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Steve R.

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    Brooklyn, N.Y.

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  1. I agree with "Auspicious" only so far as believing that adding a tip to the bill without advance notification on the menu is not acceptable (to me). However, I would simply take it off the bill, pay the remaining balance & leave a cash tip for the waitstaff. Let the management decide to come to me or not -- I don't need or want to talk to them about their business practices -- let them take me to court if they wish to defend their added tip. In my opinion, an advertised "mandatory gratuity" in & of itself is not "bait and switch". It is, to me, much the same as a no tipping policy or a "service included" statement on the menu -- it just changes how the math is done. As long as I know in advance, I'm ok. Either way, I'll have to assume that the business takes care of its operation (including its employees). If anyone cares, I prefer to pay the bill & leave a tip of my choosing. For me, its a more direct way of knowing that the front of house staff is making a living. Of course, this is based on traditional practice in my home area and is full of holes if/when I think about it too much (i.e.; why don't I care that the back of house is being compensated fairly? why do I want to intervene in the business model at all?). At my age, I find it easier to just continue to do what I've always done, think about it as little as possible and take headache meds. when I don't follow my own advice and write posts about it. By the way, the "no tipping pricing models as in most of Europe" no longer exists as a general guideline for non-locals & barely for locals in most places that I've visited. Although no one can agree on what's expected from American tourists anymore, I can say that I've watched lifelong residents of Florence, Rome, Paris, Lyon, & other places put down 5-10% (& even "round up" in places where "service included" was clearly written on the menu), while I've seen dirty looks given to other tourists who left under 10%. Things change.
  2. We recently stayed at the Alexander Inn (12th & Spruce) and really liked it. Of the places you listed, we ate at Le Virtu. It was absolutely not what we expected. The web site & friends' recommendations had us thinking that this would be a darkish old school type place with an upscale wine list and tablecloths. Nope. A bright, airy place with informal, friendly service and both a server & a middle aged S. Philly (50s? 60s?) owner who spent time talking about Italy & the neighborhood with us. This was the most Brooklyn type place for us & we really enjoyed it. A bottle of Aglianico ($45 - reasonable) and a Sunday fixed price meal ($35pp) that included 3 courses (anything on the menu -- each course smaller than would be served off the regular menu) plus cookies. Cheese/egg meatless "meatballs", mixed fried vegetables as apps were both excellent. The pastas were exceptional & the highlights of the meal. As is usually the case with multi-course Italian means, the protein course was okay - I had lamb, Ginny had pork, both were good but nothing to write effusive statements about. We'd definitely return. We also went to Mr. Martino's Trattoria. This place is hard to summarize. It's very good home cooking and we'd go back if it was near our home. The owner went out of his way when we arrived and sat down to make sure we knew that it was "nothing fancy" & that his wife was doing all the cooking to order. Good self assessment. We decided to eat at the bar area (BYOB place - no alcohol license so this was a "bar" in name only) and had nice chats with the owner, the waitstaff and a customer or two. From the baked ricotta w/dried sausage, to the veal tortelloni w/gorgonzola tomato sauce, to the lemon tart -- all was very nicely done & portioned well (medium sized, but enough). The place was charming, with things like a rotary dial phone, old fans, photos and antique store decor. Everyone was friendly, the room full of regular customers. Its more than worth going & we're glad we did, but only if you're looking for a locals informal place & not an upscale setting/meal. Cash only & very reasonable, partially due to the BYOB.
  3. Steve R.

    Richmond Virginia

    robirdstx -- Well, this is on our short list for when we pass thru this Jan (somewhat tongue in cheek, since I noticed where you're from): https://www.zzqrva.com
  4. Steve R.

