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Just beginning planning for trip in May- help in 9th and more

My husband and I stayed in the 9th, first week of January. We were near the St. Georges metro station. Below is a link to my recent report - includes restaurants and wine bars in the 9th. Don't miss Rue des Martrys for great bakeries especially Landemaine. There is a cheese shop mentioned in my post that I think one of the other commenters correctly identified (I never got the name but the cheeses we bought from there were divine).

Feb 07, 2015
spicygal in France

Paris trip report (long)

First of all, I want to thank the contributors to this board for their posts, suggestions, and advice. It was a great resource for research and planning the food portion of our Paris vacation. My husband and I were in Paris January 2-8, 2015. Our goal was to avoid tourist trap restaurants, and experience Parisian bistro/brasserie fare as well as some "finer" dining. We are also very much into wine, which informed a lot of our choices. We stayed in the 9th, and found the area a good base for exploring the city, not to mention so many great places within walking distance of our hotel. Now, onto the food!

Les Saisons
52 Rue Lamartine, 75009 Paris
Dinner our first night in Paris. Shared ½ dozen oysters, I had the filet de lomo de cochon mariné à l'espelette (pork loin marinated in espelette). Husband had their version of the famous “Lièvre à la Royale" which was rabbit stuffed with some foie gras among other things, in a sauce made with rabbit blood. Very good meal.

Les Sardinac
27 Rue Richer, 75009
Found this place based on a recommendation from this board - a good choice for a place to have wines by the glass. We waited out Le Richer there. The young woman who served us was personable and knowledgeable about the wines. Recommend.

Le Richer
2 Rue Richer, 75009
They don't take reservations, and the wait on a Saturday night was almost an hour. It was worth it. We ordered 3 things to share. One was a very creative riff on stuffed cabbage – it had clementines, pork belly, cruciferous vegetables, nuts, mushrooms -- so savory and flavorful. The wild boar terrine was average, if not a little disappointing. We really enjoyed our last dish which was braised beef cheek with grapes, caramelized onion, roasted parsnips and pickled radish.

L'Avant Comptoir
3 Carrefour de l'Odéon, 75006
We liked it so much we ended up going back a second time. Both visits were at lunchtime. Great selection of wines by the glass, helpful servers, and all of the small plates we had were well done - in particular, a dish of caramelized chunks of roasted pork belly that was just fabulous.

Marche d'Aligres
Place d’Aligre 75012
A covered market in the 12th. It was fun to walk around and take in the scene and all the vendors. Appeared to be some great cheese shops inside, too.

Le Baron Rouge
1 Rue Théophile Roussel, 75012
We hit this place for lunch after visiting the Marche d'Aligre - apparently a popular thing to do, as it was packed when we went (a Sunday afternoon). There was an oyster stand outside where you wait in line to order your oysters and once you get them you eat them literally anywhere you can (inside standing at the bar, inside standing at communal-type tables, on crates and barrels outside the restaurant, on a neighbor's windowsill outside - anything goes). They have a staggering number of wines by the glass - the muscadet and white cotes du rhone were great with our oysters. We also got a plate of cheese and coppa to share. Caveat - when crowded like it was, you’ve got to be pretty aggressive and jostle your way to the bar to order which can be a little chaotic and intimidating, but ultimately it was a very fun experience for us.

Jeanne A.
42 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011
A welcome little surprise that my husband stumbled upon while doing some impromptu research. We went for dinner on a Sunday, and each had the 2 for 23E menu. My starter was called “detox vegetable soup” (it being right after the holidays, I felt compelled to choose it). It was ok but a little too citrusy or gingery in bites, for my palate. For the main I had roast chicken which was perfectly seasoned, very enjoyable, and better than any restaurant roast chicken I've had in the US. Husband’s starter was a foie gras spread with prune jam and for the main, he had the roast leg of lamb. Our mains came with sides of gratin dauphinois and perfectly dressed salad. Portions were generous for sure. Overall, a very casual and unassuming place - perhaps a locals joint - we were definitely the only English speakers. Jeanne A also offers take away and sells cheese and other kitchen/dining ware type items.

