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Joe H

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  1. Joe H

    Ray's the Steaks

    This is the quote from Michael Landrumm in a post of his from March 16th of this year on the "Tom Sietsema Chat" thread: I typically do not seat parties of larger than 4 before 8. They almost always prove to be disruptive of service and other guests' experience at earlier times. Also, if a table tries to book at 6 and that table is not previously reserved for 7:30 I will acommodate that table with no limits (first come first served, remember?). That almost never happens. But no, I do not make every table available for seating at 6. I stagger seating. I don't start driving in fourth gear, either, or brush my teeth after going to bed. I also do not board a rollercoaster while the train is still moving and full, of after it has left the platform. It would be nice if I could demand to ride twice, or even three times, in a row, though, and make others wait until I was done riding. Better yet, my own private roller coaster that no one else could ride. This post has been edited by landrumm2000: Mar 16 2005, 02:28 PM What else have I misrepresented? Ray's IS 25% cheaper than the two restaurants I mentioned. That 25% is the cost of what I listed. His wine list? It is NOT more reasonably priced than the Prime Rib's. I have misrepresented absolutely nothing.
  2. Joe H

    Ray's the Steaks

    The owner posts regularly on this and Rockwell's board. In part because of my criticism of several of his "unique" policies (NOT his food; rather answering the phone a total of 8 hours a week and 90 minute dining limits-if he is successful he could start a trend in the DC area and most people on here have no regard for this) and ongoing criticism on the Washington Post website (almost 50% of the responses are less than enthusiastic) there has been a continuing effort to show support. Note that he regularly contributes on here and frequently hosts groups of those from this board. As for Maestro-that is the equal of any restaurant in the United States today and other than only two or three on this board who have actually been to it receives relatively small consideration. There is a strong tendency on here to reinforce opinions by continuing to rave about many of the same restaurants such as Corduroy, Palena, Eve and Ray's. All four of these are very good to excellent. Yet you rarely hear Obelisk, L'Auberge, the Prime Rib (FAR superior to Ray's in every respect and where anyone visiting this city SHOULD be going), Vidalia, Equinox, Tosca, Kinkead's and many others that are their equals or superior to even mentioned. In its own way Laboratorio is Maestro's equal and on par with the best in Italy. See if you can find a thread on this? Anyway who is critical of Ray's in any way is roundly attacked and cursed. This very act has caused many outside of a group of regulars to shy away from this board. I also suspect that many on here do not order wine by the bottle when they go to Ray's nor do they order full course dinners. It is NOT as cheap as implied with entrees ranging up to $30 and a bill for two touching $150 rather than say $200 at the Capital Grill or the Prime Rib. The $50 difference is ambience, style, porcelain, crystal, length of stay and a significant qualitative difference in the overall experience. I should also add that he has a private phone number that allows them to make a reservation anytime without the two hour a day, four day a week window. For those that don't have this unpublished number and may have a larger group than four (cannot be seated before 8:00PM) or that may want the possibililty of staying longer than 90 minutes (limit-he will ask you to leave if you go over this may not be as friendly of anexperience as represented. For whatever reason both he and his numerous eG DC supporters have no tolerance for anyone that doesn't agree with this. They can't gang up on the Post website or on Tom Sietsema's chat but they can and will gang up on anyone on here using the faceless nature of the internet to hurl expletives at anyone who disagrees with their opinions. I disagree with Busboy, it is not worth the attention it recieves. There are many such as myself who believe his policies are suicidal to a restaurant operation. Look at the Post website. I have one post on it. There are many, many more on share the same opinions, even stronger. This is not the kind of publicity that an investor wants.
  3. There are some country inns that have this. In particular the Wayside Inn in MIddletown, VA, years ago, had exemplery pan fried chicken perhaps on par with Stroud's in Kansas City. But it's been ten years since I've been there and I would check before going. This is the link with their menu: http://www.alongthewayside.com/dining.asp Note that fried chicken is NOT shown. It is possible that it is a special since it was a 30 minute or so wait when they would cook it to order in a seasoned black cast iron skillet. A step below this was the Southern Kitchen in New Market, Rowe's in Staunton and the Smithfield Inn in Smithfield. Again, for ALL of these it has been years since I've been. Perhaps someone might have more current information on them. Also, Holly's on route 50 about 7 or 8 miles across the Bay Bridge has very good fried chicken although it is NOT pan fried. This is the link for them: http://www.hollysrest.com/Lunch_Dinner/bod...nch_dinner.html By the way, twenty years ago Crisfield's was the best in the D. C. area and almost no one knew that fried chicken may have been their best dish!
  4. Interesting. At least five or six posts from people reminiscing about McDonald's french fries which were changed in the fall of '66. I have posted numeous times on here, Roadfood and Chowhound that there is ONE place on earth that still serves McDonald's original french fries from pre September '66: Dick's in Spokane, WA. NOT the Dick's in Seattle which is a different chain but the Dick's in Spokane. They are the EXACT same french fries which were duplicated by the owner when McD turned him down for a franchise in the late '50's and he went to Southern CA, worked in a McD for a month and then returned to Spokane and opened Panda which later became Dick's. He used the same suppliers as McD used in Orange County, the same 70% animal fat to fry the potatoes in. He totally duplicated the original McD formula which is printed on the wall of their museum store in Downey. Ironically, today, he having been turned down almost 50 years ago for a McD franchise now is the only place left on earth which sells McD original potatoes. There is a McD down the street from him in Spokane. It does poorly. Him? USA Today several years ago noted that he has the second highest grossing independent fast food franchise in America! I don't know how many people read posts on here and elsewhere but hopefully someone will rediscover a piece of their childhood from this post. Joe Heflin PS: He also has McD's original shakes.
