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2nd Sweet Rose Creamery in SM (826 Pico) Soft Open! Single/Double Scoops $0.25! (Official Opening on Saturday)

Ouch. I stopped in ca. 3:00pm (I live in the neighborhood) and was charged the full $5.50 for my two scoops. :-<

Dinner options near Red Line stations?

Thanks, all, for your suggestions. We've decided to meet at the Hollywood/Highland station and walk to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel for drinks at the Library Bar, then dinner at Public Kitchen.

Dinner options near Red Line stations?

After doing my "due diligence" searching the boards, I'm coming up blank, so here goes: I'm looking for a restaurant that will give three friends a good -- perhaps memorable? -- dinner within a couple of blocks of one of the Metro Red Line stations between Vermont/Sunset (i.e., Vermont/Hillhurst/Los Feliz) and Hollywood/Highland. Said restaurant must have interesting options for the vegetarian (not vegan) in our group, and should not be punishingly loud on a Friday night, to suit our hearing-challenged friend. Price is not a determining factor, but we'd prefer someplace elegant to someplace funky.

TIA for giving this some thought, and sharing your recommendations.

MSP: Quiet weekend dinner for group of 9 in south Minneapolis?

Big thanks to everyone for weighing in with their advice & recommendations! I decided to go with Corner Table, and was able to secure a reservation for our group with plenty of notice. I'll report on our experience afterward. In the meantime -- thanks again.

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Corner Table
4257 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55409

MSP: Quiet weekend dinner for group of 9 in south Minneapolis?

Thanks; your feedback is spot-on with my concerns. I had presumed that Restaurant Alma would be beyond my budget, and while the 3-course tasting menu is a good fit, I suspect my group is likely to veer into the pricier, a la carte selections. Also, the wine mark-up at Alma seems to border between "oh my" and "ouch". Are wine prices at Corner Table (not on their web site) comparable, or scaled closer to their food prices?

MSP: Quiet weekend dinner for group of 9 in south Minneapolis?

Hail, fellow hounds. Coming from Los Angeles, I'll be hosting dinner on Saturday, June 12th, for a group of 8 driving up from Northfield (yes, it's graduation season...). I'm seeking recommendations of a moderately priced (ca. $40/head, before wine) restaurant, preferably south of Downtown, possibly with a private-dining space. Two of our group are hearing-impaired, so low music/ambient noise is ESSENTIAL. Cuisine-wise, we'd steer toward Mediterranean and away from Asian, but I'm open to all suggestions.

After a week of research on the Cities dining scene, I'm intrigued by Corner Table and Grand Cafe. Piccolo also caught my eye, but some of our group get confused by the many-small-plates approach. I'm also considering Sea Change, at the Guthrie Theater, after the 7:30pm curtain.

Thanks for your help!

Berlin

I just looked at the Margaux menu; the prix fixe offerings range from 80 euros (3 courses; 40 euros wine suppl.) to 140 euros (7 courses; 90 euros wine suppl.). Compare the a la carte offerings -- desserts are 25 euros!

http://www.margaux-berlin.de

Help needed on the west side, with a few parameters...

Agree with earlier responses re: Nook, Il Moro, and Upstairs 2, all of which seem to meet your criteria. I especially like Upstairs 2 because the food is consistently good, the wine list is fantastic, and even in a packed room the noise level is never excessive. If you're considering Josie (which I think far exceeds your target price point), then I suggest you look at Violet, farther east on Pico.

Unlike most the other responders, I've had nothing but good meals at Literati 2, especially when we booked after the initial dinner crush.

In the Marina area, I recommend Lilly's (on Abbot Kinney, near Joe's) and Beechwood (on Washington).

My Evening at Simon LA

Hmmm... We had an almost identical experience at SimonLA last night, although we were specifically there for the DineLA menu. We ordered the crab salad and the grilled radicchio salad as our first course. I found the crab far less impressive -- almost no flavor, and severely underdressed. The grilled radicchio was more flavorful, but "grilled"? No -- more like "barely singed".

We ordered the same two entrees, and I agree with your take on the short ribs -- nice portion, delicious. However, the Thai curry was indistinguishable from bad mall food, and accompanied by a single chicken satay that was severely overcooked.