69 Rue des Gravillieres 75003
We wanted one Moroccan meal on the trip, and this ended up being convenient to some sightseeing venues. Overall, it was underwhelming. We each had the 2 course set lunch with beverage. My bourek starter was good. I’d selected the merguez and chicken couscous for the main. The merguez was good but the rest of the dish was bland. Husband started with moroccan salad, which was nice, followed by lamb tagine. In his words, it tasted more like a British pub meal than a Moroccan dish. The portions were huge, the couscous and tagine were not finishable. We wished there were more assertive flavors – more spices, preserved lemon, that kind of thing, but maybe we just ordered the wrong dishes or our expectations were out of whack with the style of food served here.

Le Verre Vole
67 Rue de Lancry, 75010
Liked this place a lot, in spite of its "hipster" vibe. We shared monkfish cheek beignets to start. I had the sausage dish which was very traditional, with excellent mashed potatoes and salad on the side. Husband had pork loin with pureed parsnip, cockles and pickled shiitakes - outstanding and inventive combination of flavors. There’s no wine list, your server picks for you. The bottle of St. Joseph we had with our meal was perfect, as were the whites by the glass to start – a Corsican white and a white blend from Aix en Provence. Finished with a small cheese course. Wine by the bottle is available for purchase/take away.

Cafe Constant
139 Rue Saint-Dominique, 75007
We went for lunch, and it was booming (in particular we suspect it's listed in guidebooks for tourists from Asia). Husband had the 3 course set menu – a fried cod ball stuffed w/egg and onion, duck breast with ginger coriander sweet potatoes, and a divine millefeuille for dessert ... there was so much vanilla bean in that creme! I had a veal chop with white beans - veal was cooked perfectly but a little tough. The beans on the side were superb.

Le Cave des Abbesses in Montmartre
43 Rue des Abbesses, 75018
A poster on this board recommended it for wines by the glass, and it was wonderful, to our taste anyway. It’s in the back of a wine shop and has no ambience whatsoever. The night we were there we had a great server – a young man with a real passion for wine. We didn't eat there, but people who did all seemed to order the grande mixte plate which could easily be enough for dinner for two – a gorgeous looking platter of cured meats, pates and cheeses, with great looking bread.

Le Dit Vin
68 Rue Blanche, 75009. Also recommended on this board for wines by the glass. We went in for wine and ended up liking our server and the vibe so much we stayed for dinner. Husband started with a rutabaga soup that was so creamy and thick, we think it may have had pureed nuts in it (in addition to copious amounts of cream, of course). For my main, I ordered the beef braised in cider with carrots and mushrooms. It was similar to a Boeuf Bourgignon - well done, could’ve used a little more salt, but ultimately a little boring after awhile as there were no sides or other accompaniments. Husband had the boudin blanc which had some foie gras inside, with parsnip puree on the side. Fantastic. We had to finish with a cheese plate, as the cheeses were on display in the restaurant not far from the entrance. The “small” plate for 7 Euro had 7 cheeses – all perfectly on point. Wine is available to purchase for takeaway.

Le Rouge et Le Verre
8 rue de Maubeuge 75009
Another 'hound's recommendation for wines by the glass. It is a wine shop with a couple of tables inside. We’d planned to simply have a glass of wine here, but ended up having to get food (a mixed plate of cured meats and cheese) because their license requires food be served along with alcohol. OK, but not as good as Le Cave des Abbesses or Le Dit Vin.

Le Chenin
33 Rue le Peletier, 75009
A pretty much "down the middle" type place - overall a solid dinner. Traditional bistro food and ambience. We got our beef fix here - husband got the entrecote de boeuf, and I got the steak tartare. Proprietors were very friendly and welcoming. Mostly French speakers, save for one other table of American tourists.

