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South Jersey Epicurean

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  1. Now that I found the thread, count me in for Friday night at Zahav Sunday brunch at Han Dynasty; don't know about Saturday yet....
  2. I checked the Thai restaurant thread already for New Jersey. The furthest restaurant SOUTH was in Lambertville. That's NOT South Jersey. One has to be south of Trenton to be considered South Jersey. All of the other Thai restaurant reviews were Northern New Jersey places. Hey, people eat Thai food in South Jersey too!!. I liked Siam in Lambertville, but it's not a typical, traditional Thai restaurant. Some of their entrees are just Chinese (BUT damn good ones)!! CHAMPA LAOS in the lefthand corner of the Centrum Shoppes, 219 Haddonfield-Berlin Road in Cherry Hill was a rockin' place--culinary wise that is! My companion Katie & I ventured here on a Monday night. We were the ONLY customers all night. That SHOULD NOT be!! The food is fantastic, diverse, and beautifully presented. This place should be packed and is worth a special trip!! So get here!! Champa Laos has sister places in Philly & Frazier, PA (Thai Royal Orchid) that are both fantastic & unique. When was the last time you EVER saw VEAL on a Thai menu? Go to Frazier for that one. We started with soups-- the Coconut Milk Soup with chicken ($4.95) or seafood ($6.95). We had the chicken one with a coconut broth w/ galangal, lemon grass, mushrooms,& kaffir lime. It was saltier than I can recall other similar soups, but this helped contrast the lemon grass & lime juice creating a nice tang. Large chicken pieces were in the bottom of the bowl. We also had a chef special of cream of asparagus soup w/ crabmeat. It was mostly green and not so much cream, but smooth & lightly seasoned with the crabmeat in little flecks throughout the bowl. It had the slightest kick of heat as it went down the gullet & a hidden spice that I saw, but couldn't put my finger on what it was--cardomon? five-spice? Whatever it was, it was a winner for $6.95. The next courses were LAAP with chicken or beef ($7.95) & the Golden Rings for ($8.95). The Laap was cooked with dried chilies, cilantro, scallions, red onions, in a nice lime dressing. The beef appeared to be ground, but had the texture to me of sliced sirloin or flank steak. Not salty at all with just a kick of red pepper flake heat. The Golden Rings were fresh calamari w/ Thai beer batter & served w/ a sweet, tangy sauce of Thai chili sauce. The batter was lighter than the lightest tempura batter you ever had. Katie said they were ethereal! Each ring looked like a perfect onion ring minus the onion. There were at least 8 rings. For our entrees we shared two: Thai eggplant with chicken ($12.95) & the Chu Chee Salmon ($17.95). Both of these entrees had the one bell pepper sign of heat index. The Thai eggplant with chicken had the grilled eggplant with that distinctive grill taste with a sweetness to the mushiness of the interior of the eggplant with chunks of chicken, basil, garlic, onions. The colors were diverse and appealing. The Chu Chee Salmon was a 8 oz piece of fish ina slightly sweet red curry sauce w/ fried basil. It didn't seem to have ANY heat until I swallowed one piece and started choking. Moral of the story--- when the menu says 1, 2, or 3 bell peppers: BELIEVE IT!!!! Each of our entrees included beautifully sculptured carrot flowers garnishes which we had demonstrated in how to create. (Get a vegetable peeler with large ripples at an Asian grocery story & start carving!!) Champa Laos is a BYOB place. We brought a nice Chateau St. Mechelle Gewurtraminer to offset & compliment some of the spice. Some of the more unusual Thai entrees include Lamb au Siam, a roasted rack of lamb marinated with rosemary/dijon in a green curry mushroom sauce ($22.95); Vientiane BBQ, grilled marinated Cornish hen w/ herbs & spcies served w/ papaya salad & sticky rice ($15.95); Tamarind Duck, a crispy semi-boneless duck served with a classic Thai tamarind sauce, napped with mango ($18.95); Peppercorn Catfish, crispy catfish fillet sauteed w/ peppercorns, hint of ginger in a spicy roasted chili sauce ($15.95); Royal Crab Cake, a pan seared jumbo lump crab cake encrusted w/ macadamia nuts in a warm citrus aioli dressing ($18.95); Scallop & Shrimp Champagne- grilled diver sea scallops & jumbo shrimp in a champagne sauce napped with artichokes & mushrooms ($20.95). There are also traditional & twists on traditional curries ranging from a hot duckling au curry w/ red curry, coconut milk, pineapples & grape tomatoes to AOM Laos w/ chicken, beef, salmon, or catfish--curry mixed w/ lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, shallots & chili in a lemongrass broth. There are plenty of other appetizers ranging from Tulip Dumplings to Thai Crepes, saladas, & vegetarian dishes. The decor is muted earth tones with Asian flairs of figurines & potted plants. "Grandma" owns the restaurants & is the CHEF too!! You cannot go wrong here--gourmet, reasonbly priced, good portion size, lovely decor--the quality & preparation is a 5-star restaurant, as good as LOTUS of SIAM in Las Vegas!!
