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Everything posted by brescd01

  1. I forgot to mention we lunched at Cervantes. We had the house salad and the Galician style squid. Both fresh and very good, though surprisingly the tomatoes are not what we appreciate in European agriculture (and this is not the first time we noticed this). So we went to Donostiarra, $75/person. The restaurant does not have anything like the ambiance of Combarro. More on the level of the 2nd Avenue Delim if anyone here gets that reference. Lots of celebrity picture on the wall. We apparently missed Pierce Brosnan a few days ago, or so said two young women who come frequently despite their being students (what was THAT about?). In any event, the food. We started with the shrimp with garlic and while it was tasty it was not earth-shattering and the portion was very small for the price (I think 27 euros). I made a mistake of ordering two entrees however, steak and lambchops, while we would have been just as happy with one. My wife enjoyed the lambchops more than I did, I don't think I know that much about how lambchops should appear or taste. I didn't think them special. The steak was wonderful and I now recognize the Spanish style for beef after Txirimiri's. It is of course not gradable by American standards because it is not at all marbled, but its flavor is different, much less rich. It was nevertheless tender. I don't think I enjoyed its preparation a much as I did Txirimiri's but the meat was much finer. Though we ordered steak for one it was enough for two. The seats were uncomfortable. The lack of Spanish was disruptive at one point because they serve a hot plate to finish cooking the steak to taste, and I did not understand what this was for or what I should do. The end of the meal was incredibly gracious: they served liqueurs and lovely cookies with chocolates. Then the server gave my wife a plant as a gift, which I thought bizarre. So I would not return there largely because of the atmosphere. I would prefer a "Euro-cool" restaurant because after all, part of why I am in Europe is to get my fill of the European aesthetic. If I did come again, I would order much less, or get more appetizers and only one main course. One nice thing I can say is that as my meal digests, I do not have that sick feeling I get after eating at an American style steakhouse because their meat is so much fattier. I am tempted to go to another marisqueria...
  2. Okay! If the missus continues to feel better, we will go to Donostiarra, an asador. What do you recommend?
  3. Don't cry for me Tsquare! I am not sure what gave you the impression that my trip has been disappointing because it has not been at all. Tonight we enjoyed Combarro. It is very beautiful, perhaps the most beautiful I have seen. I compared it to Oceanaire, which is a high-end American seafood chain with grandiose decorations that somehow are just not attractive, while this was so cheerful. We started with Galician pie and octopus Galician style. The pie was tasty but unremarkable. The octopus was incredible. My wife had turbot and I had the sole. I did not know really what to order. I know that these Spanish seafood restaurants specialize in incredible delicacies but I do not know what they are or what they should taste like. We both enjoyed the fish, but I could see that an expert would need to have several meals with several items to compare "freshness.' Suffice to say the fish was very good though we were not wowed. There was a ovely bar I would not hesitate to return to and there were people eating tapas style there, which is something we do in Philadelphia. By the way, to give you some idea of prices, this dinner was $75/person. The Valencia dinner was $50/person. Tapas seemed to be $35/person. You have to appreciate this is my first time in Spain and we speak no Spanish. Also, I know there is "grand cuisine" in Madrid, but this is not generally to our taste, we prefer "casa de productos" as one poster put it.
  4. I hope that the paella at Valencia gave us a taste of what is possible, because frankly, I do not think I have enjoyed paella I have eaten in the USA. Reservations at Combarro tonight....