5-6 Rue du Nil, 75002
We splurged for our last dinner in Paris and it was a very memorable meal. We chose the 5 course (+ dessert, so really 6 courses) chef's menu with wine pairings. Every dish was beautifully presented and excellently done. They were: tete de veau, scallops with dried persian lemon and vanilla powder, a white fish in broth with mushrooms, a gnocchi dish, and roast chicken with kumquat and sunchoke. The dessert was an apple "terrine" with shiso ice cream and salted caramel sauce. I am not a dessert person, but this ranks among the best desserts I've ever had. Our only criticism of this place is that for 50 Euro each, the pours on the wine pairings were stingy.

Other standouts:
Landemaine Bakery on Rue des Martrys
Cheesemonger on Rue des Martrys - did not get the name, but I think the address is #3? The store is near the bottom of the hill. We bought a lot of cheese from here on our last day, and managed to get it all back to the US without difficulty.

Ahhhh if only vacation didn't have to end...

Feb 03, 2015
spicygal in France

Good place for wines by the glass in or near the 9th?

Thanks Parigi and VaPaula for the recommendations. We'd actually wandered into Les Sardinac the other night while waiting out Le Richer, and enjoyed it. Last night we started at La Cave des Abbesses. The younger guy working the cafe in the back (did not get his name, unfortunately) is very passionate about wine and was a pleasure to talk to. We then walked down to Le Vin Dit, ordered another glass of wine, and liked the ambience/vibe in there so much that we stayed for dinner which was delightful, especially the "small" plat des fromages - it may have been a small plate but there were 7 cheeses on it to sample and they were all on point. Fantastic.

Jan 07, 2015
spicygal in France

Good place for wines by the glass in or near the 9th?

My husband and I have been staying in the 9th since Friday Jan 2, and have a couple of days left. Does anyone have recommendations for a wine bar or similar type of place in or near the 9th or nearby where we can enjoy a good selection of wines by the glass? Le Bouclier de Bacchus, which I was so much looking forward to based on recommends from this board, is closed this week unfortunately. Thanks!

(And I'll submit a full report post-trip, as many recommendations for dining have come from this board and we have had enjoyable experiences so far)

Jan 06, 2015
spicygal in France

Sunday (pub?) meal & Indian dinner help

Spending two nights in London (Dec 28 and 29) and looking for recommendations for a Sunday night dinner and good Indian food for the following night. We were thinking a solid pub style meal would be a good choice for Sunday, as we'll be jet lagged and most likely not up for more than that. And we really would love Indian for dinner on Monday. Places don't have to be high end, just solid Chowhound recommendations. We are staying at the Hilton at Paddington so we could stay close to our hotel or use public transport. This board has never done me wrong - looking forward to hearing from other 'hounds in the know. Thanks!

Dec 16, 2014
spicygal in U.K./Ireland

Eating in the 9th - Jan 2-9: Closures?

After reading a recent thread on the 9th on this board, I am thinking of making that my home base for a week in Paris with my husband (Jan 2-9, 2015). Should I be concerned about restaurants being closed this time of year, given the proximity to Christmas and New Years holidays?

Dec 04, 2014
spicygal in France

Reservations - timing

Thanks, all. Last week I started emailing places we are interested in regarding holiday schedules. Glad to know we can book a few days out. As folks have mentioned, not ideal to be *too* scheduled so we'll have some plans A and B and go from there. Will report back!

Dec 14, 2013
spicygal in Italy

Reservations - timing

Visiting Parma, Bologna, Orvieto and Rome from Dec 27-Jan 7. We plan to dine primarily at the types of less touristy establishments recommended by posters on this board, as well as our Slow Food Guide and Plotkin's Italy for the Gourmet Traveler (thanks to this board for sending me to this great resource, I love this book). Can anyone give a general guideline as to how far in advance we would need to make reservations - if at all - for lunches or dinners? Again just looking for general advice here. Thanks.

