. We had tea too ($5). It turned out that the tea was green tea, not the delicious Thai tea that we have had before. We talked to our server and asked if we could buy a package of PanThai "Thai Tea Mix" from the restaurant. She said she could not do that but she brought us a small container of the delicious tea to take with us. How wonderful! We spent $43.06 plus tip.

1.3. R: Doukkala, California Moroccan Cuisine, 4905 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, CA 94609, tel. 510-653-8691, http://www.doukkalarestaurant.com/. We had a very good meal with very good service. We ordered too much but there were many dishes we wanted to try. We started with the Moroccan fish stew ($5) that was intensely flavorful. Our server’s assistant forgot to bring us spoons so we had to wait to taste it. We ordered bread ($3) and it came with an herb butter that was delicious. The Matthew Fritz Prime Red (Mendocino) was very good ($25) proving again that if you rely on the restaurant to offer a low priced wine, it will usually be good. With the soup we ordered a side of Merguez sausage. It came with a spicy accompaniment that we think had harissa in it. The sausage was homemade and tasty, although a little dry. For our main, we had a small vegetable tagine ($10 for half portion) and the pastilla ($14). Both were very delicious. Dimitri asked to see the home made baklava and decided not to have it. He said it had too much filling and not enough phyllo. We were very full anyway and we had plenty of leftovers to take home! We spent $71.94 plus tip and were happy and impressed with Eric Lanvert.

1.4. R: Bay Wolf, 3863 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, CA 94611, tel. 510-655-6004, http://www.baywolf.com/. Tim was an excellent server and we enjoyed our meal. While he is a photographer first, his server skills were perfect; he anticipated our needs and he stopped by frequently to check on us. He was actually one of the best servers we’ve ever had; professional, friendly, efficient and good. He brought Acme bread and we liked it. We shared everything as usual. For our wine, we had the house ½ carafe of Chinon Cabernet Franc and we liked it. We had an appetizer of chicken liver flan that was made with green peppercorns. The liver was creamy and delicious and the peppercorns added some crunch and spiciness. For our main, we ordered two dishes: the lamb with the vegetable tian and the zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta. Both dishes were delicious but we couldn’t finish the lamb! For dessert we had the shortcake with Chantilly cream. It was very good too. We were happy and spent $76.30.

1.5. R: Our Chinese seamstress recommended Gourmet Delight Seafood Restaurant, 701 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607 (b/t 7th St & 8th St in Oakland Chinatown), Phone number (510) 832-7661. It was a great success. We went with 2 other couples and ordered 6 dishes—all of them were very good and large. First the restaurant brought us a large bowl of (complimentary) broth made with root vegetables and meat. It had very good flavor. We ordered the fried oysters to start. There were three (heavily) battered and very large oysters. We cut each one in half and had enough for all of us. We ordered a fish fillets with vegetables, a Szechuan chicken, a crispy prawns with walnuts, a chow fun noodles with seafood and a spinach with scrambled egg. We had enough leftovers to take home. The restaurant served us a sweet tapioca soup/pudding for dessert and that was a hit too. Each couple spent about $25 plus tip. A very good meal at a very good price.

1.6. R: À côté (5478 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618, tel. 510-655-6469) was recommended and it was the first restaurant we tried in our new neighborhood of Oakland. We sat inside and our server, Haley, was good but a little too austere. We shared everything as usual. We drank part of a bottle of Negrette Le Roc La Folle Noir D’Ambal, Fronton Southwestern France 2012 ($32) and it was good. We were brought baguette that we were told was from Acme Bakery. We liked it. We started with the Corn Soup ($8) and it was also good. The next small plate we had was the Duck Liver Crostini with pickled shallots and frilly red mustard greens ($15). This was an excellent concoction—we liked the liver in tiny pieces rather than puréed. The wilted greens were a good accompaniment. For our main, we ordered the Ravioli Primavera with ricotta, fromage blanc, fava beans, asparagus and verde de Taglo chard ($17). It was very good but we could not finish it. We spent $78.48 plus tip.

1.7. R: Our lunch at Phnom Penh Cambodian Restaurant (251 8th St., Oakland, CA 94607, tel. 510-893-3825) was very good. The woman who owns the restaurant was very nice. We had one soup and it was plenty for the 2 of us. It was Samlaw Machhou Phnon-Penh ($9.95) cooked with prawns, pineapple, tomato, lemongrass and tamarind paste. It was very tasty. We had one rice ($2) that was cooked perfectly. That was enough for lunch. We spent $12.59 plus tip.

1.8. R: Hawker Fare, 2300 Webster St., Oakland, CA 94612, tel. 510-832-8896, http://www.hawkerfare.com/. We were seated immediately at 7 p.m. on a Saturday night (which we took as a bad sign). But lines aren’t the best indicator of the food at a restaurant and this time it was no indicator at all. We liked our server, Becca. The noise level was high but didn’t bother us (for some reason). The food came out quickly and we liked that. We ordered too much but everything sounded good. It tasted good too! We started with “’Beer Nuts red peanuts roasted with kaffir lime leaves with chilis and salt’ can be addictive $3”. They were good, not too spicy but had no taste of kaffir lime. The next dish to arrive was “Yum Khai Dao fried egg salad with cilantro, tomatoes, celery and shallots, nam jim--can’t be missed $10” It was very good and we finished it. We had the chicken hearts with basil ($6) that were delicious and we had some to take home. The “24hr Pork Belly Duroc pork “tom kiem” style, five spice and sweet soy broth with fermented mustard greens $11”. This dish was excellent and so were the fermented mustard greens and we had some leftover to take home. The “Kao Mun Gai poached chicken, salted mung bean sauce, fresh cucumber and cilantro over rice with livers $12” was really good as were the chicken livers dipped in the mung bean sauce. We had the special of the day—a coconut rice pudding—that was very good too but we couldn’t finish it. We spent $54.50 plus tip (without wine because the house wine was priced too high, in our opinion).

1.9. R: Bay Fung Tong Seafood Tea House (1916 Franklin St., Oakland, CA 94612, tel. 510-832-3298). This restaurant was recommended by our Chinese seamstress in Oakland, Mimi. We had a delicious lunch of clams in black bean sauce ($9.95) and chow fun noodles ($6.95). We spent $19.84 and were happy. Another day we had lunch and took food home for dinner that night. We wanted something special for lunch that is not on the menu and Henry, our server who speaks very good English, listened to our description and said that they could make it. It turns out it has a name in English and it is Steamed Egg (custard) with Clam. The rendition they made was very good and we were happy to pay $11.50 for it. We also ordered a vegetable dish ($6.75) that came with rice. So our lunch was under $20. For dinner we ordered a crab streamed in ginger and scallion. It was $9.99 a pound and ours was 2 lbs. for $19.98. We also ordered a black mushroom and tofu to go ($7.95) and one steamed rice ($1). Our total was $51.43 for lunch and dinner!

1.10. R: Takara, 5897 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618, tel. 510-601-1424. We had a very good meal. When we see Chawan Musi on a menu for a Japanese restaurant we go to that restaurant and order those delectable steamed egg puddings. At Takara we had two ($3.95; on the menu they were $2.95 each) and they were good but not great. There was too much water and the egg was a little tough; not like a soufflé. We shared one Yosenabe ($17.95) described as assorted seafood, chicken, beef, vegetables and clear noodles. That was good. With our meal we had one large hot sake ($6.95). We spent $35.75 plus tip.

1.11. R: Asmara Restaurant (Eritrean & Ethiopian Cuisine, 5020 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, CA 94609, tel 510-547-5100,http://www.asmararestaurant.com/.We went because the food was rated 26 (out of 30) in the Zagats. We think it was tasty but it would be impossible for us to rate it against other Ethiopian restaurants. We had one 3 types of meat dish combination platter ($12.95) and one 3 vegetable dish combination platter ($12.95). The meats were: Ziggni/Key Watt (strips of marinated beef, cooked in berbere sauce with spice), Doro Watt (hot, spicy tender chicken cooked in berbere sauce served with hard-boiled egg—but we got no hard-boiled egg) and Ye-Beg Alicha (cubes of lamb, stewed with curry and spices). The vegetables were: Temtmo/Yemissir Watt (red lentil stew marinated in berbere sauce and spices), Kik Alicha (yellow split peas in mild yellow sauce) and Ye-Gomen Alicha (mustard greens simmered in Asmara’s special spices). They also gave us a taste of Kinche (cracked wheat porridge) which was kind of rubbery. Each of the dishes were tasty and the Injera bread was good. This is hearty rustic fare and we were stuffed even though we didn’t finish the dishes. We ordered the Tej (honey wine) for $8.50 and it was like a fermented juice drink. For dessert we tried their Ethiopian coffee (not good) and the baklava (too old). We spent $42.75 plus tip.

1.12. R: Peony Seafood Restaurant, 388 9th St., Suite 288 (Pacific Renaissance Center, 2nd fl), Oakland, CA 94607, tel. 510-286-8866. We were very happy with our lunch, even though they have very few carts. We got one porridge with Chinese donut, one Pan Fried Rice noodles with XO Sauce, one Vegetarian roll, one Sweet Tofu, and two tea. Dimitri walked around the restaurant looking at what other people had ordered and we just asked for dishes that looked good and got recommendations from other diners. We spent $28.86 plus tip.

1.13. R: Camino, 3917 Grand Ave, Oakland, California 94610, tel. 510-547-5035, http://www.caminorestaurant.com/. In the NT Times article Mark Bittman talked about Camino restaurant: http://www.caminorestaurant.com/ and it sounded so fabulous we made it our goal to go there. The Zagat rating for the food was 24 (very good to excellent) and we would agree with that (rather than Mark Bittman’s ecstasies). Claudia was our server and she was good but others helped as well. We ordered a bottle of Rafa Bernabé Monastrell Tragolargo, Spain ($32) and it was good. We were served bread that was chewy and satisfying. We wanted to have the sardine and asparagus dish in the citrus “salad” described by Mark Bittman but that was not on the menu that night (the menu changes daily). Instead we had the Wild nettle and herb frittata with carrot salad and salted mullet roe ($12). The frittata was made only with greens, no potatoes that we could taste. It was intensely flavorful. The addition of the mullet roe ratcheted up the flavor a notch or two. The carrots, some uncooked, some grilled on the open fire, were sweet and yummy. We ordered 2 more dishes: the “Fava bean, Belgian endive and new garlic gratin” ($12) that was really crunchy, delicious and made with no cheese. This resulted in a lighter dish lighter not overpowered by a cheese taste or texture. For our main we ordered the “Grilled duck breast kebab and duck leg-brisket kofte kebab with red lentils, artichokes, chiles and grilled flatbread” ($26). We were happy with that dish too. There was plenty of food for the two of us. For dessert we ordered the Tunisian orange cake with dates and yogurt ($9). Dimitri liked it which speaks volumes. We didn’t like the coffee (and we were not charged for it). We spent $99.19 plus tip.

1.14. R: Oliveto, 5655 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618, tel. 510-547-5356,
www.Oliveto.com. The first time we went, we had a delicious meal and our server, Anne, was exceptionally good. We shared everything, as usual. We ordered a Scurati Nero d’Avola Terre Siciliane 2012, Azienda Agricola Ceuso, Trapani, Italy ($37) and liked it. The bread that was brought was very good. We started with the Yellowtail crudo ($13) and thought it was tasty and appropriately spiced. The next appetizer we had was the sardines ($14) that were marinated in house described as follows: “Marinated Monterey Bay sardines with fire-roasted peppers, fried shallots, and French Breakfast radishes.” Yum! For our entrée, we had the Charcoal-grilled pigeon with Chanterelle mushrooms, crispy riso nero, Fontina cheese, and rosemary ($32). It was excellent but we couldn’t finish it! The crispy riso nero was an unique ball of a rice and cheese mixture that was made crispy somehow. We loved the dish. We couldn’t eat any dessert we were so full. We spent $104.64 plus tip. The second time we went to Oliveto, we went for their special “Oceana” menu and were very unhappy with the quality and the quantity of the dishes.

1.14. R: Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe, 1805 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, CA, tel. 510-251-9400, www.iamrudy.com). We had very good server whose name (we think) was Topher. He gave us the history of the name “Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café” and perspective on the neighborhood and on the Fox Theatre next door. He also brought us two salads, one house (regular-sized $6) and one chef (regular-sized $6), and one side of sourdough toast ($2). Rudy’s is named after the bus driver of the punk rock band “Clash”. No matter how outrageous the situation Rudy did not fail to get the bus to the band’s next destination. The owner is a famous band member himself. We had a fine lunch amidst the present day Sunday afternoon version of punkers for $15.26 plus tip.

1.15. NR sort of: We had a nice time at Ikaros (3268 Grand Ave., Oakland, CA 94610, tel. 510-899-4400 www.ikarosgr.com) but Dimitri, the Greek, was under-whelmed by the food and so we cannot recommend it—he has high standards afte rall. You might want to try it notwithstanding. Our server was very good and personable. We started with his favorite soup: avogolemeno ($4.50). He thought it was too thick and not lemony enough. We had an order of tiropita ($7.50) that Dimitri thought was very good. We also started with an order of taramasalata ($7) that we both thought needed more fish roe and less potato. For our main we shared one Gyouvetsi men arni (orzo with lamb shanks) for $23. The order was huge but we thought the two shanks were over cooked and a little dry. With our meal we had ½ liter of house wine. We had one baklava for dessert that Dimitri didn’t like. We spent $76.85 plus tip.

1.16. NR: We were disappointed in Restaurant Chu, 5362 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618, tel. 510-601-8818. The woman hostess didn’t say hello; she just scowled and brought us to a table. (When she brought us our check, she didn’t say thank you or anything for that matter.) We arrived during their happy hour tapas special price menu (until 7 p.m.) so we ordered off of the discounted menu. We ordered the “Smoked Salmon Onion Pancake” ($8) with hoisin, chili and cilantro. The combination sounded good, was innovative, but really didn’t work. Additionally, we waited a very long time for that dish to arrive. It looked like everyone else (who arrived after us) was served first. The next dish, when it arrived, was the best: “Ants Climb Trees Glass Noodles with pork ($13) with mung bean thread, minced pork, garlic, ginger, chili bean sauce”. It was a tasty and nicely textured dish. The ants refer to the tiny pieces of pork that cling to the mung bean thread “trees”. The third dish was “Stuffed Bitter Melon and Black Bean Sauce with tofu, mushrooms, garlic, onions” ($11). The tofu stuffing and the sauce were very good. The bitter melon was too tough to cut without having a knife and it was, well, too bitter so we thought it may not have been cooked enough. Our server and the helper were friendly and good but it got busy and our server didn’t have time to stop by. We ordered rice ($3) and Japanese Genmai tea ($4) that tasted of toasted rice and was good. There was nothing on the dessert menu we wanted. We spent $40.88 plus tip.

1.17. NR: At Noodle Theory (6099 Claremont Ave., Oakland, CA 94618, tel. 510-595-6988, www.noodletheory.com), we were not happy with our meal. It is not our kind of place. The kitchen was very noisy and the small children next to us were too. Our server was good. We were brought edamame with a plum sauce drizzled on top and sprinkled with sesame seeds; we like when restaurants bring a little something to start. They were good and so was the sauce. Unfortunately both of our main courses seemed to have the same sauce and it was too over-whelming. We started with the Chinese Five Spice Sweet Potato Fries, with a Thai Green Curry Aioli ($7). They looked good but were not crispy (even though we sent them back for more cooking). We didn’t eat many of them. Dimitri had the Sautéed Spicy Thai Basil Beef with Fresh Flat Rice Noodles ($13) for his main course and didn’t finish it. Audre had the Tofu and Veggie Garlic Noodles ($9) and didn’t finish hers either. We spent $49.05 plus tip and would not recommend the place.

1.18. NR: We went to Ramen Shop (5812 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618, tel 510-788-6370, http://www.ramenshop.com/) because it was recommended. We were under-whelmed and we had to wait almost 30 minutes for an uncomfortable high table with hard chairs. Dimitri had the Ramen Veggie shoyu (Meyer Lemon ramen with salt-cured egg, tomato confit, maitake and king oyster mushrooms, roasted broccoli and mizuna ($15). He thought it was okay. Audre had the Little Gem salad with edamame, shiso, anise hyssop, beets, cucumbers, pickled red onions, and garlic miso crème fraîche ($12). It was small for $12 and Audre did not taste any anise hyssop or miso in the crème fraîche. We spent $39.24 plus tip and would not recommend the place.

1.19. NR: We had an okay meal at Wood Tavern (6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618, tel. 510-654-6607, web: www.woodtavern.net) but would not recommend it and we don’t understand why so many people suggested we go there. It was very crowded and very noisy, even with its high ceilings. The tables were small and close together; we talked to our neighbors. That was fun. We ordered 2 appetizers, one main and shared everything. We had a ½ bottle of Honig Sauvignon Blanc that was good (it cost $22 Oakland and at the last place where we ordered it, Cambria I think, it had been $18). Unfortunately it was served warm and there were no ice buckets used in the restaurant. The bread was good and one kind had nuts in it. One of our appetizers was the vegetables fritto misto ($10) and for our taste they were too heavily battered, eliminating the taste of the zucchini flower or fennel, for instance. The other was a dollop of chicken liver pate ($5) that came with a date jam, mustard, cornichon and toasted baguette. That was a very tasty dish and well presented. Our main was the halibut with mashed potatoes, morel mushrooms. Dimitri didn’t like the crust on the fish and it was overcooked. We didn’t think the morels had any taste. Katrina was a good server and knowledgeable but so busy that we were left unattended at times.There was no dessert that we wanted. We spent $71.94 plus tip.

2. San Francisco

2.1. HR: Waterbar, 399 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105, tel. (415) 284-9922, web: http://www.waterbarsf.com/#home. We had a great lunch with $1 oysters (specially priced) at Waterbar. Larissa was a professional, attentive and personable server. There were 4 of us and we shared everything, sitting in front of the beautiful view of the Bay Bridge. We started with 24 medium oysters ($25.20)—tasty and large enough—that were priced specially for their happy hour. We were served Acme Bread and liked it, as usual. Then we had one order of soft shell crab ($20), one order of cockels ($16), one order of the ribeye steak ($18) and one side salad ($6). Everything was delicious and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. For dessert we shared one bread pudding ($10) and it too was very good. We had 4 coffees ($15) and with that Larissa served us 4 dessert chocolates that were excellent. We were very happy. The bill for the 4 of us was $128.03 plus tip.

2.2. R: E & O Asian Kitchen, 314 Sutter St., SF, CA 94108, tel. 415-693-0303, www.eosanfrancisco.com. We had a very good lunch during “Dine About Town” at a price of $18.95. Our server, Maria, was very good and helpful. From the Dine About Town special menu we chose the Butternut Squash Dumplings in Thai red curry with lemongrass sauce and basil oil. There were 6 dumplings and they were delicious, as was the sauce. The second course we chose was Drunken Noodles (Pad Keg Mao) broad noodles, ground pork, Chinese broccoli and basil. Another excellent dish. For an extra $5 we had the warm ginger cookies too. We were very happy and spent $21.23 plus tip (we were not charged for the cookies, evidently).

2.3. R: Shanghai Dumpling King, 3319 Balboa St., San Francisco, CA 94121, tel. 415-387-2088. We had a very good dinner. Because the neighboring table was friendly and very generous, we got to taste many additional dishes that they ordered and shared. Of course we had the Shanghai soup dumplings and they were good, although they did not have enough soup inside, in our opinion (10 for $5.95). The Fish Head Casserole ($10.95) was very good and huge. The Spicy Ma Po Tofu ($7.50) was good but totally vegetarian with no option to choose pork in it. We also tasted the Sesame Rice Dumplings (4 for $3.25) which were good but too squishy. This restaurant is famous for its Sugar Egg Puffs (3 for $3.25). They were indeed airy and delicious. Our neighboring table gave us so much food that the $30 we spent (cash, no credit cards) would not be representative of what a meal with everything we tasted would cost!

