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Everything posted by Cornellrob

  1. what did you ultimately pick and how did you like those places? i will be in portland for a few days in late may (3 lunches + 3 dinners) .... and was similarly looking for suggestions. i'm open to eating anything... and this is my first time in portland. these are the restaurants that looked the best to me based on menus, pictures, etc. should i avoid any of these? will i have a great meal at any of these? which are good for a nice leisurely lunch (it'll hopefully be nice out since i'm travelling in may). i've read the posts above, but would still appreciate your help in determining where to eat my few meals in portland more expensive - clarklewis, andina, wildwood, bluehour (not sure of pricing - couldn't find menu). less expensive - lucy's table, cafe castagna, mint, filberts, grolla, fratelli, alberta street oyster, bernie's southern bistro thanks a lot for your help.
  2. do you mean to say that you've had better BBQ in the tri state area? i'd be curious as to what is comparable or better. ← i meant to say "bbq" rather than "food." i've enjoyed other bbq in tri state area. whether or not it's better is pretty subjective. depending on the mood i'm in, i go to different places for different things. i use to like finks the best.... but given that it's no longer around, i'd say that overall i enjoy dinosaur now. as far as favorite items at particular places.... 1) pulled pork at finks when it was around was my favorite. still haven't had any i've enjoyed as much as that. i have enjoyed virgil's pulled pork, not for authenticity, but for flavor. 2) for bbq chicken i did like stickey's. it was always crisp on the outside, moist, smokey, and had a great sauce (mojo). i'm going to have to find somewhere new though, and fronthouse tasted pretty good. 3) bbq wings i think that dinosaur bbq makes a great version. 4) ribs... i am probably, self-admittedly, a pretty bad judge of ribs. i don't really enjoy ribs other than baby back. and when i tend to get those at authentic bbq places (authentic meaning places that actually smoke their food for the entire cooking process), they are often too tough for me -- and involve a a little too much chewing - but even in those cases, the ribs do taste like baby back, and not like "spare ribs". i'm not saying that i absolutely need to have "fall off the bone" type ribs, but i do lean more towards that. my favorite ribs though are at another place that lacks any authenticity -- houston's. maybe i just like those ribs because they taste like a perfect version of the type of ribs that are made at places that aren't authentically bbq.... but at this point i may have to give up fighting it. i simply enjoy eating them more...
  3. i also checked out front street smokehouse on saturday night. arrived with a friend and my girlfriend around 9pm. we saw a table of 5 or so people toward the back, so that was probably you sgschef. we got a little lost getting to the place and called to get directions. i believe phil was the one who helped us to find it. very nice guy. warm and welcoming when we arrived. seemed genuinely interested in seeing to it that we had a good meal. overall my group enjoyed the food very much. we started with an order of the chicken drumsticks (which ended up being my favorite dish of the night). i got the rib and pulled pork combo - which included two sides - and i opted for sweet potato fries. although it was $21, not exactly inexpensive for a place in the middle of nowhere elizabeth, i did receiv a very large amount of food. the menu said the ribs were baby back. although i guess i have no choice but to believe that they were, in size and texture they were more like bbq spare ribs. not that this is bad, but just my perception. pulled pork was smokey and tasty, but in very large hunks. i may have been too full to enjoy this during dinner, and i enjoyed it much more as a leftover -- after shredding it myself. my friends each got sandwiches, one the pulled pork, and one the brisket, and both seemed to enjoy themselves. the food was good, but not the best i've had in tri state. what was the best was that front street smokehouse had a great combination of everything in total i look for in a restaurant - ambience, hospitality, and food. and for that reason, i will be going back... and i will be recommending this place to my friends. p.s. we were also offered a beef rib at the end of dinner. i declined though... not because i didn't want one, but because i was in a bbq coma and couldn't imagine myself eating that thing before it would go bad
  4. Cornellrob


    another service issue to note - perhaps in relation to the recent change in personel at Blu... one visit was the gift of my parents, who wanted to purchase a gift certificate for me to enjoy - and wanted to get it at a restaurant that i really enjoyed near where i live (bloomfield). so anyways, the problems were as follows -- not really problems, but nuisances. my father called once to get the certificate. he was told that they ran out. who runs out of gift certificates? they're basically free money... as i'm sure over 25% go unclaimed. he was told they would have it the next day if he would stop by at a certain time. when he stopped by at the stated time, they were closed, and no one was in sight or at least answering the door. he called afterwards to follow-up, and there was no answering machine or voicemail. although i haven't tried calling them to test this, i did find it odd that any business wouldn't have an answering machine or voicemail service. he finally did get the gift certificate, but it wasn't signed by anyone or really all that official looking. i've been to blu several times, each time very enjoyable. perhaps these were minor isolated glitches, but still i think worth noting - at least as far as restaurant management is concerned. i am happy to hear that Blu is doing well and wish them much continued success. if nuisances like these are ironed out - i think Blu could be even more successful . . . .