Dec 13, 2013
spicygal in Italy

Parma / Bologna - Cooking Class & Bologna New Years Eve

My husband and I will be in Parma on December 27th and 28th and in Bologna from December 29-January 1. Two rather specific questions:

1. Can anyone recommend a PASTA MAKING class in Parma or Bologna that we could take during this time? We are not looking for one of the general-type cooking classes as we are fairly experienced home cooks.

2. Having never traveled abroad at this time of year, what can we expect on New Years Eve in terms of dining options in Bologna? Any specific restaurant recommendations for this situation? We are definitely not looking for a "special event" type new years eve dinner like what is often on offer in American restaurants (and which we avoid like the plague).


Dec 04, 2013
spicygal in Italy

One night in Seattle & one near Redmond

Wanted to thank everyone for the suggestions and thought I'd give a recap of the trip.

We were staying in Redmond with family. Our first night we went to Anthony's HomePort in Kirkland for late night happy hour bites. Food was solid, nothing to write home about necessarily, but after a flight and just wanting something casual and inexpensive, it hit the spot.

The next day we did lunch at Monsoon in Capitol Hill - very good - all of the dishes were spot on. That night we ended up at Spinasse. Even though I'd been before, so glad to revisit. It was wonderful. Food, ambience, everything. We shared the appetizer sampler, I had the small size pasta with ragu, my husband had 2 small size pastas (one was the night's special - a stuffed bowtie shaped pasta w/braised goat filling and the other a ravioli), and brother had the rabbit main with a side of the pasta with butter/sage.

Saturday we had a late breakfast at The 5 Point Cafe in Belltown. It wasn't planned, we just walked by it, saw it had a good crowd and thought it would be a good place to stop. Service was not great but my husband's breakfast was quite good - some sort of Mexican omelette - HUGE portion. That night we dined at Staple and Fancy in Ballard. We did not opt for the family style tasting menu, though I've heard that's the way to go.

Finally as to Redmond, we stopped in to Redmond Bar & Grill for a quick lunch during the Seahawks game. Good bar food and the service was actually somewhat remarkable given how packed they were for the game.

Sep 30, 2013
spicygal in Greater Seattle

NYC style Chinese food in Los Angeles

Second the recommend for Fu's Palace. I grew up in the NJ/NY area but have been in LA half my life - this is the only place so far where I've found Chinese food that tastes like "home". Friendly servers, good service, good food.

Sep 30, 2013
spicygal in Los Angeles Area

One night in Seattle & one near Redmond

Looking for dinner recommendations - will be in Seattle one night and in the Redmond area the other, in a few weeks.

On prior visits to Seattle, I've dined at Spinasse and Quinn's - really loved them both but want to try something new. Any recommendations for a place with a similar "feel" in terms of ambience and style of food would be great.

Know very little about Redmond although based on searching the board, it is looking like we may need to venture to Kirkland or Bellevue to find better food?

Sep 09, 2013
spicygal in Greater Seattle

The wonderful "Le Saint Amour" in Culver City reportedly (hopefully just temporarily!) closed

Completely agree that Saint Amour's departure leaves a hole in the Culver City dining scene. Really liked the food and the vibe and was so sad to see it close. Very authentic, good wines, those amazing house cured olives and the house made sausages especially. We seem to be a bit oversaturated with the gastropub concept in downtown CC - City Tavern, Ford's Filling Station and now the new place taking over the former Fraiche location which is touting itself as a gastropub by the owners of the Daily Grill chain. (The name escapes me). Not sure how to classify Rush Street but that too could somewhat fall into the gastropub category.

Sep 19, 2012
spicygal in Los Angeles Area

New York Pizza in Clver City

La Rocco's is a real winner. It is the closest thing I have found nearby that is like the pizza I grew up with (central NJ). I've tried Abbot's/Grey Block and, IMO, find La Rocco's to be much better, both in terms of taste and quality, and price. The prices at Grey Block definitely seem rather high to me for what you get. Reasonable 'hounds will disagree / debate these two places, I'm sure.