2.4. R: R & G Lounge (631 Kearny St., San Francisco, CA 94108, tel. 415-982-7877, www.rnglounge.com). We had a wonderful Cantonese meal and were very happy. We shared three dishes, all of them very good. We had the Steamed Clams with Eggs ($18) that we loved when we had it in Hong Kong. It was a very good rendition and R & G. We had Three Treasures with Black Bean Sauce ($15) described as bean curd, eggplant, hot peppers with shrimp meat in black bean sauce. The flavors were delicious as were the bean curd and eggplant tastes. The third dish we ordered was the Roasted Squab for $16 (described as whole squab roasted to a golden brown crispy skin, served with seasonings on the side). The squab was crispy and succulent and we loved it. We spent $57.10 plus tip and were very satisfied. For dessert, Dimitri found a perfect sesame ball at a local bakery for $1.

2.5. R: Tony's Pizza Napoletana, 1570 Stockton St., San Francisco, CA 94133, tel. 415-835-9888, web: http://www.tonyspizzanapoletana.com/. We had a wonderful experience sitting at the bar under the watchful gaze and generous hospitality of Robvell Smith (whose card names him Bartender Extraordinaire). During our City Guides tour by Gloria Lenhart called Tastes and Tales of North Beach, she told us about Tony Gemignani and that he won the World Pizza Championship 11 times. We generally have pizza only once a year and we have already had our 2014 pizza. In any event, we decided to go to Tony’s for pizza after our tour. The wait for a table would have been ½ hour but there were empty seats at the bar so we sat there. The bartender, Robvell Smith, was great and great to us. While we were waiting for our pizza (which took a long time—almost an hour), he had the kitchen bring us a complimentary order of meatballs which were very good. We ordered the award winning Pizza Margherita ($19). While waiting our neighboring couple at the bar offered us a taste of their New York pizza. That was the one that we almost ordered because it had all kinds of sausage and pepperoni on it. It was very good and we liked the thin crust. When our pizza arrived and we tasted it, the taste was very good but the crust was a bit spongy. You order pizza at Tony’s by crust and then by toppings. Now we know what crust we like, we will order better next time. We spent $21.42 plus tip for Robvell.

2.6. R: Starbelly (3583 16th St., San Francisco, CA 94111, tel. 415-252-7500, www.starbellysf.com) was recommended when we were on the SF City Guides tour of Castro. Our server, Darcie, was good. We had one sweet corn soup ($9) and one steak salad ($13). There was so much meat on the salad that we had 4 pieces to take home! The soup was good and very filling. We had Darcie bring us some bread and she did (without charging). We spent $24.64 plus tip.

2.7. R: House of Banquet, 939 Clement St., San Francisco, CA 94118, tel. 415-221-9888, www.HouseofBanquet.com. It was recommended for dim sum and we liked everything. The service was okay. When we arrived the carts were scarce but they appeared and we had new and interesting dishes. There was no sweet tofu. We spent $27.25 plus tip.

2.8. R: King of Thai Noodle, Fisherman's Wharf, 2800 Leavenworth St. at Jefferson St., San Francisco, CA 94133, tel. 415-346-9555, www.kingofthaifishermanswharf.com. This restaurant had been recommended (in another location). We came upon it along Fisherman’s Wharf when we were looking (but did not find) fresh crab, steamed at the moment (not steamed in the morning and put on ice and steamed to heat it up after one orders it). We had One Pad Kee Mao stir fry of flat rice noodles with meat and vegetables $8.95 and one Papaya Salad $8.95. We also had one tea. We spent $21.42 plus tip and were happy.

2.9. R sort of: Brindisi Cucina Di Ma, 98 Belden Pl., SF, CA 94104, tel. 415-593-800. We went for the Dine About Town lunch for $18.95. We had the Tagliatelle with boar and the roasted chicken. The tagliatelle was good and had lots of boar. The roasted chicken was on the dry side. Dimitri liked the potatoes. Our server, Cathryn was good.

2.10. R sort of: New Hong Kong Lounge, 5322 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94121, tel. 415-668-8836, www.HongKongLounge.com. We had one delicious lobster in steamed rice noodle ($28) and one golden fried baby fish ($10). We liked the lobster but not the fish—too doughy. Our server didn’t get our order right and it took forever to get our food. Other than that we would recommend it.

2.11. NR: Yank Sing, 101 Spear St., Rincon Center, San Francisco, CA 94105, tel. 415-781-1111, www.yanksing.com. This place is recommended for the best dim sum in San Francisco. Phooey. Its dim sum is predictable and not especially tasty. There are so many better Chinese restaurants in San Francisco (and Oakland) that serve better tasting and more innovative dim sum at a much cheaper price that we cannot recommend Yank Sing. We spent $52.93 plus tip for five dishes.

2.12. NR: Paprika has a very limited menu (3324 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (b/t Bartlett St & Osage St in Mission) , Phone number (415) 375-1477). We shared one appetizer of sausage and it was enough for the 4 of us and not great. We didn’t like the goulash. They have only 3 choices and we had two of them. The one with the orange colored sauce was marginally better. The gnocchi were good. We spent three months in Budapest in 1992 and this food didn’t make the grade. Each couple, with 2 beers and 2 wines, spent $50 plus tip.

2.13. NR: Soi Gow, 1319 9th Ave., San Francisco, CA 94122, tel. 415-564-7722 web: www.soigowthai.com. We had one Yen Ta Fo Noodle Soup ($7.95) with flat noodles and shrimp, calamari, sliced fish cake, fish balls, white mushrooms and spinach in a chicken broth with red bean sauce. It was a weird color and seemed to us to be more Chinese than Thai. The other dish we ordered was the soup, Tom Kah with tofu ($4), described as having in it coconut milk with lemongrass, galangal, mushrooms and lime juice but there wasn’t any lemongrass or galangal. We spent $13 plus tip.

2.14. NR: Golden Gate Dim Sum Seafood Restaurant, 1829 Clement St., SF, CA 94121, tel. 415-666-3883. We were under-whelmed. Ordering dim sum off of a menu is difficult for us. We had the chicken feet in a very good juice called “Crude Drugs Chicken Feet” ($5.50). We also had the “Pan Fried Chives Dumpling” ($3.25) and they weren’t special. The third dish we had was the “Salt & Pepper Squid Silk” ($5.50) that was good. We also ordered on congee to go for breakfast the next day. The congee was delicious. We wouldn’t go back or recommend this place; it didn’t have the seafood dim sum we were hoping for. It seemed as if it was the place for Chinese construction workers who knew what they wanted to eat. We spent $29 plus tip.

3. Berkeley

3.1. HR: Rangoon Super Stars, 2826 Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94705, 510-647-9744, e-mail: info@rangoonSuperStars.com, web: http://rangoonsuperstars.com/home.html. It was a delicious meal. The restaurant was in a section of Berkeley that was without power. We sat with the only light coming in from outside. The kitchen meanwhile was working with flashlights. Even so the meal was very good. We had one Tea Leaf Salad ($11), tossed at the table that we really liked. It was described as “This salad is a popular traditional treat unique to Burma. A mix of Burmese tea leaves, fried garlic, peanuts, sesame seeds, lettuce, tomato and dried shrimp.” We had one “Fiery Pork Tofu ($14) described as “Tossed Pork with tofu, string beans, bell pepper, mixed with sweet & spicy sauce.” Another yummy dish. The third dish we had was Garlic Shrimp and Eggplant ($15) described as “Sautéed shrimp and eggplant served with garlic and scallions in a sweet chili sauce.” Also very tasty and good. Our fourth dish was “Egg and Okra Curry” ($11) described as “Red Burmese curry prepared with tomatoes, fried hardboiled egg and okra.” Excellent! The four of us enjoyed the meal very much. Each couple spent $40, including tip.

3.2. R: Spoon, 933 Ashby Ave., Berkeley, CA 94710, tel. 510-704-9555, Web:
www.spoon.com. It’s small and got very crowded. We ordered the steamed egg soufflé ($4) that we thought might be like the steamed egg we used to eat in Hong Kong.
It was not; it was bland. We ordered one Dolsot Bibimbop ($13) that was delicious. The seaweed noodle salad ($9) was very good. The kimchi pancake ($7) was good but we had ordered too much and couldn’t finish it. We ordered one drink called Jobs Tears ($3.50) and we didn’t think it was particularly good or interesting. The chairs were very uncomfortable. There are so many outstanding restaurants around we probably will not return. We spent $39.79 plus tip.

3.3. R sort of: Flavors of India, 3211 College Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705, tel. 510658-3461. It’s a tiny place that is very basic. Dimitri had a set lunch called Baingan Bharta (eggplant and a garbonzo bean dal with rice and naan) for $7.99 and he was happy with the tastes and the quantity. Audre asked for a small cup of soup of yellow lentils. She was charged $8.99. That was beyond way too expensive for that. Dimitri had a salty lassi ($3) and that was good too. We spent $21.80 and thought that was ridiculously expensive for what we had.

3.4. R sort of: We were disappointed in Cha-am Thai Restaurant (1543 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709 (510) 848-9664, http://www.chaamberkeley.com/). We thought it was going to be special with unusual dishes. It was same ‘o, same ‘o. We shared everything and ordered 3 dishes. The first one was the Tom Ka Kalay soup ($6). It was described as coconut milk soup of prawns, scallops, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime, chili, onion, cilantro and mushrooms. We couldn’t taste any galanga, lemongrass or kaffir lime and that was disappointing. Our next dishes were Pad Prik Tofu ($8.50) described as sautéed fried tofu with garlic chili, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, fungus, sweet basil and vegetables. It included all of the ingredients described but was kind of bland and uninteresting. Our third dish was Pla Tien Cha-am ($14) a whole fried pompano tossed in a spicy tamarind sauce with onion, bell pepper, ginger and mushrooms. The fish had really crispy skin, was sweet and nicely cooked. The sauce was really delicious and the vegetables were prolific and very good. This was a very good dish but didn’t make up for the others. We had one order of good sticky rice ($1.50) and one hot Thai tea ($1.50) that was tasty with free refills (we really liked the Thai tea and later learned that we could buy it in a Chinese market). We spent $34.88 plus tip.

3.5. NR: Meritage, Claremont Hotel & Club, 41 Tunnel Rd., Berkeley, CA 94705, tel. 510-549-8510. We went for breakfast and neither Dimitri nor Audre liked the servers. The room was nice with a nice view. The food was disappointing. Audre had the Eggs Benedict ($18). There were 2 eggs on one English muffin with a little bit of Hollandaise sauce and one dry-ish piece of Canadian bacon. Audre had asked for the eggs to be soft and they were okay but not the way she likes them. They came with a salad and no bread basket. Dimitri had the omelet with goat cheese, mushrooms and bacon ($17). He liked it. His eggs came with fresh fruit and a salad. He had asked for potato croquettes instead of the salad and was told that they would be $6 extra. Dimitri got his 2 croquettes when he asked where they were (and wasn’t charged for them). He was brought uninteresting toast and had to ask for butter (which came with some Dickinson’s marmalade that he liked). We had two coffees ($4 x 2) with many refills. The breakfast cost $46.87 plus tip which was ridiculously expensive under any circumstances but especially for what we got.

4. Alameda

4.1. R: Troy, 2318-A Central Ave, Alameda, CA 94501 (b/t Park St & Oak St), tel. (510) 522-2800, web: troygreek.com. We were biking in Alameda when we happended upon Troy for lunch. Dimitri, the Greek, was very happy with the food. We had 2 falafel (very good) and at $1 each, well priced. We had one avgolemono soup ($3.95) that Dimitri liked very much. We had one small Greek salad ($3.95) that was also good. Dimitri liked their home made Baklava ($2.50) and Greek coffee. We spent $13.52 and we were happy. We later learned that there was a Troy on College, right near our house.

5. Tiberon

5.1. R: Sam's Anchor Cafe, 27 Main St., Tiberon, CA 94920. tel. 415-435-4527, http://www.samscafe.com/. Sam’s was highly recommended for the place to go for a crab sandwich after biking over the Golden Gate Bridge. That we did and we enjoyed it. We had one crab sandwich with dill dressing on sliced sourdough, served with crispy French fries ($20) and one linguine with Manila clams in white wine, butter and garlic ($21). Both dishes were very good although the crab sandwich had too much of a creamy taste for Audre. The juice that the clams were in was delicious and the clams themselves were tender and tasty. We each had a glass of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand ($9 x 2) and we liked that. For dessert we had an apple galette that Dimitri liked very much—the crust was crisp ($7) and coffee ($3). We spent $74.85 plus tip and would recommend it.

2014 Monterey Peninsula Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM

Thanks for your thanks. We were around the Monterey Peninsula during the month of May 2014.

Aug 03, 2014
aledm in California

2014 Monterey Peninsula Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM

NOTE: we practically always share our meals, typically ordering one starter, one main and one dessert for the two of us. That makes a big difference in the cost of our meals and the expansion of our waistlines. We don’t have the kitchen split the meals because ALE doesn’t eat as much as DM. We just ask for an extra plate and ALE takes what she thinks she should eat. We love ethnic and so most of the restaurants we choose have an exotic flavor.

ALE and DM discussed adding ratings to our restaurant reviews and compromised on the following ratings:
HR: Highly recommended
R: Recommended
NR: Not recommended
A: Awful

Okay, now the reviews:

1. Dinner

1.1. R: Il Vecchio, 110 Central Ave., Pacific Grove, CA 93950, tel. 831-324-4282, www.ilvecchiorestaurant.com. Charlie was our server and we liked him. We ordered a Capestrano Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo, a wine we always liked when we were living in Italy ($28). We had the Monday Night Adventure Dinners ($23 each) which were 5 courses. The first course was a bruschetta with goat cheese and small, diced sweet pepper on top. Then we had a roasted carrot soup that was very good. The third course was a very good salad. The fourth course was a baked polenta topped with parmesan cheese and vegetable. The polenta was perfectly cooked and the combination was very good. For the fifth course there was a choice between a beef stew and a cioppino. We ordered one of each and the cioppino was the much better of the two. For an extra cost of $6 we had one cannoli for dessert. It was crunchy and we liked it. The meal was fun and we enjoyed it. We spent $86.60 plus tip.

1.2. R: Persian Grill, 675 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey, CA 93940, tel. 831-372-3720, www.persiangril.com (owned by Masoud Homami, e-mail: persiangrill@sbcglobal.net). We had a wonderful meal and recommend this restaurant. Masoud Homami is the owner, the chef and the server. He does a terrific job. We started with one soup, the Aush e’ Reshteh, Persian style noodles with variety of chopped greens, sautéed garlic, onion and mint served with kashk (dried whey) for $6.75. Dimitri loved it and it reminded him of Melokhia, an Egyptian soup. We next ordered one Panir-O-Sabzi, fresh cut garden basil, mint, watercress, radishes and coriander served with feta cheese for $5.99. We expected more of a salad but it was not. One is supposed to take some lavash and make a little appetizer with all of the ingredients. The herbs were so good and fresh we enjoyed the dish. We wanted to have “Tahdeeg” ($3.99) the famous Persian crispy rice but it wasn’t available and takes an hour to make. Our next dish wa Khoresht e’Fesenjoon, the walnut stew that Audre makes. It is crushed walnuts, caramelized onion and pomegranate juice with tender chicken breast, served with basmati rice ($13.99). It was delicious but maybe a little too sweet for us. For dessert Dimitri really enjoyed the Makhloot, a combination of Persian ice cream and faloode (which was what Dimitri really wanted). It was a great success as was the entire dinner. We spent $55.59 plus tip.

1.3. R: Bistro Moulin, 67 Wave Street, Monterey, CA 93940, tel. 831-333-1200, E-mail: bistromoulin@gmail.com, web: http://www.bistromoulin.com/ .We had a very nice meal even though neither Didier Dutertre nor Colleen Manni were there. Our server was friendly, professional and good. All the other servers helped too. The room is “bistro-y” but the tables are not close together. Audre had one (appetizer-sized) spinach gnocchi ($12.75). The gnocchi were light but they were floating in a cream sauce which made the dish a little too rich for Audre. Dimitri had the Osso Buco which he liked very much. It was in a tasty tomato sauce and had some snap peas in it too. With our meal we had a small bottle of Chateau Le Bonnat Grave Bordeaux ($28). There was no dessert on the menu that appealed so that was all we had. We spent $73.64 plus tip.

1.4. R: Passionfish, 701 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove, CA 93950, tel. 831-655-3311, www.passionfish.net. Our server, Mara, was good. We brought a coupon for a free appetizer of our choice. The room was crowded and noisy. While we made jokes of it with our neighboring tables, we were so close we were practically sitting with them. The bread was good and was called Pane Franchese from a bakery in Santa Cruz (The Buttery, perhaps.) We started with the Spicy Seafood Stew ($9 on the menu, $10 on our bill (?)). There was plenty of seafood and it was in a delicious tomato-cilantro broth that was just the correct amount of spicy. We shared that and a ½ bottole of Alfaro Family Vinyard (Corralitos, CA) Pinot Noir ($21). The next dish we shared was the Grilled Lemongrass Catfish in red curry with jicama slaw ($10) which we asked to be our free appetizer. It was delicious and had a nice taste of lemongrass. For our main course we had the Sturgeon with warm preserved lemon-white bean salad and spicy herb relish ($23). Audre liked the sturgeon but thought it was bland. Dimitri was lukewarm about it. There was plenty of food to share. For dessert we had the bread pudding with honey/ginger ice cream ($7) with a Peruvian decaf ($2). We spent $68.36 (even with the free appetizer) plus tip and were happy.

1.5. R: Petra Restaurant, 477 Lighthouse Ave, Pacific Grove, CA tel. 831-649-2530. We were happy with our meal and with the service at Petra. The room is decorated in an old-fashioned way—nice. There is a flat screen TV over the gas fireplace (on) which scrolls through a slideshow of scenes of Petra. (A good use of a TV, in our opinion). The place was busy and there was a even a table of 3 women who Dimitri said could have been his Greek aunts. We had 2 entrées: one was the special mousaka. It was served with sautéed vegetables and rice. The other entrée was the couscous stew made with chicken. It had a nice cinnamon spice taste and Dimitri liked it (although the chicken should have been less cooked for his taste). The stew also came with a side of vegetables We liked the pita bread served at Petra. For dessert we had one baklava and it was good and crunchy. With that we had one decaf coffee. Nice. We spent $56.24 plus tip.

1.6. R: We had a nice meal at Fishwife at Asilomar (1996 1/2 Sunset Dr., Pacific Grove, CA 93950, tel. 831-375-7107). It was crowded but we didn’t have to wait long and we got the table that Dimitri asked for. We had a coupon for a free fried clam appetizer. We never would have ordered a fried dish but we ate this one! Dimitri had the catfish entrée ($17.50) and liked it. Audre had the Calamari Provençal and was impressed ($17.50). The calamari was fork-tender. We have never had calamari so tender. We each had a glass of wine—Audre had a glass of Firestone Sauvignon Blanc ($7) and Dimitri had a glass of Seaglass Riesling ($7). We spent $52.08 plus tip and were happy.

1.7. R: Epsilon Restaurant, 422 Tyler St., Monterey, CA, tel. 831-655-8108, web: http://www.epsilonrestaurant.com/ We had a very nice meal. Christopher was our server. He was efficient and unobtrusive. We had one lamb shanks ($19.75) which came with a Greek salad with lentils to start. The meal was served with rice and vegetables. It was very good and huge--more than enough for the 2 of us. We had a glass of Greek red (Nema) for $8 and a glass of Retsina ($7). We had a great time talking to the men at the table next to us (long time Monterey residents). We also had a rice pudding which Dimitri liked ($5.95). We spent $43.72 plus tip.

1.8. R: La Bicyclette, 7th & Dorlores, 29 Dolores St, Carmel, CA 93923, Carmel, CA tel. (831) 622-9899, web: http://www.labicycletterestaurant.com/. We had a very nice meal. Our server, Arturo, was good and had a good personality. We were sitting next to a man (who lives in Carmel) and woman (who was visiting). They were fun to talk to and very informative about the area. We had one of the soup of the day (carrot) and it was very good ($8). It was served in a big copper pot and it was plenty for two. We had one entrée of duck ($23) that was served with black rice. The dish was very good too (although we probably should have had the day’s special dish: wild boar cannelloni). We had 3 glasses of Malbec ($9 each) but no dessert. We spent $62.94 plus tip.