  5. Day 3-4 I am sorry for the delay but I have had a cold and I was jet lagged.... As I mentioned, the first night we ate at Casa Valencia, a specialist in paella. The second night we attempted "tapas" at the Santa Ana square near the hotel. I say "attempted" because I have realized that eating tapas is not straightforward, it involves knowing what you like and being in tune with the Madrid rhythm. In Philadelphia, a chef named Garces has promoted the tapas style as a method of presentation. But the experience is not at all the same. In Philadelphia, one sits down and orders a selction of small plates which arrive in an order only understood by the server. They know the formula required to eat enough for dinner and you are done. In Madrid, one walks into a tapas place and you sit or stand. You point to things you want and you are served them. If you cannot eat while standing, you have to leave or wait. These basic facts/skills prevented us from really enjoying our first tapas experience at Santa Ana. We started at the Cervecería Santa Ana and had the simplest plate of tapas possible, ham and cheese. then we went to a minimalist place I think called "Lateral" and had some tapas we did not like that much. The very sweet servers seemed shocked we were not absolutely delighted. I think I was sick and we were both jet lagged. But I do not acknowledge defeat and the following night (day 3) we went to the famous Txirimiri. We stood and it was very crowded. We had tapas and the ox steak. I cannot say that we had a nice time, but we were about to crack the tapas code. The ox steak, for instance, would certainly not rank in the American manner of grading steak. Yet it was deliciously prepared. Again, I think my cold and our jet leg mitigated our pleasure. Day 4 was the charm. I understood that you do not eat in one tapas place, you go to several. You have to be flexible. So we went to Cava Baja and ate at the famous Tempranillo‎. The tapas we had were okay, but we had a really wonderful squid dish (not strictly a tapas) that was special. And we saved room to eat at another two tapas places. The cold and the jet lag had worn off. I cannot say that I enjoyed any particular tapas I ate anywhere (too much mayonaise for my taste). But I admired the style, the system, the socialization, the freedom that a tapas meal grants you. While I have not eaten individual dishes that impressed me (I have not gone to a fine restaurant either), individual ingredients are shocking. Ham, in fact meat in general, appears in a variety that is not a multiple of what we have in Philadelphia, it is an exponential. Smoked salmon is unbelievably wonderful here. All the while, the people of Madrid have been unbelievably gracious and polite despite my frankly revolting appearance and inability to speak any Spanish. I do not know whether these good manners deteriorate in the high season. Tonight, a marisqueria. My wife is slipping fast into the hands of the evil virus, even a I recover. Which one shall we eat at? Temples such as Combarro or O Paso? Or more modest haunts like Rafa or Telegrafo or Gran Barril?
  6. Day 1-2: We arrived for a 8 day trip to Madrid. I had a cold starting the morning of the trip (of course). The seats in the USAir/Spanair plane were the most narrow I have ever sat in, impossible to get comfortable in. We arrived at the Hotel Ritz, one of the 3 most prestigious hotels in Madrid. Before the moderators delete my post, let me get to the food. We ordered room service, porridge and coffee service. The coffee was strong, the porridge savory (which I am not used to). We walked up Serrano, the main shopping drag and the first shop on Serrano is this impossibly elegant emporium called Mallorca. Everything, from pastries to prepared foods looked beautiful. We ate dinner at Casa de Valencia, which supposedly specializes in paella. This was interesting on several counts. First, we actually attempted to eat at La Barraca first, a supposedly touristic but excellent specialist in paella, but much closer. They were booked until 10:30 (we did not have reservations) and on hindsight I suspect they book their earlier seatings on tour groups, because when we went to Valencia across the city, we had no trouble getting seated. First, I don't think I like paella very much. It is too simple. Second, I think this is the only paella I enjoyed at all. For the first time, it was not too salty. We had the seafood variety, with sardines as an appetizer. We made a mess (which I do not like) but the seafood was extremely fresh (which I do like). Dessert, some pastry and a valencia orange bathed in honey, was spectacular not for the pasty but the perfect orange and beautiful dried fruit plate and flask of sweet wine they served with it. I had heard that Spaniards are cold and provide poor service. I have not found this true at all. The Madrilenos are reserved, not cold. But they are extremely polite and gracious. I am writing this at the buffet of the Ritz, possibly the most elegant buffet I have seen. The over-the-top service and elegant buffet almost makes up for the worn-out room, lousy bed, and partial climate control, we were provided. I don't recommend staying at the Ritz (unless our room was the exception) but no one can fault their service.
  7. I tried DiningIn last night for the first time with my wife and a girlfriend for Lee How Fook. It was expensive (about $30/person) but we were pleasantly surprised. The food was delivered about .5 hrs ahead of promised time. It was immaculately packed and labelled and the food was good. The pan fried dumplings were wildly overcooked, the mao po tofu was mediocre, but everything else was at least good and it was a semblance of the "Chinatown" style. So, I start this thread to ask, which restaurants work well in the DiningIn service and which don't? I imagine that certain foods travel well and others don't. Some restaurants must do a better job than others to justify such high prices (unless my food was expensive because Lee How Fook is expensive, I don't know because I have never been to that restaurant in person).