Rocco's is basically a loud sports bar for the 20-something crowd; can't speak to their food as I haven't tried it.

Sep 19, 2012
spicygal in Los Angeles Area

Late night eating

We're arriving into PDX Wednesday night at around 9:30. We will have access to a car. Any recommendations for late night places to grab a drink and something tasty (not dessert )?

Aug 03, 2012
spicygal in Metro Portland

Best seafood-based Vietnamese dishes in Little Saigon/Westminster

Thanks for the recommendations. Will report back!

Mar 02, 2012
spicygal in Los Angeles Area

Best seafood-based Vietnamese dishes in Little Saigon/Westminster

I'll be in the Little Saigon / Westminster area on Saturday and even though I am off meat for the time being, I'd love to have great, authentic seafood-based Vietnamese food while I'm there. Any recommendations for particular dishes and places to visit?


Mar 01, 2012
spicygal in Los Angeles Area

Barcelona in November

I dined at Hisop last month. It was wonderful. I seem to recall not seeing the wine pairing option on the menu, but we did ask our server about it (luckily she spoke a bit of English, as we were fumbling around with our phrasebook) and the option was available. I recommend the pairing, thought they did a very nice job. And if you are into cheese, definitely get the cheese course.

Oct 24, 2011
spicygal in Spain/Portugal

Spain Report Part 1 - Barcelona

First, a thank you to everyone who posted on this board in response to my earlier queries, especially PBSF and Erica. We were in Barcelona for barely three days (9/17-20) – great city and great food, and I know we only barely scratched the surface in that short time.

Day 1

Our first lunch was at BAR PINOXTO in the La Boqueria Market. I’d read that it’s always crowded and it certainly was, but it was pretty easy to muscle our way in and order (and eventually get one seat). We shared a few things – a dish of white beans and baby squid drizzled with olive oil and balsamic; an order of croquettas (ham and mushroom/cheese) and a third plate of small whole fried white fish served over salad greens with a simple oil and vinegar dressing. It seemed a bit pricey but overall worth the experience of eating inside the market. IMO, La Boqueria is a must see for any food lover. It’s sensory overload in the best way possible. We bought some of the high end jamon to nibble on and also visited the juice vendor at the entrance to the market which had more choices and combinations of fresh juices than I’d ever seen. We settled on a strawberry mango juice which was refreshing and sweet on a hot day.

Dinner our first night was at HISOP (Passatge Marimon, 9;, which I had seen recommended many times on this board and which I’d reserved a few weeks in advance of our trip. It did not disappoint. We each had the tasting menu and wine pairing. The menu we were given did not specify that a wine pairing was available but our server was very helpful and spoke English well enough for all of us to communicate. The tasting menu with wine pairing was 70 Euro per person. Courses were:

Amuses: (1) Clam served in a shotglass with a sea water and vanilla foam and (2) Anchovy tartare, not sure of the sauce it was in but it seemed like a romesco or similar to a romesco
First course: 2 slender prawns with tarragon and almond puree
Second course: Monkfish over saffron rice
Third course: Squab with Armagnac sauce, served alongside julienned mango and a small quenelle of lavender ice cream
Fourth course: Cheese plate
Fifth course: Dessert – dense (possibly flourless) chocolate cake with cool yogurt and (I'm pretty sure) an eggplant-based ice cream. Instead of wine with this course, it was paired with a beer which really worked. This course blew me away, and I’m not a dessert person, so that’s saying something.
Everything was excellent – the monkfish and squab were my personal highlights for the non-dessert courses.

Day 2

Lunch at EL XAMPANYET (Carrer de Montcada, 22). A lively place to grab some pinxtos conveniently located just down from the Picasso Museum. We were there for lunch on a Sunday and the place was packed, mostly with locals. We did not see many other tourists. Service was fast, even with the big crowd. We nibbled on smoked mussels, marinated fish and sweet cherry peppers stuffed with a soft, fresh white cheese.