1.9. NR: La Balena, Junipero between 5th and 6th, Carme-by-the-Sea, CA, tel. 831-250-6295, www.labalenacarmel.com. We were unhappy with the taste of the food and the preparation. We were so disappointed because La Balena had been highly recommended. It was our first self-described “farm to table” restaurant and we were excited. Our server, Iracema, was quite nice and good (serving the entire restaurant, as far as we could tell). The restaurant was accommodating to our request to get out of the breezy area where we were first seated. We were given the table next to the kitchen and it was quite warm but fine for us. We decided to order 2 starters and one pasta and share everything. Our starters were the Osseo Puttanesca (bone marrow, braised tomato, capers, olives, anchovy and taleggio) for $15. The bone marrow was overwhelmed by the salty taste of capers and there was too much tomato sauce and taleggio (a cheese that we ordinarily love). We left most of it (and the restaurant did not charge us for the dish). Our second starter was Polpo Fritto (crispy octopus that was actually grilled, not fried, Calabrian chili and lemon) for $21. The sauce was good, very garlicky, but Dimitri didn’t like the way the octopus was grilled. He said that it should be grilled over charcoal and it should be almost burnt (but not overcooked) and result in a crispiness on the outside and tender on the inside. One should see it blackened and taste the charcoaling. So after the first two dishes, we were bummed out. For our pasta, we chose the Tagliatele Nero (described as Monterey Bay king salmon, grappa, crème fraîche and roe) $21. It was good and the pasta (homemade) was very good but, as Audre recalls, the dish didn’t have salmon it had clams—oh well). With our meal we the half bottle of Joyce Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (San Banito, Pedregal Vineyards, Salines) for $18. We were happy with that choice. We spent $65.10 (without the Osseo Puttanesca) plus tip.

1.10. NR: Sea Harvest, Foam St., Monterey, CA 93940, tel. (831-646-0547. It looked like it would be good but it wasn’t (and it had been recommended). We had lunch there but we would not recommend it for any meal. Audre ordered the oyster appetizer: 6 oysters ($10.95). We didn’t ask; we just assumed that they would be local. They were not. They were Blue Points from VA. Unfortunately they were tasteless. Even the juice was tasteless. Dimitri had the lunch special: skate fish grilled and served with rice, cole slaw and sautéed vegetables ($12.99). He was disappointed. Audre was still hungry so she ordered a side of cole slaw. We spent $29 plus tip.

2. Lunch

2.1. R: Vineyard Bistro, 6 Pilot Rd., Carmel Valley, CA 93924, tel. 831-659-5020, web: www.vineyard-bistro.net. Our server, John, was good. He reminded Audre of Matthew Broderick for some reason. He was good and gave us advice on other restaurants in the Monterey area to try. We had one special of the day: sand dabs served grill and sitting on a salad with mango salsa and apples and oranges ($15) which we shared. The restaurant served bread. Dimitri had a Line Sauvignon Blanc ($8) and thought it was good. We spent $24.96 and enjoyed sitting in the garden. We spent $24.96 plus tip.

2.2. R: Paprika Cafe, 309 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey, CA 93940, tel. 831-375-7452. This is a tiny, cute place and a throw-back from earlier times. The owner does absolutely everything without anyone else there to help. It was almost full. We had a very good lunch, after waiting our turn for it to be made. Dimitri had a foul (Egyptian fava bean stew) that came with pita. Audre had a salad. We had a piece of homemade baklava and a Turkish coffee. The owner was Lebanese but grew up in France. He has been in Monterey for over 20 years working very hard. It shows; the café is very good. We spent $14.05 plus tip.

2.3. R: The Lodge at Pebble Beach Resort, The Bench, Pebble Beach, CA. The spot is lovely and our server, Vincent was good. We shared one order of mussels ($24) from Prince Edward Island, Canada in a very good broth, one baked Alaska (also very good) for $10 and one coffee ($3.75). A very nice lunch even though it was full of noisy groups. We spent $40.58 plus tip.

2.4. R: From Scratch Restaurant, 3626 The Barnyard Shopping Village, Carmel, CA 93923, tel. 831-625-2448, e-mail: fromscratchrestaurant@gmail.com. We sat out on the patio under a pergola and it was pleasant. We had one quiche of the day that came with a cup of cream of broccoli soup ($9.95). Audre didn’t think that the crust-less quiche with chorizo was as tasty as it should have been. She liked the soup although it was too creamy and should have had more broccoli taste. Dimitri had the Chinese chicken salad ($11.50) that had chicken pieces which were moist and tasty. The salad was made with romaine lettuce which he likes and had some vegetables in it. It wasn’t particularly Chinese, however. Dimitri liked the toasted baguette that came with the meals. Our server, Kristofer, was fairly invisible but we had everything we needed. Audre thought that it was an over-hyped sort of place. We spent $23.06 plus tip.

3. Breakfast

3.1. R: Lou Lou's Griddle in the Middle, Wharf #2, Figueroa and Del Monte, Monterey, CA. We had a very good breakfast. We tried to get a table over the weekend but it was packed and the wait would have taken 1 ½ hours on Sunday (Mother’s Day). We came back on Thursday and it was calm and a very warm day—too warm in fact to sit outside in the sun. We moved in to the counter and watched the cook do his magic. Dimitri ordered 2 eggs over easy, bacon, potatoes and sourdough bread. He liked his breakfast with coffee. Audre had one pancake with strawberries. The one pancake was so huge it hung over the sides of the plate. They serve it with butter and syrup but not real maple syrup. It was fluffy and good. Of course it was way too big for Audre and even with Dimitri’s help we only ate half. Our breakfast cost $20 plus tip and we would recommend it.

3.2. R: First Awakenings, 125 Ocean View Blvd #105, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, tel. (831) 372-1125, http://www.firstawakenings.net/. We thought our breakfasts were very good and our server, Brittney, was excellent. We had a complicated order. Audre thought she wanted a wheat berry pancake until she learned that the wheat berry pancake had wheat germ in it which she doesn’t like. Brittany was very patient and suggested that Audre order one blueberry pancake with strawberries on top. That sounded good to Audre so that’s what she ordered and it was great; too big by half but very good. Dimitri wanted one pancake with mango in it, scrambled eggs and one strip of bacon. That’s what he got and he was very happy. Dimitri also ordered coffee and it came quickly. We learned that First Awakenings has real maple syrup for an extra charge. We ordered that. Our bill was $19.61 plus tip and were very happy.

Jun 27, 2014
aledm in California
1

Any new, noteworthy Asian ethnic restaurants in Denver?

Are there any new (and very good) Asian restaurants in the Denver metro area? Within the last 10 months we heard of a new Asian but have forgotten the name (and who told us about it).

Jul 24, 2013
aledm in Mountain States

2012 San Miguel de Allende, Gto, Mexico Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM

Thanks for the head ups Anonimo. It looks like our restaurant reviews were chopped off before they were finished. Here is the rest of the review of Casablanca and the rest of all of our reviews:

4.18 A: Casablanca, Hidalgo 34, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-154-6070, e-mail: restacasablanca@yahoo.com.mx. We went with the Social Newcomers Club and it was awful. There were 15 people at our table and the kitchen couldn’t keep up. We had one soup of the countryside (that was basically tomato soup with vegetables in it) which we waited 45 minutes for. We also ordered one spaghetti with mariscos that we waited almost 2 hours for. Everyone else in our group had been fed and had left. The spaghetti was not worth waiting for. It was a disaster and we would not return.

5. Cafe or Other

5.1 R: Cafe de la Aurora, Prolg. Calzada de la Aurora s/n (Fabrica La Aurora), San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., It’s a very pleasant space and the coffee and sweets are good. We had 2 coffees and a sweet and spent M$130 plus tip.

5.2 R: Petit Four, Patisserie & Confiserie, Mesones 99-1, Centro, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), C.P. 37700, Gto., Tel. 415-154-4010, e-mail: pacopos3@yahoo.com, web: elpetitfour.com.mx. Dimitri likes the Danish pastries at this shop—he thinks that they might be the best in town.

5.3 R: Casa de Café, Hospicio #31 (corner of Recreo), tel. 415-152-0121. It’s a nice space and the coffee was good. The server was nice too.

5.4 R: Ice Cream Vender on the corner of Hidalgo and Insurgentes, San Miguel de Allende, Gto.The flavors of the ice cream are varied and most are very good. We’ve had the rose pedals, guava, mango, nuez, and a few others. They also have cheese, tequila and more ordinary ones too. The woman and her little girl are nice. A scoop in a very crunchy and delicious cone is M$25. We sit in the Plaza San Felipe de Neri park (around the corner on Mesones) to eat our ice cream.

5.5 R (with caveat): Bella Italia, De Guadaloupe 12 in the Portal de Allende (east side of Jardin), San Miguel de Allende, tel. 415-152-4989. The location is great the juice we had was only okay.

6. Food Stores

6.1 HR: La Isla (de Miguel), Maria Greever #5, Guadalupe, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), tel. 415-152-2202, (Miguel’s cell phone for special orders: 415-101-0061), e-mail: naturalygourmet@gmail.com. Not only is the owner, Miguel, charming but he delivers on his special orders. He has special ordered Escolar fish (aka: oil fish or butter fish) as well as oysters (which Alesandra opens for us at the shop) and sea urchins for us. Every week Chef David sends an e-mail with the names of the fresh fish they have received. It’s a first class operation. (BTW, Miguel’s wife is French and sells homemade quiche at the Saturday Organic Market at Artesana.)

6.2 R: Natura SMA, Ancha de San Antonio 39, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-154-8629, e-mail: naturasma@gmail.com (Mario) open 9-6:30 pm closed Sundays. This is a good shop and the owners, Jorge and his wife are delightful. While this is a new-ish location, they have been in the organic food business for 8 years. Try the cardamom ice cream. It was outstanding.

6.3 R: Cumpanio, Correo 29, Col Centro, San Miguel de Allende, 37700, Gto., tel. 415-152-2327, www.cumanio.com. We love the bread and sweets from this shop. They sell specialty food items too. We also had a very good dinner at Cumpanio (see review above). Miguel (in the kitchen) is delightful and will do special orders too.

6.4 R: Restaurant y tiende Bove a Plaza Alhondiga, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), C.P. Code 37700, Fracc. La Lejona 2a Secc. 37765, tel. 415-120 0981 web: www.bove.com.mx. We had juice there that was good and our waiter, Gerald, was wonderful. They told us they sold raw cow’s milk and we kept trying to buy it from them but whenever we went in and asked for it, they looked at us like we were crazy.

6.5 R: Via Organica, Margarito Ledesma #2, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), tel. 415-152-8042, web: viaorganica.org. This is a wonderful store where we even found turkey eggs!

6.6 R: Bonanza, Mesones 43, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-152-1260. Whatever we wanted and couldn’t find elsewhere we have found at Bonanza. We found maple syrup there as well as dried mango and dried figs, for instance.

6.7 R: Luna de Queso, Salida a Celaya 51a, 4120, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-154-8122, e-mail : maper2000@yahoo.com. This store has great cheese and an assortment of Asian products that is impressive. It also has maple syrup.

6.8 R: Mesa Grande Bakery, Zacateros 49, San Miguel de Allende, Gto.,tel. 415-154-0838, cell: 415-154-0838, e-mail: lamesagrandesma@gmail.com, Facebook: www.facebook.com/lmgsanmiguel, We spent M$35 for a sourdough boule. It was good. We have also had lunch there but would not recommend the Greek Salad for M$80.

6.9 R: Los Rehiletes Cheese Shop, Ancha San Antonio 57 at the corner of Callejon de la Bayoneta, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-152-1307, e-mail: losrehiletes@gmail.com and rehiletes@prodigy.net.mx. They put out a sign when they have fresh Jocoque or Nata and we bought some. Jocoque is a clabbered (raw milk) cheese that was delicious. Nata takes like a buttery heavy cream.

6.10 R: Ignacio Ramirez Market, Colegio, San Miguel de Allende, Gto. This is a wonderful food, flower, clothes and everything else market. In the front near Colegio are the fruit and vegetable stands that get their produce from Mexico City. In the back, on the way to the big Artesanias Market off Loreto, are the vendors with local San Miguel produce.

6.11 R: Dulce Arnelo (de Peggy Guzman), Salida a Celaya 19, San Miguel de Allende. A new pastry shop (opened in August 2012). We didn’t love the cookies we bought but you might.

6.12 R: "Las Quatro Mupas" Barranca #42, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., e-mail: dulce2j@gmail.com (Dulce Sanchez). They sell tea at the Artesana San Miguel Saturday Organic Market at the Rosewood. Tea Rooibos Tiramisu was outstanding.

6.13 R: Moonrise Health, Organos 29, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-154-4076, web: moonrise@mindspring.com. It was recommended to us for supplements and herbs. We went and bought rooibos tea and Himalayan rock salt. It’s a nice shop.

6.14 R: Mega, Carr. a Celaya #2 esq. Libramiento Manuel Zavala Zavala, Fracc. Lejona, C.P. 37765, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., The range of products sold at Mega is pretty amazing. They don’t always have the same items, so if you see it and think you might use it, buy it when you first see it!
6.15 R: Polleria Brenda, Colegio 15, San Miguel de Allende, Gto. When we wanted to make chopped liver we got the mat this small chicken store on Colegio at Mesones. They were good.

6.16 NR: San Juan de Dios Market and the loncheria Dona Raquel Loc. #3, San Miguel de Allende, Gto. There was nothing special about this market or about the place where we had lunch.

7. Chocolate

7.1 HR: Johfrej, Jesus 2A, Centro Historico, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto, Mexico, tel. 415-152-3139, e-mail: rpatino@johfrej.com, web: www.johfrej.com Ramon, one of the members of the Johfrej family is in San Miguel and works at the shop (the grandson of the originator (in 1920) of Johfrej in DF). Their chocolate is, in our opinion, the best in town. They use cacao nacional de Tabasco y Chiapas. We love dark chocolate and Johfrej has a huge selection of delicious morsels. Additionally, the M$35 special price for one cappuccino and 2 chocolate truffles/truffas has got to be the best deal in the world! The space is lovely and the classical music being played was wonderful. We’ve had the Mayan hot chocolate with spices and the dark hot chocolate. Both are good but we like the dark hot chocolate best. We returned many times and brought reasonably priced boxes of chocolates as gifts for hostesses. Ramon is charming and personable. This is our kind of shop and we recommend it.

7.2 R: Restaurant Bar Donovan, Chocolates & Churros, a Churreria, Hidalgo #15, Centro, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-154-7708. This is an adorable churreria that also has a complete menu. We had Mexican Chocolate (M$10) that comes with 3 warm and crisp churros. Wonderful!

7.3 R: Embruyo, Calle 28 de Abril Norte 12, int. 1, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., cell : 415-114-8843, e-mail : trufa.ahuja@gmail.com. We bought this chocolate at the Artesana San Miguel Saturday Organic Market at the Rosewood (Tianguis Orgánico San Miguel de Allende--TOSMA). It was very good chocolate.

7.4 R: Ananda Natural de Andrea Usher, e-mail: andreaushe@yahoo.com, tel. 415-152-1957. We bought the no calorie chocolate (that also has no sugar, no gluten, no dairy and blissful nutrition) at the Artesana San Miguel Saturday Organic Market at the Rosewood (Tianguis Orgánico San Miguel de Allende--TOSMA). It was unique and very much worth trying.

7.5 NR : San Augustin Chocolates & Churros, San Francisco No. 21, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), tel. 415-154-9102. This restaurant, started by the actress Margarita Gralia, is an institution. We had one order of “Chocolate Espaol mas espeso y no tan dolce”--hot chocolate that comes with 3 churros. The hot chocolate was good (not great and not thick enough to impress us). The churros were not made at the moment and were only okay. We spent M$38 and will look for another place for our chocolate and churros in the future.

8. Cooking School
8.1 HR: Sazon, Correo 22, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-154-7671, e-mail: ventas@sazon.com or cmoreno@casasn.com. Our Chef was Emanuel Cervantes. He was engaging, enthusiastic and knowledgeable. We started with a walk down Colegio stopping to buy some cooked chicken and some cooked pork. The market tour of Ignacio Ramirez Market on Colegio was next. It was instructive and we had lots of tastes. We started tasting a drink called Atole made with maiz that was delicious. At the same vendor we tasted a tamale with cheese and Poblano that was good. Then we went to another vendor and for the first time in our lives we saw fresh garbanzo beans. We tasted a fruit combination of coconut, jicama and cucumber that had chile and lime juice. It was delicious too. Next we tasted Pulca made with aguamiel and pulca alcohol. It was okay. Lastly we tasted Emanuel’s favorite tortilla at a shop he recommended.

Then we went back to the state of the art kitchen at Sazón. It has a TV screen showing the stove burners and mirrors showing them as well. Emanuel cooks in pottery, seasoned the way his grandmother taught him (garlic rubbed on the outside, sea salt and water on the bottom of the pot and boil until the water evaporates). Emanuel was truly stellar in organizing the 9 people in the kitchen. He had each person who wanted to doing some chopping or stirring and had everything under control. We made 7 dishes and then ate. He gave us recipes in English for all of the dishes. It was really fun and everything tasted delicious. Probably our favorite was the Guajillo (a kind of pepper) Sauce that was over the enchiladas. It had a great flavor and was not too spicy. We would recommend this class. It cost M$690 pp x 2 (US$105).

Mar 15, 2013
aledm in Mexico

Mountain Standard is Open in Vail on Dec. 19, 2012

So happy that ddavis liked Mountain Standard. Friends of ours (aledm) went on Christmas and wrote this to us:

"So we went tonight for dinner with another family, not only because you made a recommendation, but because it's new. The artichoke, Caesar salad, soup, and tuna were good, the bone marrow was nonexistent, onion rings good, but baked potato fries were inedible. The main courses were less consistent; chicken was just alright, stone crab smelled of ammonia, steak was rancid, dinner was poor. It is unlikely that we would ever go back.

Our experience was quite different from yours, and we did expect much more. Do go to Lenora in the Sebastian, magnificent food."

We were riding on a ski lift today and a ski patrolman said that he and his wife ate at Mountain Standard and had a poor meal. He didn't like his steak and his wife's shrimp were burnt on the outside and cold on the inside. They spent $150 and were very unhappy.

We (that is, aledm) went back for a second time and had another delicious and delightful meal.

Dec 31, 2012
aledm in Mountain States

Mountain Standard is Open in Vail on Dec. 19, 2012

We felt like standing and applauding the kitchen staff!

We ate dinner at Mountain Standard on its second night in business (we got confused as to its opening date). We had a wonderful meal and we highly recommend it. Kevin and Matt, the owners of Sweet Basil are, again, contributing to our Vail dining pleasure. The space is nicely and minimalisticly designed in order to highlight the open kitchen (which, contrary to other reports, is evidently still in style). The chairs at the tables are uncomfortably hard so we chose to sit at a booth. It was much more cushiony but, for Audre, it was too low and she would have liked a pillow--it was too deep for her. There was no music but a noisy buzz from the other guests, including a table of 8 with a loud baby. We were warmly greeted by Lauren Boudreaux and brought our requested hot water in mugs by our Honduran bus-man. He also brought us ficelle (and nicely softened butter) made by Zinos kitchen which was very good (we also like the baguette made at Zinos). We could see the 8 cooks, including Brian (Bobby) Brouillard, on one side of the kitchen island and Paul Anders supervising on the other side. It was quite a good show, actually.

We decided to share 3 starters and one side. It was a very good decision. Each dish was small and gave us a glimpse at the capabilities of the kitchen (without stuffing us). We each had a glass of the 2010 Catena Malbec ($10 x 2) and it was good.

We started with the Roasted Bone Marrow with Oxtail Marmalade, Country Bread, Parsley Salad ($12). This dish was probably our favorite because the bone marrow was ample but also because the oxtail marmalade was a perfect accompaniment. The parsley salad, with julienned lemon peel, was very good as was the Dijon mustard. The bread was a little burnt but good. We also ordered a side of Campfire root vegetables ($8) that were good and included beets but, unfortunately, the onion in the dish was surprisingly tasteless.

There was a long hiatus between our first and second starters. Our server, Patrick, was hopping about and didn’t explain, until much later when we asked, that there was some confusion in our order (3 starters for one table needed explanation which Patrick failed to give, evidently). Actually, we noticed a lot of frenzy in the restaurant staff but it is a bistro after all. Fortunately the tables were not (bistro-like) on top of each other. We really liked the Steelite plates--a very good choice.

