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Everything posted by highflyingbird

  1. Oh, and the weather was crazy...minus eight degrees without the wind chill factored in. These California girls were pretty cold, but wouldn't let that stop us. I just focused on not slipping on the sidewalk....and that was before cocktails! It was something like 80 degrees warmer when we got home. Amazing.
  2. Well, we had a great, great time there on the 17th & 18th. Kyle took really good care of us both nights. Thank you, Kyle! He made me a killer drink with some kind of rye. Could it have been Thomas Handy? That's what is on my receipt. It was, I believe, a version of a Manhattan. But maybe I'm wrong. Any idea? It was his suggestion so maybe he'll know. He stirred it all up in a bucket with ice until it was the right proof. It was absolutely perfect. I want to know what it was! What a beautiful space and concept. We'd be regulars if we weren't 2,000 miles away. And the deviled eggs rocked! Interested in opening something in SF?
  3. The pies at Otto are really great. Though they are griddled, which some people have a problem with, they're crisp, thin but not too thin, and the quality and selection of toppings is creative and absolutely divine. Plus, then you can have some killer pasta like the Cacio e Pepe, which is worth crying over it is so good. Great wine list, too.
  4. Alchemist, I totally know what you're saying about the pies being light enough to lunch on and then do something like the Tour at Alinea. It seems to go against what you'd think but it is totally true. The thick/thin crust thing is really a matter of personal taste. I think there are good versions of both to be found, I just prefer the thin kind. Not so down with the cracker crust kind though. I don't like pizza that breaks! Vito & Nick's also has super yummy anchovies on the side and hot peppers. (I can never keep the name of that place straight, though. I always think it's Vick & Neato-s, which works too, I guess. That's my dyslexia hard at work) We loved their pie's so much we took two home frozen. Just as delicious back home. We will for sure be making the pilgrimage once more when we are there in a week or so.
  5. Thanks for the replies. Well, we'll be five people, so maybe the bar is not an option? I think we'll be there sometime just after 6 since we have dinner reservations later both nights (Moto, Green Zebra) and that way us soft west coasters won't be popsicles waiting to get in! Maybe we'll try for Thursday, too. I already know I'm going to fall in love with the place. Thanks for the tip on Forno. I've had that bubbly and it is good. Exit sounds totally awesome. I'll bring my handcuffs.
  6. We are going to be in Chicago on the 17th & 18th and are going to try to come in. Your place looks just fantastic. We're lucky here in SF to have Bourbon & Branch and Rye and am glad to see Chicago has a great bar like yours. The Alinea party looked like big trouble! Hope there was a line of taxis at the door at the end of the night! What a time that must have been. Congratulations on doing something you obviously truly love. Two questions: Using Slivovitz in anything? What are the hours now?
  7. For pizza there is nothing better than Vito & Nicks on the southside. www.vitoandnick.com It is a trek from downtown, but way worth the drive. They make the thinnest most excellent pies cut into squares. The pies are a down home work of art. Nothing fancy here but it does not need to be. It also has a ton of good mojo: shag carpet on the walls, old timers hanging around at the bar, family run place that's been open for years and years. It is a classic. The first time I went was straight from O'Hare, starving and a little cranky. We didn't know the best way to get there, which would be the freeway (really easy and pretty fast), so we drove down MLK which not only took about three days, it was also a real eye opener. Vito & Nick's just has a vibe that is so hard to find. Get the 'special' which is sausage, mushrooms, onion and peppers. Perfection! Of course, a pitcher of beer is a necessity. Then we went to Alinea for dinner! A great day.
  8. You know what worked best for us when we were there recently? An iPhone! We had a good digital point & shoot but we also used our iPhone sometimes and those pics came out beautifully. That phone seems to work very well in low light. It's 2 megapixels or more and it rocked. Good luck to everyone!
  9. THE BEST is Vito & Nick's on the Southside. OK, it might take a day to get there, but it is worth it. Incredibly thin with the right amount of toppings in a time capsule of a room. It is an awesome place. Great friendly service; we took pictures with the kids working there and they gave us folding chef hats. Sweet. It was a great time right out of O'Hare. First thing we did. We only wish we could've made it a second time.
  10. Oh, yeah, there's a line most of the time so be aware of that. I try to go early when they first open for the day. It's worth the wait, though.
  11. Father's Office! A million beers on tap...some you will never see anywhere else and the best burger in the world. Not to mention lots of other more complex dishes. I had one of the best soft shell crab starters in my life. The food is sublime! Go!
  12. What is a general characterization if not a true comment? As locals, it is the feeling we have. We've been there many times. It is disappointing as it's a great space and has so much potential. Just hoping the next owners put a little more heart into it. Lauren's is great. We love the diversity of the menu. Her corn cakes are wonderful! Yes, the entire Anderson Valley is fantastic because it's not crazy busy like Mendocino, Napa or Sonoma. It is still sort of undiscovered and easy to manage. Yet there are so many great wineries to visit. And new ones opening up seemingly every day. Been to Harmonique or Standish or Lazy Creek? Each one unique with just killer wines. Anderson Valley is the best place to visit for wines. It just needs a great destination restaurant.