  5. that is a truly impressive array of dishes. i'm not sure what i had expected out of morimoto as a restaurant - maybe a restaurant catering more to the masses - but those pictures kind of dispell that thought. all menus were creative and interesting combinations. and no repeats!! i like the 2nd night. almost looks like a bargain.
  6. pulled pork and pork/beef ribs are usually way too dry for me. my girlfriend and i have settled in on ordering a whole chicken - with mojo sauce. mojo is kind of like a tangy barbecue sauce. so good!
  7. I had the opportunity to dine at David Drake tonight for the first time. It was my girlfriend’s birthday, and normally, for a nice occasion, we would find someplace to dine in the city. We were originally supposed to eat at the tasting room, but do to unfortunate circumstances had to cancel last minute. I made the reservation at Restaurant David Drake with the hopes that it would be good, but at the same time, was ready for disappointment. You see, I have had very few worthwhile meals in NJ. With the caveat that I have not been to Restaurant Nicholas, The Ryland Inn, and Ratz, I have been to almost every well regarded restaurant in northern nj over the course of the past 5 years. I eat out a lot. With that as background – the meal I had at David Drake was by far the most enjoyable…. In many ways. As reference – I live very close to Fascino, and have been several times. David Drake was far better in terms of ambience, quality of ingredients, food preparation, flavorful sauces, and main ingredient accompaniments (whatever happened to accompany the main protein on each plate). First, the food. I don’t think there is a way that you could go wrong with their current menu. I started with the fois gras appetizer. Although I ordered the preparation depicted on the menu (with port wine reduction and mushrooms), it actually came with roasted pineapple in a lemongrass-ginger broth. In spite of this difference, it was a sensational dish. I followed this up with the diver scallops in a carrot/orange sauce. Another phenomenal dish. What really did it for me, was the sauce… something I haven’t encountered in relation to scallops … but truly worked. Overall, I was really impressed with the quality of the ingredients, the doneness of the ingredients (perfectly cooked), and the inventive combination of sides and sauces which really bound each dish together. My girlfriend similarly had great dishes (the seafood risotto with an asparagus puree, and the braised shortribs with sweet potato gratin). Second, the ambience. As described by others, it has the feeling of a small house. Each room only has a few tables. We were seated in the room to the right as you walk in – at the table for two towards the rear wall. In my room, there weren’t more than 5 tables, each adequately spaced so that no one felt like they were "on top" of another table. The room was elegant, not gaudy, and very comfortable. There was brazilian jazz playing in the background (I believe it was Getz/Gilberto) which was quite soothing. Third, the service. The service was very professional. From the way the dishes were described or recited easily from memory, to the ability of the servers to answer questions about dishes or wine parings… it was really quite a welcome surprise. I had never had that kind of truly knowledgeable and professional service in a restaurant in NJ. Lastly, the chef himself came over to see how we enjoyed ourselves. I was almost taken aback at the fact that he appeared at our table asking about our experience. Since I am an unknown at every restaurant I go to (I vary it up too much to become a regular), this virtually never happens to me. In short, I would highly recommend David Drake. The food was really, really great. The ambience and service only added to that. Since I went back to school, my budget hasn’t been what I’d like it to be. And I therefore can’t really go out for the meals that I use to. David Drake isn’t the cheapest restaurant in NJ, at $49 for a 3 course pre-fix. Regardless, it was my girlfriend's birthday, and we wanted something special. David Drake delivered - big time.
