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One day in September to visit bakeries

I lived in SF for 3 years and have spent a lot of time the last 2 years exploring NY bakeries. There are plenty of tasty bakery goods in NY, two of which I am doubtful of finding replacements for elsewhere:

1. Donuts at Dough. I will miss Dough than any other "bakery good" in NY. Most would prefer Doughnut Plant, but I never went back after trying Dough (and I prefer Dough over Dynamo). Dough changed donuts for me the way that Tartine changed bread. If you like yeast donuts, give one of Dough's fruit-based glaze flavors a try. Their actual Brooklyn shop will have the best and most variety, but there is nothing near it so I don't suggest going there w/such limited time. If you are stuck in Manhattan you can find their donuts resold at the Whole Foods on Bowery & Houston, Gasoline Alley Coffee near Bleecker St MTA, and in the mornings at Culture Espresso in midtown. Side note, if you like chocolate chip cookies, Culture makes my favorite when they are hot from the oven. Almost an inch thick, crispy exterior, almost liquid center.

2. Bien Cuit for the BROA DE MILHO: Corn & Wheat Flours, Fermented with Milk. This bread has a crisp crust and but light crumb almost like cornbread. Buttery, unique flavor.

On bread specifically, out of the bakeries you've listed the only ones that approach Tartine's complexity of flavor to me would be Balthazar's Pain de Seigle and Bien Cuit's Miche. That said, I don't buy either. The only bread that I purchase when I am craving Tartine's flavor is the City White from Robertas in Brooklyn (a very worthy trip if you can reserve a loaf and eat their dinner plates). Not a Tartine replacement, but very delicious. I also like the baguettes from Kayser.

As for Ansel, I think the visual craftsmanship of their pastries has steadily gone downhill since they opened, and especially so since the cronut. My favorite item of theirs was the DKA, but it is almost never in stock after 10 am.

For macarons, my local favorite overall are from bisous ciao. For a point of comparison, my favorite in SF were from Miette.

You didn't mention pie, but I still have yet to find pie as good as Crixa in Berkeley, though Yura's are excellent.

Oh, and no NYC canele is consistently better than Boulettes Larder.

Aug 24, 2013
justtryit in Manhattan

The Modern Dining Room: Lunch vs. Dinner?

Not so much atmosphere, but more the service provided by the restaurant. Many places save specialties for dinner service, so the kinds of differences I'd be interested in include a difference in the number of amuses, variety or existence of the mignardises cart, bread service, etc.

Not concerned with differences in portion sizes.

Jul 12, 2013
justtryit in Manhattan

The Modern Dining Room: Lunch vs. Dinner?

How does the experience in the main dining room at the Modern compare at lunch and dinner services? Would likely get the 4 course option either way.

Jul 12, 2013
justtryit in Manhattan

Must eats in Budapest, Vienna, Prague

That email worked and I got a table!

Many thanks for everyone's help, I've managed to reserve Rudis Beisl, Meierei, Steirereck, Freyenstein, and Walter Bauer. I think I will leave Vestibul to chance for a walk in if the mood strikes us, even though I checked and they have openings now for a reservation.

Can't wait to happen upon bakeries, markets, and street foods!

I was also organizing all the suggestions from colleagues. Any thoughts on Schweizerhaus? They say it is the place to go for pork knuckle (http://www.schweizerhaus.at/

)

If you have any first hand comments on their other suggestions below (e.g. actually good vs tourist traps), I would appreciate them!
-Glacis Beisl im Museumsquartier (Zugang Breitegasse 4 Museumplatz 1, A 1070 Wien)
-Orlando di Castello (Freyung 1, 1010 Wien) for cake & coffee
-Cafe Prukel/Prückel for the Topfenstrudel, a Melange, and people watching(Stubenring 24, 1010 Wien)
-Onyx Bar for a view (Stephansplatz 12, 6th floor inside the Do & Co hotel, 1010 Wien)
-FIGLMÜLLER for wienerschnitzel and Erdäpfel-Vogerlsalat” / potato and field salad
-http://www.zanoni.co.at/ for the best icecream in vienna

May 15, 2013
justtryit in Europe

Must eats in Budapest, Vienna, Prague

Thanks for the tip! By any chance do you know if Rudis Beisl has an email address? I was hoping to reserve lunch with them, but the email listed (rudisbeisl@gmail.at) on Michelin is incorrect.

http://www.viamichelin.com/web/Restau...