The doughnut bread pudding was not just awful, but detestable; it tasted foul, and had no discernible texture (did they run the doughnuts through a blender?). The soft chocolate tart with lemon gelato was much better, but tiny. When we told the server how disappointed we were with the bread pudding, she returned with one of the red velvet cupcakes, along with the cotton candy. The cupcake was laughable -- miniscule (i.e., smaller than the bite-size cakes you'd buy at any reputable bakery), soaked in vanilla, with red dye leeching through the paper wrapper. We agreed, regrettably, that the cotton candy was the most fun and interesting element of the entire meal.

Service was prompt and reasonably warm, but what's up with the servers' uniforms? Black polo shirt and slacks are way too casual for a restaurant with $35 entrees. And the uncovered wood-laminate tables -- straight from Denny's, and seriously at odds with the high-design room dividers and lighting elements.

Overall, our experience hardly merited a B+. I doubt we'll be back.

REVIEW w/ pics: Indian Ice Cream & Shaved Ice Tasting at Saffron Spot

Last year I had the good fortune to take a tour of the "Little India" area, and the even better fortune to have Smita as our guide. We ended up at Saffron Spot, where she treated the group to an extensive tasting of their various products, all of which were terrific. Worth a detour!

Great review, Abby -- thanks.

Orris (review+pics)

Abby,

Thanks for that great recap of an obviously memorable meal.

Like you, I'm a total fan of the grilled hearts of romaine. I'm convinced they use anchovies in the dressing; it has a depth of flavor that just can't be accounted for any other way.

NEED AN INCREDIBLE STEAKHOUSE IN BEVERLY HILLS

The obvious answer is Cut, Wolfgang Puck's temple to steak in the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel (9500 Wilshire Blvd, BH; 310-276-8500).

Sherry Verbila's review for the LA Times is here: <http://www.calendarlive.com/dining/cl...>

Dessert/sweet tour in BOS - The Report (detailed)

My thanks to all the Boston-area hounds who responded to my May 16 post (www.chowhound.com/topics/402319) seeking desserts/sweets with "adventurous flavors" . Now that I'm back home (Los Angeles), here's the report of my May 22-25 "tour", organized by category.

RESTAURANTS:
Harvest (www.harvestcambridge.com): I ended lunch with the vanilla bean cake with rhubarb compote and rose petal jam. $10 for a shockingly small slice of undistinguished vanilla cake. The rhubarb compote was delicious, but lacked any hint of rose petal. Disappointing. Lunch was partly redeemed by a kumquat mojito that was beautifully made, the citrus and mint combination extremely refreshing on an unseasonably warm day.
OM (www.omrestaurant.com): I had very high hopes, based on the cocktail and dessert menus on their web site. My mistake was to go for lunch rather than dinner; the dessert offerings were severely limited, although the trio of pots de creme included a bayleaf version that was delightful, and spot-on with the flavors I was looking for. I was annoyed, however, that none of the specialty "aromatherapy" cocktails was available; there's no bartender on-site until 5:00pm, and our lunch server said she was incapable of "making anything complicated".
Clio (www.cliorestaurant.com): For my final dinner in Boston I took my hosts to Clio, with forewarning that I would be choosing the desserts; we ended up making our own "assiette" by ordering five of the six desserts offered (each $11). Each was magnificent -- kudos to pastry chef Rick Billings (and to manager Ryan Cole, who kindly e-mailed me the dessert menu afterward).
1) "Beurre noisette" financier with grains of paradise, coconut sorbet & passion fruit
Of the 5 desserts, we found this one the most integrated in flavor and texture, the exotic fruit and spice flavors playing beautifully against the rich, dense, nut-inflected buttery cake.
2) Croustillant of chicoree with sable levain, buttermilk coulis & whipped amaretto
The "croustillant" was a tuile-like cylinder filled with chicory cream; the "sable levain" a pair of long, thin rectangles similar to halvah. Again, the combination of textures -- crunchy, sandy, unctuous (the coulis) and airy (the amaretto) -- was very successful, as were the combined flavors.
3) Frozen milk chocolate geode with hazelnut sorbet, violet-cassis puree & milk snow
A gianduia lover's dream. The violet-cassis puree was delicious -- too bad it was just two small daubs on the plate!
4) Soft chocolate cream with sugarbeet puree, cedar ice cream, macadamia nut & tangerine
The chocolate cream was extruded with a square pastry tip, a long squiggle across the plate. The beet puree appeared both as a syrupy sauce, and as a fragile dried ribbon; the tangerine was reduced to a crunchy dust scattered around the plate. The results were delicious, but the cedar ice cream was a bit underwhelming.
5) Pineapple and jasmine cloud with green apple wasabi sorbet, black sesame & raspberry
This was the surprise hit; the combination of pineapple and jasmine was amazing! I'm still trying to unravel how Chef Billings introduced the jasmine; it had none of the off-putting chemical qualities of the commercial jasmine flavorings I've seen, nor did it have the herbal notes indicative of jasmine tea. The "cloud" effect was impressive; more substantive than a foam but still exquisitely light. We all felt that the wasabi sorbet totally clashed with the other flavors, however.