  3. OkaY, you had a great breakfast and the photos are beautiful. If you read my older thread on "Boo, Boo Boo, bouchon," you will find out just how awful a place it is for dinner and way overpriced for ordinary food.
  4. Herb, The best place for a lunch "goodie" in South Jersey is the re-located Franco's Place in Haddonfield on Haddon Avenue. It's across from a bank closer to Kress Liquors than to Kings Highway. The institution closed down it's 35-year-old place in Westmont and moved to smaller digs. Of course, it's the panzarotti to order for lunch--an inside out pizza that is deep fried to the luscious crust of the best apple turnover dough that is all the best outside of an eggroll!! They patented the panzarotti. I prefer mine with mushroom, but you can get it with any typical pizza topping that they have. It is NOT a calzone or pizza turnover!!
  5. I work at Seton Hall so...... If you want to stay in South Orange, Cafe Arugala is a nice Italian/continental, fusion place in town. Ariyoshi is new having been a former Asian fusion place which was very good and reasonable. I don't know about the new Japanese concept. I think I'd venture over to West Orange to the Manor. The portions are huge; you can have price fixed or buffet. The building and grounds are fantastic. Here is their web address: Check it out. http://www.themanorrestaurant.com/ I'd also venture straight down South Orange Ave. into Newark to the Ironbound district. It's only about 4 miles, but it will take you 20 minutes because of lights and traffic. Right on Ferry Street are Forno's (Spanish) or Iberia (Portuguese) Right off of Ferry Street on Monroe is Brasilla Grille. You can have Rodizio at Iberia/Brasilla. Forno's portions are obscene; so is the Rodizio or anything else at the others. Forno's is slightly pricier than Iberia or Brasilla. Enjoy!!
  6. Can you recommedn any new restuarants AND places to stay in Funchal Madeira for a SINGLE PERSON? Leaving on July 8, 2005. Please help!!
  7. I have been sitting on this review for a year. All of this took place in July 2004. I'm glad to see there was a thread and I'm glad to see someone took some pictures of the meals on this thread. My digital camera would not focus or adjust the appropriate lighting to do justice to the subjects so I do not have pictures that would help illustrate my descriptions better. My colleague Hector & I headed off from our chaperone duties to go to Alkimia, a restaurant reviewed as one of the places to go to in Barcelona by the NY Times. This restaurant is located in a very quiet residential neighborhood, a good 10-15 minutes away from the Latin Quarter & the Ramblas. Cab rides are quite cheap in Barcelona so it is WORTH it!! It is located at 79 Carrer de la Industria. You better get there quick for we both agreed it was one of the best meals we ever had in our lives. It is a very quiet, unassuming place that you’d might peek in the window if walking by, but could easily miss it altogether. It only has 12 tables. Reservations are suggested, not just due to the size of the restaurant, but because it only serves dinner between 8:30PM & 10:30PM. You don't get kicked out if you're still eating after 10:30PM, they just won't seat anyone else after 10:30. As you all know, the Spanish dine rather late & 8:30-10:30 could seem EARLY to typical Spanish diners. The decor is rather minimalistic: white painted walls, marblelized flooring with a matte finish, boxed, recessed lighting, brown & rust colored material seats, with alchemy formulas & symbols painted on the wall. The walls also had cutouts filled with bud vases in dark brown hues. The tables had white tablecloths & napkins-- simple & elegant, but not too pretentious. We were greeted at the host station at 8:20PM for an 8:45 reservation. We were the only ones there as the staff was finishing setting up for the evening. We were seated right away; Hector was impressed with that because in the finer NY restaurants, he says they would make you wait around for no reason other than being pretentious. Hector translated the whole menu into English. There