  5. I'm sorry-when you said "here" I thought you meant D. C. Thanks.
  6. Joe - I was recently in Cincinnati and really enjoyed a black raspberry chip cone at Graeter's downtown. How do they keep the chips so soft? But, I have to say that my fav of all time is still Berthillion's armagnac prune. ← I had the armagnac prune at their store near Notre Dame about three weeks ago. I should explain here that I travel about 45 out of 60 days each year on business throughout the U. S. and Europe and use these trips to sample ribs, pizza, ice cream, etc. along with 18 hour days and endless driving. Sometimes food is the only redeeming feature of them-and long scenic walks to work off the calories. This year I decided to focus on ice cream since I've been on an ice cream making "kick" with my hand cranked White Mountain freezer. Immodestly, I still believe I make the best ice cream I've ever tasted which is caramel pecan made with 2/3 Lewes heavy cream and 1/3 cream top milk along with making the caramel from scratch using Kay's butter as well as toasting the pecans in it. This is the recipe for anyone interested in making it: http://www.chowhound.com/boards/general21/...ages/75763.html I've made this for a number of professional chefs and I think, for better or worse, I have something of a reputation for it. Note: the length of time that it takes the custard to freeze in the ice cream maker varies depending on the amount of rock salt. This can be tricky. Don: I haven't been to York Castle in about three or four years but it's owner (or at least the man who first opened it twenty or so years ago) use to make the ice cream for Gifford's in Silver Spring. When Gifford's closed he opened York Castle several months or so later using the exact same base. For years we would drive from Reston to Montgomery Hills for his Swiss sundae as well as peach and pumpkin ice cream in season. He couldn't advertise that he was making Gifford's ice cream since he didn't own the rights to the name. These were later sold. It is possible that today, with the expansion, York has changed. But he had the tropical flavors from day one along with using real heavy cream, making the swiss fudge and so forth. It is also possible that he sold it and the new owners now have a different base made for them along with abandoning some of the other time consuming things he did. I think we need to go back and find out if he's the same. Doesn't sound like it.
  7. D. C. is not a great town for ice cream, certainly nothing like Boston or New England in general. I actually like Richardson's and another place (whose name I've forgotten) in Whitman, MA where I remember cows grazing in a field next to where I ordered the ice cream. There use to be a small amusement park called King's Castle Land across the street from it. I like Bart's and Herrell's a lot. But I think Two Amy's is superior to all of these. York Castle's base IS Gifford's old base. Their Swiss sundae, sodas, hot fudge sundae are the exact same as the original Gifford's which closed in the early '80's. I used to like Bob's on Wisconsin just south of Calvert before it became "Max's." Somehow, for me, it just hasn't been the same. As for D. C. overall this city is just a shadow of what it once was for ice cream: Avignon Freres, Wagshal's, University Pastry Shop, Calvert Pastry Shop-all had excellent homemade ice cream. Weile's in Langley Park had huge imaginative sundaes which were truly impressive in appearance. Not in taste (they used Breyer's) but there this almost didn't matter with their virtual ovewhelming size. In the '50's D. C. had literally scores of custard stands offering real frozen custard similar to Carl's in Fredericksburg. Reindeer on Colesville Road in Silver Spring was the best of them. Today, they are all gone, even the Frozen Dairy Bar which once stood on route 50 and, for several years, in a nondescript strip shopping center on Lee Highway. I haven't had Larry's and was just in Cambridge. Next visit will be in about a month and I will try Christina's. I do agree about New England, even Pennsylvania and Ohio, as having sources for ice cream that are overall better than D. C. By the way, there is a great old fashioned dairy on route 100 just south of Allentown called Longacre Dairy. It is excellent. Forty, fifty years ago there were scores of places like this. (Here the original Martin's Dairy in Olney was outstanding and considered better than Gifford's by most.) Today, this is one of only a handful around the United States.
  8. This is the first time I have ever heard of "The Chocolate Shoppe." Where is it? I will go this weekend.
  9. I just returned from one leg of an annual driving trip for my business which this year allowed me to visit Michael's Frozen Custard in Madison, WI (known as Wisconsin's "best," source ((believe it or not)) the New York Times), Kopp's (voted Milwaukee's best ten or so years in a row by several sources) and then as a reference point, Cincinnati's Graeter's which I consider to be the best "store bought" ice cream in America, possibly even better than Paris' Berthillion. All three of these were within 48 hours. At Michael's I had three small cups of custard, chocolate, vanilla and cookie dough. I ate about half of each of the three. At Kopp's I had four small cups of custard, chocolate, vanilla, Kahlua Colada (Kahlua flavored vanilla with coconut) and Grasshopper Fudge (mint chocolate with swirls of fudge). I took a bite of the vanilla, a bite of the chocolate and most of the other two. At Graeter's-two visits-I had a total of five small cups: chocolate chip, strawberry chip, whiskey chip, chocolate chocolate chip and vanilla. I ate every bite of every cup, about 3,000 calories worth. Michael's had the densest texture, tasted very much like a rich version of Fredericksburg's Carl's or Harrisonburg's Klein's. The machines that Michael's uses seemed to be similar to what Milwaukee Frozen Custard uses (from memory). Like Kopp's (and the original ElectroFreeze machines at Carl's & Klein's) these feature slabs of custard sliding down a long polished metal chute into a refrigerated