Our second starter was the Whiskey Braised Pork Belly, soy molasses, jalapeño, grilled pineapple and cashew ($14). The pork belly was outstanding and the pineapple’s sweetness was a nice contrast to the richness of the pork belly. The jalapeño added to the dish too. It was yummy.

Our third starter was the Molasses Rubbed Quail with Escarole, Blackberry Agrodolce, Marcona Almonds ($15). The quail was perfectly cooked and the blackberry agrodolce was delicious. Again the sweet contrasted nicely with the quail.

For dessert we ordered Bob’s Bread Pudding with Plumped Cherries and Bourbon Ice Cream ($8) and that disappointed us. The ice cream tasted like vanilla and the bread pudding was more like bread and not enough like pudding. With that we ordered the Spiced Cider with Captain Morgan Spiced Rum and Apple Cider and Cinnamon ($10). There was cream on the top, no cinnamon and very little spice. It was kind of like water, actually. So that wasn’t a success.

Overall the meal was outstanding however and, with the attention we got from Lauren and Matt, it was also fun.

Dec 20, 2012
aledm in Mountain States

Where can I buy Okra in Denver?

I can usually buy it fresh at Viet Hoa Supermarket, 5810 W. Alameda Ave., Lakewood, CO 80226, tel. 303-975-9900. I can always buy it frozen at Kroger/City Market.

Dec 14, 2012
aledm in Mountain States

Kosher meat in Vail or Denver

In Vail, contact "Kosher on the Slopes" at www.jewishvail.com The telephone no. that previously existed was 970-476-7887. I don't know if it still exits. Or contact the Rabbi in Vail.

Dec 14, 2012
aledm in Mountain States

The 10th is a great addition to Vail Mountain

The 10th is open for dinner as of December 12, 2012! The ride up the gondola at night was very pretty, exciting and fun; also very cold (take blankets). The restaurant space was also cold at first but eventually the thermostat was pushed up enough (after our 3rd request) to make it comfortable. The 5 of us had a lovely meal and the service was very good by Joanne L. The menu at dinner is more expansive than at lunch and the additions to the list of mains were interesting. We each had a starter and then 4 of us shared two mains. Jennifer Mejia, the general manager stopped by to chat (which we love!). We were brought homemade breads that were good with our first bottle of wine from the special offering list. We chose a Carmenere from Chile ($35) that was very good. We were brought amuse bouches for our 4 meat eaters which was a sausage morsel that was accompanied by a delicious gel and sauce. For our vegan, the amuse bouche for him was vegetarian (how thoughtful). For our starters we were all happy: we had one delicious pumpkin soup ($12), 2 delicious (but a little too salty) lobster bisques ($14 each), one smoked duck salad ($18), and one grilled romaine salad with white anchovy ($17). Then we were each brought a palate cleansing mango sorbet. And we ordered a second bottle of the Carmenere (another $35). For our mains, two of us shared one beef short ribs ($37) with a delicious sauce and two of us shared the halibut ($38) that was perfectly cooked and sauced too. The portions were large and the food and accompaniments were more than enough for two. The fifth person had the quinoa strudel ($30) that he liked very much. Of course we were all stuffed but the table shared the chocolate bread pudding ($13) nonetheless. We had one coffee ($4.25) and one tea ($4.25). The bill was $271.50 plus tip. Everyone was very happy.

Dec 14, 2012
aledm in Mountain States

San Miguel de Allende Restaurants

Have a look at our "2012 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM" at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/878436

Nov 19, 2012
aledm in Mexico

2012 San Miguel de Allende, Gto, Mexico Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM

(exchange rate: M$13.10 = US$1)

NOTE: we always share our meals, typically we order one starter, one main and one dessert for the two of us. That makes a big difference in the cost of our meals and the expansion of our waistlines. We don’t have the kitchen split the meals because Audre (aka: ALE) doesn’t eat as much as Dimitri (aka: DM). We just ask for an extra plate and Audre takes what she thinks she should eat. On our new regime, we rarely have wine or beer with our meals. Frankly, we feel better the next day.

We don’t particularly like or appreciate antojitos. Consequently, we typically don’t go to places that specialize in tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas or the like. We have been trying to find restaurants that serve Alta Cocina Mexicana which we find interesting and sometimes fabulous.

Next item of note: before you go to any restaurant make sure it’s open on the particular day you are going! It’s rare for restaurants in San Miguel to be open every day of the week.

Another item to note, our classifications are sort of arbitary.

Lastly, we have trouble posting photos with our Chow posts. If you want to see the photos that we took of the food we ate, go to: http://travelingloveaffair.blogspot.c...

ALE and DM discussed adding ratings to our restaurant reviews and compromised on the following ratings:
HR: Highly recommended
R: Recommended
NR: Not recommended
A: Awful

1. Alta Cucina Mexicana

1.1 HR: Moxi Restaurant, Hotel Matilda, Aldama 53, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-152-1015, web: http://moxi.com.mx We went because Moxi was recommended and because we were told that a Mexico City celebrity chef had just come to the restaurant. It turns out that Enrique Olvera had formed a partnership on June 2 and he had arrived in the week just before we first went. Restaurant Magazine had named Olvera’s restaurant in Mexico City called Pujol #36 in its 2012 list of 50 best restaurants in the world. We sat on the terrace below the pool and the waterfall from the pool. It was very pleasant, with soft jazz in the background and the sound of the water flowing over the wall from the pool. Our first server wasn’t to our liking. But our second server, Ugo, was friendly, informative and professional. In short, he has everything we like in a server. We were the only ones there when we arrived (early) but more people did come. We were brought an amuse bouche of gazpacho with basil oil and it was delicious. Then we were brought tomato bread with butter sprinkled with salt and a dusting of ancho chili. We shared everything as usual and started with “Ceviche de pascadol/Fish ceviche, xocanostle, jitomate, cebolla, menta, aguacate y chicharron de pescado/Sour fruit cactus, tomato, onion, mint, avocado, crispy fish skin” (M$130). It was a great dish—not like Peruvian or Chilean ceviche but great nonetheless. There were tiny rolls of fish in a juice that tasted of lime but that was pink. We were told pink was the color given to the juice by the xoconostle fruit (the red prickly pear). The combination of tastes was very, very good and the fish skin was the best we’ve ever had anywhere in the world. Our Principles/Main Course was “Pescado en ceniza, cebolla, horneada, mole verde, verdolagas/Halibut fish in ash, baked onion, green mole sauce, purslane” (M$220). We liked that the mole verde and the juice for the ceviche were brought in pitchers. There was plenty of sauce and more in the pitcher if you wanted it. The halibut was very good and the ash added something. The green mole sauce had just the right amount of spiciness too. The purslane was in a cup made of a layer of onion and it was good. The only thing missing from this dish was a starch so we ate another piece of bread. With our meal we each had a glass of Mexican wine called San Lorenzo Valle de Parras Coahuila (Cabernet Sauvignon/Tempranillo) for M$90 each. We liked it. For dessert we shared the “Buñuelo—Guayabate (which is a local sweet of guava and caramel), miel depiloncillo y helado de canela”(M$80). The cinnamon ice cream was outstanding and if you like brown sugar with guava and caramel, it was a very good dessert. For us, it was a little sweet. We had one decaf coffee that was served in a big cup and was good. We spent M$650 plus tip. Yum!
We had another lovely dinner at Moxi. Sebastian was there and remembered us. Our server was professional and very good. We started with the “Ensalada de nopal” with Jitomate cherry, chicharron de cerdo, lechugas, pico de gallo de apio, vinagreta de oregano (M$95). It was delicious. For our main we shared the “Filete de res al vacio” (M$280), a beef steak, gratin potatoes, mushroom sauce. Yummy. We had two glasses of the house malbec with dinner. For dessert we shared the “Cabra: Jocoque lavanda galleta de salvado bombon de miel” (M$85). Another Yum! Sebastian sent us 2 glasses of champagne after dinner. We had coffee and it was a lovely meal.
We highly recommend this restaurant—we have been back and the food has been outstanding each time (but the service has been spotty sometimes).

1.2 HR: Calenda, Nemesio Diez 10 (Calle Nuevo), San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-154-7129, e-mail: info@calendarestaurante.com, web: calendarestaurante.com. Lucy is the hostess and is very helpful. We went for lunch and we were the only customers. We ordered the gnocchi but they didn’t have it. As a substitute they suggested a pea dish that had a poached egg on it. Wow, it was delicious. We also ordered the vegetables grilled and served on a bed of a sweet pepper puree. Yummy. With the meal, they served homemade bread that was very good and a dish of pickled garlic and olives. The garlic was wonderfully sweet. Lunch cost about M$200 and was lovely. Our second meal at Calenda was also very good.

When we walked in Lucy at the front of the house remembered us and greeted us warmly (we like that!). We came for a comida/late lunch or early dinner. As usual, we shared everything and ordered 2 starters and one main. We liked our server and sitting outside under an umbrella. Our first starter was the “Cherry Gazpacho with shrimp, campari spheres, orange peel and strawberries” (M$120). It was as delicious as it was beautiful. Our second starter was “Squid: baby grilled squid filled with onion and chorizo over squid sauce and ink” (M$95). This was another pretty dish that was excellent. For our main we had the “Baby Lamb: very slow cooked with sweet potato puree and rosemary” (M$300). It was a large order and the lamb was perfectly cooked. The sweet potato was delicious. Karen, one of the owners came to chat and we congratulated her on the new menu. She said she wanted us to try their “Day of the Dead Dessert” and she sent us one complimentarily. This dessert was described as “Calaverita de Oro rellena de espuma de mango sobre cremoso de citricos y flores”. It was awesome. We were also told of another dessert we wanted to try. It was a flan of zapote negro and it was fabulous. We had 2 limonadas and we were very happy. Our meal cost M$679 plus tip. On the basis of this meal we have decided to promote Calenda to “Highly Recommended”.

1.3 R: The Restaurant, Sollano 16, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto, C.P. 37700, tel. 415-154-7877, web: www.therestaurantsanmiguel.com (Chef from Los Angeles: Donnie Masterton, e-mail: audiochef1@yahoo.com). We loved the space. It’s in a courtyard open to the sky which looked Moorish with a Moorish fountain trickling water (and that had rose petals in it). The columns were Corinthian (go figure). There was a design shop next door with big windows so you could see into it. It was a nice view. We were brought foccacia with an olive that had mashed anchovies in it. Yum—I wouldn’t have thought of doing that myself. The General Manager, Jorge or “Flash” came to chat and told us that bottles of wine were half price. We asked about ½ bottles and he said “yes, they were half price too”. So we had a ½ bottle of Alamos Malbec, one of our favorites (M$130). For our starter we shared the “Raviolis rellenos de costilla braseada en vino con tomillo fresco; (red wine braised short ribs raviolis with fresh thyme)” (M$120). The sauce was great and the raviolis cooked perfectly. We were happy. For our main we had “Trucha al curry con zanahorias glaseadas en miel, coliflor, almendras y mantequila oscura; (curry dusted trout with honey glazed carrots, cauliflower, almonds and brown butter)” (M$230). The curry and cumin mixture on the trout was just great. Chef Donnie Masterton came to talk and we enjoyed him. He is from LA and cooked and catered and executive-chefed there before coming to San Miguel de Allende. He is talented. For dessert we shared one “Tarta de Mango y mora azul con crema batida de albahaca; warm mango and blueberry tart with basil whipped cream” (M$85). The tart and the crust was very good but that whipped cream with silvers of basil was sooooooo good. A very good meal and an enjoyable evening. We spent M$585 plus tip.

Another time when we went, Jorge (“Flash”), the G.M., was at the reception desk, recognized us and greeted us warmly. The courtyard was lovely—the design shop was open and lovely to look at. We had the same server we had before, who was very good. We were the first people to arrive when they opened for Sunday brunch at noon. We ordered one “jugo del dia” which was a delicious watermelon juice and Flash gave us a complimentary second one. We ordered one sopes with poached eggs on a bed of black beans. It was excellent and the poached eggs were perfectly formed and looked like a flower with the white like petals falling off the yolk. We were intrigued as to how they were made and Flash took us back to the kitchen where the staff showed us the method. The other dish we ordered was a Moroccan baked egg dish. The eggs were baked on a bed of vegetables and were over-cooked. The dish needed more Moroccan spices like cumin, coriander and ras el hanout. We asked for and were brought bread. And we had 2 coffees with our meal that were full of flavor. It was a lovely brunch. We spent about M$300 plus tip.

1.4 R: Nirvana, Camino Antigua Estacion FFCC11, Centro C.P. 37701, Santuario de Atotonilco, Guanajuato, Mexico, tel. 415-185-2194, web: www.hotelnirvana.mx. The first time we ate at Nirvana it was for lunch and we sat in the garden. It was very pleasant and we liked our server, Rodrigo, very much. We had a delicious salad that came with wonderful bread and we were very happy. We have been back many times and value Juan Carlos’ (chef and “anfitirón”) talent. He has a delicious repertoire and his gardens of organic herbs and vegetables are impressive. Rodrigo is always welcoming and professional. He is another reason why we return.

We had another marvelous meal with a truly great server, Rodrigo, making the meal even better. It was crowded but Ridrigo was attentive and the kitchen kept up with the diners. We started with “Sopa de Frijol Negro y Chipolte con pico de gallo de xoconoxtle” (M$60). It was a very good black bean soup with a red pickly pear salsa on top of a tostada. Our next course was “Brocheta de Portobellini on queso panela, jitomates y aderezo italian” (M$85). The taste of the panela was excellent with the mushroom and tomatoes. The Italian Vinaigrette was very tasty too. For our main we shared the “Costillas de cordero en salsa ajo rostizado” (M$240). They were cooked rare, the way we like lamb chops to be, and the roasted garlic sauce was very good. It was served with a rice and wild rice combination and a mixed squash vegetable accompaniment. For dessert we asked for (not on the menu) the famous Nirvana sorbet made with oranges and basil. It was yummy. We also had one limonada and 2 coffees. We spent M$500 plus tip and were happy.

1.5 R: Bugambilia, Sollano No. 21 (Atras de la Parroquia), tel. 415-152-0127. We sat in the courtyard for dinner and it was lovely. There were 3 other tables being served at the time—two of them with gringos. We enjoyed the meal and our evening there. Our server was friendly, professional and knowledgeable. We asked many questions and he answered them informatively. We wanted to try many dishes of the authentic Mexican cuisine of a higher level than most restaurants so we ordered too much. We took home enough food for another meal! We were brought totopos (chips) and a startlingly spicy green chile salsa. We were also brought bread and butter. We started with “Manita’s de cerdo a las hierbas fin” (M$70) and the marinated pigs’ feet were delicious. They were a little chewy of course but the taste was great. The order was large and we finished it. With that we ordered the “Crema de la coscheca” (M$60) which was a corn and Poblano cream soup. It was very good too but we didn’t finish it. Our first main was “Chile Nogada caliente” the stuffed chile that is well-known in Mexico (M$115) and it was delicious as was the sauce. It had vegetables garnishing the plate and it was more than we could finish so we took the rest home for lunch. Our second main was “Camarones al Mezcal” or a shrimp casserole with the alcohol made from a cactus (M$170). The shrimps were large and tasty in a tomato and onion sauce. We took most of it home. We were told that this restaurant was an “alta cucina Mexicana” restaurant and it is. We spent M$515 plus tip.

2. All Around Restaurants

2.1 R: Carcassonne, Correo 34, Centro, San Miguel de Allend (SMA), Gto., C.P. 37700, tel. 415-552-0053, e-mail: info@carcassonne.com.mx, web: www.carcassonne.com.mx. We had a lovely dinner at Carcassonne. The space is well-designed and the wine cellar adds to the ambiance. There were a few other tables occupied when we arrived which was nice and more arrived while we were there. The chef and owner, Guillermo Terroba was stopping by tables to chat (which we love). He is young and reminded Audre of Mr. Big from Sex in the City. We shared everything as usual and started with “Mejillones en crema de vino blanco” (M$115). The mussels were tasty and tender enough. The cream sauce was delicious. We had another starter called “Tiradito Combinado” (M$115) which we had happily eaten many times in Chile. This was different and very, very good. It was made with Magy Sauce, Worcestershire sauce and cheese. The baguette that was served was very good and we were told it was made at La Maple on Salida de Celaya (but couldn’t find it there—it was actually from Cumpanio). These two starters were more than enough food for the two of us so we didn’t have a main. We drank 2 glasses of Malbec. We ended the meal with a pastel de chocolate. The meal cost M$440 plus tip and we enjoyed it. We went back for Sunday Brunch when Sybil English was performing. It was fun but because it was their first brunch, a little disorganized.

For our third meal at Carcassonne. Pedro, our server (whose first day of work was the day we came for the Sybil English brunch—which was acknowledged as a disaster) entertained us all evening. There were no other customers when we arrived. Because we don’t like the bread that Carcassonne serves from El Maple, we brought our own baguette from Cumpanio. There was a sign board outside that they had “escamoles” which are ant eggs (a once a year event). The price was a hefty M$199 for 100 gr. Well, we had to order them. They were little ovals without much flavor. The kitchen sautéed them with lots of garlic and a little chili. So the taste was in the ingredients other than the eggs and the eggs gave texture. It was a once in a lifetime experience. Next we had the Clam chowder con lagosta y camaron (M$135). There were a few clams and pieces of shrimp and lagosta in a cream soup that didn’t taste of clam at all. It desperately needed clam juice. Our main course was “Trucha Almendrada” (M$130) which came with 2 asparagus spears and rice. The trout had been frozen too long and was smothered in sautéed almond pieces. It was okay. The meal was okay and Pedro, our server was very good.

2.2 R: Food Factory, Fabrica La Aurora, Calzada de la Aurora, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Guanajuato, tel. 415-152-3982. The rooms are very nice and there is a porch area outside too. Our server was very good and the meal was excellent. We shared everything and started with a vegetable tempura and followed that with a filet mignon steak. It was the best steak we’ve had in Mexico so far. With our meal we had 2 glasses of vino tinto. The meal cost M$375 plus tip. The evening was a great success, with the Fabrica La Aurora Friday Art Walk beforehand. We have visited again and also had a lovely meal.

2.3 R: Cumpanio, Correo 29, col. Centro, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), gto., C.P. 37700, Mexico, tel. 415-152-2327, web: www.cumpanio.com. We decided that we wouldn’t call this an ethnic restaurant because it has a contemporary, international menu. We had a lovely dinner in the back room, sitting on the banquette next to each other. There was one other table having dinner on a Monday night. We decided to go because we like the bread and pastries that they make. We shared everything as usual and started with a “Brusccetta de paté de pato y jalea de rojos al rosmero” (M$60). The paté was very good and we enjoyed our starter. We were brought some Cumpanio bread that was warmed and it was, as always, very good. For our main, we chose the “Lomo de pescado al eneldo con juliana de vegetales orgánicos” (M$200). The fish turned out to be our favorite—escolar or oil fish or butterfish—that is bought from Miguel at La Isla (see below). There were 2 large pieces with lots of julienned vegetables. It was a very good dish. With it we had one glass of a Malbec for M$35. For dessert, we shared a “Tarta de Frambuesa” (M$52) and a café (M$32). We talked with the other diners and it was a very pleasant dinner. We spent M$347 plus tip.

2.4 R: Via Organica, Margarito Ledesma #2, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), tel. 415-152-8042, web: viaorganica.org. We buy food there and it’s a good place. We decided to try their special Greek Dinner on a Wednesday night. The meal was good and the covered courtyard in the back was pleasant. We had 2 special dinners which were called “Greek” but were really Middle Eastern with falafel, hummos and baba ghanoush. The meal came with a spinach salad and a glass of wine, as well as a fruit tart for dessert. It was good but not particularly authentic. M$125 x 2 = M$250 for Greek Dinners plus tip. We’ve been to Via Organica for lunch too and it was good.