ICE CREAM/GELATO:
Christina's (www.christinasicecream.com): I sampled the khulfi and adzuki bean ice creams, but ended up ordering straightforward mango. All were good, but none warranted the hike from Harvard Square.
Herrell's (www.herrells.com): Again, high hopes based on their web listing of flavors, dashed when not one of them (Earl Grey; rose/lavender; jalapeno) appeared among the day's offerings. I walked out without tasting anything.
JP Lick's (jplicks.com): I stopped into the Newbury St. location to try the hibiscus-lemon sorbet. Essentially, it's nothing more than Baskin Robbins' pink lemonade ice. The rock-hard hibiscus inclusions do nothing for the flavor unless you let them soften, but by the time you can taste the floral element, they've turned into something like fruit leather.
Toscanini's (www.tosci.com): I dreaded visiting Toscanini's, given the underwhelming results I'd had thus far, but needn't have worried. To my taste, their khulfi was significantly better than Christina's; richer, less grainy, more subtly spiced. The knockout, however, was the avocado-tequila ice cream; fabulous! The avocado flavor (esp. when chilled) is extremely nuanced, akin to cucumber and equally refreshing, and paired beautifully with the tequila.

BAKERIES:
Nashoba Brook Bakery Cafe (www.slowrise.com): Nothing on offer that matched my flavor profiles.
South End Buttery: Although nothing matched my target flavors, I bought a half-dozen of their specialty cupcakes and served them to friends. They were terrific, especially the carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.
Cafe Cakes: Recommended by various hounds, but I found the results disappointing. The milk tea pudding was tasty, but a green tea eclair was positively foul, and definitely not fresh.
Tabrizi Bakery (www.tabrizibakery.com): Also recommended by various hounds, Tabrizi was a hands-down winner. I bought a sampler of cookies including bami, nazok, papica, and zaban. The bami were like sticky micro-brioches, soaked in rosewater and utterly delicious. The others were all crunchy, inflected with saffron, and terrific.