I appreciate your help!

May 12, 2013
justtryit in Europe

Must eats in Budapest, Vienna, Prague

Thanks for that tip, I got a Freyenstein reservation! So excited to have local vegetables highlighted, as those tend to be the most memorable dishes we have across our tasting menu meals.

As for Rudi's Beisl, would you recommend lunch or dinner? Originally I was thinking lunch but now I wonder if there is a notable difference between the menus (website is currently down). Also, how do the atmospheres compare between lunch and dinner? I think I will reserve there next and then see what's available among the rest of your recommendations. If you have insights to these same questions regarding Walter Bauer, comparing lunch & dinner, I'd certainly appreciate those too!

*Side note...the board seems dead quiet on Prague and Budapest.

May 09, 2013
justtryit in Europe

Must eats in Budapest, Vienna, Prague

Perhaps the cuisine at M&S sounds more likely to be found in some American restaurants than distinctly of Vienna (sometimes I feel like plates across many 2+ Michelin stars seem to become "interchangeable"), but the overall M&S dining experience does sound rather unique.

After comparing all of these, a dinner at Freyenstein sounds like our ideal in the combination of unique cuisine with atmosphere, but it looks like email reservations are not possible, so unfortunately I can't plan on that. We will probably only be in Vienna for 3-4 days, so I am looking for a good representation of the cuisine at all levels. So far it looks like:

Lunches:
Rudis Beisl
Meierei / Steirereck
Vestibul

Dinners:
Freyenstein
Walter Bauer
Mraz & Sohn

May 08, 2013
justtryit in Europe

Must eats in Budapest, Vienna, Prague

Looks as if the atmosphere and setting at Walter Bauer is more traditional, whereas Vestibul seems more elegant and updated. I am thinking of doing a dinner at WB and then Vestibul another day for a lunch (as the online photos of the dining room seem especially-suited to daylight!), but was wondering if you think their styles of cooking overlap too much? How would you compare the cuisine of Walter Bauer with Vestibul; should I just choose one?

May 08, 2013
justtryit in Europe

Must eats in Budapest, Vienna, Prague

Wow, some of these sound perfect! Please advise if the restaurants you suggested require reservations, or if walk-ins would work, thanks!

As for Meierei, I was considering that for a lunch. Would you recommend a lunch there more than any of the restaurants you suggested?

May 08, 2013
justtryit in Europe

Must eats in Budapest, Vienna, Prague

Thanks for the insight, it certainly seems like a rather unique experience! I will attempt to go for a dinner.

May 08, 2013
justtryit in Europe

Must eats in Budapest, Vienna, Prague

Heading to these 3 cities (+Krakow) for a fast 2 week trip during the second half of May and am looking for any food recommendations in these cities. Am traveling with one more person, and we eat everything and enjoy all atmospheres from Michelin 3 star to wet market hawkers. Really just looking for recommendations on foods that are superlative examples of each city / country, either on the traditional or progressive ends of the cuisine. Both savory and sweet, from small snacks to multi-course meals.

Also, I realize it is very late to be hoping for fine-dining reservations, but I will still try and appreciate any suggestions throughout these cities! On that note, I have not had any luck with Steirereck in Vienna, and would appreciate any opinions on alternatives. Any opinions of Meierei? Or Mraz & Sohn?