2.5 R: La Crêpe, Hospicio 37, Centro, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), C.P. 37700, Guanajuato, tel. 415-154-9435, www.letseat.at/lacrepesanmiguel . We had a delicious lunch in the lovely courtyard of La Crêpe. We ordered one Sopa Printemps (M$60) which was a mango soup with cucumber, cilantro and lemon juice, served cold with a dollop of jicama sorbet. It was yummy and refreshing on a hot day. We also ordered one Crepa Ratatouille with jicama, eggplant, sweet pepper, squash, basil, cheese and white wine (M$95). It was very good too. We liked it so much we talked about returning for dinner because they have a pretty dining room inside as well.

2.6 R: Andanza, Casa de Sierra Nevada, Hospicio 35, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-152-7040. The courtyard is a nice space. We went for dinner so early that we were the only ones there when we started our meal. We shared everything and started with Crema de flor de Calabasa with Flan de Poblano (M$95). It was delicious and the flan was wonderful. For our main, we shared the Cordero Lechal a la Cazuela Marinado en Vino Tinto y Cocinado con Vegetales Organico (M$395). It was very good too. We couldn’t finish it and had enough to take home. We had 2 bottles of water (M$28.58). For dessert we shared the Melon Mousse with Mint Cream (M$75). The mouse was very good and the mint cream was outstanding. It was a lovely meal and we would recommend the restaurant. We spent M$590 plus tip.

2.7 R: The Bistro at Los Senderos, Av. Central #101, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., C.P. 37759, tel. 415-153-9571 or 415-155-9594, web: www.bistrolsosenderos.com. We had a lovely comida/lunch in the beautiful atmosphere of the Bistro. The one problem is that the base of the dining table takes up so much room there is little extra for your legs and feet. We suggest new, more comfortable tables! We hosted another couple and we all had a very good time. There was a large group arriving for a picnic in the campo when we walked in. Anders (one of the 2 Swedes and 1 Bolivian in the kitchen who also own the restaurant). He was very charming and welcoming to us even though he was occupied with the big group. We were brought bread with a pesto sauce for it. It was good. Dimitri and I shared everything as usual. We had 2 starters and one main. Our friends recommended we try the Swedish toast with small shrimps and fresh dill from the garden (M$90). It was very good. We also had a grilled asparagus with a salad ( all from their garden). The asparagus were delicious and tender and the greens were very good. For our main, we had the special tilapia fish of the day with saffron (M$160). The kitchen spit the dish for us and it was presented well and the accompaniments were very good. Audre couldn’t eat the whole portion given to her so she gave it to Dimitri who had no trouble finishing it. Our friends had just main courses. One had a marinated salmon (M$175) that he liked and the other had the pasta with shell fish (M$160) that she said was good. For dessert our friends had the lemon-ginger sorbet (M$50) that was too gingery. We had the grape tort of the day (M$70) that was excellent. With coffee and drinks the bill was M$964 for four people and very enjoyable. We hope that the 2 Swedes and 1 Bolivian make it because their restaurant is lovely—the location at Los Senderos is not an asset.

2.8 R: El Pegaso, Corregidora 64, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, P.C. 90276, tel. 415-152-1351 (closed Wednesdays). This is the restaurant we chose for our very first dinner in San Miguel and it made a very good impression on us. It had been recommended and it lived up to the kudos. It’s a cute place with lots of gringos. We shared everything and started with a Scallop Ceviche (M$105) which was described as “sweet bay scallops marinated in lime juice, mixed with Serrano chiles, avocado and tomatoes, served with tortilla chips.” It was very tasty and the scallops were good (but there was no avocado). Our next course was “Filet of Red Snapper, cooked to order with white wine sauce” (M$155). We asked for it under-cooked and it came over-cooked. It was okay but too dry. It was accompanied by rice and mixed, sautéed vegetables. We had 2 beers M$30 x 2. We were brought bread that Dimitri said was good and butter with herbs in it. We were still hungry and so we had a “Mixed Salad” (M$55) with the house vinaigrette. The house vinaigrette was good and so was the salad. It had avocado, beets, carrots, tomatoes and other vegetables in it. Dinner cost M$375 plus tip. We would go back.

2.9 R: Cafe Rama, Calle Nueva 7 or Calle Nemesio Diez 7, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 425-154-9655. Atendido por Mario and he was good. We had the special salad “ensalada de sandia y queso de cabra, con menta, pistaches y reduccion de balsamico (watermelon and goat cheese salad with mint, pistachios and balsamic reduction)” for M$70. It was delicious and came with slices of a baguette made at Café Rama that was also very good. Dimitri was still hungry and ordered a side of roasted potatoes (papas asada) for M$40. They were also good. We also had a very good coffee there too M$40. We spent M$375 plus tip for that lunch and would (and have) recommended this restaurant. We have been back for lunch or brunch (on Sunday) and each time we have been happy. We have been told that their dinners are very good and that each night this restaurant has a pre fixe menu for M$200. On August 29, 2012 we were told that the creative chef there had left. We were told that until a new chef arrives we shouldn’t return.

We went back for lunch in the beginning of Sept. 2012 after, Jason, the previous chef, left to return to Canada. We had a very nice lunch. Jaimie, one of the owners, was working in the kitchen with the woman who has worked in the kitchen from the beginning. We had one Jicama Slaw salad and one polenta in a stew with tomatoes. Both were very good. The bread that was served is still made there but is being made with olive oil now. It’s good. Mario and Aileen are still the servers and very good at it too. Jaimie’s art is on the wall and the place is very nicely decorated. There is a new general manager and there will be a new chef arriving and will create a new menu, we were told. The menu that is being used is interesting to us and so we will be back, even before there is a new chef. We spent M$220 plus tip for lunch and were happy. Another time we went Dimitri had the special of the day “jambalaya” and Audre had a polenta. Both were good. The apple and walnut pie for dessert was very good too.

2.10 R: Cafe de la Parroquia Patio Restaurant, Jesus 11, Centro, tel. 415-152-3161 (closed Mondays). We went for lunch and we had a chicken soup and a sopa Azteca. They were both good. The restaurant gave us a juice of prickly pear which was very good. We spent M$140 plus tip and said we’d be back. We actually did go back for dinner at La Brasserie (see below) and had an exceptionally good meal and an unbelievably low price. At another lunch we had a carrot patty and salad that was interesting and tasty along with a tortilla filled with a Poblano cream combination that was also good.

2.11 R: Parador Del Cortijo, Carretara San Miguel de Allende-Dolores Hidalgo km 10, tel. 415-152-1700, e-mail: info@paradordelcortijo.com.mx,or paradordelcortijo@hotmail.com, web: www.paradordelcortijo.com.mx or parador2#prodigy.net.mx. We went because it was close to where we were living at Los Labradores and we needed a quick lunch on the day we moved in. We were the only ones there (besides some hotel guests). We ordered a vegetable soup (M$40) that was not interesting,a nacho-like thing called Nachos Mexicana (M$75) that was terrible and a salad (M$50) that was good. It was called Ensalada Cortijo (M$70) and had pimento, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocados, ham and queso fresco (ranchero). We spent about M$195 and we would go back but never order the nachos again. Sitting outside was lovely.

2.12 R: el Tomato, Mesones 62, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-154-6390, e-mail: eltomatosma@gmail.com, web: www.eltomato.com. It’s a pleasant space and we had an okay lunch. We ordered one mushrooms sautéed (M$75) and one vegetarian salad nicoise (M$80). Both were good, not great. We spent M$166 plus tip.

2.13 R: Restaurant at the Villa Rivera Hotel, Cuadrante No. 3, Col. Centro, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-152-0742, e-mail: ventas@villarivera.com, web: www.villarivera.com. We had a lovely lunch in the lovely garden with a view of the Parroquia and the smell of gardenias. We had one Chile Poblano Cream soup with panela cheese (M$50). It was really delicious. And we had one Minestrone (M$55) which was difficult to eat in the bowl because the noodles in it were so long. For dessert we ordered the Blintzes (crepes filled with cottage cheese, Philadelphia cream cheese with sweet cream and blueberries) for M$60. It was an original rendition, huge and too sweet for us. We spent M$200 plus tip for a (too much food for us) lunch.

2.14 R: Hecho en Mexico, Ancha de San Antonio 8, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., C.P. 37700, tel. 415-154-6383, e-mail: enemer100@hotmail.com. We had avoided Hecho en Mexico because we thought it was a gringo hangout just making hamburgers. We had a nice meal in a lovely courtyard. We shared everything as usual. We had one Pescado Cajun (M$92), described as “blackened tilapia with cajun spices” that was nicely prepared. It comes with 2 sides and we chose sweet potato casserole and jicama salad. We asked for 2 more sides: rice and nopales (each M$12). They were good too. We had one limonada (M$22) and would say the meal was a success. We spent M$138 plus tip.

2.15 R: Tio Lucas, Mesones #103, Centro, C.P. 37700, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-152-4996, e-mail: tiolucassma@hotmail.com, web: www.portalsanmiguel.com, www.inside-dentro.com. We sat in the courtyard which is beautifully decorated. It was crowded at 6 p.m. late Sunday comida/lunch-eaters. We shared everything as usual. We had their ceviche (M$140) and it was very good. That was followed by their “Cowboy steak” with roasted potatoes and vegetables (M$298). It was excellent and was served the way Audre likes it-red-on the bone (which she likes to gnaw). Dimitri sent his portion back for further cooking and, in the meantime, ate the mixed vegetables, including chayote, zucchini and other interesting vegetables. It was a very good meal with very good service. The food total was M$438 plus tip.

2.16 R: Pescau Del Mar, Jesus 21, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-152-8800, web: www.pescau.com. We looked at the name “pescau” and thought it would be a Portuguese restaurant. Evidently the word “pescau” is used in the southern part of Mexico and means fish. The style of cooking the fish at Pescau Del Mar is, confusingly, from north Mexico. The place is decorated well and the courtyard is lovely. Unfortunately the design of the tables and chairs is very uncomfortable. After a 2 hour lunch, Audre’s back was killing her. We had 2 dishes which we shared, both of which were original and very good. The first was a fish stew with cheese in a tomato-y base. For our main we had grilled octopus which was fresh and tender enough to be delicious. If it weren’t for the uncomfortable seating, we would return. Maybe you won’t be uncomfortable if you are younger and have a stronger back.

2.17 R: La Burger, Fracc. "El Cortijo", Carr. San Miguel de Allende-Dolores Hidalgo km 7.3 s/n, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-114-0073. It is a phenomenon. Many, many people recommended we try La Burger, saying it was nothing like we might expect. We don’t like hamburgers though. We learned that La Burger has “Cortes” (cuts of meat) cooked on a mesquite grill so we tried it. Fortunately, it wasn’t packed (like it often is). We had a good 400g steak and nice, crispy fries (M$200). We had enough to take home for a lunch. We accompanied our steak with a grilled Portobello mushroom dish that had a great flavor and was huge (M$120). We were impressed with their “formula”. We spent M$400 plus tip.

2.18 R: Socialitte, Correo 45, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-154-4816, e-mail: info@socialitte.com, web: www.socialitte.com. The view from the top terrace (how many flights up?) was magnificent. We were brought bread with a tomato and garlic topping that was good but too salty. We had our antipasti and mussels on the highest terrace with the great view and thern we were able to move downstairs (one floor) for our main courses because there was a deluge. Dimitri and Audre shared one veal scallopini with marsala sauce and one glass of wine. We split the cost of the antipasti with our friends and our bill was M$390. The food was good but too salty. The service was very good and we would recommend the restaurant. We spent M$390 plus tip.

2.19 R: Patsy's Place, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-185-2151, cel: 415-153-5303 Comida on Sunday costs M$300 per person and you eat what is served for the group. It is a very pleasant way to while away Sunday afternoon with the group of people who happen to be there that day. Patsy starts with appetizers and the guests stand around eating the finger food. Then you serve yourself from the buffet table and eat on the porch at a long table. The food was very good and we lucked out with the group we joined. One drink is included in the price.

2.20 R (with caveat): Dos Casas, Quebrada 101, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-154-4073, e-mail: info@doscasa.com.mx, web: www.doscasas.com.mx. There is a new chef, Dina Butterfield, and we had a very nice lunch inside, looking at the unusual art. We were the only ones there at the time and the service was good. We ordered the Marlin Semi Ahumado con aceite de ajo y chile morita (M$95). The semi-smoked marlin is from La Isla in San Miguel and it was delicious. The dish was well presented and well prepared. The other dish we ordered was Pasta with Roasted cauliflower, ricotta cheese, pine nuts and golden raisins (M$95). The ricotta was a bit over-whelming but Dimitri finished the pasta with no problem. The cauliflower was particularly sweet and delicious. We had a mango crumble for dessert that the dessert eater (Dimitri) didn’t like (he doesn’t like crumbles). We spent M$230 and we were happy. (We were also happy to learn that one of our favorite bakeries and restaurants—Cumpanio—is owned by the same people as Dos Casas.
) The second time we went, we went for dinner with 2 other couples and we thought that Dos Casas was disappointing. Our Beef Carpaccio was uninspired. The tuna was okay, but not particularly tasty. The 2 teaspoonfuls of couscous with it were silly. And there should have been a vegetable. On second thought, Dina Butterfield doesn’t “have it”.

2.21 R (with caveat): El Buen Cafe, La Casa Del Diezmo (the House of Tithes), Jesus 36, Centro, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), tel. 415-152-5807 The outdoor space is lovely but they were painting in the courtyard and the smell was not good. We sat inside and didn’t like our server. We ordered one Ensalada Verde with pears, Roquefort and spiced pecans (M$75). We had to ask for bread twice. The salad was fine and on the small-ish side for M$75. It was okay but we think it was a once-in-a-lifetime visit for us.

2.22 NR: 1826 Restaurant Rosewood San Miguel, Calle Nuevo 11 (Nemesio Diez 11), Colonia Centrol, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), tel. 415-152-9700. The ad in the newspaper said “Executive Chef Carlos Hannon prepares a unique French dinner celebrating the famous French holiday, Bastille Day.” We decided to try Restaurant 1826 and this special meal. We were told that there would be music starting at 8 p.m. so we made our reservation at 7:30 p.m. Our server, Antonio, seemed over-whelmed and probably wouldn’t be good even if he weren’t over-whelmed. There were 4 of us and he brought us 3 pieces of bread in a basket with very hard butter (which we all decided is unforgivable in a restaurant of that caliber). When we asked him for more bread, he never got around to it (someone else we asked did bring us more bread). Three of us had starters. Dimitri had a Tartare of Tuna (M$145) and was impressed. For Audre’s main she had the salmon with a dill sauce (M$219). Unfortunately it was over-cooked. Dimitri had the confit of pork (M$260) and didn’t think it was good (but he doesn’t like confit of anything, actually). Neither of us could finish our mains so we had lots to take home. With our meal we had a Norton Malbec (or actually two for M$480 each) and we liked that. The music started at about 8:30 p.m. and was not even remotely reminiscent of French music. We asked to see the regular dinner menu. The regular dinner menu of Restaurant 1826 had all of the items that the “unique French dinner celebrating the famous French holiday” had so we were all wondering what the hype was about. The consensus of the four of us was that this meal was mediocre. We wouldn’t recommend the restaurant. We split the bill and the share for the two of us was M$1104 plus tip.

One afternoon for lunch at the pool at the Rosewood we had their tiradito from the restaurant called “Agua” and it was very good so we haven’t discarded the food at the Rosewood altogether. The pool server, Leonardo, is a excellent and personable too.

2.23 NR: Cafe Monet, Zacateros 83, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), C.P. 37700, tel. 415-154-8348. The place is decorated eclectically with lots of art and antiques. A French conversation meeting was held there and we thought we should try it. It looks promising until you study the menu. There was really nothing on it that we wanted for dinner. Fortunately we had just been to a reception and so we weren’t hungry. We had a sopa Mexicana, a sopa del dia (which was a vegetable) and one glass of wine. Fortunately it wasn’t expensive. We spent M$95 plus tip and were under-whelmed. We went back with a large group and neither the kitchen nor the wait staff could cope. When we finally got our food, it wasn’t worth waiting for. There are people who go to the movie night at Café Monet, who like the owner and who like the food. We didn’t so we can’t recommend the place.

2.24 A: La Puertecita, Santo Domingo 75, Atsacadero, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-152-5011, web: www.lapuertecita.com. This was our worst meal in San Miguel. We went with another couple and they agreed with that assessment. We were the only ones in the dining room when we arrived. We placed our order with an inexperienced waiter when we first arrived. We never saw him again. We waited over an hour for our food to arrive. Other tables were being served and no one and nothing came to our table. We flagged down a waiter who was unpleasant as well as terrible. Still we got no food. When our food finally arrived, Dimitri’s pasta with meat ball dish was not edible. It was mush. The other dishes were salmon with a pesto sauce that came with mushy rice and vegetables and a stuffed chicken breast cut in small pieces that was disappointing. What happened to our orders? Did the inexperienced waiter quit before he put in our orders? Did the new Chef Miguel Angel Villafranco quit and the inexperienced server take over for him? Whatever the problem was, we all left very unhappy. The only reason that we had a good time was because our friends were entertaining. Dimitri and Audre spent M$650 (including 4 glasses of wine at M$90 each).

3. Ethnic Mexican

3.1 R: Ladies who cook at the Artesana San Miguel Saturday Organic Market at the Rosewood (Tianguis Orgánico San Miguel de Allende--TOSMA). In the back left corner of the area in which the market is housed, are a group of ladies who make a great lunch. Try it!

3.2 R : La Palapa, Calle Nueva #8, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto, It’s an outside, casual kind of place open for lunch. It was recommended for their fish tacos. Dimitri had 2 and Audre had one (each was $M25). The fish is steamed in tin foil with vegetables and it is good. It is served with a soft taco (otherwise known as a tortilla in Audre’s lexicon). We also had a cole slaw salad that was good (M$20). It was a fine lunch but probably a once in a lifetime experience.

3.3 R: El Correo, Correo 23, Centro, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), tel. 415-152-4951. This restaurant is very small—tables are very close to each other. We ended up talking to Loriann, the person at the next table, which was nice because she was entertaining. We ordered one Sopa de Tortilla (Azteca) that was good (M$64) and one Crema de Cilantro (M$58) that did not have panela cheese in it and it should have. We also shared a Chile de Nogada (M$85) that was served cold in the traditional way. We liked the one that we had served hot at Bugambilia on Sollano. We spent M$207 plus tip and probably will not return. But try it.

3.4 R: Felguera, Hotel Posada Carmina, Cuna de Allende, San Miguel de Allende, tel. 415-152-8888, e-mail: hotel@posadacarmina.com, web: www.posadacarmina.com. The courtyard is lovely with a fountain. For lunch we had one Crema de Chile Poblano (M$50) and one Crepes rellanas de panela en salsa huitlacoche (M$70). It was a nice lunch for M$120 and we would go back.

3.5 R: Posidita (Cuna de Allende 13--upstairs, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-154-8862) is “cocina tradicional Mexicana” and is good. We ordered too much and shared everything as usual. We started with “Nopal asado con queso ranchero” (M$55). Every item on the plate had been nicely grilled and it was a good dish—even the ranchero cheese which we usually don’t like. Next we shared the “Sopa Oaxaqueña” de frijol negro con queso fresco, crema, aguadate toque de chipotle’ (M$65). It was very good too and filling. By the time our main course arrived we were full. We ordered “Chamorro adobado con adobo de chile guajillo y especias” for M$155 and described as “lo dejamos reposar y se hornea lentamente para mantener sus jugos y suavidad. Se sirve con guacamole y frijoles.” The meat was indeed tender and tasty. Too bad we were so full we couldn’t finish it! The service was good and the view from our table of the Parroquia was excellent. We spent M$275 plus tip.

3.6 R: Kuni Doni, Sustainable Living Restaurant, Salida a Celaya #24, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-185-8314, e-mail: kunidonirestaurante@gmail.com, web: www.facebook.com/kunidonirestaurante. The space inside Kuni Doni is very pleasant. Kuni Doni means “flor de cocina” in the Otomi language. We had an order of “Portobello al ajillo” (M$65), a jugo de zanahoria (M$22) and a San Miguel juice made of Naranja, papaya, plantano y fresas (M$25). All was very good and the service was good too.