  8. I kind of agree with you, but i think that this kind of treatment has become so commonplace, i basically ignore it now. and in reality, at these kind of inexpensive local restaurants, there's only so much you can expect out of the service. in this particular instance, the service was compounded by the flavor/preparation of the dishes - and so that may be why it irritated me so much.
  9. went to cosimo's tonight for dinner. i have no idea why i keep giving this place a chance. pizza is really, really good IMO. however, non-pizza items there suck. Chicken Parm: i had my monthly chicken parm craving and thought it would be good at cosimos. I foolishly thought this because I know that i like the cheese and sauce used on the pizza, and figured that if they used something similar, that even with a poor cutlet, it would still turn out good. boy, was I wrong. not in the cheese and sauce, but the cutlet, which was one of the worst preparations i've ever had. perhaps it's my own deranged notions of what makes good chicken parm, but i usually think the chicken should have fairly crisp breading, maybe spiced or maybe not spiced. this, on the other hand, was a mushy egg batter (like a francaise). so in the end, it was basically a pile of slop with no consistency other than boiled chicken covered in schmeg. Pasta Puttanesca (my girfriend got this one) Perhaps one of the worst tasting dishes i've ever had. It actually made the chicken parm taste good. In all the times i've ever had this dish, never has it tasted so putrid. It tasted more akin to kim-chee chigae - kind of tasted like noodles bathed in a foul fishy, smokey, spicey pickel-like sauce. my girlfriend, who is not only Korean, but can handle her own around the dinner table, only had about two forkfuls before declaring it "nasty." I concurred after only 1 bite. Service What makes the experience worse is that no one even cared that the dishes were as bad as they were. I would never complain about the chicken parm. I thought that perhaps the way it was prepared was a matter of preference - although i have never seen it prepared this way.... But the pasta dish was really horrible. Not a matter of preference. The waitress made herself scarce while we were eating and never once stopped by our table other than to bring out the salads and the food - where did she go? The busboy obviously couldn't care less that we didn't enjoy it. Needless to say - i will never eat any of there food again - other than pizza (which i still love). sorry for the harshness in this commentary. had to get that off my chest after the worst meal i've had in probably over a year.
  10. wow. that does look like a great meal. if you don't mind sharing, how much did it cost to put yourselves in the chef's hands? without wine... thank you.
  11. I picked up same bread by Taskin Bakery..... but i got mine at Corrado's, in the bread section. Cost $1.29 for the package. I'm not sure if it's exactly the same as that served at lalezar....but if not, it's very close.
  12. Cornellrob


    i also went to cru recently, this past week, for a belated v-day with my girlfriend. rather than getting the 5 course tasting menu, we opted to get a variety of the crudo appetizers to start, then we each had an appetizer, a pasta course, and then a main course. by dessert we were too full to finish. like rich, we too received the 4 amuse "courses. i was pleasantly surprised to receive such an elaborate array of treats to start the meal. there wasn't a single dish that we didn't like, so no point in making specific recommendations. some dishes that stood out for me was the langoustine crudo, the skate appetizer, and duck main. wine list is very impressive. we asked for tasting wine portions with each of our courses, and left it up to the staff to make selections. i'm not really a wine expert, but we both enjoyed our wine pairings, and many of them were on the inexpensive side - $4-5 per 3oz tasting. overall -- food fantastic. service -- fantastic.
  13. if your used to eating food in brooklyn/nyc area, do not go to three tomatoes...... especially if franny's is your kinda place. i'm from nyc area, lived in vt for 2 full years. of all the dining experiences up there, i must say that three tomatoes was probably in my worst 5.... and that means a lot, as there really isn't a whole lot of good food up in vt. you'll find the best food up there if your willing to spend the big bucks (for up there) and go to a place like shelburne farms or cafe shelburne or some other country inn/hotel type restaurant.... places like neci commons or other culinary institute restaurants really aren't that good by ny standards. when dining in a restaurant or region where i know that the food may not be up to par, i usually try to order something "safe".... i.e. something that's really hard to mess up. so, at three tomatoes i ordered the chicken parm.. i was really wrong on that call. the dish i got wasn't even close to the usual breaded and pan fried chicken breast, w/ sauce and cheese (i didn't even really care that much about the type of sauce as long as there was mozzarella on it).... in the end, the three tomatoes version was grilled chicken w/ swiss cheese over a bowl of tomato soup/sauce. this is no joke. it was probably the worst rendition of a simple dish that i've ever had.... anyways, enough of that. if you want good food in vt, try to find some out of the way bed and breakfast or country inn that is known for their food and plan a trip around dinner there. otherwise, don't expect too much of the food in vt. could be worth checking out sites like hollyeats.com or roadfood.com for little out of the way shacks that may have some local specialty -- such as really good pancakes.