  8. brescd01


    Philadining, I wish you had taken us, what you got looks much nicer than what we got. But the chicken is illustrative: it is actually more Peruvian than Peruvian-Chinese and my wife had it in Peru, and it was (according to her) much more flavorful there. And even I could taste that the pisco sour was weak. When I commented on "authenticity," I meant authentic chifa, which is a style of Chinese food that has evolved in Peru. But many of the dishes are clearly meant to be Peruvian. And I agree with you, authenticity is interesting but most important (to me) is taste, and I left the restaurant a little queasy and not at all ecstatic. Our bill was $64/person including tax and tip. I agree about the portion sizes, except that in and of itself it does not bother me, you just have to order a little differently. Of course, now I want to make a special trip to that northeast Peruvian place for that chicken they never have enough of, I will have to plan a detour on my way back from Trenton. By the way, my wife, who is from a dull Eastern European country with amongst the worst restaurants in the world, tells me that the food she had in Peru is amongst the best she has ever had in her life. She claimed that an unknown restaurant in the touristic city of Cuzco must be among one of the finest restaurants in the world. Now, I admit, that sounds like a stretch. Except my wife has never, ever, said this before.....
  9. brescd01


    I went with my wife on a Thursday night and we were disappointed. It was busy but not packed with a hot-looking crowd. As I have found with all of Garces' restaurants, service was warm and attentive. My wife just went to Peru and could compare the food and Chifa's fell short in every case, both in authenticity and quality. Nothing except the bread was really addictive and I would not care to have anything I ate, again. On the plus side my pisco sour, Peru's national cocktail, which my wife said was very poor compared to those she had in Peru, did not give me any headache like alcohol often does.
  10. I think there has never been a thread devoted to the general topic of delivery. So I am starting one. No limits (Chinese, non-Chinese, sandwiches, etc). We can skip Tiffin and Szechuan Tasty House. I ordered from Vic Sushi last night and it was good quality but expensive ($100 for two with tip and we were still a little hungry, not a terrible thing). By the way, before you yell at me, I will try to get the missus out this evening for VD.
  11. All I can say is wow, that is a lot of eating. Just a few clarifications: 1) While I ate at XiX during Restaurant Week, I did not get the prix fixe menu. 2) I am not sure that I am always considering ethnic restaurants for authenticity. I think taste is more important to me. In general, inauthentic ethnic restaurants do not taste that good to me, but of course I am aware that my abilities to discern authenticity when I have never been to any of the most important homes of the best ethnic food (India, Thailand, China), is limited. So I could imagine excellent Chinese-American food, I just haven't had it. Indian is a more straightforward proposition for me. There are I think 2000 Indian languages. I am not sure that for every language there has to be a cuisine, but cuisines follow ethnic lines and so there are a lot. I have tasted at most 2 Indian styles and most restaurants including those in Murray Hill serve no more than one. Tiffin, which I like but I do not think anything special, seems to prepare one style. I guess there is nothing wrong with that but it gets old. So far as restaurants with Michelin stars, I wish there were a few restaurants hunting for them here, it is exciting and interesting. And Vetri aside, exciting Italian doesn't really happen here. I tried Osteria twice, I think I need to try it more to fully appreciate it. I wish Garces would get going on this (pursuit ofa star or two). By the way (true story), my wife and I have a deal that if I ever take her to Olive Garden, either I have ben kidnapped by aliens and she should get help, or we are getting divorced.
  12. 1) Oh my G-d Zagat! I have found an inverse relationship between Zagat ratings and quality, particularly agregious are ethnic restaurant reviews/ratings. 2) Vadouvan, have you actually eaten at all those restaurants? 3) I just went to XIX and it was terrible, someone replied going during Restaurant Week was the problem, perhaps true. I also thought it a little seedy (we were in the Rotunda). I wonder where Table 31, Little Fish, or Tinto would fit into the Michelin scheme. I have been to the first and the last and I thought them excellent. But I have no means of comparison because I do not think I have eaten at more than 1 or 2 Michelin-rated restaurants in my entire life. I wonder why someone like Starr (or Trump) does not specifically create a restaurant that would be competitive in the Michelin scheme.