3.7 R: Casa de los Milagros, Relox 17, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. . 415-152-0097. It’s a fine courtyard although nothing special. It has a big screen TV on one wall like it’s a bar for sports fans. We ordered one seafood soup and one limonada. We were brought totopo and 2 salsas. One was a cubed tomato that was not too spicy. The other was a traditional salsa and hot. The seafood soup was, by far, better than any other we’ve had in the central highlands. Even though the seafood was frozen, it was tender and tasty. The broth was very good and it came with garlic bread. The accompaniments of onion, cilantro and limon were just right.

3.8 R: We had comida/a late lunch or early dinner on a Saturday afternoon at Mezzanine Bistro (Cuna de Allende 11, Nivel Mezzanine Dentro del Hotel Vista Hermosa, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-152-2799, web: www.mezzaninebistro.wordpress.com). We went to the top terrace and we were the only customers at the time. The view south, with the mountains in the background, was spectacular. Our table had an especially good view of the Parroquia. Our server was professional, friendly and good. We shared everything as usual and ordered a starter, a main and a dessert. For our starter we ordered the “Berenjena Rostizada con queso de cabra, arugala, almendra, moron y jitomate” (M$75). The dish was very good. For our main we ordered the “Carne de porco a alentejana” (M$140) which was described in English as Portuguese pork and clams in garlic, white wine and paprika. It was a very good dish and the pork was very tender. For guarniciones we ordered “Salteado de espinacas y hungos” (M$25) and “Gratin dauphinois” (M$30). Both were very good. The portion was big enough for two and we were happy. For dessert we ordered the “pastel de almendras” (M$50) and a coffee (M$30). The pastel was surprisingly moist and delicious. We spent M$350 plus tip and we recommend this restaurant.

3.9 R (with a caveat): Tacos Don Felix, Calle Fray Juan de San Miguel #15, Col. San Rafael, tel. 415-152-5719, e-mail: felix@tacosdonfelix.com, Only open Fri. and Sat. nights and Sun. from 2 to 9:30 p.m. People love this restaurant and highly recommend it. It was far from the center of town in a residential neighborhood. We called a taxi from the restaurant to take us back to our hotel, El Molino from Don Felix on the Salida Real de Queretaro, and it cost M$50, M$20 more than usual. It’s a cute place and it seemed well run. Don Felix was everywhere and quite charming. His young son or nephew, Emillio, in a waiter’s outfit, was adorable, serving dessert. There were lots of gringos there. We were served an amuse bouche of a taco with green chili sauce. We shared everything and ordered a bone marrow soup to start (“medulla”) for M$35. The bone marrow was delicious and there was lots of it. The tomato soup base it was in was uninspired. Our next course was “Enchiladas huitlacoche y salsa verde;” huitlachoche is the special fungus that people rave about (M$135). We couldn’t taste anything unusual or special about the sauce. We decided that evening that we really don’t appreciate standard Mexican fare—we like Alta Cucina Mexicana. We spent about M$200 plus tip.

3.10 NR: El Manatial--La Sirena Gorda, Barranca #78, C.P. 37700, tel. 415-110-2007. This place was recommended by the chef of The Restaurant and his other recommendations were excellent. We didn’t like the look of the place…too much like a bar. The menu wasn’t interesting so we tried one a tostada de camaron that was a joke for M$60 (and left to find a better place for lunch).

3.11 NR: Pueblo Viejo, Umaran 6, (just off the Jardin), San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, tel. 415-152-4977. It has a nice interior design and we were told that what we ordered is not typically on menus. Since we weren’t impressed we won’t recommend the restaurant. We shared everything and ordered one “Dried Noodle” described as “traditional dried noodle by ‘Dona Anita’ served with avocado, pork rinds, cream, chipotle, chile and fresh cheese” or “Fideos secos, tradicionales fideos secos de Dona Anita con guarnicion de aguacate, chicharron, crema, chipotle, queso fresco” (M$50). The noodles were thin and short with a tomato sauce—not too tasty. Around the noodles was the avocado and the chicharron. The cream was on top. This is not a dish that is going to get much press. For our main we had a dish from the farm (or yo ni pio)—the Poblano Mole Chicken Breast (M$150) served with rice and corn tortillas (“Pechuga con Mole Poblano acompañada con arroz y tortillas de maiz”). The mole was more chocolaty than most. It was good. However the chicken breast was thin and dry and very difficult to cut with the dull knife we had. We also ordered Grilled Vegetables (M$45) or Verduras a la parilla. They were very tough and dry (how can you grill a carrot and turn it into wood?) This was not a memorable meal.

3.12 NR: Flash Fish (de Miguel Kegel), Salida Celaya #71A, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), cel. 415-104-2193, e-mail: flashfishom@gmail.com, web: www.flashfishrestaurant.com. Much as we liked Miguel Kegel when we met him, this restaurant is not our kind of place so we can’t recommend it. It is like a crab shack—very down-market. The menu has only the following categories: Tacos y Quekas (short for Quesadillas), Coctels y Tostadas, Sopas, Ensaladas, Fish + Chips, and Sushi. We talked to our friendly waiter and asked if we could get a filet of fresh fish grilled. He said that they could prepare a plate of grilled sea bass with rice and salad. We ordered one and they charged us M$60. We also ordered one fish ceviche (M$50) that was well-prepared and was brought with 2 tostatas. We were brought amuse bouche of caldo/broth of camarones that was very tasty. We had one limonada con chia (M$25) and one agua de Jamacia (hibiscus) for M$20. The dinner was good but this is not our kind of place.

3.13 NR: El Rinconcito, Refugio # 7 North, Col. San Antonio, P.C. 37750, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-154-4809. This restaurant was recommended and we went with friends who suggested it. It is not our kind of place. We would rather not eat antojito-like food. We shared the shrimp and spinach quesadillas and a trout sautéed in garlic and butter. We didn’t like the quesadillas; the trout was okay, fortunately not overcooked. We had a side order of nopales (M$28) and two waters (M$28) and weren’t impressed. Our bill was M$254 plus tip.

4. Other Ethnic

4.1 HR: La Cartuja, Hernandez Macias No. 107, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-152-2057. We recommend this Spanish-inspired restaurant even though it is expensive. The rooms are atmospheric and pleasant. On every surface (not otherwise occupied) are jars of pickling this or that. We were greeted by Jesus, the owner who has been running the restaurant since 1968--for 44 years. The building is also his family home. The name of the restaurant comes from a Spanish monastery but it also means the “royal seal” or something like the Egyptian cartouche. Jesus was the server and at the time we arrived there were 2 other occupied tables and he told us he had 2 more reservations for that night. We were brought what Jesus called Spanish tapas—a serano ham, a queso de cabre with olive oil, pickled mushrooms, a cow cheese and warm bread. Jesus said that they cook traditional Spanish food. There was no menu—Jesus told us what we could choose from: a stew with favas, Serrano ham, blood sausage and chorizo, a rabbit dish in a red wine sauce, a paella, or a cod dish. We chose the fava bean stew and it was creamy and delicious. The other main we chose was the rabbit. The sauce was delicious. Unfortunately the rabbit was dry. After our mains, we were brought a digestivo de manzana. For dessert we chose an arroz con leche that Dimitri thought was good and a Natilla Catalana con arroz. It had a crispy top and it was good. With dinner we drank 1 ½ carafe of house wine (that was fine). Our food bill was M$1100 and our wine bill was M$330. It was expense but very good and entertaining.

4.2 R: Sicilia in Bocca, Salida a Queretaro #91 (Corner of Piedras Chinas), San Miguel de Allende, Gto.,Tel. 415-152-0406. After the rain stopped we drove over to Sicilia in Bocca and parked in the free parking at the Mirador. We had a wonderful meal but we were worried. There was a table with 30 people at it that hadn’t ordered yet. The kitchen assured us that they would serve us first (and we didn’t have much choice at that point) so we stayed. We ordered a antipasto for one person and shared it. It was huge and had delicious items. A rolled and stuffed eggplant, an eggplant sautéed in garlic, a slice of pizza, 1 crunchy balls that we have never had before and several other things that we can’t remember. We also had one order of spaghetti with vegetables—eggplant, zucchini, capers and other good ingredients in a tomato sauce. It was very good. We had 3 glasses of the house red wine and we were impressed. We were glad we went. The bill was around M$350 plus tip.

4.3 R: Bhaji, comida hindu, Cuadrante #34-A, Centro, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-152-6439 or cell 442-186-5611, e-mail: bhaji.qro@hotmail.com, web: www.bhaji.com.mx. This restaurant opened in August 2012-ish and is tiny. Reservations are mandatory. The server, Frank, is good, professional and friendly. We started with Bhaji (M$34) described as slices of onion and spices friend in a crispy batter. With that was brought 3 salsas that were good. We ordered 2 mains; one was the Kashmiri in an exotic sauce of coconut, pineapple, peaches and cream (M$98) with chicken. It was very tasty but without the peaches Audre thinks. The other main we ordered was the Ceylon with vegetables (M$98). It too had a creamy sauce and we asked for the spiciness to be tempered. Both mains came with rice. We also ordered one Tarka Dahl (M$38) of lentils, onion and tomato, one Raita (M$40) with cucumber, tomato in a mint and cumin yogurt and two Naan bread (M$20 each). With our meal we had one salty lassi. Everything was very tasty and good. We enjoyed our meal. We spent M$400 plus tip.

They have another Bhaji Restaurant in Queretaro at Independencia #72, Centro (a una cuadra de Plaza de Armas), Queretaro, tel. 212-5821 or 442-322-5606.

4.4 R: Barushi, Fabrica La Aurora, Loc. 2A, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-152-0149, e-mail: barushi-sma@hotmail.com. We have only had lunch at Barushi. Each time we have had a miso soup (M$35) or a tempura dish and a stir-fried udon noodle dish (M$85) and each dish was good. We’ve been back a number of times for lunch and we typically spend M$131 plus tip.

4.5 R: Vivoli Cafe Trattoria & Bar, Hernandez Macias #66, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-152-0045, web: www.vivolicafe.com. We ate dinner with a huge group at this restaurant and the kitchen and wait staff did a great job. The space for a big group was good too. We had one Eggplant Parmigiano (M$69.50) and one Linguine con vongole (M$119). Both dishes were well-prepared and well served. The restaurant serves good bread with a good pesto sauce. With dinner we had two glasses of Malbec (M$119). Our total was M$328 plus tip and well worth it.

4.6 R: Mivida or Mi Vida, Hernandez Macias 97, Centro, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-152-7482, e-mail: info@mividarestaurant.com, web: www.mividarestaurant.com. We went because we had heard good things and looking into the restaurant, it looked nice. Unfortunately the main room was being used for a special wine pairing dinner (and the service later in the evening suffered). We sat near the street. We had three dishes: one of us had the Ravioli filled with spinach (M$160), one had the osobuco made with pork (M$190) and one had an appetizer of quail with sweet potato and spinach sautéed with cubed tomatoes and pine nuts (M$150). The osobuco was the stand-out favorite, with the quail and the side of spinach as the next best. We shared a Carmenere (M$460) that was good. For dessert we had the trio of chocolate (M$100) that was wonderful and an ice cream (M$85). It was a very nice meal and we spent M$1135 plus tip. Davide from Genova, who owns the restaurant, thanked us for coming. We like that!

We had a nice dinner the second time we went, but didn’t like any of the servers working that night—really unpleasant with attitude. Piero, one of the owner/chefs, was working, not Davide. He was charming. The food was good. The bread, made and sold there, is very good, as are the crackers and crostini. We had one ravioli with spinach and ricotta and one quail starter that was enough for a main course. We sat in the main dining room on comfortable chairs this time. The music was nice but a noisy exhaust fan from the kitchen was annoying. The restaurant isn’t perfect.

4.7 R: Cafe Firenze, San Antonio #2 (near the Parroquia de San Antonio), San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., P.C. 37750, tel. 415-121-0763, web: cafefirenzesanmiguel.com. The first time we ate there, we were with 6 other people. The restaurant has beautiful views and a nice terrace. Inside it is nicely decorated but very noisy. The food was very good, the house wine not so good. The service was very good too. The second time we went, there were 4 of us. It was lovely sitting outside on the terrace. The noise level was high, however. We had a very good meal and excellent service. We shared the octopus and it was delicious. Then we shared the risotto with mushrooms. It was also very good. Each couple shared an order of grouper fish that was nicely cooked and served with mashed potatoes and vegetables. We all enjoyed the meal. We spent about M$600 a couple with a M$90 corkage fee and 2 extra glasses of wine.

4.8 R: Restaurante Italiano (de Andrea), Carretara San Miguel de Allende a Dolores Hidalgo km 7.4, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-120-3481. The purpose-built restaurant is pleasant although there isn’t art on the wall yet. The view of the campo is lovely. The service was excellent and our meal was very good. We had pasta with basil and tomato that was very good and cordero that was very good too. We spent M$390 plus M$60 tip. We would recommend this restaurant.

We went again on a Sunday night and had a fine meal. We had had a big Sunday brunch so we just wanted a light dinner. Our waiter this time was laconic but Juan, the server we had had the first time we visited, recognized us and greeted us warmly, making up for the current waiter. There were other diners there, including a big group. Our service didn’t suffer. We ordered one green salad (M$80) and one Fettuccine with mariscos (M$160). Both were very good and the clams in the fettuccine were the size Dimitri likes and he said they were tasty. The space still had not been decorated, it was noisy (with nothing to absorb the sound) and there were too many dead flies all over (why didn’t the servers sweep them off the window sills? And why didn’t they have candles to discourage flies?) Otherwise we liked the meal.

Another time we went, we hosted 5 of us. Andrea was there and we had his attention. He brought us salads with sliced meat, a risotto, a fish and our favorite, zabaglione, for dessert. It was really fun but the food was just okay. We spent M$2435 plus tip.

4.9 R: Pizza Pig, Carratera San Miguel de Allende Dolores Hidalgo km 5.5 (entroque a Taboada), San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-110-2153 (or 415-213-3145?). Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/PizzaPigRe.... We spent M$145 for medium pizza plus tip. It was very good.

4.10 R: Chamonix, Sollano 17, San Miguel de Allenda (SMA), Gto. tel. 415-154-8363. The patio of this restaurant that bills itself as French is lovely and there was a little breeze. We thought the inside was well designed too. We ordered too much but everything was good. We started with the red snapper with stuffed mushroom (M$195). It was a very large and thick steak that was cooked perfectly. The mushroom was served with a little lettuce. It was a very nice dish and enough for a main course. However, we also ordered the Roasted Free Range Chicken with orange sauce and mashed sweet potato (M$155). The chicken looked more like the size of a cornish hen but it was good and so were the accompaniments. We took half of it home. There wasn’t anything for dessert that Dimitri wanted. It was a nice meal. We spent M$350 plus tip. At another dinner we had a very good meal with very good service.

4.11 R: La Basserie at Cafe de la Parroquia (La Basserie is open for dinner on Tuesday to Saturdays), Jesus 11, Centro, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-152-3161. We had been to Café de la Parroquia for lunch and it was good. It was recommended that we try La Brasserie (when it would be open for dinner). It was an excellent meal and it cost M$240/US$18 (without wine). There were specials and those were what we chose. We started with Clams in White Wine Sauce. The clams were the perfect size and delicious, as was the wine broth. It had celery in it too that added a bit of crunch. The clams came with either fries or pasta. We chose linguini with a tomato sauce that was very good. Then we ordered the salmon special that had a mango sauce and came with rice and asparagus with mushrooms. The salmon was beautifully cooked and the fresh mangos were sweet and delicious in the sauce. We were very happy and would recommend this restaurant.

4.12 R: Casa Payo, Parrilla Argentina, Zacateros #26, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-152-7277, web: www.casapayo.com. There were 14 people attending the Social Newcomers Club dinner at Casa Payo (Parrilla Argentina, Zacateros #26, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-152-7277, web: www.casapayo.com) and the owner, Juan Paulo, did a great job serving, making sure that the kitchen was keeping up and that we were all happy. We were impressed with both the food and the service! The courtyard was very nice and there was a guitar player and singer entertaining. Juan Paulo provided everyone with a free tequila and allowed everyone to bring wine without corkage. He served good bread with a chimichurri sauce that was very good and a salsa that he said was spicy. Dimitri and Audre shared everything and started with the veal sweetbreads which came with grilled onion. For our main, we ordered lamb kabobs rare with grilled vegetables and rice. We ordered an additional side of spinach. The grilled vegetables were actually steamed and the spinach took a long time to arrive. The kabobs were very good—cooked the way we asked for them. Juan Paulo brought everyone a Mexican after dinner drink that was a coffee liquor and good. Everyone had a great time and the restaurant did a terrific job. We spent about M$350.

4.13 R (with caveat): Fenicia, Zacateros #73, San Miguel de Allende, tel. 415-154-7874, e-mail:feniciasm@yahoo.com. This restaurant bills itself as Lebanese. We ordered one “Zahle with hummos, babagganugh, falafel (2), tabbule and kafta” (M$75) and it each item was good and tasty. The service was pleasant and the place was nice enough but it is only marginally Lebanese and we probably won’t return.

4.14 NR: Venus Lounge for Thai Food, Mesones 74, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-154-4120, e-mail: venusloungesm@gmail.com. The space is kind of nice (we sat near a water feature), it was full and there were live musicians playing. We had high hopes but were disappointed. We started with a Tom Yum soup for M$130 (described as tangy lemon grass with shrimp). It had no lemon grass in it, no kafir lime and nothing authentic about it. Our next dish was Thai Red Curry with chicken served with steamed rice (M$120). It too was disappointing. For dessert we ordered a sticky rice with mango (M$65). It was too sweet with sweetened condensed milk on it. The owner, Sam, came to talk (which we like) but he was kind of a disheveled kid who we didn’t relate to. When we didn’t eat the dessert, he took it off the bill which was nice. The restaurant has been open for 1 ½ years and it is obviously pleasing some people (but not us). BTW, at Luna de Queso (Salida a Celaya 51a, 4120, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto), we saw dried kafir lime and at the Ignacio Ramirez market in San Miguel Centro we saw fresh lemongrass. Go figure…

4.15 NR: Orquidea Restaurant & Bar, Umaran 36, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-150-7606, cell: 415-100-8845, e-mail: orquideasanmiguel@gmail.com. We went because it was just opened in August 2012 and we wanted to try what their card says is authentic Thai food in San Miguel. We went with friends and sat in the back at a table (away from the bar). Unfortunately there was a loud group of young people drinking in the same area who made it difficult for us to hear each other. We were very disappointed in the food. It turns out the same Asian woman whose food we experienced at Venus Lounge is cooking at Orquidea (and is an owner as well). We shared everything and ordered Vietnamese rolls which were stuffed with lettuce and had no mint, cilantro, vermicelli and had only one tiny shrimp. A peanut sauce was served with it that was too gloppy. We also ordered dumplings that were fried and served with a sweet sauce. They were okay but tasteless. For our mains, we ordered one baked fish and one salmon. The sauces for both fish were the same and had almost no flavor. All of our criticisms of our meal at Venus are applicable to Orquidea. The service and the servers were fine.

4.16 NR: China Palace, Mesones 57 (at Relox), San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto, tel. 415-154-5360. We felt like trying this restaurant and now that we have, we wouldn’t recommend it. The courtyard is not lovely and the food is not very good. We had a hot and sour soup that was good. We also had steamed dumplings and a cold noodle dish. Both weren’t good. We spent M$160 plus tip.

4.17 NR: Oko Noodle Bar, Plaza Alhondiga, Carr. San Miguel-Celaya, Km. 1, Loc. 7, La Lejona 2da Secc., San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-110-3283, cel: 415-114-2293, e-mail: cggavito@gmail.com, web: okonoodlebar.com. We went because it was recommended. The space is nice although the seating is uncomfortable. Carlos Gavito is one of the owners (and hardly ever smiles) and does his Asian wife. Neither is particularly personable or good with customers. We had one Vietnamese Cold Roll (M$45) with peanut sauce and sweet chili sauce. It also had wasabi on the plate. The roll was over-filled with vermicelli and had few other ingredients: a couple of shreds of carrot, cabbage and lettuce. There was no mint, no basil, no cilantro, no shrimp. It was practically tasteless and fell apart when trying to eat it. We ordered on Pho Bo Vietnamese (M$80?) described as a beef soup with wide rice noodles that had Thai basil, cilantro and bean sprouts accompanying it. The broth was good although lacked an authentic taste. It had duck in it, not meat. Dimitri thought it was good. We also ordered a Phad Thai (M$120) with chicken. It was only okay; it did not have enough herbs or taste to be interesting. During the meal we were bothered by constant low the sound of a motor. We wouldn’t return. We spent about M$255.