May 07, 2013
justtryit in Europe

Poland (restaurants in Warsaw and Krakow)

Any updated Krakow recommendations? Heading there at the end of May for 2 nights at the end of a two week trip that will also include Budapest, Vienna, and Prague.

Will look into Pod Baranem, but also would like recommendations on anything unique to the city or superlative examples of Polish cuisine in any atmosphere, both savory and sweet. Looking for things that shouldn't be missed, thanks!

May 07, 2013
justtryit in Europe

Din Tai Fung's quality

thanks for all the info! Perhaps I will stick to what's more unique to Seattle then, as I visit the Los Angeles area every year.

Feb 20, 2013
justtryit in Greater Seattle

Din Tai Fung's quality

Wondering if anyone that has been to the Seattle Din Tai Fung has also been to an overseas location and can compare the quality? I am specifically interested in the texture of the dumpling skins, as well as taste of the fillings in the vegetarian steamed dumplings, regular juicy pork XLB, and sweet taro dumplings.

Love steamed dumplings, and the Taipei & Shanghai DTFs are my favorite dumplings ever, but years ago I went to the Los Angeles DTF and found their quality to be inferior. Heading to Seattle for first time and would definitely go by DTF if their dumplings are the same, but don't want to "waste" a meal there if the craftsmanship isn't at the same level.

Feb 17, 2013
justtryit in Greater Seattle

Best Bread in Seattle?

would anybody's recommendations change now, perhaps there's a newcomer on the scene?

I am going to Seattle for my first time this Spring, and looking for truly superlative bread. A slight point of difference from the OP, my favorite bread is from Tartine in SF. I like a naturally fermented bread with a shattering crust and an irregular, wet crumb.

For more examples of the type of bread I'm seeking, I'd point to some NYC places: 1) Roberta's city white, 2) Orwasher's levain locale, 3) Bien Cuit's Miche, 4) Balthazar's Pain de Seigle

Feb 16, 2013
justtryit in Greater Seattle

Atera service mistake and restaurant etiquette

are you saying that this happened to you as well and another customer's beet rolled off their plate and towards you?! Or was it your own beet rolling off of your own plate?

This was definitely not the same night as me, my beet was given back to me and I ate it myself. If this happened more than once, Lightner needs to consider cutting a flat edge on the bottom to make it more stable, or pulling something like the "slice of lemon" trick from the 80s and put some other piece of food or sauce down there to stick it on the plate.

Jul 29, 2012
justtryit in Not About Food

Atera service mistake and restaurant etiquette

on principle, I would hope all food service businesses operate with enough dignity and pride to not serve customers food that has fallen off of customer plates. Replacement of fallen food should be automatic and part of standard operating procedures for the business, and it should be done without the need for customer request. I think this becomes increasingly important as the aspirations of the business increase in atmosphere and price, as well as in open-kitchen and counter dining establishments.

Jul 29, 2012
justtryit in Not About Food

Atera service mistake and restaurant etiquette

Update: the restaurant has since contacted me to apologize for the beet incident, and stated that nobody else was made aware of the mistake while we were at the restaurant. Our complaint about my date being bumped several times without apology was not addressed, which in our eyes, is a bigger negative than the beet mistake.

Jul 29, 2012
justtryit in Not About Food

Atera service mistake and restaurant etiquette

My girlfriend and I went to Atera on Saturday night, and a service mistake happened to me that I don't think I've ever heard about, in any kind of restaurant. I would like to get opinions on if our expectations were off, and if the way we handled it was appropriate. This is long, but I feel like the details are important to know before people start replying.

We were sitting front and center in the middle segment of Atera's U-shaped counter. On that night there were about seven cooks in the open kitchen, including the head chef, along with one main service captain stationed behind the counter. This main server seemed to be the most senior FOH person there and looked to be managing each party's progression throughout the meal and firing each party's ~26 tastes.