  14. about 3-4 years ago, when the landmark first introduced it's pizza and ribs menu options, i would eat at the landmark probably every week or so. since that time the landmarks pizza and ribs have gone downhill considerably. the pizza use to be extremely thin - very similar to the star tavern's pizza. now it is too thick for me to even make a comparison. the ribs use to be moist, flavorful, and generously portioned for a relatively low price ($16/rack). since that time, the quality of the ribs have gone downhill (they're usually dry and overcooked), the portion size has decreased, and i have discovered other better places. the burgers are very, very good when they're not overcooked (which they almost always are). landmark is a good place to go to eat if you happen to live nearby and want pub-food that is both decent and reasonably priced. however, most people in the bar will be smoking, and i garauntee that if you go anytime after 7pm, you will probably reek of cigarettes. lastly - service there is almost always really, really bad. there is one waitress in particularly who usually enjoys smoking, talking to bar patrons, playing video games, and going outside (or to the payphone) to talk to her friends -- and all this while your food/drink are clearly ready and waiting to be brought to your table. on many occasions with this waitress, i have gone up to get the food myself! not sure why i still go to this place, probably has something to do with living about a mile away.
  15. Cornellrob


    I don't mean to sound like a jerk, but i'm a little confused with this entire post. If you show up 25 minutes early, to a restaurant that is essentially a "hot spot," how can you expect anything at all really? If they seat you before your scheduled time, then in my opinion, they are doing you a serious favor. To say they are seating "on time" suggests that they are seating people according to the reservations attached to a particular party or table. Even if a table is empty, it doesn't mean that the restaurant or host is discriminating or being nasty. It means they are waiting for the appropriate reservation to arrive. (how would you feel if you arrived at your correct time, only to find out that your table had been given away to someone who arrived way before their own reservation?) In spite of your early arrival, they still sat you 20 minutes early and provided you with fantastic service and food -- to most people, this would be a great experience. I could understand your gripe had you shown up 5 minutes early and maybe received some attitude, but you were 30 minutes early, and that is a significant difference, and one which seemed to be met with reasonable accomodation for such a crowded place. I've been to Hearth a few times (i'm from NJ, so can't really get out there too often), and have had nothing but superb dining experiences there. For me, it is definitely a destination restaurant.... Again, perhaps i'm a jerk and don't understand how these things work. Sorry if that's the case.
  16. yeah. it is kind of interesting how things seem to have dropped off lately. i think that the bread thing primarily relates to how hot it is, or how toasty it is, when it's served. the hotter or toastier it is, the better (that probably applies to virtually any bread served in a restaurant). i think this place may be a little hit or miss depending on the particular dish you get. by far, the best appetizer i've had there has been the eggplant imambayildi dish, which is a cold eggplant appetizer with some type of onion and tomato mixture on top... i personally think it's delicious, although i'm not sure how unusual it is. as far as other dishes, i've gotten the stuffed cabbage dish, and the grilled ground lamb skewers, both of which i've thought to be very flavorful and filling. i haven't seen any mention of these dishes yet on egullet, so i'm not sure if anyone else has tried this or if this is my own warped sense of good turkish food. anyways, there are clearly signs that this place is slacking off. a good example might be that the last time i went they never lit the candle on the table (and most of the candles weren't lit), and i would like to know why they would bother to have such a thing if they're not going to light them? also, they use to have these nice little pastries that they would give out after you received your check. they no longer do this... this seems to be a cost cutting measure, or perhaps was only an opening month gimmick. who knows. i still think this place is worth a shot. make careful selections and don't expect the world out of this place... it's still good for the money in my opinion though and considerably more "authentic" than other places in the area.