4.18 A: Casablanca, Hidalgo 34, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-154-6070, e-mail: restacasablanca@yahoo.com.mx. We went with the Social Newcomers Club and it was awful. There were 15 people at our table and the kitchen coul

Nov 19, 2012
aledm in Mexico

Food in San Miguel de Allende

Have a look at our "2012 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM" at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/878436

Nov 19, 2012
aledm in Mexico

Bakeries in San Miguel de Allende

Before you make any decision, talk to Miguel at Cumpanio (Correo 29, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., P.C. 37700, tel. 415-152-2327, web: www.cumpanio.com). While we agree the sweets at Petit Four are very good, Miguel is willing to try whatever you want and is very personable. We like Cumpanio's Danish pastries very, very much. Their bread, BTW, is the best in town (our opinion of course). There is a tiny cupcake store near the corner of Canal and Hidalgo (on the west side of the street).

Aug 10, 2012
aledm in Mexico

2012 Santa Fe, NM Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM

Generally no attitude. We tip on the basis of the service--not an automatic anything.

Jul 10, 2012
aledm in Southwest

Our Meal in El Paso at the Texas Roadhouse

We only took our overnight suitcases into the Comfort Inn. Consequently our car was still fully loaded in the parking lot of the Comfort Inn (supposedly secure) and we didn’t want to drive to a restaurant where we’d have to leave it exposed. Close to our hotel was the Texas Roadhouse, a franchise chain we had never heard of (Texas Roadhouse, 5010 North Desert Blvd., El Paso, TX 79912, tel. 912-832-0333, web: texasroadhouse.com). Deserray, at our front desk, gave us a 10% off discount coupon for the Texas Roadhouse and told us she loved the bread they make. We walked over in the 100° F heat (but there was a breeze).

We entered another world—one we had never experienced. The person who seated us asked if we’d ever been to a Texas Roadhouse before. When we said “no” she started to reel off all of the features of their restaurant (“hand cut steaks, fall-off-the bone ribs, made-from-scratch sides, fresh baked breads”) but she was speaking so fast that we only caught a third of what she was saying—and we had her repeat it 3 times! No matter, we knew what we wanted: 1 order to share of the “Fall-Off-The-Bone Ribs,” half slab, for $12.29. That came with a choice of 2 sides. We chose a house salad with blue cheese dressing and a baked sweet potato. Our enthusiastic server, Mayra, asked if we wanted the sweet potato “fully loaded?” We asked what that meant and she said “filled with marsh mellow and caramel sauce”. We asked for the sweet potato plain and for some plain butter, wondering if there could be anything more vile that could be done to a sweet potato. On the table was a big container of peanuts in the shell and we started munching them. They were good. We were brought the “fresh baked bread” and it was squishy (Wonder Bread-like) rolls that were sweet-ish. With the bread came a sweet butter that had cinnamon in it that we thought was awful-really foul. Our house salad came and was surprisingly good, crispy lettuce and filled with tomatoes and carrots. We asked for the dressing on the side and an extra plate and there was plenty of salad for the two of us. At about this time, one of the chirpy greeters brought us a gift that is given to all first time Texas Roadhouse guests of a bag of peanuts with a coupon for our next visit giving us a free appetizer. There is a great deal of enthusiasm with each of the servers—on the back of their T-shirts it says “I love (with a heart) my job.” As we looked around we saw that the other diners were 20, 30, 40, 50 pounds overweight. At about this time, our ribs arrived with some extra BBQ sauce. The ribs were as advertised, fall-off-the-bone, and delicious, as was the BBQ sauce. And the half rack was a lot of meat—too much for us but we finished it anyway. The baked sweet potato (unadorned) was kind of mashed and re-stuffed into the skin and was very good. The manager of the restaurant, Frank Garcia, came to welcome us and he too was Mr. Enthusiasm. He recited the special features of this restaurant and asked us if we liked the ribs. It was kind of fun to have all this attention as newcomers—we wondered what they do for their loyal return visitors. The next shock was the bill—the total price of our meal (and we were stuffed) was $12.1,7 after the discount and with the tax, but before the tip for Mayra. (We brought the rolls we didn’t eat and our gift bag of peanuts to Deserray at our hotel because she said she loves them.)

Jun 21, 2012
aledm in Chains

2012 Santa Fe, NM Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM

NOTE: we always share our meals, typically ordering one starter, one main and one dessert for the two of us. That makes a big difference in the cost of our meals and the expansion of our waistlines. We don’t have the kitchen split the meals because Audre doesn’t eat as much as Dimitri. We just ask for an extra plate and Audre takes what she thinks she should eat. On our new regime, we rarely have wine or beer with our meals. Frankly, we feel better the next day.

Next item of note: we wanted to have ethnic one Sunday night in Santa Fe and found the two we wanted to go to were closed that night. Plan accordingly!

ALE and DM discussed adding ratings to our restaurant reviews and compromised on the following ratings:

HR: Highly recommended
R: Recommended and R++: Recommended almost as much as HR
NR: Not recommended
A: Awful

Okay, here goes:

1. Upscale

1.1 HR: We went to Geronimo (724 Canyon Rd., Santa Fe, NM 87501, tel. 505-982-1500, www.geronimorestaurant.com) because everyone said it was the best restaurant in Santa Fe. With that kind of hype, we thought we would be disappointed. On the contrary, Geronimo exceeded our expectations. The front room where we sat at a banquette was classically elegant. The restaurant is in a building that was built in 1756 and it has a number of rooms for diners. It was a chilly day in Santa Fe and when we arrived (we were one of the first) we thought the room was freezing, even with our wraps. The maitre made it warmer and we got comfortable. Our server, Steve, was friendly, professional and knowledgeable. We liked him. Dimitri took several photos of the art on the wall by Ashley Collins because he liked it a lot. Our food runner (from Guatemala) brought us bread—three kinds actually: a flat bread that had a piquant kick to it (that Audre loved), a roll of green chile and cheddar that had a wonderful taste and a sourdough roll that was more traditional. We shared everything, as usual, and decided to have 2 appetizers, one main and one dessert. There were a couple of appetizers that sounded good and it was difficult to decide. We chose the “Wild Mushroom Madeira Bisque, Asparagus & Scallions” ($12) from the Vegetarian Tasting Menu, followed by the “Duo of Tuna Feuille de Brick & Tartare, Petite Buttermilk Pancakes, Hoisin Green Garlic Sauce & Wasabi Aioli” ($18). The soup was outstanding and was more than enough for the two of us. The feuille were wonderful and the sauces great. The 4 pancakes were light and perfect for the tartare. We were having a great eating experience and we decided to accompany the meal with a bottle of Hall Sauvignon Blanc Napa ($40). That was special for us (on our new regimen) and we enjoyed it. For our main we chose the “Fiery Sweet Chile and Honey Grilled Mexican White Prawns, Jasmine Almond Rice Cakes, Frisee’ Red Onion Salad & Yuzu Basil Aioli” ($35). Another wonderful dish (that we couldn’t finish and so we brought one prawn home for lunch—it was large! It was a great addition to a salad). We had to try Geronimo’s desserts so we ordered one “Coconut & Jasmine Ice Cream Bombe, Blueberry Soup, Vanilla Cake and Feuille de Brick Tuille” ($10). It was yummy but we were stuffed. What a wonderful dining experience. We spent $142.42 plus tip.

1.2 R++: The chatter on the web was good about Restaurant MartÍn (526 Gallisteo St., Santa Fe, NM 87501, tel. 505-820-0919, web: www.restaurantmartinsantafe.com) so we went. We decided to sit inside because it was windy in the garden. There were a series of rooms in the house and we had one to ourselves but where we could see and be entertained by the diners coming into the restaurant. Our food runner brought us water (we decided not to have wine) and bread and butter. The bread was sliced but good (from a bakery in Albuquerque)—some baguette and some whole grain. Charles, our server, was pleasant, professional and knowledgeable but a little aloof. The flatware was Nambé and we liked having the local company’s wares used in the restaurant. The cuisine at Restaurant MartÍn is described as New American and it was. And, the dishes were composed so that they were particularly photogenic. We shared everything as usual. We started with the “Blue Lump Crab Salad, Mango purée, compressed watermelon, Marcona Almond flatbread, avocado pudding, crispy shallots, curry flavors” ($17). It was beautiful and it was delicious. The crab was sweet and the watermelon very intense. Each taste was distinct and very good (Audre didn’t taste any curry flavors, however). We were on a roll! For our entrée we had the “Alaskan Halibut with a pea purée swirl, sitting on artichokes, mussels, French breakfast radish and rock shrimp, accompanied by parsnip purée and bathed in a sweet corn nage” ($32). Another triumph! The fish was perfectly cooked and, again, the little tastes were well-defined. We shared one dessert, “Honey Cylinders, filled with lemon curd cremeux, and accompanied by blueberry panacotta, cantaloupe sorbet, apricot droppings and cherry droppings” ($9). The dish also had a beautiful swirl of cilantro mint sauce and crispy roasted puffed rice that the chef makes in-house. The honey cylinders were crunchy and sweet to the correct degree. We loved it. We also had one coffee ($4).The meal was a delight. We spent $67 plus tip.

1.3 R++: We had a great meal at Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi (a Rosewood Hotel, 113 Washington Ave., Santa Fe, NM 87501, tel. 505-988-3030). We liked our server, Hope, who was friendly, knowledgeable, professional and personable. Our food runner, Adriana, was lovely too. The restaurant had a fair number of people and a nice buzz. There was a guitarist playing beautifully-Spanish inspired music. We were brought lavache (kind of dry), sourdough rolls (good) and wheat rolls (very good) with flavored butter while we perused the menu. We shared everything as usual and decided to have a half bottle of Alberti Malbec ($25) because the price of two glasses of Malbec would have been $26. We enjoyed it. We started with the “Duck Enchilada Molé, pico de gallo and cilantro sour cream” ($14). The mole was yummy and we really liked the dish. Around this time Executive Chef Juan Bochenski (Argentinean mother and a father with a Polish heritage) came to chat (which we love). He said that he and his staff have been experimenting with the mole to make it perfect, with the right spiciness. For our entrée we had the “Achiote Chile Roasted Duck Breast, plantain purée, tinga onions, orange-tomatillo gastrique ($27). It was a delicious dish. The onion preparation was wonderful. With our entrée, we had a side of grilled asparagus that we liked ($8). We decided that there wasn’t a dessert we wanted and that we were full. We had a very nice evening and spent $80.06 plus tip.

1.4 R: We went to Las Fuentes Restaurant (The Bishop's Lodge Ranch Resort & Spa, 1297 Bishop's Lodge Rd., PO Box 2367, Santa Fe, NM 87501, tel. 505-629-4822, web: www.bishopslodge.com) after a long day of driving and because it was convenient. We were delighted with our meal there. Our server Juan was professional, chatty and good. The room was infused with evening sun and it was lovely, with interesting original western art on the walls by W. E. Rollins. We were brought bread rolls and corn muffins that had a tasty bit of spiciness. Along with the bread was goat butter and regular cow’s butter (we couldn’t tell the difference in tastes frankly). We shared everything as usual and had 2 entrées. One was a “Vegetarian green Chile Pot Pie, prairie thyme shell, organic vegetables, ricotta and garlic mushroom foccacia” ($17) that was a really good creamy (and not spicy) rendition. We also had the “Chimayo Chile Glazed Duck Breast, sweet potato and bacon hash, wilted greens, red chile confit, Spanish lavender honey jus, honey powder” ($28). The red chile confit had quite a kick to it and it was very tasty. The meal was a success! It cost $47 plus tip.

1.5 R: The room at Terra @ Encantado Resort (198 State Rd., Santa Fe, NM 87506, tel. 505-946-5800, web: www.encantadoresort.com) is decorated nicely and casually elegant, but the tables didn’t have tablecloths (although the photographs on their website show tables dressed with tablecloths). We think a restaurant looks better with them. Our server, Craig, was good and knowledgeable. He was incredulous when we said we just wanted to drink plain, non-iced, water. He went through a litany of no wine, no iced tea, no sodas? Then he accepted our answer. We shared everything as usual. First we were brought a basket of breads: a lavache, a corn bread and a baguette with a flavored butter. We started with “Tuna Tartare, blue corn blinis, wasabi flying fish caviar, grilled scallions” ($18). It was a great dish and our only complaint was that there wasn’t enough sour cream for the 4 blinis. For our main we chose the “Pan-seared Alaskan Halibut, baby artichokes, cherry tomatoes, wild arugula salad” ($32). This dish was also very good. We ordered a side of “Crispy Kale” ($8) too and it wasn’t needed. There was plenty of food for the two of us. Our only complaint with the kale was that it wasn’t uniformly crispy. For dessert we shared the hazelnut cheesecake ($10). It was very lovely meal and evening. We spent $72.51 plus tip.

1.6 R: We went to Ristra because we had heard and read good things about it (548 Agua Fria St., Santa Fe, NM 87501, tel. 505-982-8608, web: www.ristrarestaurant.com). We decided to sit inside. We had one room in an old house to ourselves—most everyone else was sitting outside on those hard, wooden, folding chairs. We had a banquette to ourselves and were a bit lonely, frankly. Our server, Robert was very good and so was the young man who brought the food and cleared. We were brought okay bread and butter. As usual, we shared everything and had one starter, one main and one dessert. We started with “Sea Scallops en ‘papillotte’, spinach, spices and saffron sauce” ($15). The papillotte was crunchy and good; the scallops were sweet and delicious and the sauce was wonderful. Because we were sitting side-by-side on the banquette, we were able to share our dishes (without spilling on the starched, white tablecloth). For our main, we shared the “Pistachio & Almond Crusted Pacific Sea Bass, Fava Bean Polenta, Cherry Tomato and Flying Fish Roe Fumet” ($32). It was a wonderful dish. We asked for the fish to be “rare” and it was—maybe even a little under-cooked. The fava bean polenta was good but Audre couldn’t actually taste the fava bean or the flying fish roe. For dessert we shared the “Berries and Honey Ice Tuile” ($8.50). The honey ice cream was delicious and the tuile was nice and crunchy. We had a delightful meal. We spent $63.30 plus tip. Also, the owner stopped by which we like very much. He told us about his other restaurant, Azur, a Mediterranean one.

1.7 R: We went to Santacafé (231 Washington Ave., Santa Fe, NM 87501, tel. 505-984-1788, web: www.santacafe.com) because we wanted to have lunch near the center during our 10 mile bike ride. It is an important Santa Fe restaurant and we wanted to try it.There is a lovely courtyard and an historic house with many small rooms that have been made into dining rooms. We decided to sit inside because it was windy and cool out. Our server was Henry and he was pompous and not terribly well informed about the food preparation. We were brought bread regular bread, a dry-ish brioche with chilies in it and a lavache kind of cracker that was also dry. From the Sunday Brunch menu we started with “Shitake Mushroom & Cactus Spring Roll, with Southwestern Ponzu” ($11). It was a big order and the spring rolls were crispy and filled with tasty morsels. Audre wanted to have a sandwich and Dimitri wanted to have the baby arugula salad. Since we share everything, Dimitri agreed to share the “Grilled Chicken Tenders Sandwich on House made Ciabatta with Roasted Bell Peppers, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Asadero Cheese, Chipotle Aioli and Parsley Fries” ($12) We thought the thin, crisp fries were outstanding. The sandwich ingredients got lost in the bread (which we didn’t like—too dry). We didn’t have anything to drink (we were biking) and there wasn’t a dessert we wanted. The total was $24.90 plus tip.

1.8 NR: We went to The Compound (653 Canyon Rd., Santa Fe, NM 87501, tel. 505-982-4353, web: www.compound.com ) because it had been highly recommended. We were under-whelmed. The house is large, with a back garden. We sat inside, near the garden at first. Dimitri sat in a chair (that he said was too low for the table) and Audre sat on the kind of banquette-type, built in seat. We had a difficult time finding a table we liked. We finally settled on a kind of banquette table in the corner (where both of us sat on the built in seats) away from the door going the outside. It wasn’t too comfortable either—the table was too small. But there were nice, white, starched tablecloths. On the lovely table were salt and pepper shakers that looked like they were from a diner—too downscale. Next problem: our server, Liroh, was too affected. Our food runner brought us bread from Sage Bakery which was totally uninteresting. It was sliced (very Wonder bread-ish, not upscale dining-ish) and it was a slice of whole wheat and a slice of olive. We shared everything as usual. Our starter was a Compound Classic of “Sweetbreads and Foie Gras, cèpes, cayenne and Spanish sherry” ($19). The sauce started in one’s mouth deliciously but finished way to salty. The dish was okay but there weren’t many sweetbreads—it was filled with cèpes and a tiny morsel of foie. Kind of disappointing. Our next dish came too fast by about 10 minutes. (We felt rushed.) We ordered the “Alaskan Halibut, pan roasting fingerling potato, scallion and artichoke white anchovy-Meyer lemon butter, fried basil leaves” ($38). Dimitri loved the fish which was perfectly cooked. The sauce was lovely. Audre was disappointed that instead of fried basil leaves, there was one fried basil leaf that she had to share with Dimitri. But our main course was very good nonetheless. We were finished with our dinner in record time and there was no dessert that tickled our fancy. We spent $61.67 plus tip (we didn’t feel like having wine).

2. Ethnic

2.1 HR: We went to Lan's Vietnamese Cuisine (2430 Cerrillos Rd., Santa Fe, NM 87501, tel. 505-986-1636 (Cerrillos at Lujan, near Camino Carlos Rey, in a strip mall called College Plaza South, in the back near Curves). There is a Smiths in the same complex) because of a good review on Yelp and we wanted to have Vietnamese. It is a pleasant space and the walls are filled with large, artistic photographs of Vietnamese women cooking street food. The menu is truly interesting. We decided to share one Vegetarian entrée. It was #19 served, at room temperature. It was “Bun Chay ”BBQ marinated organic tofu, soy protein with lemongrass, lime leaf, shallots, cucumbers, green papaya, organic carrots, cilantro, garlic, green onion, peanuts, lettuce + mint on vermicelli rice noodles or jasmine rice” ($10). It was tasty and delicious and only just enough for the two of us. The owner’s husband came to talk to us and to tell us that the photographs were ones he took. It was a delightful find, reasonably priced and we’ll return. (The menu is reproduced on urban spoon: http://www.urbanspoon.com/cities/279-...) We spent $10.82 plus tax and tip.

2.2 HR: There was a lot of good chatter about Mu Du Noodles (1494 Cerrillos Rd., Santa Fe, NM 87505, tel. 505-983-1411, web: http://www.mudunoodles.com/) on the Internet. We were delighted with our dinner (it’s not open for lunch). We didn’t make a reservation and had to wait a few minutes (although we could have eaten outside in the back garden but the chairs were uncomfortable and it was windy). Our server was good and the owner (who said she was from Canton) was delightfully charming. We shared everything, as usual, but didn’t have the kitchen split anything (because there is an extra $4 charge and Audre can’t eat half). We had a pot of green tea with rice ($4) and it was good. We started with "ORGANIC LAMB MARTABAK, Indonesian crispy dumplings filled with minced organic lamb, scallions, garlic and Middles Eastern spices, served with a mint-cilantro dipping sauce" ($10, I think). There were 5 and they were crispy and tasty, as was the sauce. For our main we had the “Hanoi fish on rice,” accompanied by a sweet chili sauce and peanuts ($22, I think). It was delicious. Dimitri heard a soft shell crab appetizer special being described by the owner and decided to have that next ($8?). There was one deep-fried, crisp soft shell crab sitting on top of a tasty salad. A very nice dish. Even though the restaurant was very busy, the owner had time to stop to chat. We remembered how to say that the food was good in Cantonese (something like “ho ho sec”) and she responded happily. All of a sudden we were brought a lemony, delicious creamy pot of dessert. Yum! What a nice meal. We spent $44.36 plus tip.