The mistake happened in the middle of our meal, during the beet course shown here:
http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.co...
The main server first set down my girlfriend's plate. As my plate was being set down the beet rolled off of the plate, onto the counter, and then proceeded to roll about a foot to my left into the personal dining space of the guest next to me. That guest's two other dining companions were directly facing the oncoming beet. The beet sat on the counter for a few seconds. Meanwhile, my beet-less plate was properly set down in front of me while the server was graciously apologizing and reaching for two saucing spoons. The spoons were used as tongs to pick up the beet, by which point I'm guessing at least 10 seconds had elapsed from the time the beet started moving to the time our server picked it up.

The server moved the beet directly from the bare counter back onto the plate in front of me, in its originally plated position among the other elements of the dish. Finally, both of our plates were sauced and we were told to enjoy the course. Shocked at what just happened, I felt awkward challenging the server's professional choice not to re-cook and serve the course, especially knowing the incident was visible to everyone else in the restaurant. I also did not have an issue with the cleanliness of the beet, though I did pause and wonder if onlookers thought it was weird that I did not request nor receive a new one. I enjoyed the course nonetheless and had no issues eating it.

Most importantly, we were stunned and confused about how to handle the situation, especially since at no other point during the remaining two hours of our meal was the mistake acknowledged by our server nor any other member of the staff. To be fair, we did not raise the mistake to anyone else's attention and we had a great time during the rest of the meal. The same server later gave us the option of the supplement cheese course, and told us it would be at extra cost. No discounts were given to us on our final bill.

At the end of the meal and after much debate, we chose to tip low and write a comment on the card for why the tip was low, and hoped that the restaurant could use the feedback to improve. I noted the beet mishap, and also several servers physically bumping my girlfriend multiple times without apology. We decided to leave a tip because we were not comfortable penalizing the server for one mistake during an otherwise enjoyable four hour meal, and we also complimented the server, who was our favorite among the staff.

More than anything, I feel like the beet mistake was a reflection of management not training their staff how to properly handle the situation. My expectation in that caliber of restaurant would be for the fallen beet to have been immediately thrown away, and then both of our plates cleared, to be re-served asap. Given my experiences in other fine dining restaurants, I would also expect an apology or acknowledgement from the head chef or floor manager asap, though not necessarily any discounts or gifts from the restaurant. I have not received any reactive communication from the restaurant, though I left my email on the comment card.

We are interested to hear how anyone else would have handled this situation from our customer point of view, as well as how people feel the restaurant should have handled it. Though we hope we're never in a similar situation again, if we are we'd like to know the most appropriate way to behave.

Jul 24, 2012
justtryit in Not About Food

EMP: Grid v Tasting

I did not know you could request the pairs on the tasting menu in my previous visits, great info! Do they charge extra for requesting different preparations? And if so, how much more per person/course?

Jul 24, 2012
justtryit in Manhattan

Early Chicken Inconsistencies at The NoMad

perhaps I'm the only person in the world who didn't like the chicken: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/20/din...

Jun 20, 2012
justtryit in Manhattan

Early Chicken Inconsistencies at The NoMad

I want to say that my gluttonous subconscious saw the darkness of the whole bird presented to us and immediately got giddy, thinking "bring on the truffle shower!"

Apr 04, 2012
justtryit in Manhattan

Early Chicken Inconsistencies at The NoMad

that is great insight, thanks! I speculated that's why we liked the brioche so much, if it were foie-laden. My companion did find the chicken skin bitter and inedible, and scraped it clean of brioche and left it on the plate alone. I do appreciate that the white meat tasted like chicken, and wasn't absolutely overpowered by truffle/foie...I guess I was just hoping for a little more decadence.

Not sure if i should start a separate thread on this, but can you comment on how EMP's famed lavender duck compares? Duck is one of our favorite proteins and we've enjoyed all the other poultry courses at EMP we've had so I've often thought about supplementing that to our tasting, but if the duck is cooked to a similar fashion as NoMad's chicken, I'm guessing we wouldn't like it.