CHOCOLATE:
Cardullo's Gourmet Shoppe (www.cardullos.com): This was actually my first stop on "the tour", and yielded the most surprising find of the week - Zotter chocolate bars (www.zotter.at) in some truly bizarre flavors. At $5.95 each I couldn't try all of them (nor would I want to; close inspection showed that many of the bars on display had been compromised, corners frayed open), but selected 5: banana curry; thyme-cranberry; chilli [sic]; celery/Port/truffle; and "Paradise apple - liquid olives" (tomato/olive). My skeptical friends and I tasted the celery/Port/truffle, and found it quite successful; the dark chocolate was a good foil for the savory celery note, and the "funk" of truffle added significant depth. I'm saving the others for a later chocolate tasting.
Serene Chocolates: I sampled several of the chocolates from La Tene in Somerville; the Chu'lel (chili-infused) and Dazu (lemon-pepper) were both noteworthy. Lemon-ginger and chai chocolates from other suppliers were less impressive.
Richart (www.richart-chocolates.com): Their store in Copley Place is like the Tiffany of chocolate shops. The "Ballotin intense" (49 pieces/$62) includes 7 different examples in 7 "lines"; balsamics, citrus, floral, fruit, herbal, roasted, and spiced. These are exquisite but miniscule -- less than 5/8-inch square each, so the cost-benefit ratio is rather low, but the flavors were spot-on with what I was looking for.
Temper Chocolates (www.temperchocolates.com): From the descriptions I had read of this "boutique" in the Hotel Commonwealth, I was expecting great things. I'm sorry -- it's a closet, on a hallway! The selection, which included a few pieces by Providence RI-based chocolatier Andrew Shotts, was overall rather disappointing; I didn't purchase anything.
Savenor's: I stumbled upon the Savenor's on Charles St. on my way to Beacon Hill Chocolates, and was pleasantly surprised to find a nice selection of Dolfin chocolates, including their "Spiced" assortment, 48 .16-oz squares ($15) that include Earl Grey tea, cumin, ginger, anis, and cardamom flavors.
Beacon Hill Chocolates (www.beaconhillchocolates.com): What a gorgeous shop! Tucked above the corner of Pinckney and Charles, it's crammed with a tremendous range of bars, drinking chocolate, and other packaged bon bons, along with a vitrine full of quite beautiful truffles. Among the offerings were a few in my flavor focus: Chai, Rose, Lemon-basil, and Olive oil/sea salt truffle. All were good, but the standout was the olive oil/sea salt truffle; just enough "fruit" from the olive, heightened by the salt, in a delicious chocolate ganache.

Thanks again to all for their recommendations; I'm sorry I couldn't get to all of them, but as you can see, I did my best!

Herb desserts

Sage is GREAT in sweets. It pairs beautifully with fruit -- especially peaches and apricots (fresh or dried), cherries, and mangos.

I can also vouch for the apricot/cornmeal/sage cookies in myriamseers' post, above (from Gourmet, Feb. '97; on Epicurious at <http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...). Delicious!

Jun 02, 2007
glasshousejmb in Home Cooking

Herb desserts

Lollya:
Tarragon combines beautifully with strawberries. I roast strawberries with a sprinkle of sugar (450 F for 10-12 mins), then spoon them over tarragon ice cream (infuse the chopped tarragon leaves in hot cream for 30 mins; strain, chill, and freeze).

Jun 02, 2007
glasshousejmb in Home Cooking

Too Much Mint

Two suggestions (but one involves freezer space):
1) Make "pesto" the same way you would using basil, but substitute the mint. It's a fantastic alternative, lighter and fresher-tasting than traditional basil-based pesto. And it stores in the freezer very well.
2) Make simple syrup (3 or 2 parts water to 1 part sugar, depending on your taste); once the syrup has boiled for 5 minutes, throw in fists-ful of the mint leaves and steep them, off the heat, for an hour. The resultant syrup stores for weeks in the refrigerator, and can be used for mojitos (with more fresh mint leaves), or as an accompaniment to fresh strawberries.

May 24, 2007
glasshousejmb in Home Cooking

BEST MEAT IN LA

Another vote for Marconda's, at the 3rd/Fairfax Farmers' Market. They won my undying loyalty with their lamb shanks -- twice the size at 1/3 the price of Gelson's -- and their service has always been top-notch.

Rec's for dessert/sweet tour in BOS?

Aha! Sweet Tooth Boston had completely escaped me -- thanks for the rec. (Too bad their web site, www.sweettooth-bakery.com, is only "half baked").

Rec's for dessert/sweet tour in BOS?

Great! Exactly the kind of things I'm looking for. Thanks.

(BTW, I've met Laura Howard, founder of Laloo's, at several of the fancy food shows; her chocolate cabernet is spectacular.)

Rec's for dessert/sweet tour in BOS?

As beetlebug pointed out, I did mean Serene in Cambridge, but thanks for the referral to Serenade. And to Flour Bakery, which looks interesting.

Rec's for dessert/sweet tour in BOS?

Visiting Boston next week, and hoping to find some really exceptional desserts -- specifically those with adventurous flavors combining fruit and herbs/flowers/teas. From my research thus far, Clio, Salts and EVOO all look interesting -- are there others I should try? (The CH consensus on Finale seems to be "thumbs down".)