2.3 HR: At Annapurna Chai House (1620 St. Michaels Dr., Santa Fe, NM, tel. 505-988-9688, www.chaishoppe.com). (At St. Michael's Village West, behind Carl's Jr.), we had one thaali that was very good ($11.95) and described as “India’s national dish! A variety of our daily vegetables #1, #2 and #3, dal, sambhar, basmati or brown rice and your choice of a chutney, yogurt, or raita. Served with one of the following: chapati, gluten-free dosa or three puri.” We chose the brown rice, the raita and the dosa. Yum! The other dish we ordered was Puri Bhaji ($8.95) described as "Four puffed savory fried breads alongside, bhaji, a traditional spicy thick tomato, vegetable and potato combination" Everything was full of taste and delicious. We ordered too much and took a lot of the puri bhaji home! Another Santa Fe ethnic success.

2.4 R: There was lots of good chatter on the Internet about Jambo Café (2010 Cerrillos Rd., Santa Fe, NM 87505, tel. 505-473-1269, web: www.jambocafe.net, e-mail: urembo23@gmail.com). It opened in 2009 and the owner and chef is a Kenyan named Ahmed Obo. The cuisine is called African and Caribbean but we thought it also was heavily influenced by India. The good chatter is warranted. We had a very good meal. The restaurant has two rooms in a strip mall and the walls are covered with beautiful photos from Kenya. We shared everything as usual and ordered a starter described as “Stuffed Phyllo, phyllo pastries filled with spinach, black Moroccan olives, organic feta, roasted red peppers, chickpeas, over organic field greens, drizzled with pomegranate sauce” ($6.95) There were 2 diamond shaped pieces and it was very good. The feta had a distinctive taste, the phyllo was crispy, the greens were good and the pomegranate sauce was a great addition. For our main we had the “Goat Stew, slow-cooked goat with carrots and other vegetables and potatoes in an island curry sauce, with either coconut basmati rice or roti” ($12.95) We chose the roti and enjoyed the stew. The meat was tender, there were lots of vegetables and the curry sauce had a kick to it. There was plenty of food for the two of us. For dessert we had the “Cardamon espresso flan” ($5.95). It was good (but not light) and tasted of coffee. With our dessert we had the “Spiced Hot Chai” ($2.95) that was a very good rendition of Indian chai, but with a little difference. We spent $31.18 plus tip and were happy.

2.5 R: Sunday night for ethnic in Santa Fe presented challenges. We planned to go to Lan’s Vietnamese Cuisine but it was closed. Then we headed to Jambo Café but it was also closed. Some women who had also been planning to go to Jambo recommended Jinja (Jinja Bar & Bistro, 510 N. Guadalupe, Ste. P, Santa Fe, NM 87501, tel. 505-982-4321, web: www.jinjabistro.com). We were surprised and delighted with our meal. The place is very large (and very dark inside) but was very crowded. It looks and feels like a chain/franchise but they only have 2 other outlets—in Albuquerque. Our server, Sandra, was pleasant but forgetful. We started with a Malay Coconut Soup (that cost $2.95 when “added” to an entrée order) which was huge and very tasty with shrimp in it. It was described as “House made Tom Yum with coconut milk, includes shrimp, udon noodles, carrots, green onions and bean sprouts” and is usually $4.75. We had 2 entrees. One was “Thai Red Curry Beef tenderloin in a red curry sauce with bell peppers served with white jasmine rice or Tsuru Mai brown rice” ($17.95). The sauce had quite a kick to it and the dish was very tasty. The meat was surprisingly tender. We also ordered a “Chow Fun Chili Noodles, wide, hand cut rice noodles, wok-tossed with marinated organic tofu, chopped red and green bell peppers, spinach, green and yellow onions in a spicy chili sauce” ($11.95). It was a delicious dish with lots of fresh spinach leaves in it. Jinja only had American-sounding desserts so we passed. We spent $34.78 plus tip.

2.6 R (with caveat): We saw Raaga (544 Agua Fria, Santa Fe, NM 87501, tel. 505-820-6440, web: www.raagacuisine.com) and thought that it looked good and that the menu was interesting when we stopped by. We had a good meal but it wasn’t great and so we were disappointed. Our server, Noah, tried but didn’t make the grade. Paddy Rawal, the owner of Raaga, was cooking the night we went for dinner and he stopped by our table several times (which is nice). We ordered one Spicy Lassi ($3.95) and it was unusual with onion and cilantro in it. It was very good. For our starter we ordered a “Steamed Mussels, coconut infused with curry leaves” ($7.95). It was really a soup with a coconut base and a half dozen mussels in it. It was good. For our main we ordered the “Bombay Fish Masala, mahi mahi, ginger, garlic, onions, tomatoes, cardamom and turmeric” ($17.95) that came with basmati rice. It was a very good dish and plenty for the 2 of us. Even so, we ordered a “side” of the daily vegetable combination that comes with Tandoori dishes ($4.95). It was mixed vegetables with cumin seed and okay. The naan we had with our meal was a plain one and good ($1.95). For dessert we ordered one rice pudding ($4.95). It was lumpy and not so good. It didn’t even have a sprinkling of cardamom or cinnamon on top. Oh well; the restaurant has only been open 5 or so months. Maybe they will hit their stride in a few more months. We spent $46.20 plus tip.

2.7 R (with caveat): We went to Shibumi Ramenya (26 Chapelle St., Santa Fe, NM 87501, tel. 505-428-0077, web: shibumiramen.com) because the chatter about it was good on the Internet. When Audre called for a reservation, she was told that the restaurant is “an odor free zone” and that it only takes cash. That was a first. When we arrived we found a tiny place with tiny tables very, very close together. We were there early so we had our tiny section to ourselves at first. The menu is a “tiny dishes” kind of place so we had around six and shared everything. We saw no Japanese cooks, servers or anyone of Japanese descent. The owner is an American who got into Japanese food. While the food was good, we think it is audacious of the owner to think that he can have a serious Japanese restaurant. So, we’ll call it kind of a fusion place. We ordered a pot of the barley tea which we expected to taste like Japanese toasted rice tea. It didn’t; it was kind of tasteless. Our first dish was a fusion-kind-of-combination of tastes. We ordered the “Kushiyaki Barbeque Pork Belly with Eggplant” ($8). It was very good. With that we ordered the “Izakaya Gizzards with Spicy Curry” ($5.50) that was also very good. Next we ordered the “Izakaya Natto (Sticky Beans) with Quail Egg & Radish” ($6.50) which are soy beans that are fermented into a gelatinous concoction that we liked very much. With that dish we had the Yaki Grilled Wild Salmon ($12). It was nicely cooked and we enjoyed the flavors. The next dish, “Tempura Vegetable” ($8), was the only disappointing one. The tempura batter was too thick. The last dish we ordered was the Yaki Grilled eggplant ($5) which was also very good. By this time, the tables next to us were filled and we might as well have been sitting in their laps. The restaurant was also hot so we were uncomfortable. So we asked for our check and squeezed our way out. We spent $53.75. We would choose a more authentic, less fusion, Japanese restaurant next time.

2.8 NR: It looked to us like Saigon Café (501 W. Cordova Rd., Santa Fe, NM 87505, tel. 505-988-4951, http://saigoncafe-nm.com/) was decorated in the 50’s and nothing has changed since then. Okay, maybe they have added some new plants and they have dusted. We ordered two dishes to share; they both came at the same time. The #27B, “Banh Hoi Tom Nuong, grilled shrimp with vermicelli & rice paper” ($14.95). This is a kind of do-it-yourself spring roll and it was disappointing. The shrimp were over-cooked and dry and the ingredients failed to include mint or basil. It was messy and we should have just ordered the pre-made spring rolls. The other dish was outstanding. It was #43 “Catfish cooked in claypot” ($15.95). The catfish tasted good and the juice/soup it was cooked in was outstanding. While we wouldn’t return, we would suggest trying the restaurant. We spent $37.72 plus tip.

3. New American Cuisine or Other

3.1 R: Vinaigrette (709 Don Cubero Alley, Santa Fe, NM 87505, tel. 505-820-9205, web: www.vinaigretteonline.com) has a lovely room for lunch, with nice art and uncomfortable seating. The service by Marc was good. First he brought bread (I think sliced ciabatta) and olive oil. For lunch, we ordered one salad to share: the "CHERRY TART, Dried cherries, mild feta cheese, peppery baby arugula and toasted pecans with Champagne vinaigrette" ($9.95) and one cup of the soup of the day which was a lemon, chicken, rice soup ($4). The soup tasted like avogolemeno and we like it. The salad was delicious—full of taste and great ingredients. It was a delightful lunch. We spent $15.08 plus tip. BTW, we looked at the dinner menu and it wasn’t sufficiently different to warrant a dinner visit.

3.2 R: We went for lunch to Swiss Bakery Pastries & Bistro because Dimitri liked the Danish pastries he had bought there (401 S. Guadalupe St., Santa Fe, NM 87501, tel. 505-988-1111, web: www.swissbakerysantafe.com). We had a mushroom and cheese crepe that was freshly made and very good—both the ingredients and the crepe itself. It came with roasted potatoes and a slice of orange and quarter of strawberry garnish. It was a very good lunch and Philippe , the owner of the Swiss Bakery came to talk to us. He said he had only been open for 5 months and he was very glad that we had done a Trip Advisor review. He was charming, Swiss, a skier and a road bike rider. We complimented him on the Danish pastries that we had bought on a previous visit and he was happy and thankful. We hope that he does well. We spent 410.15 for lunch plus tip for Joel, our good server.

3.3 R: We wanted to try Joe's Diner and Pizza (2801 Rodeo Rd. A-5, Santa Fe, NM 87507, tel. 505-471-3800, web: www.joesdining.com) because it is a locavore kind of place. We liked it; kind of funky, with lots of people dining. We had one special quiche of the day to share ($9.99). It was made with spinach and Tucumcari feta cheese (www.tucumcaricheese.com) and came with a green salad. It was very good and almost like a pudding. There was plenty of food for the 2 of us. We liked our server, Joshua, and talked to him about the fellow at the door seating people. He was trying very hard to do a good job. We spent $10.81 plus tip and enjoyed our lunch.

3.4 R (with caveat): We went to the Santa Fe Steamer (3242 Cerrillos Rd., Santa Fe, NM 87507, tel. 505-438-3862) because we wanted a simple meal of fish. We started with 6 (huge) oysters fresh from British Columbia ($1.50 x6). They were sweet and delicious. Then we ordered the special fish of the day: “Blackened Wahoo served with sautéed crawfish and cajun butter ($15.95). We chose cabbage and rice as our sides. We asked for the fish juicy and it came out dry. They offered to bring us another piece and we accepted. The second piece was much better but still too dry—perhaps from the searing. We don’t know. Next time we’ll get the fish steamed! The server was nice and the place not bad although rather old-fashioned. We spent: $27 plus tip.

4. New Mexican/Mexican/Southwestern

4.1 NR: Gabriel’s (Exit 176, Hwy. 84/285, 4 Banana Lane, SF, NM 87506, tel. 505-455-7000) is just the kind of family-style Old Mexican restaurant we try to avoid. But we were staying at The Bishop’s Lodge and wanted to try something different (we had already tried Las Fuentes at our resort and Terra at Encantado) in the northern part of Santa Fe. We just had the salsa and chips that are automatically brought to the table because a $12 starter of table-made guacamole prepared table-side in a molcajete seemed ridiculous. We shared one main of “Pollo en Mole Poblano” ($13.95) and the mole sauce was very good. We ordered a side of corn tortillas ($2.25) that were good too. With our dinner we shared on Negra Modelo beer ($4.25) that we liked. For dessert we shared on sopapilla ($1.25) that was also good. While the meal was good we wouldn’t go back.

Jun 21, 2012
aledm in Southwest

2012 ALEDM Review of Matsuhisa Vail

We had been delaying our visit to Matsuhisa because we didn’t want to be disappointed (Matsuhisa, Solaris Vail, 141E. Meadow Dr., Vail, CO 81657, tel. 970-476-6628, web: http://www.matsuhisavail.com/). In the late 80’s when Nobu Matsuhisa was new in LA we went to his tiny hole-in-the wall restaurant on La Cienega many, many times. We always had the tasting menu and it was always original, delicious and fun. We decided to blow a $500 windfall we unexpectedly received. We went to Matsuhisa with a couple we like very much and we had a fabulous meal and evening. Jordan, a manager of Matsuhisa was there and was very friendly, attentive and informative. We really like that! Our server was a young woman who was professional, friendly and over-worked. For the “shoulder season,” it was very crowded. And noisy. We were going to move tables but it occurred to us that no matter where we moved, it would be noisy. The chairs were comfortable but the room was overly warm and, because the chairs were made of leather, at the end of the evening Dimitri said the seat of his pants were damp with sweat.

We decided to get one $150 Omakase tasting menu (in Japanese it means: “I’ll leave it to you.”). The plates would not be split in the kitchen, rather the plates would be put between us and we would use our chopsticks to eat from the main plate. Jordan said that they would orchestrate the pace of our friends’ appetizers, salad and mains to harmonize with our 8 courses. We accompanied our meal by a small hot Dai-Ginjo saki. We started with a sashimi of blue fin tuna with jalapeño and a wonderful sauce. There were 3 pieces and it was perfect—Dimitri had 2 delicious morsels and Audre had one. The next plate was octopus on cucumber with another yummy sauce. This time there were 4 pieces and we each had 2. The third plate was our standout favorite. It was 4 thin slices of mackerel rolled around sea urchin. The sauce was excellent and the flavor added by the urchin (or uni in Japanese) was divine. After that dish there were five more: a sushi assortment that was very good (even for people like us who are underwhelmed by sushi), a waygu (Kobe beef from Australia) beef (with a yummy morsel of foie gras), two others that we can’t remember and a miso soup at the end of the meal. The amount of food was perfect for the two of us. All of this was followed by a dessert plate with a Bento box chocolate delectable, a vanilla bean ice cream, fruit, and coconut banana spring rolls. Wow! Excellent and we highly recommend you try it! We spent $189.70 plus tip. Domo Arigato Gozamimu to you Nobu!

May 20, 2012
aledm in Mountain States

NEW TO DENVER AREA - NEED UPSCALE REC

It was a while ago that we had a wonderful meal at Fruition. Have a look at our review posted on the following Chow thread about Denver fine dining: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/570484

If you have questions, call or e-mail Paul Attardi, General Manager and Co-owner of Fruition. He will be helpful. (His e-mail address, by the way, is paul@fruitionrestaurant.com).

Happy eating!

Apr 26, 2012
aledm in Mountain States

Cafe Monet in Parker is a Monument that should be Experienced

Café Monet is a monument to The Way We Were Eating French/Italian inthe USA in the 1970’s or 60’s (Cafe Monet, 10471 S. Parker Rd. #1, Parker, CO 80134, tel. 303-840-0004 web: www.cafemonetinparker.com). And we were told that there are patrons who havebeen dining at Café Monet once a week for 30 years (even though it’s only beenopen since 1996). Homa Bazyar is the head chef and she knows how to please her guests. Our server was young but spoke authoritatively on Everything Café Monet.The décor is Very Homey with cupboards of tea cups, lots of souvenirs from France and a warm, inviting air. There are booths on one side of the restaurant with tables in the middle. On the other side of the restaurant is a long bar, tables and Mohammad Bazyar’s recline-o-lounger. We sat at a table on the other side of the restaurant. There were many guests at 6 p.m. when we arrived—most over 60 yrs. old. The service was excellent and the portions were huge. All entrées include the soup de jour (which was a chicken curry and good), a green salad (crunchy and tasty with the dressing of our choice) and are garnished with vegetables, rice and potatoes. Dimitri had the the “Dartois de Fruits de la Mer ($17.95): delicate seafood wrapped and baked in puff pastry, topped with white wine sauceand shrimp”. Dimitri liked his dish and particularly liked the white wine sauce. Audre had the “Trout Almondine ($17.95) native trout grilled in lemon butter and covered with slivered almonds.” Audre said it was very dry. The accompaniments were very good and we were too stuffed to have any of Homa’s desserts. We spent $38.70 plus tip and we recommend that you experience this restaurant. It is one of a dying breed.

Apr 26, 2012
aledm in Mountain States

Where in Denver/Boulder area can I find Taramasalata?

We like the Taramosalata made by Krinos and sold in a jar (14 oz) for $3.99. We've found it at Pete's Grocery, 5606 E Cedar Ave., Denver, CO 80224, tel. 303-393-6247 and also at the East European Market, 4015 E. Arkansas Ave., Denver, CO 80222, tel. 303-639-6171, e-mail: easteuropemarket@yahoo.com.

Apr 25, 2012
aledm in Mountain States

Yanni's in Greenwood Village was Disappointing

Yanni’s was recommended to us by friends who have some Greek heritage (Yanni's 5425 Landmark Place, Unit 109, Greenwood Village, CO 80111, tel. 303-692-0404). We went expecting really good food and we were disappointed. The restaurant is in a shopping center and is bright with good modern art on the walls. Our server, Michelle was good. Yanni came to the table to give us a little cup of ouzo and welcome us. He said he knew our Greek friends. His business partner, Carl, also greeted us. We had been told that the Sunday special lamb was the dish to have. We shared one appetizer combo plate ($16.95) that was disappointing—mostly rubbery fried calamari. Then we shared one “BBQ Lamb, spit-roasted Colorado grown leg of lamb served with a medley of roast vegetables” ($19.95). Although we could see the grill and spit where the lamb was cooked we were not impressed with the result. It lacked taste. The vegetables were very good, however. Dimitri had a retsina with the lamb ($8.50) and we ordered a rice pudding for dessert ($4.95). It was vanilla pudding with some hard rice floating in it. We took one taste and left the rest. We spent $54 plus tip and left the restaurant shaking our heads.

Apr 25, 2012
aledm in Mountain States

Dan Dan Noodles in Boulder/Denver?

We've been to Lao Wang and the restaurant is open and the Ancient Chinese Couple are there and working! Mr. Ancient showed me their schedule and they are closed both Mondays and Tuesdays.

Apr 22, 2012
aledm in Mountain States

The Pullman in Glenwood Springs was Excellent

We had heard good things about this restaurant (The Pullman, 330 7th Street, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601, tel. 970-230-9234, e-mail: eat@thepullmangws.com, web: www.thepullman.com) from friends and on the Chow website. It has been open a little more than a year and we loved it! We went for a late lunch after biking the (newly re-opened) Glenwood Springs Recreation Trail in April 2012. Our server, Jesse was knowledgeable and patient with all of our questions about ingredients. Instead of a main, we shared 2 snacks, 3 small dishes and one dessert. The first snack to arrive was “Truffle housemade pork rinds” ($4). They were sizzling when the basket arrived and were truly crunchy and tasty. We ate that (actually inhaled them) quickly with the yummy housemade bread and butter that arrived at about the same time. Dimitri had a very good dark beer with the meal ($5). The first small plate to arrive was “Crisp Pork Belly celery root puree/green apple agrodulce” ($9). The pork belly was cooked perfectly and tasted delicious. The celery root puree was unusual and very good too. The green apple agrodulce helped to balance the richness of the pork belly. With the pork belly, two more small plates arrived: the “Housemade burrata, eggplant escabeche, crisp shallots” ($5) and the “Hanachi with butternut squash puree, soy caramel, smoked sea salt” ($9 ). We loved the burrata and actually bought a small ball ($5) to take home. We saved the hanachi for last since it was a cold dish and once we ate it, we loved it. Actually everything was excellent. The last snack to arrive was the “Roast bone marrow, red onion jam” ($5) and it was a huge bone and was fabulous. By this time we were getting really full but we had to try their beignets for dessert ($7). Unfortunately we didn’t like them (maybe we were too stuffed). But they were heavy-- not like the light and crispy ones we adore. The meal was a great success. The manager and another manager-like person came to talk to us (which we love) and we vowed to make the drive to Glenwood Springs to try their dinner menu. We spent $55.39 plus tip.

Apr 07, 2012
aledm in Mountain States

Dan Dan Noodles in Boulder/Denver?

Sorry about that. The people who originally introduced us to the restaurant gave us that info. They said that they tried to go. If I remember correctly we went once and had a great meal and the next time it wasn't open.... Anyway, we're glad that we were wrong.

Apr 07, 2012
aledm in Mountain States