was no English menu at the time. Maggie, Sonia, Irène, & Roman were all superb servers, regardless of any language barriers. They answered every question, and if they didn’t know, they went back and asked the chef, Jordi Vilá. STARTERS: Artichoke & bellota ham salad dressed in a carquinolis vinaigrette 11E Anchovies with fresh tomato, onion al dente & recuit ice cream salad 13E Green asparagus & mini courgettes w/cod in a romesco sauce 12E Cream of tomato soup w/ a red fruit salad & cockles (the salad has Strawberries, raspberries & a raspberry granita) 13E Baby squid w/ enpurcia (a style of rice) al dente 18E Coca of tuna tartare w/ black olive spread 11E Loin of tuna w/cherries, bacon, & a pesto ganache 17E Capipota in black butter of coffee (a pinon fish w/ potatoe puree & chickpeas) 11E Morels of cod tripe, tirabeque peas, & crunchy belly pork 17E Fried eggs & potato puree, sobrasada & quince jelly 7E MAIN COURSES: Oxtail w/potato chive 16E Entrecote of beef w/aubergine roasted in an open fire 18E Barbeque lamb w/cheese fondue, thyme hoad 22E Steak tartare in soya w/potato souffle in a spicy broth 17E Foie w/pickled pears, spring onions, & cocoa consommé 21E Caneton a l’orange w/pont-neuf carrots & olives 20E Pigeon w/roasted sweetbreads, wild mushrooms & asparagus 21E Saffron rice w/red peppers & Dublin Bay Prawns 20E White fish w/potatoes & roast onions auce/candied tomato 21E Cod w/black olives, dried apricot & yoghurt 17E Scorpion fish in a Dublin Bay prawn sauce & chopped hazelnut paste 25E Angler fish in a cream of almonds, courgette flowers in batter a la Romesco sauce 20E Turbot w/white asparagus & an orange & onion sauce 24E DESSERT: Selection of Catalan cheeses 8E Cherries in black wine, parmesan cheese & thyme soup 6E Flan w/caramelized banana, coffee, & lemon with amaretto ice cream 5E Chocolate cake layered w/sunflower seeds w/spice ice cream & iced peach 7E Pineapple w/lychee soup, candied celery, & eucalyptus ice cream 7E Semi-smoked cheese quiche w/ fennel, hazelnut & passion fruit ice 5E Goat’s milk jelly w/rosemary, pine kernels, & a red currant sorbet 6E Gazpacho of peach w/cucumber & yoghurt 6E Large Strawberry w/coconut scum & tea iced 7E This meal was tied with the best meal I ever had. It was so different and for the quality of food AND quantity, it was a BARGAIN. With 3 glasses of wine & tip, I think we spent under $150 for the two of us—maybe $125. What did we have? We received many “gratis” courses; we couldn’t believe it!! We started with a gratis course: in a shot glass, liquid tomato (very clear) & bread w/ a cured Spanish ham that just burst with different flavors and textures. Our next gratis course was a type of savory flan w/ shaved parmesan & macademia nuts. This dish was very cheesey & smooth, not sweet at all. For starters, Hector had the cream of tomato soup w/ a red fruit salad & cockles. The color of the soup was a Halloween orange contrasted with the strawberries, raspberries which were sweet set against the saltiness of the cockles. It was an unusual combination, but refreshing. I had the Loin of tuna w/cherries, bacon, & a pesto ganache. It had to be one of the best appetizers I ever ate. The tuna was so high grade and I am not one who likes raw sushi but the cherries, bacon and pesto ganache which resembled a wasabi in color and texture was just a mind-blowing combination in your mouth. Hector and I just had the eyes roll back in our heads, swooning from the flavors. It was our second food orgasm of the evening. Our entrees were the Entrecote of beef w/aubergine roasted in an open fire and Barbeque lamb w/cheese fondue, thyme hoad. The beef was tender, juicy with a smoky eggplant that was earthy & a hint of heat. The lamb was a contradiction in terms of flavors….. I asked how to eat it. The lamb itself was a sweet, smoky b-b-que sauce, but I was told to dip it in the cheese thyme. We never got the name of the Spanish cheese. It was strong, but not like gorgonzola or bleu cheese, but the combination with the lamb sauce was so striking. Food orgasm again!!! But the desserts would