tub from which the custard is scooped. Their machines are made by the owner of another Milwaukee custard emporium, Leon's, and visual dead ringers for the custard machines I vaguely remember from the Polar Bear on Georgia Avenue in the '50's. The cookie dough was interesting since it was basically vanilla custard topped with chunks of cheap, packaged cookie dough. I ended up scooping most of it off and throwing it away. The vanilla was outstanding, better than Kopp's. Chocolate was very good. Kopp's is a legend, the "In 'n Out Burger" of custard considered by virtually everyone to be the benchmark for frozen custard anywhere in America. They also make a hamburger that, honestly, is 99% as good as a double double even to chopped grilled onions which melt into two slices of American cheese on the toasted bun. The gloriously good greasy grilled fresh hamburger which rests on this delivers the same spurt in your mouth satisfaction that I've found at In 'n Out. I've been three times before and everytime left after eating as much as two pints of their custard-and a double cheeseburger or two. Their custard is unusual in that it is 17% butterfat which is unheard of since most custard is 11 or 12%. The flavor of each that I tried was very good especially the Grasshopper Fudge. But for whatever reason the texture was not as dense nor even as "naturally" creamy as what I've had there before. It actually tasted like some kind of chemical additive had been included for texture which seemed to "fluff" the custard a bit. If this had been my first visit to Kopp's I would have left extremely disappointed. Michael's was clearly superior, although the two special flavors at Kopp's were intriguing. It is entirely possible that I just had the misfortunate experience of a bad "base" that had been prepared for the custard. Graeter's is 18% butterfat ice cream hand churned two gallons at a time in a "French Pot" in their commissary. This, literally, is the Gifford's of Cincinnati, in business since the 1880's. The texture of all of their ice cream is the closest to home made of any "store bought" ice cream I have found anywhere. I was at Berthillion near Notre Dame three weeks ago, Toscanini's in Boston two weeks ago and am convinced that Graeter's, for its chip flavors (which have large chunks of chocolate made in house) is the best I have found in a store. Their strawberry chip is a Great flavor, one of the best I have had anywhere. The combination of sweet, creamy seemingly fresh (but not really) strawberry ice cream with sometime inch long, quarter inch thick chunks of good homemade chocolate is truly one of life's worthwhile excesses. For anyone going to Cincinnati, Louisville or Columbus this is worth seeking out. BUT have it hand dipped in one of their stores. And, if possible, invest calories in their "Swiss" sundae which is similar to Gifford's old Swiss sundae except that the fudge and heavy cream are whipped just before being dribbled on the ice cream. The midwest is also known for "Turtle Sundaes." All three of the ones above have exemplery versions of this although Graeter's may be the most orgasmic. Homemade caramel, homemade fudge, heavy cream whipped in store and dense, extremely rich hand churned ice cream combine for a moaningly delicious and satisfying indulgence. Two Amy's ice cream is better than Graeter's. Better than Toscanini's, better than Berthillion, better than Florence's Badiani, Northampton's Steve's and Bart's, the former Robin Rose in Venice-better than any ice cream I have had in any restaurant or store anywhere. I've now had four different flavors over several visits to Two Amy's and am convinced that for their pizza margherita and any flavor of ice cream this is as good as it gets in a restaurant or store anywhere (excepting New Haven for the pizza). I also like Thomas Sweet but this is three or four steps below Graeter's and far below Two Amy's. Neilsen's in Vienna will compare favorably to Michael's for both their vanilla and chocolate. I stopped by there today to taste their custard, coming so close to visits to the others. They are not as rich as Kopp's has been in the past but seemed on par with Michael's. Both are extremely smooth and creamy with excellent depth of flavor in their basics. Neilsen's does not have the variety of daily flavors that the Wisconsin stores do (not as big on chunks, they seem to pulverize everything they add to their daily flavors, a minus for me). But Neilsen's scored a lot of points with me. Michael's and Kopp's do not have concretes which may be Neilsen's best offering. I even prefer it there to Ted Drewes which invented it. For all that everyone on various boards talk about frozen custard and ice cream we very well may have as good of ice cream as you will find in any store or restaurant anywhere on earth, right here at Two Amy's. For frozen custard, my guess is that if Kopp's, Michael's and Neilsen's were on their respective corners of a common intersection Neilsen's lines would be as long as any. At Michael's, on Sunday night, there were over 150 people in line for custard in Madison. Even Carl's pales next to this! Neilsen's does not have the 1950's era ambience of Carl's or Michael's. But for me this Salt Lake City import is a welcome addition to D. C. putting us on par with anyone for their frozen custard.
  10. How can you say a store "sucks" when they sell wine by the case which is 40% cheaper than its list price? I used the example of Chateau Souverain cab but there are many that Total has the lowest prices in the Washington area. No, overall, I don't like Total. But for some wine/most wine I go where I can get the best price. Don't discount Total if you are willing to buy by the case. For many of the more popular wines they have the best prices of anyone when you factor in state sales tax vs. DC sales tax. I find myself at Magruder's, Total, C/W, MacArthur, Costco, even buying offshore and having it shipped here (i.e. Australian shiraz from Sydney). Total doesn't have anyone whose opinion I would trust-but shopping there for me is not about this. When I walk in their door I know what I want. C/W, MacArthur, Reston's Wine Cabinet (an outstanding store) are different. They also serve a different purpose.
  11. At 12:30 Saturday at least half or more of all their wine is gone. While many of the products have markups there are still relative bargains on olive oil, salsas, spices, pasta sauces, etc. (Rao's for $6.50 instead of $9.00) My guess is that there were at least 100 or more packed into this store when I left.
  12. Joe H

