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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

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

any decent chinese dim sum in denver??

We also think that Star Kitchen (2917 W. Mississippi Ave., Denver, tel. 303-936-0089) is very good, has roving carts and has a nice buzz to it during dim sum time.

Apr 06, 2012
aledm in Mountain States

Lao Wang Noodle House....

When you were at Lao Wang Noodle House (945 S. Federal Blvd., Denver, tel. 303-975-2497) did you see The Ancient Chinese Couple working there/running the place?

Apr 06, 2012
aledm in Mountain States

Dan Dan Noodles in Boulder/Denver?

Does anyone know whether The Ancient Chinese Couple are still there and running Lao Wang Noodle House (945 S. Federal Blvd., Denver, tel. 303-975-2497)?

Apr 06, 2012
aledm in Mountain States

Denver and vail high end itinerary

Hi,
You should check out Cima at the Westin in Avon. We thought it was innovative and delicious. Follow this link for what we said:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/837878

Try Flame at the Four Seasons in Vail. It's not just a steakhouse. Here's what we said about it:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/811457

We've been disappointed by Kelly Liken and Larkspur. Elways has not been getting any good reviews (and people have been complaining, actually). All of our Vail restaurant reviews are posted here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/790196

In Denver, we haven't been to Fruition in years but we liked it very much 4 years ago.

Apr 05, 2012
aledm in Mountain States

Dan Dan Noodles in Boulder/Denver?

We are sorry to report that Lao Wang Noodle on Federal is no longer in business.

Apr 02, 2012
aledm in Mountain States

The 10th is a great addition to Vail Mountain

We had heard good things about The 10th (at Mid-Vail on Vail, Mountain, 970-754-1010)and had been meaning to try it. We went on a day that we wanted to have a late lunch (because we were going to the Vilar early that evening). We made a reservation at 2:15 p.m. and then called from the very long lift line at Chair 11 to tell them we would be late. The last reservation they take is at 2:30 p.m. We slid in a little after 2:30 but they were gracious and seated us without any fuss. The General Manager, George Bigley, was at the reception desk and we like to see that. We put our stuff away in the ample cloakroom. We used the restrooms and then we were seated in the main dining room. It has a lovely view of the Gore Range. Our server, Juliana, was professional and personable. This was to be our main meal of the day and we shared everything, as usual. We didn’t have wine. The 10th describes its cuisine as “modern alpine”. We started with the “Wood Roasted Mussels Frites with Parsley & Shallot Broth, Spicy Aioli” ($18). We were first brought bread and butter and it tasted (and the texture was) better than it looked. The mussels were good, the frites were very good but the aioli wasn’t spicy nor did it taste like aioli. All in all, it was a good dish. For our main we had the “Rosemary Basted Colorado Striped Bass with Arugala, Pastina, Saffron Tomato-Fennel Broth” ($24). It was a very good dish. We had not had pastina in recent memory and it was very good; the texture was great. For dessert, we had the “Meyer Lemon Crème Brulée with alpine berries and little cookies” ($11). The crème brulée was delicious, the berries were blueberries and the cookies were good. The meal was delightful. There was no feeling of being rushed even though it was late in the afternoon by the time we had finished. George Bigley was still walking around the restaurant so we were able to chat and compliment him. This restaurant is a fine addition to Vail Mountain and we recommend it.

Mar 13, 2012
aledm in Mountain States

Saddleridge in Beaver Creek, CO is more of a museum than a restaurant

Saddleridge (Saddleridge Restaurant, http://www.saddleridgebeavercreek.com..., tel. 970-754-5450) is a living museum of frontier artifacts such as Geronimo’s tomahawk and General Custer’s hat and canteen. It’s also a testament of the excesses of the U.S. investment banks. It was built by Shearson-Lehman as a private retreat for its clients and executives in 1987. The cost was $27 million and it had 27 bedrooms. The interior design, art and artifact collections were done by Naomi Leff and Associates of NYC. She was asked to create the largest living museum of Western artifacts outside of a museum and given a blank check. With that as background, we can now tell you that we weren’t impressed (except by the excess) but it has to be seen to be believed. We changed tables because there was a large table with screaming kids seated near us. The room is large and the night we were there, many kids were also there (so there was no escaping them). The chairs in the dining room are antiques and boy are they hard and uncomfortable. We shared everything as usual and chose not to have wine. We started with rabbit loin appetizer and it was very dry and tasteless. ($12) For our main, we had a pork loin chop that had been brined. It was tender and moist but tasted like ham. ($29) For dessert we chose the Banana foster ($9). It was terrible—the bananas were not even sautéed. They were served cold and raw with whipped cream. The meal cost $55 with tax and the B.C. assessment. We would not recommend the restaurant.

Mar 13, 2012
aledm in Mountain States