For dinner we did a pinxto crawl in the El Born based entirely on recommendations from this board and it was wonderful. Our first stop was LA VINYA DEL SENYOR (Santa Maria, 5). Wonderful little wine bar, with an impressive, lengthy selection of wines by the glass. We each ordered glasses of wine and shared a dish of raw salt cod, a dish called “inch of foie gras” which is foie on two small pieces of toast sprinkled with sea salt and a meatball with porcini sauce.

Our next stop was SAGARDI (Carrer de l'Argenteria, 62) which was probably our favorite stop. Wonderful olives and peppers, piquillo peppers stuffed with tuna, blood sausage, croquettas.

Next we tried EUSKAL EXTEA (Montcada, 1), which had similar offerings to Sagardi and the pinxtos were top notch. We preferred the ambience in Sagardi a bit more.

Our final stop was BAR DEL PLA (did not note address). It was about to close when we arrived so I can’t say definitively whether I’d recommend it or not as we didn’t stay long or eat much - my BF ordered the Crema Catalan and thought it was OK but nothing spectacular and I finished my evening with their house cava which was nice.

Day 3

Dinner at TAKTIKA BERRI (C/ Valencia, 169), Basque fare. Good, simple food and a good value. The portions were larger than we expected. We shared a huge omelette with salt cod (Tortilla Bacalao), white beans in broth (Pochas de Navarra), fried pork cutlets (Lomo de Cerdo) and the winner of the evening – hake atop a garlic butter sauce sprinkled with crispy fried garlic and rings of dried red pepper (Tronco Merluza, which is apparently their signature dish). Entire meal including bread charge, bottle of water, bottle of a local white wine (only 8,50 Euro and it went great with the food) and an after dinner drink for the BF came to just under 64 Euro.

Basically, everything we ate and drank in Barcelona was good, from the cheap sandwiches we'd grab on the go in the mornings before heading out for the heavy sightseeing to whatever inexpensive house wines we'd order with our pinxtos.

Will post reports for Sevilla, Granada and Madrid separately.

Oct 13, 2011
spicygal in Spain/Portugal

Madrid - reservations required or recommended at these restaurants?

Does anyone know if reservations are required (or recommended) at these places for dinner:

La Cabrera

The website for La Cabrera is particularly confusing to me as I don't speak the language and I cannot tell if there are different locations for "Gastropub" versus "Casa de America" - they are different tabs on the site.


Sep 07, 2011
spicygal in Spain/Portugal

Sunday and Monday in Barcelona - questions

We are staying in the Barri Gotic for 3 nights (17,18,19 september). I have searched the board - here are my specific questions, if anyone can help.

Based on my searches, lunch in Barceloneta on Sunday could be a fun thing to do. La Cova and Can Mano come up frequently on this board. Is it recommended to have a reservation at either of these?

Based on my searches, a pinxto crawl in El Born is one of our options for Sunday night. I have seen recommendations on this board for Euskal Extea and Sagardi. I am having a hard time confirming if these places are in fact open on Sunday night. Are they? I assume you do not need to reserve but if I am wrong please let me know.

I have not come up with a plan for dinner on Monday night. Saturday night we have reservations at Hisop which we are looking forward to. One restaurant I was thinking of for dinner on Monday is Gresca. A concern is that it will be too much like Hisop. Critiques / thoughts / alternate suggestions for Gresca welcome.


Sep 03, 2011
spicygal in Spain/Portugal

Barcelona: 1 must have dinner, some mid-range options and tapas

Thanks so much PBSF and Erica - we're now reserved at Hisop. I'm very excited. I'm going to do some additional research on other meals and will probably hit you both up for thoughts once I've narrowed things down more. I realize my initial post was a bit unfocused.