  13. If you haven't had the pizze next door at Pizzeria Picco, GO! It is one of the best in the country. Their toppings are fantastic and they are always cooked just right. The salads are super fresh and inventive. AND the Straus Dairy soft serve organic ice cream with olive oil and sea salt is to die for!!!!!!!
  14. Well, the Boonville Hotel has suffered from inattention and high prices/bad service for a long time. We stopped going there a couple of years ago after having unremarkable and pricey meals. We are hoping the new owners give it more attention and lose the attitude. Anderson Valley needs a great restaurant. There are some good casual options available (Libby's Mexican is out of this world!, and the Boonville General Store has awesome food), but we could use a finer dining option. Also we went to Cafe Beaujolais a few months ago and it was very, very good. There were new owners who comped desert as an opening courtesy. Their wine list is also phenomenal Low markups, if they are even above retail.
  15. i was there in early summer last year and then again 6 weeks ago. each time the food was very good. my problem is that both times we had the tasting menu and it was exactly the same, except for dessert. i would expect it to be at least a little different nearly 5 months later, not to mention a totally different season. we also felt that the wine pairings, which we opted for on both occasions, were nicer wines the first time around: older vintages and more unusual wines the first time. nonetheless, they do put a lot of effort into the food, presentation, and service. i just hope the menu gets a shake up. the first courses on the tasting menu (and also available ala carte), which were sashimi and poke like items are amazing!
  16. went to oliveto last night for truffle dinner. atrocious service. poor timing...pasta was cold by the time the truffles arrived. the timing was off on every course. they tried to get us to keep a bottle of wine that was so off it tasted like copper pennies in your mouth. absolutlely undrinkable. they are so unfriendly and stiff in there. what is going on? it's not the first time i've been there and had bad service. but it will be the last. over rated. bad service. the food was very mediocre. i wish quince would do a truffle dinner this year!!!
  17. well, i am still trying to get to incanto, but i've been to a16 about 20 times (it's close to the bridge, which i cross regularly). i love it. i know it can be loud, and hard to get into. you gotta plan! or go when the open their doors. lunch is a great option there, as it is not as busy. i've been to a few of their wine dinners, all of which have been exceptional experiences. a great menu and killer wine pairings. their wine person has made one of the best lists around. i have learned a lot about italian wine because of her. she is awesome. try the falanghina white wine. perfection. they have burrata, which is always fresh and sublime. i ate on the of the best things ever there: tube pasta with octopus ragu. it doesn't sound that exciting, but it was so damn good. the pizza is great. i have had it crispy to the middle. the broccoli rabe one is very good. it's fun to go there and sit at the bar in the back and watch the pizzas being made. they have really friendly servers, too. to me, a16 is a+!
  18. I went there a couple weeks ago for the second time, and after really loving it the first time, came away disappointed. I agree with the post above about the final course of the tasting menu. We had an unadorned (NOTHING on the plate) piece of fish that was unremarkable. No artistry involved in that at all. The crab wrapped in canteloupe was not nearly as tasty as the apple version we'd had before. And it was salty. Zucchini Blossom with salmon belly. Fantastic. That was our favorite thing. Delicate flavors... Fois Gras terrine was very good and a big portion, but the apricoy aspic on top lacked any acidic flavor needed to counter the richness of the fois gras.. The desserts were very good, though. Especially a chocolate one. The pacing was very fast, though. We felt kind of rushed. And while Scott can be very nice, there's always a little feeling of discomfort...like something miss piss him off at any time. It's strange. Another thing that is not great: the prices for the tasting menus are not printed on the menu. We were never told how much it was, which is odd. Somewhere along the process, the price should be made known to the customer.
  19. We definitely thought about the tour during our 12 course meal, because we didn't want it to end! I think it is doable...we were comfortably full at the end, and I imagine that the tour is portioned out a little differently, so that you're not too full. I would do it next time for sure. The wines we had I can't remember (they are supposed to send us a copy of the menu and the wine pairings) but looking at the list in the above posting, I know we only had a couple of those. Their Malbec was fantastic - I am not sure the one listed here is the same we had. In fact, they offered us a Malbec that was very, very good for a small supplement (an extra $12) to the wine pairings, replacing the Malbec originally offered. Trust their wine people. They are good and very fair. Have a great time!
  20. The timing of the courses with the wines was atrocious. For the foie gras course, the wine pairing was a late harvest sauvignon blanc that was quite nice, except that the wine arrived after we had both finished eating. On the scallop course, the wine arrived a few minutes after the scallop, but the busboy(?) had no idea what the wine was! It was only in the middle of the next course could I ask our server what the previous wine had been and he couldn't remember. One last thing; almost every course throughout the evening either included asparagus as part of the dish or as a garnish. It was a tomato and asparagus evening and asparagus is not even in season! Tasteless. BTW, I haven't written a formal review with the possibility that there may be some changes... ←
  21. Yeah, Willi's has seen the last of us, too. We went to the original one recently: bad service, mediocre food, no bread (you have to buy their bread, which is doused in cheese butter, or something else gross and heavy.) But did you try the Arctic Char. That was a winner. But not worth the other stuff.
