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  1. I was just there about three weeks ago. Polanco (right in town) is pretty decent (and has free internet access). The chivo (goat) was quite good. Ponderosa del Mar (also right in town) has good lobster and other seafood dishes and is a little bit fancier. Out in Cofresi (right next to the rather bizarre Ocean World theme park), the Cofresi Bar & Grill, which just opened about 4 months go, has by far the best food I had in the area. I wouldn't say it's worth a drive just to eat, but if you find yourself nearby, have a look. As for bars, you really should go witness the merengue spectacle at La Canita -- very beautiful people who can really dance. It was borderline crowded at 3 p.m. on a Wednesday. A classic "Rancho Tipico" right in town. Hope that helps. Have fun.
  2. Glad my Ten Bistro recommendation went over so well. It really is a pretty special place. I'll be back in Panama in May and will definitely be returning. Carolyn, will you be in Panama in May?
  3. Don't know if you already tried Le Grand Vefour, but their lunch menu is a spectacular deal and (I thought) absolutely delicious. Pre Catalan is a lovely place to have lunch and I bet it's quite lovely in the summertime (I don't know how hot it is, but they do have a terrace). This board has been all atwitter for some time re: Le Bristol. Personally, I haven't been.
  4. I also very much liked the restaurant 1985. Although everything -- food and decor -- feels like it hasn't been updated since, well, 1985, it was quite delicious. Nothing Panamanian about it, but it is yummy. Another hit was Palms restaurant (unaffiliated with the steakhouse chain or the Vegas hotel). Again, not particularly Panamanian, but quite good. I had an excellent filet mignon that would have served 4 easily and there were a few surprisingly good wine selections (we went with Clos Martinet or Clos Mogador, as I recall). Madame Chang's for chinese was excellent as well. I had a Peking Duck that not only did not need to be ordered in advance but was as good as any I've ever had. We had a fantastic week in Panama City and ate very well. But out of all these, Ten Bistro was tops for me.
  5. Be sure to go to Ten Bistro at the Hotel de Ville. The chef is a Robuchon disciple and the food is terrific. The central conceit is that everything is $10, and I don't see how they aren't losing money by the truckload. I was mightily impressed by the food.
  6. I went in late 2003, and it was the 3rd best meal I've ever eaten in France, behind Guy Savoy and Le Grand Vefour (must have caught it on a good day, because so many eGulleteers don't care for it). It was better than Can Fabes, better than Meurice, and nearly on par with The French Laundry. This is an outstanding restaurant.
  7. Fortunately, it was a very minor scene...
  8. I actually thought it was pretty cool. For an episode in which Carmela is repeatedly reflecting on all the history in Paris, it was pretty neat that they actually went to such an historic place to shoot that scene without even stating the historical significance of the restaurant (or mentioning the restaurant at all -- I just recognized the interior).
  9. ...but weren't Carmela and Rosalie dining at Le Grand Vefour (on a trip to Paris) during tonight's episode of "The Sopranos"?
  10. Although quite tired in the decor department, Don Alfonso 1890 was absolutely outstanding from a food/service perspective when I visited in Summer '04. The hotel restaurant at Il San Pietro was also very good. Quattro Passi has a very nice outdoor setting but not the same caliber of food (although I'd go again if I were nearby). The much-lauded Torre del Saracino was a huge disappointment both in terms of food quality and the shocking prices. Similarly, the restaurant at Le Sirenuse was (like the hotel itself) outrageously priced.
  11. A recent trip to Cyrus was absolutely outstanding. It's right in Healdsburg.
  12. Here's what they gave us: Canapes --- Amuse Bouche --- Ahi Tuna Tartare with Celery Root, Portabellas, Watermelon Radish, Black Perigord Truffles and Soy Vinaigrette and Thai Marinated Lobster, Avocado, Mango and Fresh Hearts of Palm --- Seared Foie Gras with Warm Ginger Bread, Asian Pears and Mulled Cider and Tamarind Glazed Duck Confit with Daikon and Dates --- Japanese Sea Bream wih Shiitakes, Bay Scallops and Pickled Watermelon Rind and Snapper with Crab, Pickled Ramps and Nira, Lemongrass-Coconut Milk Broth --- Truffled Red Wine Risotto, Parmesan Broth with Shaved Black Perigord Truffles and Sweetbread and Chanterelle Gnocchi, Madeira Sauce with Shaved Black Perigord Truffles --- Hoisin Glazed Squab, Black Bean-Rice Cake and Kumquats and Roasted Venison Loin with Red Wine Braised Cabbage, Gnocchi --- Artisanal and Farmhouse Cheeses with Complementing Breads and Fruits --- Champagne Caramel Custard and Five Citrus Tasting and Caramel Soup with Kettle Corn Sorbet and Chocolate Filigree --- Mignardises --------------- The squab, the snapper, the foie gras and the sweetbread/chanterelle gnocchi (in that order) were the standouts. The tuna tartare and lobster were in no way original but were quite delicious and well executed. The Japanese sea bream (with sake pairing) was the only real "miss" in the bunch.
  13. I ate there the other night, the night after quite a meal at The French Laundry. Cyrus was very, very, very good. Is it TFL? No. But Cyrus has absolutely nothing to apologize for. It is an EXCELLENT restaurant by any standard, well deserving of the fawning praise it has received from Esquire and the San Francisco Chronicle. The food is 2 Michelin star quality if you ask me. I was very, very impressed by our pair of separate 7-course tasting menus with wine pairings. Of the 14 courses, there was only one we didn't really like flavor-wise, and the execution of every single dish was perfect. I HIGHLY recommend Cyrus.