lead to more food orgasms; Why? Because we were given more desserts gratis after our own desserts. We chose the Chocolate cake layered w/sunflower seeds w/spice ice cream & iced peach AND the Semi-smoked cheese quiche w/ fennel, hazelnut & passion fruit ice. There was a certain way to eat the cake. It was served on a fused glass rectangular dish that was narrow with each ingredient in a certain position. I was told to eat the ingredients in the correct order starting on the right and working to the left. I’m not sure I remember the order, but each ingredient on its own was outstanding and to mix them in the mouth was just sublime. The cake was layed, but not sweet at all. The sunflower seeds turned out to be a sunflower mousse that was crunchy on top with a touch of honey. The iced peach was art and sweet, slightly frozen. The flavors of the cheese quiche, fennel, hazelnut & passion fruit ice was at first comprehension: “You gotta be f__ing kidding me?! But it worked. And each bite turned the mystery into more of an enigma. BUT WE WEREN’T DONE YET!!! Here comes the free desserts which were presented in such an unusual way. There were some chocolate lollypops with some sour shite stuff on top served in a cylindrical shot glass in a base of brown sugar. Then, there was a long thin glass with 2 cookies in them: we called them coffee pirouettes (like the Pepperidge Farm Pirouettes in shape and size) only these had semi-sweet chocolate mousse inside of them. Then, there was a raspberry jelly encrusted with coconut. Then, there was a horchado—flan like with a frothy topping with cinnamon that was sitting on a mandarin orange gelatin base. Finally, there were puba or nuba cita (translates to “little clouds”) which were sweet meringue filled with passion fruit-light as a feather. Wines were priced from 18E to 200E for bottles. We tried glasses of Riera Del Dvero & a 2002 Jane Ventara. I might have screwed up remembering these, but they complimented the appropriate dishes. The bill was presented as if it were from the royal seal of a royal wedding. It was printed on high grade stationary served in a metal silver box (like a mini safe deposit box). We went back to the kitchen and thanked Jordi himself. The food & service were superb. This is a not to be missed place.
  8. Does anyone know where to buy Brer Rabbit molasses or ANY product called "light molasses?" I've googled it & the only light molasses product online was for $47+ in a mass quantity that I didn't need. As for substituting other syrups/sugars in the recipe which is not for a gingerbread, but rather a ginger-molasses CAKE, I would be fine to do that if it wasn't the first time I was making the recipe. Please advise again. thanks
  9. I have a recipe that calls for LIGHT molasses. I've done my research to know the differences between light, dark & blackstrap. What I cannot figure out is whether the brand Grandma's "original" is the same as "light" or whether the "Robust" (less sweet that light is supposed to be) should be used. The recipe calls for 1 cup of light molasses for a ginger cake. I need to bake tomorrow. (Friday, June 10, 2005) Please help
  10. Here's the directions to tony's Place from Zep's for Saturday..... SJE Tony's Place 6300 Frankford Ave Philadelphia, PA 19135 View Map (215) 535-9851 Editorial Review Think of this place as your favorite diner, neighborhood bar, and mom-and-pop... Read More | User Reviews (11) Starting Address 9965 BUSTLETON AVE Philadelphia, PA, 19115-1557 Destination Address 6300 Frankford Ave Philadelphia, PA, 19135-3014 Directions Miles 1. Start out going Southwest on BUSTLETON AVE/PA-532 towards NORWALK RD. 1.07 2. Turn LEFT onto GRANT AVE. 0.55 3. Turn RIGHT onto US-1 S. 3.67 4. Turn LEFT onto HARBISON AVE. 0.49 5. Turn SLIGHT LEFT onto US-13 N/ROBBINS ST. 0.18 6. Turn LEFT onto FRANKFORD AVE/US-13. 0.00 Total Distance: 5.99 Miles Estimated Time: 13 minutes
  11. The best combo is still Mexican chocolate with pistachio!! However, some other flavors that are marvelous are the blood orange & marscapone!!! Good thing I'm back on Atkins!!