Apr 04, 2012
justtryit in Manhattan

Early Chicken Inconsistencies at The NoMad

To start, I am definitely not knocking the restaurant. One inconsistent course does not make a bad meal, and I fully recognize the restaurant JUST opened and has to get in the groove before being meaningfully evaluated. On the whole, we had a wonderful time and plan to return frequently, and will do so excitedly.

My question is if anyone had a non-stellar experience with their chicken? I tried it at dinner opening weekend and was sorely disappointed. Before I state why, just want to throw out there that EMP is our favorite celebration restaurant, and believe I'm being objective. The intent of this report is to see if our Chicken order was bad luck and if the dish is worth ordering in the future. I assume and hope it was an anomaly.

In short, our chicken was overcooked and inconsistently seasoned. The breast serving that my companion got had skin burnt beyond edible (see poor smartphone picture). Mine was a shy dark, but edible for me. Regardless, we found the meat itself to be on the under-seasoned side, and we have lower salt thresholds. Our favorite part of the white meat preparation was the brioche under the skin, and neither of us picked up truffle nor foie on the actual chicken meat (though the truffled potatoes were standout!). The meat was also bordering on dry. Overall this tasted like average roasted chicken breast, which is not devoid of flavor and I sometimes enjoy, but is not really $39 pp territory.

The dark meat we found to be over salted, and also curiously tough. I wonder whether the dark meat in this side dish is from the actual bird they present you, or whether this preparation uses today's roasted dark meat for tomorrow's cooked and served preparation. The salinity of the dark meat was so much greater than the white meat, that my conclusion is the kitchen must have considered one to be incorrect. In this case, I'm guessing the dark meat is how they want it since that presentation style can be tested, whereas a chicken breast served whole would be hard to taste test. If that's true, we prefer the white meat's seasoning.

Some may wonder why we didn't send the chicken back. Simply put, we tend not to do that unless the entire dish is inedible, which this was not (we ate most of it). Just because something I order isn't what I hoped for doesn't mean the kitchen owes me anything or I get a mulligan on my order and money. To me, the only point where I could've considered asking the kitchen for a correction was on presentation of the bird, before serving. At that point though, I didn't think of it, and I tend to defer to a kitchen's judgement. More so than the actual taste of the chicken, this is where I am most disappointed: that the kitchen would actually serve that particular chicken, given that the skin was visually black.

Although there are countless raves about the Chicken and I do think it has amazing potential, I would be hesitant to order this dish again anytime soon, given our experience and the price of it.

Apr 04, 2012
justtryit in Manhattan

Shanghai comparison: Mr & Mrs Bund, Franck, and Stiller's

just wanted to report back on Mr & Mrs. Bund. The service and atmosphere were what I expected: good by China standards, but a bit pushy for service and cavernous atmosphere by Western standards. On the whole I was disappointed in the taste of the food.

-Beef tartare dish had too many other flavors that overpowered the taste of the beef. Too much seasoning and herbs.
-The oversized french fry was interesting, but not flavorful enough to outlast the novelty. The mustard sorbet did not work well...too strong for the taste of the potato, and the cold clashes with the hot of the fried potato.
-The rack of lamb had a tasty olive, herb, and garlic crust, but the meat itself did not taste like lamb. It was cooked fairly well though.
-Lemon & lemon tart was the hit of the night, but would have preferred more curd.

A creative meal, but fell short on flavor. Would not go back for dinner.

Feb 22, 2011
justtryit in China & Southeast Asia

Shanghai comparison: Mr & Mrs Bund, Franck, and Stiller's

Thanks for the price info on Franck! I think that settles it for me, as it is roughly a push in price with M&M Bund.

Stiller's for dinner just seems too expensive to commit to, so I was planning to stop by the bakery to see what the atmosphere of the place is like and perhaps get swayed into trying them out for a meal. I also think I'd rather try them out at their Sunday lunch price.