    Mario Batali

    In my opinion, this is the crux of the matter. Its not that these are 2 different behaviors (Flay, Batali) on the same scale, its that one of them did things that our society deems injurious enough to others to pass laws against &/or not condone as acceptable human behavior. Flay's "style" may well be counter-productive (or not) or assholic; however, it doesn't rise (to my knowledge or anything written here or elsewhere so far) over any commonly defined line and, therefore, doesn't belong in the same category. Perhaps a Restaurant Life thread discussing the merits of various kitchen management styles or even one on chefs who are obnoxious. But to even combine the two men and their "issues" is to minimize one and unfairly taint the other. We should keep focused on discrimination and assault and not divert to other kitchen sink issues (do I get credit for half a pun?).
  5. Steve R.

    Lebanese/Arabic food?

    Sorry I missed your above post & hope that the trip went well. Did you wind up at Tanoreen? If so, did you get to talk to Ranier, who is in charge of their bar?
  6. Steve R.

    Richmond Virginia

    We spent a night in Richmond on the way down to Fla. from NYC and then went back to Richmond for a night while heading north this past week. We went to L’Opossum in Jan and had an interesting meal. I say interesting because everything was, well, interesting. The room, the menu language, the art work and the food were all quirky (in a good way for us - not too cutesy, as this could easily be). Just look at the website and menu and you’ll see what you’ll get all the way through. Not all of the food was something I’d eat again, but that’s more a question of tastebuds than the kitchen’s ability & creativity. Ginny had the Snails w/Ham Biscuit for her app. (a great recommendation from Kim Shook -- thanks again Kim) & I had the 5 Spice (very rare, very thin sliced) Venison w/Lotus Chips & a little Chinese Mustard. Both were excellent and dishes that we’d eat again and again. Her entree of Halibut w/Wild Rice, Greens & Corn was also quite good, but my boneless pork chop was not to my liking. Whatever they brined it with ruined the texture for me and took away the porkiness I love as well. Oh well. Glasses of wine for each of us and one split dessert of Tarte Tatin & we spent $165 all in. A fair price for the quality, quantity and skill. We’d go back. This past week's meal at Edo’s Squid was just about perfect. Made a reservation, was met by a hipster with a cool reserved no smile Williamsburg, Brooklyn attitude at the door, was seated promptly and all was good. The waiter was friendly, helpful & very efficient. We shared 2 apps. The Mozz., Roasted Peppers and Anchovies were the benchmark for this dish — nothing fancy, just solid, fresh food served well. The fried oysters were plump, juicy, tasty and fried in a perfect light crispy batter that sealed in the flavor. Entrees of Veal Piccata for her and Spag. Carbonara for me were huge and could feed 4. Or the 2 of us. Both were made exactly the right way — my Carbonara was egged and al dente as it should be. A bottle of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (Avignonesi 2013 - $40) was a good match for it all. No chance at room for dessert. $140 all in. Highly recommended. Wish it was nearer to me — well, actually, maybe not as I would gain too much weight eating here.
  7. In Brooklyn, this is not a major problem but, as you know, its a large borough. If you’re in the Bklyn Heights area, you should try Noodle Pudding. It’s a cash only Italian place that’s way better than the average and friendly. We eat there 1-2x/week (at the bar). Fresh fish, great homemade pastas, not a red sauce place. If you’re not drinking much, I think that Henry’s End is still around $150 all in for 2 people. Another very friendly local place that’s been around for a long time - they have a web site. In Park Slope, I’d recommend going to Nargis, an Uzbek place that just opened this year. In Clinton Hill, check out Mekelberg’s (the owner is an eG poster). Many others in Brooklyn — more upon request. I’ll let others chime in for Manhattan - it’s doable but there aren’t as many quality places for this price any longer. Queens has tons of ethnic food from Latin America & Tibet along Roosevelt Ave and, of course, the best Chinatown in NYC is in Flushing and surrounding areas. All way under your price range and definitely not tablecloth places.
  8. I would love to but we’re on our way to Florida ourselves (for the winter). Gulf Coast, just south of Clearwater Beach. I’m looking forward to feeling my toes & fingers again. Think you’ll still be there in April? eta: I wrote the above before catching up with the thread & finding out that you’re closing down. Sorry to hear it.
  9. Steve R.