    Hamburg Report

    Thanks for the nice words. Much appreciate your reports and opinions as well. If you do happen to consider either Bareiss or Schwarzwaldstube unfortunately both have long lead times for reservations. Schwarzwaldstube is roughly as difficult to get into as El Bulli or the French Laundry and I am NOT exaggerating. They accept reservations one year to the day and usually book up for Friday and Saturday within several days. That's one year out. For weeknights I was able to get a reservation for Schwarzwaldstube for December 1st (thursday) when I was there last week. This was my third night of choice!! Bareiss is much better-about two months or longer for a Friday or Saturday and two to three weeks for a weeknight. Both resestaurants are closed on Monday and Tuesday. Both serve lunch but Bareiss' lunch is not the same menu as their dinner menu. It is a la carte while dinner is prix fixe at E 110 and E 125. Schwarzwaldstube DOES have the same menu at both which, last September, was around E135 or so. Occasionally, Schwarzwaldstube will have a table at lunch with only a month or so for lead time. Note that I tried to get into this restaurant, usually with a month's notice, for almost five years before I succeeded last September when they had a luncheon cancellation. If you do go ask for a table by the window if possible. They have three tables that look out over the valley a thousand or so feet below. The view is truly spectacular. I think you'll find the food to be on par with Ducasse, Le Cinq, etc. at literally half the price. I would argue with better overall service and a spectacular setting, especially a window table, that is one of the most romantic on earth. It would be a legitimate three star in Paris or anywhere else. This December we'll go to Schwarzwaldstube and Le Calandre about three days apart. (Six hour drive) I look forward to that although they are totally different.
  13. Joe H