Dec 22, 2010
justtryit in China & Southeast Asia

Shanghai comparison: Mr & Mrs Bund, Franck, and Stiller's

Very helpful summary! I looked into Goga, but at the end of the day I don't see it as being any different than 80% of the restaurants in SF (where I lived for the last 3 years), so I'm not very interested despite it sounding like a great experience.

I also looked into Table #1, and I might drop in there for a small plate or two, but doesn't seem special enough to me for a surprise date type of occasion.

Franck is really tempting...but I think I am going with Mr & Mrs Bund as their technique sounds a bit more spectacular. Though Franck sounds like the surefire for comforting cuisine, I would rather pay relatively the same price for the added bonus of some culinary showmanship at M&M Bund.

I just spent 2-3 weeks in HK, though I didn't have any Western food...

Dec 22, 2010
justtryit in China & Southeast Asia

Shanghai comparison: Mr & Mrs Bund, Franck, and Stiller's

I went to Jean Georges in 2006 and enjoyed it, and I know it certainly has maintained a reputation for being among Shanghai's best...but my reason for not wanting to dine there is a bit petty. I live a road trip away from NYC, so at some point in my life, I plan to go to his flagship in NYC, so I guess I figure I'll just wait for his best effort.

Dec 22, 2010
justtryit in China & Southeast Asia

Shanghai comparison: Mr & Mrs Bund, Franck, and Stiller's

I've been looking for a Western restaurant with exemplary food to have a weeknight dinner at in January. Have a craving for Western flavors and techniques, so am straying away from places like JG that seem to use a fair amount of Asian flavors. If I had to specify between comforting (say Thomas Keller) vs. intellectual food (say David Kinch), I'd actually prefer more comforting food this time around. That said, if the kitchen is doing classic dishes, I'm looking for textbook versions or inspiring/whimsical twists on them (a la TK).

Date atmosphere is a plus, but less important than lustful food. Meaning we would like to linger over the food and not feel rushed.

Narrowed it down to these 3 after having read the board and other blogs, but can anyone compare each against each other? Other suggestions welcomed, but I am leaning towards Mr & Mrs Bund based on these impressions (de-bunk if wrong!)

Mr & Mrs Bund:
+ Classic dishes and combinations done with new-age technique and whimsy
+ Late hours should ensure relaxed meal pace
+ Seems to be the most unique of the three and least likely to find something comparable outside of Shanghai
- Menu seems absurdly large, but I can't find one in English to see just how "scattered" it really is. Generally I am scared of places that offer too much variety, for fear that they can't focus on doing anything expertly
- The least intimate atmosphere of the 3...seems a bit cavernous

Franck:
+ Classic French dishes
+ Most intimate atmosphere (but is the noise level "raucous"?)
- Not sure what the price point is here. Can anyone ballpark a total for 2-3 starters, 2 mains, and 2 desserts.
- If this really is aiming to be a classic French bistro, it will conjure many points of comparison...how good is it when removed from Asia, and stacked up against a good French bistro in the US, Montreal, etc. Scared that it's a "good bistro for Asia" rather than just a "good bistro".

Stiller's:
+ Most obvious display of newer culinary techniques
+ Seems to best offer the feeling of stumbling upon an up & coming restaurant and area
- Most expensive
- Flavors seem more "international" than I was initially searching for.
- Overall the cuisine and concept seem very commonplace among the upper level of dining these days. While it seems good, I don't feel compelled to spend my meal here if I can find comparable experiences elsewhere, unless the food really is one-of-a-kind

Dec 02, 2010
justtryit in China & Southeast Asia

Best local snacks

Wow thanks for all the amazing sounding suggestions! Thought I would post a link to something I came across, a Montreal food guide created by Tom Sietsema:

http://www.mapageweb.umontreal.ca/fur...

Nov 04, 2009
justtryit in Quebec (inc. Montreal)