  14. Re: any kind of "special treatment," well... Although it was my third time, it was only the second reservation in my name. At the time we were seated (which was an early dinner reservation), we simply asked nicely and enthusiastically for the chef to "cook for us" to whatever degree it would be possible. There weren't any code words, secret handshakes, or pre-dinner requests. We brought a bottle of fairly exotic wine (in addition to buying some from the wine list), were friendly and excited, and the waiter checked with the kitchen and promptly returned to say that they had no problem doing this for us. As for my other two visits, one was for 12 in the private dining room (a reservation I didn't make but did use my credit card for 1/2 of) and the other was in the main dining room. We had "dueling" extended tasting menus in the private dining room (I think this is standard) and ordered the Chef's Tasting Menu the first time in the main dining room. To whatever extent the Keller Intelligence Agency is "profiling" its guests, I doubt very seriously that I've been "pre-screened" as "worthy" of extra attention. In fact, as a 33-year-old, I'd much more likely to get the opposite treatment (which I refer to as the "young whippersnapper treatment" -- you know, seated in Siberia, ignored, condescended to ... the standard Fleur de Lys treatment for guests under age 50). My guess is that in the final cost/effort/price analysis, it just makes better sense for them to do dueling/extended menus for parties of four or more than for parties of two.
  15. Just made my third trip to TFL (first was in 1998, second in 2004). It was not only the best of the three trips, it was probably the best meal I've ever eaten, including a very large swath of the 3-Michelin Star firmament. All four diners thought it was the best meal they had ever had. I'm truly amazed by the haters ... I honestly can't begin to understand how one can't continue to love this place. Our party of four had two different "Extended Tasting Menus" of 15 courses + mignardises. Only one course -- the Milk Fed "Poularde", Braised Salsify, Wilted Spinach and a Foie Gras Red Wine Emulsion (which was a substitute for a diner who didn't want a "full foie" dish -- was "meh." Every single one of the rest was tremendous. Is the service getting a little bit less formal? Sure. Probably for the better if you ask me. Here's the Menu: "Cornet" of Marinated Atlantic Salmon "Tartare" with Red Onion CrÈme Fraiche ___________ Artichoke Soup with Meyer Lemon and "Purée de Fines Herbes" "Purée" of Rhubarb and Red Onion Soup ___________ "Oysters and Pearls" "Sabayon" of Pearl Tapioca with Beau Soleil Oysters and Russian Sevruga Caviar Cauliflower "Panna Cotta" with Beau Soleil Oyster Glaze and Russian Sevruga Caviar ___________ Florida Hopper Prawn, Haas Avocado "Purée", Kumquat "Confit" and Young Mizuna Spanish Blue Fin Tuna, Ajo Blanco, Sweet Peppers and Cilantro Shoots ___________ White Truffle Egg-Custard with a "Ragoût" of Black Périgord Truffles "Eggs Périgourdine" Poached Hen Eggs, Truffled English Muffins, Truffled "Hollandaise" and Grated Périgord Truffles ___________ "Salade de Topinambours" Fava Beans, Niçoise Olives and Preserved Meyer Lemon Salad of Hawaiian Hearts of Peach Palm, Blood Orange and Wild Mizuna ___________ Hand-cut Tagliatelle with Black Périgord Truffles "Carnaroli Risotto Biologico" Castelmagno Cheese and Shaved Black Truffles from Provence ___________ Dutch Turbot "Rôti sur le Dos", Niçoise Olives, Sunchokes, Fava Beans and Piquillo "Vinaigrette" ___________ "Peas and Carrots" Maine Lobster Tail "Cuite Sous Vide", with Garden Pea Shoot Salad and Sweet Carrot Emulsion Sweet Butter Poached Maine Lobster "Mitts", "Ragoût" of Globe Artichokes, Jabugo Ham, Spring Onions and "Barigoule Emulsion" ___________ Moulard Duck "Foie Gras Poêlé", Toasted Banana-Walnut Bread, Celery Branch "Bâtons", Cutting Celery and Napa Valley Red Verjus "Gastrique" Milk Fed "Poularde", Braised Salsify, Wilted Spinach and a Foie Gras Red Wine Emulsion Moulard Duck "Foie Gras en Terrine", Fennel Bulb "Marmelade", Bitter Orange "Coulis", Field Arugula and Sicilian Pistachio "Biscotti" ___________ Snake River Farm "Calotte de Boeuf Grillée", Roasted Hearts of romaine, Golden Chanterelles, and a Dijon Mustard "Pain Perdu" ___________ "Fig Newton" Persille de Beaujolais, Mission Fig "Compote" and Tardivo Raddichio "Tête de Moine" Royal Blenheim Apricot "Purée" and Caramelized Belgian Endive ___________ "Hot Chocolate" Jivara Milk Chocolate Sorbet, "Chocolat à la Veniçoise", Tahitian Vanilla-Infused Marshmallow and "Crème Chantilly" Ruby Red Grapefruit "Granité", Tupelo Honey-Garden Basil "Coulis" and Poppy Seed "Meringue" ___________ "Coffee and Doughnuts" Cinnamon Sugared Doughnuts with Cappuccino Semi-freddo ___________ "Mille Feuille à la Crème au Citron", Royal Blenheim Apricot "Confit" and Sicilian Pistachio "Crème Anglaise" Mandarin Soaked "Baba", Caramelized Meiwa Kumquats, Mandarin Sorbet and Manjari Chocolate Sauce ___________ "Mignardises"
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