  22. Here is a little starter for a thread on Healdsburg. There is a lot happening there. Dry Creek Kitchen, Charlie Palmer's place, is hit and miss. I've had some mediocre food there, and the last time, superb food and service. A couple times, though, I've walked out (before even sitting down) after having awful FOH service. Once we walked in, no one at the front, and waited a couple minutes (this was lunch and it was not that busy). Eventually a busboy came over, who was befuddled, didn't know what to do, spilled a bunch of pencils, and kind of mumbled away. The whole time I could see who I thought was the hostess chatting away to a table in the back, never once eyeballing the front door to see what might be going on. It was kind of incredible. We walked out after another couple of minutes. I've also had attitude (and so have others I know) when trying to make a reservation over the phone. They seem to be above it all and you are treated like you're lucky to get in. It feels very poorly managed. Especially for what they charge, and the cache of "Palmer". I swore if off, and then recently had clients in town, and a couple of my other ideas were not available that particular night, so I took them there (and I knew if it was bad, at least I wasn't paying for the trouble), and we had a great time. Everything went smoothly, the food was really good, and so was dessert. The wines we had were reasonably priced and very, very good. (It was odd that on a Saturday night, the sommelier had already left by 8 pm.) And it wasn't too rich, either. Barndiva is my current favorite there. It's a half block south of the square on Center St, just down from the Rosenblum tasting room. It's a beautiful space, a year old, with a fantastic back patio that is very large, with tables scattered throughout, a glass fountain, pretty landscaping...it is so removed from the hustle and bustle of downtown. It's just great. The food is a mix of different types, typically Californian. The tempura shrimp, anything on a skewer, salads, and the chicken are great. We've had most of the menu and no duds. The large charcuterie platter is enough for four to six people and is so fun to share. They have a clever and creative cocktail list, a nice wine list, and good glassware. The only bump here is the manager Lucca can be a little snarky with customers. If only he would learn a little humility, and true graciousness, the place would be better off. I sent some friends in there, and he was really condescending and rude to them and their kids. He's a little full of himself. Other than that, A+. Zin has slipped, and I don't go there anymore. Willi's Seafood is good, if a little rich, and sometimes really busy. They have a great Arctic Char with an almond crust that is divine. Since it's small plates, the food comes out in no order, or pacing. Which can make for a disjointed experience. It's not a relaxing environment. Cyrus is trying very hard, and is worth a trip. As close to French Laundry as we have in Sonoma County, and for a lot less. I've been there twice and found the food pretty good, but nothing that makes me want to rush back right away. The service is great, wine list extensive, the caviar table is nice (and unusual - give them credit for that), and the cheese cart is done well. (We miss Josef, who was at Cyrus at the beginning and used to be at the Farmhouse before that. His cheese cart work was a marvel. Anyone know where he is now?) The experience there starts with the hostess walking you into the dining room, and picking up a white 30's style phone to tell the kitchen you have arrived. They should drop that contrived gimmick. It's kind of ridiculous. These guys also own Market in St. Helena which I like a lot. Oakville Grocery is great for a sandwich to go, or to eat on their patio across from the square. If you're in a rush, it's a great choice. There is a new coop right on the square called Plaza Farms, with different stalls tasting and selling food and wines, with a restaurant in the back called Bovolo, run by the Zazu people. We had lunch their and it was not that great. A really good pizza, but flavorless tomato salad (how in summer?), salty soup...seems like no one's keeping a close eye on things. Maybe we'll try it after they've been there a little longer. Manzanita has ok food in a nice quiet room. Only been there once, though. Nothing too exciting here, though. A really great place, that still a lot of people don't know about, is J Winery. They do food pairings with their wine tastings that are out of this world. They make sparkling wine and mostly pinot, sometimes a zin, they have a great pinot gris, too. They do a few different tastings: one at the main bar, which I think is $12, and gets you about 5 wines w/ pairings like shrimp and avocado in a filo cup, fava puree on toast, roast pork with fig tapenade. They also have a special room, The Bubble Lounge that is a sit down event (for at least an hour - though I've been there for three hours before). It is FAB! Their staff rocks and are so fun. They clearly love their work. Look out for Janay, she's a bundle of good energy. You can check out the menu for all of these options here: http://jwine.com/recipes/ If I go there and have the tasting at the main bar, and then go into the Bubble Room (make a reservation - and they only open that Fri-Sun, I think), I don't need anything else. FYI: If you're a wine club memner there, the main bar tastings are free, and discounted in the Bubble Room. As locals, this is a great deal for us. Anyone been to Bistro Ralph lately?
  23. Sounds like a great idea, jackaroo. I haven't been up Healdsburg way in awhile and it would be nice to have a dialogue about restaurants/food and wine there. ← I'll start a thread on that in a bit, if someone doesn't beat me to it.
  24. Need to find out about the Wine Bar. I'm trying to come up with a list of TEN of them in wine country and am coming up a few short on my list (if you can believe that!) ←
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