    We'll be in Indian Shores again for almost 3 months starting next Saturday & would love to hear if anyone has any restaurant recommendations for the area. Over the past several winter visits, we would drive from Clearwater Beach to St Pete Beach, from Tampa to downtown St. Pete and all points in between for dinner. We love Heilman's Beachcomber, Bern's, E&E Stakehouse, Salt Rock Grill & several other more "fish shack" type places, but are always interested in new places to try. Any ideas?
  10. We had friends coming over for a holiday dinner last night, so we went to our usual neighborhood butcher, Della Pietra. While there, we picked up a limoncello cake for dessert. Everyone loved it. I just figured that this would be a good time to let you know that, whenever we’ve been in there, the guys at Della Pietra have regularly been overheard recommending your baked goods. Sorry you’re leaving Brooklyn. Best wishes in Florida.
  11. Steve R.

    Richmond Virginia

    Well, since Matthew asked for an update (over 6 years ago), I figure that it's time to oblige. Armed with Kim's recommendation - no, not the one quoted above, but a recent pm in response to my request for current favorites - my wife & I went to Acacia 2 nights ago, while passing thru Richmond, & had a great meal, start to finish. An excellent small wine list, with well selected by the glass options, started us off at the bar area. The room & service in this newer location makes it comfortable without being overly fussy. Grown up but not at all formal. I gotta admit that menu descriptions that include more than 3 or so elements always scare me, as they sometimes indicate chefs who throw a lot of "interesting" things together & think that constitutes "inventive" cuisine. The cooking here shows that a good chef can knowledgeably combine ingredients that are interesting & wind up serving dishes that work, tasting like everything was just meant to go together. It also proves that not everything needs multiple ingredients. Our apps (shared) were 6 nicely fried oysters on homemade slaw & linguini with Oregon black truffles. Both just about perfect. Mains were lump crab cakes & Black Sea bass, both fresh with touches of kitchen skill adding flavors while keeping the natural integrity of the main ingredient. All in all, exactly the type of place we like & at a price point that makes me want to leave NYC. All in (w/tips), $150 for the 2 of us, including glasses of wine, sparkling water but no dessert (too full). Thanks Kim... much appreciated.
  12. Steve R.

    Deli Stuff In, And Around, NYC

    Well, if you're traveling to the other boroughs.... tried Mill Basin Deli yet?
  13. Steve R.

    High-End NYC 2016

    I really hope that your meal at Queen was not luck, but a sign of their return to what they were. Please go back 3 or 4 more times and make sure, ok? . By the way, was the charming guy the short front of house manager? He's been there forever but he's not the owner - it's owned (last I looked) by the sons of the original chef/owner, one of whom is quite a talented chef in his own right & who I'm not sure is in the kitchen these days. While we're on the topic of pork chops w/peppers (we are on that topic, aren't we?), the best used to be found at 2 Toms on 3rd Ave off Union. Their pastas sucked but boy did they have chops. Wonder what's up there these days.
  14. Steve R.

    High-End NYC 2016

    Always thought Lupa was too salty and actually prefer Otto's pastas. The wine dinner sounds good though. Patrick: since you listed some Bklyn places on your post, I might as well weigh in & put in my usual plug for trying both Henry's End (non-fussy straight forward American menu w/an excellent wine list) & Noodle Pudding (fresh, friendly & non pretentious Italian) on Henry St in Bklyn Hts. Since my wife and I are regulars & well known at both (& get comps regularly), I won't pretend to total objectivity, but think the world of both. Feel free to name drop (Steve & Ginny) and hope that their love for my wife overshadows their disdain for me & my food boards. And, while I'm at it, my own take is that Queen ain't what it was (I live 4 blocks away & have gone there for well over 30 years), while Bamonte's seems to have risen from the ashes to a be a solid red sauce choice.