  13. Based on the above we tried XiX and it was terrible. The seafood platter did not taste right (except for some nice scallops). The oysters and clams were extremely metallic, the crab meat mixture lousy. We got the feeling we were not at all important in the context of the Restaurant Week crush. I enjoyed my wife's company but that was it. We compensated with some pastries at the Naked Chocolate Café afterwards. The evening was not particularly expensive ($65/person with parking and dessert). But still not worth it.
  14. Ordered from Erawan last night. Oy vey. Is there room on that shuttle to Vegas?
  15. I apologize, I remembered that Moderna is a traditional barbershop to get a shave in, Burgos is the premier shirtmaker in Madrid.
  16. I apologize for repeating what I have written before, but I would like up-dates on the following restaurant suggestions. We will stay at the Ritz and spend a lot of time at the museums and in Salamanca window shopping. We dine early by Spanish standards and I doubt we will be up for much nightlife. general: Casa Lucio, Cava Baja 35 913658217* Chocolatería San Ginés, Pasadizo San Ginés 5 913656546* Maceiras, Huertas 66 914295818* Taberna de la Daniela, General Pardinas 21 915752329 (cocido) Ventorrillo Murciano, Tres Peces 20 915288309 (paella) tapas: Casa Lucas, Cava Baja 30 913650804 Tempranillo, Cava Baja 38 913641532* Txirimiri, Humilladero 6 914014345 Cervecería Cervantes, Plaza de Jesús 7 914296093 seafood: Casa Rafa, Narváez 68 915731087 Gran Barril, Goya 107 914312210 Naveira do Mar, Santa Juliana, 57 914594532 Taberna del Puerto, Fernán González 50 915046699 Telégrafo, Padre Damián 44 913506119 beef: Ansorena, Capitán Haya 55 915796451 Casa Julián, Don Ramón De La Cruz 12 914313535 Frontón, Tirso De Molina 7 913691617 Imanol, General Díaz Porlier 97 913090859 Starred entries appear to be universally recommended. I listed a specialty if I knew it. Two shopping stops I have heard about are Burgos, Cedaceros 2 915211891 Moderna, Alcalá 121 914353749 or Ortega y Gasset 61 914015769 Whatever locals can add or recommend, I would be very grateful.
  17. (in Kissinger-ian voice) "I AM NOT POMPOUS!" Obviously you are being very concrete. I introduced myself as preferring Chinese food to Chinese-American food. I did not call myself a "sophisticate." But do you think asking the maitre d' to kiss my ring was too much?
  18. Your comparisons to STH are unfair. First of all, though I like Szechuan Tasty House, I can easily have terrible food there (and have). Their menu of Szechuan dishes is in fact very small. So if you ordered mediocre Chinese-American dishes at Szechuan House, I am sure that is what you got. I recommend introducing yourself as a sophisticate (which I did) and promising that you relish Chinese food and not Chinese-American. The maitre d' will help you order. Another thing, since when is quality of food determined by heat? Anyone can dump pepper on something. I love hot Szechuan as much as the next guy but this is just a matter of requesting more heat. Szechuan House is several times better than STH. For that matter, so is Chung King across the street from STH. I think everyone loves STH because they deliver and they were Philadelphia's first taste of Szechuan (after 4 Rivers of course).
  19. I don't know, everything I had was wonderful, and much better than STH.
  20. There is a story here related to immigration patterns, that remains unexplored. The only substantive investigation along these lines I have ehard of is a wonderful video I saw on UTube by Jennifer 8 ____ (sic) about the history of Chinese Food in America.
  21. No, taste is objective and you are wrong and guilty for my stomach ache. And you cannot order from there anymore.
  22. I got delivery, and exactly the dishes you recommended. Without getting into an authenticity argument (which I will lose every time since I have never been to either Thailand or eaten good Thai in LA), it just did not taste good. Just so you know where I am coming from, I find your beloved Szechuan Tasty House wildly inconsistent and in any event unrefined. I would rate it 6/10. Chung King I would rate 7/10. I just found a szechuan restaurant in Trenton (where I work) that I would rate 9/10. The best Thai I have had here is Erawan, which I have also found inconsistent, perhaps due to te change of owners I read about in this thread.
  23. I tried Plan Eat Thailand tonight based on this thread and except for a promising Tom Yum, it was pretty bad.
  24. 2022 Nottingham Way. It has been lauded here as (incorrectly) Szechuan Garden.
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