    Hamburg Report

    I was just in Hamburg a week ago Sunday and in the same area that you were on the harbor. The Portuguese restaurants intrigued me but I had read that the Fischmarkt (name of the restaurant not the actual market) was one of Hamburg's best. It wasn't. In fact it was a very real disappointment. Hamburg does have two of the best street bratwurst stands I have found anywhere in Germany on the Monckebergstrasse. They are directly across the street from each other, almos always with a crowd and worth walking blocks out of one's way to try. Haerlin is a Michelin starred restaurant and a visit about two years ago found a very nice and comfortable dinner. Lubeck, one of Germany's most beautiful and interesting cities, has an outstanding restaurant, Wullenwever, which also has a Michelin star. Neither of these are on par with what I've found in the Black Forest, Koln or Dusseldorf yet they were both quite enjoyable. Your photos of spargel are fantastic! Thanks for sharing. By the way, on this trip I returned to Bareiss in Schwarzwald (Black Forest) and also stopped in Koln (Cologne) and Mainz having late dinner in the restaurants in their respective Hyatts. I have been to the restaurant in Koln before and find it to be convenient when travelling, arriving too late to go anywhere else. The Mainz Hyatt was another matter-it was really good. Surprisingly good. I will go out of my way to stay there again and look forward to dinner. Again, not an over the top meal but a very nice dinner when travelling. The view of the Rhein and the cathedral on the far side of the river from the hotel is one of the most awesome anywhere. A bridge leading directly from Koln's train station crosses adjacent to the hotel. At sunset (10:15PM), standing on the Hyatt's terrace sipping wine and watching a train pass over, seemingly every minute, is a gift to be able to experience. For this reason alone I stay at this Hyatt. Bareiss is trying very hard for their third star. I believe the food at the nearby Schwarzwaldstube is a bit better overall but Bareiss' service is the finest I have ever experienced. E 125 showed a 20 course dinner which included, in succession, a cheese course, a grape cart, a sauce cart with each contributing to one plate. This was followed by a pre dessert, two separate dessert courses, an after dessert "nibble" and then two "after nibble" carts each with selections of cookies, chocolates and cakes. Visually, the composition of the various courses were the equal of what I have found anywhere in, say, Paris. Bareiss also has an indulgent luxury that is the finest I have found anywhere: E 600 Topazio silver/crysal decanters, upholstered stools at each oversized table (for handbags), service tables adjoining each table of which there were a total of 8 with 17 people served by 6 staff. They must be losing a lot of money on this but they are definitely going all out for their third star. Without question the overall experience is the equal of any. Presentation, service just superb, superb! Probably, still two star food overall (although I've found that some two stars AND one stars can have better food than a three!), but I hope they receive their third one. Beautiful hotel, too, although the Traube Tonbach (where Schwarzwaldstube is) is a bit nicer.
  14. Either of the El Pollo Ricos (Arlington or Wheaton) followed closely by Crisp and Juicy on Lee Highway. El Pollo Rico also has a great rum cake and, while frozen, decent fries.
  15. Joe H

    Virginia BBQ

    Wilson, known for Parker's and Bob Melton's was a real disappointment for me years ago. Give serious consideration to Pete Jones' Skylight Inn in Ayden about an hour + away which Southern Living called "the best bbq" place in the South recently. This is an excellent link with detailed photos from Holly Eats: http://www.hollyeats.com/SkylightInn.htm This is video (yes, video!) of The Skylight Inn:http://www.turnersouth.com/media/player/0,,3001,00.html Allman's was known for sliced pork bbq years ago. Not chopped. Holly gave it three stars which would be a real fall from what it once was. But I haven't been in over ten years! I haven't been to Johnny Boy's in a couple of years also. Today, my wife and I are actually driving down that way and may stop by if we don't go to Tony's Riverhouse in Benedict which has Stoney's old cook from Broome Island. Point being that Stoney's a year ago wasn't as good as the year before. Then I found out that their cook left and went to Benedict. A friend stopped in a couple of months ago and said that the Benedict place was as good as the old Stoney's in Broome Island. Unfortunately, with time, places change.
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