Aug 23, 2011
spicygal in Spain/Portugal

Barcelona: 1 must have dinner, some mid-range options and tapas

Thanks Erica and PBSF. All of your reviews on this board are great. I would like to try Hisop for dinner - it will be on a Saturday night in mid-September. I tried reserving through the restaurant's website and I am not sure it worked - I got a strange automated message when I went to enter the reservation, saying something about "2 days." It's unclear to me what it means. I have been searching all over the internet for their reservation policy but cannot find anything. Any information you have on whether there is a particular reservation policy for Hisop (like Cinq Sentitis - it is clear with them that reservations open up 2 weeks in advance) I'd be most grateful.

Aug 22, 2011
spicygal in Spain/Portugal

Barcelona: 1 must have dinner, some mid-range options and tapas

I will be in Barcelona for 3 nights in September. There is so much information on this board that it makes it difficult to sort through. We are staying in the Gothic Quarter and will rely on walking, public transport or taxi to get around.

I was thinking of planning one dinner at a must-visit restaurant, a lunch and a dinner at solid, mid-range good quality places (but preferably not too touristy) and a night of tapas.

I am looking for recommendations for:

(1) The must-visit restaurant. Based on my searches, I have Cinc Sentits, Alkima, Hisop and Gaig on my list.

(2) The mid-range places. For these, I was thinking at least one lunch in Barceloneta on a Sunday but need advice as to which places are good.

(3) Tapas crawl. Any suggestions?

Thanks for any advice you can give.

Aug 19, 2011
spicygal in Spain/Portugal

Woodinville - wine tasting & lunch

Thanks to all for the recommendations. I wanted to share my trip report for others on this board.

Before our excursion out to Woodinville, we'd stopped by Salumi in Seattle for some sandwiches to go. The line out the door was worth it - the sandwiches were very good, and generously sized. We stuck to pretty basic combinations - basic salumi with provolone, soppressatta with mozzarella) but they were enjoyable and filling.

In Woodinville, we tasted at Chateau Ste. Michelle, Brian Carter and the tasting room for Delille, which is right next to Brian Carter. We were able to eat our sandwiches inside at Chateau Ste. Michelle - it was raining and not conducive to sitting outside, which was a shame because the property is quite nice. The people there were very friendly and welcoming and escorted us into a large room in the back with a few tables where we could spread out and enjoy our sandwiches. On a scale of 1-10, I'd give their wines a 7 - the Merlot that was on their tasting menu was the standout, IMO.

Next we tasted at Brian Carter and this was by far my favorite place. They had a Rhone-style white, a lovely Sangiovese-based rose, a great "Super Tuscan" style red, a Tempranillo based red blend, a Bordeaux-style red and a fantastic Chateauneuf du Pape-style red. We enjoyed them all, found them well structured, well balanced and food friendly (alcohol levels on all the wines were between 13.5% and 14.1%).

Delille was our final stop of the day. We enjoyed all the wines, although the ones that really stood out on the tasting menue were all $75/bottle which, for my budget, is pretty darn pricey. As between Delille and Brian Carter, I thought the Brian Carter wines were the better bang for your buck - all were high quality and $30 or less.

One more thing to report was our dinner in Seattle. My brother and I went to Cascina Spinasse, and really enjoyed it. The service was excellent and the suggested wine pairings with the meal were spot on (we went by the glass). We shared an appetizer - crespelle with ricotta and wild ramps - very good and paired with an Arneis that our server had recommended. I'd heard that their pastas were highly recommended, so I tried the magtaliatte (sp?) with pork braised in milk. The texture of the pasta was fantastic - so light and airy. The meat was also very good and fork tender, but I wish there had been more of a "sauce" aspect to the dish. My brother's dish was the standout - whole trout. It was simply outstanding. Perfectly moist flesh on the inside, perfectly crisped skin on the outside, sitting on a very light, broth-like sauce. Our server told us that the base of the sauce was a simple fish brodo, but the chef added a sweet and sour-type element (I am thinking some sort of vin santo or high quality vinegar) and also some olives and pine nuts.