  17. on rosie's recommendation, went to Lalezar this past saturday. the place was jam-packed....that didn't seem to affect the service, the food quality, or the wait for our dishes. the bread is not a pita. it is some other kind of bread -- and it is really, really good. definitely hard to stop eating. if anyone knows where to get this bread, they need to post where to get it. i'm honestly not a big fan of montclair restaurants... with the exception of Formia (in Bloomfield), or the vegetarian indian place on bloomfield ave, i usually leave dissapointed with some aspect of the food, the overall experience, or both. not this place though. Lalezar really seems to have their act together. the food was fresh, vibrant, and generously portioned. the service was friendly, including the two "hostesses" (they might be the owners), who were eager to tell us all about the intricacies of turkish food. we got the ground lamb skewers and an order of stuffed cabbage - both of which are recommended.
  18. I went to Woo Jung, on Joon's recommendation, Saturday night for a late-night dinner. Decor is extremely modest, although seemed appropriate for Korean bbq. Array of side dishes was particularly impressive, although half of them didn't really appeal to me (i.e. potato salad w/ globs of mayo). Meat was generous in terms of portion, and seemed to be of good quality (got chumooluk and kalbi). Grilled garlic was a fantastic addition to the wraps. Two nice hunks of red-hot charcoals are added to each bbq pit - which i think may have faced extinction in NYC .... not sure. I didn't see anything about the dark green (aka Forest) leaves. How do you order these?
  19. Cornellrob


    I don't know anything about this restaurant, but i was kind of intrigued when I learned that the former Couvron (in Portland, OR) was a Mobil 4-star award winner, and was also considered maybe the best restaurant in Portland. The owners basically decided to move and transferred the restaurant, along with a number of their "signature" dishes" to NY. Not that this means anything in NYC, but it's still kind of surprising that a restaurant like this would open without much fanfare or even notice on egullet. Perhaps it was on the pacific northwest board... The food is really pricey though (See menupages), which significantly reduces the chance I will ever eat there.
  20. Montrachet maybe? Not in caliber of adny/per se, but may still be a good option. Wine pairings will probably be good. See link for tasting menu. menu
  21. Cornellrob


    What's the deal with Cru's "front room"? Saw on the menu that they offered a selection of more reasonably priced entrees. Is that a more casual room or a no-reservation area? Cru's kinda pricey for me to afford right now, but the front room seemed interesting...
  22. Just went to Star Tavern tonight for dinner. Fantastic pizza - definitely the best "bar pie" around IMO. Place tends to be really crowded though - lots of screaming kids and loud 80's music playing on the jukebox. That aside though, great pizza. I believe it's in Orange, not East Orange.
  23. i'm a huge fan of Begum in Chatham (or is it in Madison?). consistently have excellent meals there of items representing broad spectrum of their menu. spices and preparation fit my own personal taste the best of any place that i've been too (including all the montclair places). thicker/buttery type sauces, not creamy/watery sauces. they're service is also typically very friendly, although the last time i was there, the busboy threw down his bowtie and stormed out of the place. but anyways... they have dinner buffet on wednesday/sunday for 11.95, although i don't believe there is much of a difference between that and their daily lunch buffet for 5.95. in the entertainment book as well.
  24. I tried Kinchley's in Ramsey earlier today with a friend. We split the standard cheese pie. This is basically the classic "bar pie" and i think it's best eaten as an accompaniment to beer - and not the kind of pizza that you have solely for a meal. The large pizza was extremely thin, 14" diameter, had a great crust that stayed firm throughout the entire duration we were eating. There was a good amount of grated cheese and sauce on the pizza (not overloaded), but IMO, both were a bit lacking in flavors i've come to expect from some of the better "bar pies" i've had in jersey. Landmark in livingston use to have an excellent bar pie - but it has gone downhill in the last year or so for whatever reason. I heard they learned their recipe from Starlight - which is similarly thin, but has a more herby flavor. Sorry, I digress... For me, Kinchley's was a 25 minute drive and I will probably not go back so soon just to have the pizza. It's also a 25 minute ride for me to get to Joe & Pat's in Staten Island - and that is a truly superb pie - probably my favorite anywhere.
  25. i thought it was two star at the very least as well. see review above. didn't have Bruni's dishes other than the Trout appetizer. thought the service, food, ambience were very nice, and at the least, as good as any two star i've been too. thought they were maybe striving for three, and if things went wrong, it could possibly fit into two category at the lowest.
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