Also: I'd welcome recommendations for artisanal chocolatiers, ice cream/gelato emporia, and bakeries offering products with similar flavors. I already know about Richart at Copley Place, Temper, Serene, and Beacon Hill Chocolates; Christina's, Toscanini's, JP Licks, and Lizzy's; and South End Buttery and Tabrizi Bakery.

I'll be based in Watertown, but armed with a LinkPass for the T, so anything within MBTA territory is fair game.

Thanks in advance for your recommendations!

Dinner half way between LA and San Diego

On the "San Diego" side of that equation, I heartily recommend Le Passage in Oceanside. Terrific food, good wine list, and great hospitality, but prices are low enough that a non-foodie won't feel he's being fleeced.

http://www.lepassagefrenchbistro.com/

Blue Velvet- review

Our experience at Blue Velvet last night was much better than yours, but still somewhat disappointing. The food was uniformly delicious, with some very innovative flavor combinations, but the execution was uneven, and a number of service issues detracted from our evening.

I arrived promptly for a 6:00pm (pre-concert) reservation to a nearly empty restaurant, yet instead of seating me, as I requested, the manager pointed me toward the bar and asked me to return once my guest had arrived. Strike one.

The wine list was interesting, with standard mark-ups of 200-300%, but printed in ridiculously small blue type on long, narrow (3x9) loose white pages, "bolted" at the top, a tedious affectation that just makes the list hard to use. We selected the Valminor Albarino, but the waiter returned to say they were sold out. Frustrating, since this wine is easily available in local wine stores. We then chose the Pasquero Elia Roero Arneis but, unlike other diners who report being upgraded at no extra charge, the management failed to extend us the same courtesy. Strike two.

For appetizers, my friend chose sashimi ($15) while I opted for the "crispy yogurt" ($11). Both plates were beautifully composed, if a bit ... spare. The yogurt, which had the texture of goat cheese, lightly breaded and fried, was a diagonally sliced rectangle, stacked on a small pool of surprisingly tasteless spinach-almond puree. The only significant flavor in the dish came from a pair of curried sultanas -- spectacular! -- scattered with a few flower petals on the plate. I didn't taste my friend's sashimi, which arrived draped across crunchy potato gaufrettes, but she said it was very good.

My friend was also pleased with her entree, King River salmon with fiddleheads ($26). Again, I didn't taste, but it looked impressive. When my entree arrived, however -- stuffed veal tenderloin with cipollini, wild mushrooms, and fingerling potatoes in a rosemary sauce ($28) -- I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. It was beautiful, but I felt like I was looking at it through the wrong end of binoculars: Two slices of tenderloin, each less than an inch thick. The flavors were sensational, a last hurrah of fall flavors in the face of spring, but the portion was ridiculous. I cut it into tiny morsels, and still finished it in about thirty seconds. Strike two-and-a-half.

The upside of the small entree portion was that it left plenty of room for dessert, which was what had attracted us to Blue Velvet in the first place. The reports of the beet financier, in the press and elsewhere on Chowhound, were uniformly positive, and I'm perversely attracted to innovative desserts. We selected the beet financier and the saffron-poached pear (each $8), and eagerly awaited the results.

Thud. That's the sound the financier made as it ricocheted around the plate. An authentic financier should have a crunchy crust but moist interior; this one, a flat disc about 4 inches across, was truly dessicated. The flavor was good, however. (Why are people surprised that beets are sweet? They're like carrots!) The accompaniments, however, were great: A delicious goat cheese ice cream, a smear of golden beet puree, and a spoonful of candied beet confit in which stood a few tiny microgreens.

The saffron-poached pear was gorgeous, but seriously undercooked -- nowhere near fork-tender, as it should have been. Worse, the cream-filled pastry thing that accompanied it -- a beignet? -- was tough as leather. Again, the flavors were compelling; the sweet pear deepened by the saffron, both playing off the pickled beet ice cream (I think this is what you referred to as "the MOST disgusting ice cream - pinkish and flowery"), but the execution faltered badly. Strike two-and-three-quarters.

Service, thankfully, was excellent. Our waiter was friendly, unobtrusive, and prompt when we needed him.

Final cost was $160 for two, including three courses, wine, tax & tip. I'll definitely return -- plenty more items of interest on the dessert menu -- but I won't be a regular.