309 3rd Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

Cascina Spinasse
1531 14th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122

Jun 01, 2010
spicygal in Greater Seattle

Woodinville - wine tasting & lunch

Thanks for the recommendations. I guess I should have been clearer when explaining varietals. Of course many of the classic french wines are made with CabSauv, Merlot, Grenache, Syrah, I was thinking more in terms of varietals not as often seen in American wines but sometimes more often in European wines (France and Italy in particular) - Picpoul Blanc would be a good example for France and Italy, well, there are just so many obscure italian varieties it makes the head spin.

Tedfood, I'm interested in your recs regardless of Old World v. New World styles as I'm totally unfamiliar with what Woodinville has to offer. THANKS!

May 19, 2010
spicygal in Greater Seattle

Woodinville - wine tasting & lunch

I will be spending a Saturday in Woodinville near the end of the month. Looking for recommendations for good wineries and also for places to grab a light lunch.

While I like most wines, I would be interested in any places doing more old world style wines, whether with French or Italian varietals, if they exist in this area.

May 17, 2010
spicygal in Greater Seattle

Cinque Terre Finalists (does Il Pirata really serve frozen pasta?!!)

We ate at Cantina di Mananan in Corniglia in September and really enjoyed it. Corniglia is small and probably the least touristy of the Cinque Terre towns. Before dinner we ducked into a small bar that was a door or two down from the restaurant and enjoyed some nice local Ligurian white wine. I'd definitely recommend this place.

May 06, 2010
spicygal in Italy

Mezza - Chow Alert for Excellent Lebanese Cuisine in the Southern Hemisphere of the Westside

We've been twice now and have enjoyed it both times. A good addition to the neighborhood, for sure.

On our visits, we've had:

-falafel. Good flavor, crispy outside and moist without being mushy.
-grape leaves. These were a HUGE hit with the table.

-Chef Najwa salad. All ingredients were fresh, the apples were a nice touch, amount of dressing was just right.
-Vegetarian plate.
-Kafta Kabob
-Musakaa (as a main, it's also on the appetizer portion of the menu)

All of the above were good, portions are big. The baba ganouj is yummy - another poster above mentioned the smokiness which I love so if that is your thing, I'd definitely order it here.

At one of our dinners, our guests ordered the half and half kabob and the gyro. While we did not taste their dishes, they gave them a thumbs-up.

Service has been good both times. A little over-enthusiastic on our first visit -- which we found out was when the place was only open a few days. A few too many people asking us how our food was which can be a little bit annoying (once or twice is fine but it happened, like 5 times in the span of less than 20 minutes). 2nd time was better in that regard.

I hope the place does well.

Apr 19, 2010
spicygal in Los Angeles Area

Paso Robles - Panolivo / McPhee's?

Just wanted to report back. We ended up at Thomas Hill Organics for dinner. For starters, I had the beet salad with goat cheese and beet reduction (very large portion, great tasting beets, and the BF had to help me finish) and the BF had a shaved romanesco and cauliflower salad with candied olives and kumquats. Both were really good. For mains, I had something from the app / starter menu - the halibut cheek salad, and the BF had the black cod. We enjoyed both dishes, but each of us thought that there was a little too much "going on" on the plate in terms of flavors and maybe the chef could've used one less ingredient or flavor profile in each dish so as to make what's there more accessible.

We would definitely go back and try the pizzas next time - they looked quite good.

A note about the service - it could use some work. It was a bit disjointed and my observations of watching the wait staff come and go struck me as a them being a little bit confused as to who was covering what tables. Also, I had made a reservation early that week and they did not have our table when we got there so we ended up with probably the worst table in the house (in the bar area, next to the bathroom and the door to the outside patio).

Thomas Hill Organics
1305 Park St, Paso Robles, CA

Apr 12, 2010
spicygal in California