  12. Tony's pies was also recommended by South Jersey Epicurean...It's on Frankford Ave. right off of Levick Street??? right across from Red Robin Diner...I'm told to use their parking lot...Let's say noon or 12:30PM Saturday...yum!! SJE I'm not bringing ganache!!
  13. I didn't go through all of the posts....But the "Conversation" at about 15th/16th & Pine was a small French bakery with a fabulous restaurant upstairs that we used to go to alot pre-show or just out to dinner because my cousin was in law school & lived at 17th & Pine. She didn't get out much!! It was not French in portions either. The bread was wonderful. This was in the early/mid 70's. The best BRUNCH EVER & the first place to ever have the concept of a "salad bar" in the city was at a place between South & Lombard on 5th Street? (Right where or adjacent to Tira Mi Su is/was located. It had a red sign, was a one-word name, but I'm blanking on the NAME!!! I thought of the name.....Wildflowers!! We had my parents 25th anniversary brunch party there. The pecan pancakes with orange butter were to die for in addition to everything else made on the premises in the brunch buffet bar. Victor's Cafe on Dickinson Street with live opera used to be such a good, inexpensive place that you could just walk into without waiting. I learned to love veal parmisiana there and ordered it EVERYWHERE I went for about 9 years--even if it was a Chinese restaurant. It's way too expensive now. The Fish Market was wonderful. I still have their recipe for Apple Walnut Pie which is to die for. I also loved the chain MAGIC PAN at the Gallery for crepes. It was a great high school date place and the product was excellent (73-80). What about The Magnolia Cafe on Locust between Rittenhouse Square & 16th & the original Cafe Nola for Cajun/Creole/New Orleans cuisine. The decor of each place was very cool too with those beads in the trees on Locust in front of Magnolia's. We can't forget some South Street Main Stays our family went to many times!!! Lickety Split, Knave of Hearts (no one gave a bigger salad than the Knave). Both were eclectic cuisines--the Knave's mismatched dishes, linens, tableware were always interesting while Robert Fripp, Brian Eno, or Gang of Four played to the uppercrust or yuppie scum who went there!! Some of the worst meals at places gone by: The Garden on Spruce Street Bookbinder's (Who cares if it is back)! Restaurante Focolare in NewMarket--people waited for hours; We.had one of the worst all time meals there. We waited 90 minutes PAST our reservation; we waited 2 hours for the food; most of it came out cold or burnt. they offerred no apologies. My brother gave them the best comment: "I've had better food at my high school cafeteria." speaking of NEWMARKET: I loved the Rusty Scupper occasionally; I went to the Kan Pai in NewMarket for a couple of my teenage birthdays. Way better than Benihana!!! I only mention the Cheese Cellar on Lombard between Front & Second because I worked there. I really got introduced to better wine there. And the chocolate fondue as well as the 2 cheese fondues (Cheddar & beer; emmenthal, gruyere, white wine) were great.
  14. They had Mandarin Clementine, Seville Orange (much more tart) & Mojito flavored last night. I stuck with Pistachio & mixed it with Seville Orange. I think it has replaced Pistachio with Mexican Chocolate!! The mojito was fantastic as well.
  15. Okay..We've searched the threads in the Southwest...Nothing on dining in Reno!! There must be something?! We'd like recommendations on ANY cuisine, preferably local hangouts vs. hotel/casino restaurants. But if that's all you can recommend, okay! Reno is a fairly large city so let's going!! Please help!!
  16. Finally, it's time for an official Samba review. A small cadre from the DDC went Friday night for Rodizio. It was what I was going to order anyway, but I thought there was going to be a menu....WRONG!!! Rodizio only. YUM!! Comparing to Rodizio at Seabra's in Perth Amboy, it was pretty comparable with a little less food, but not much. The price was slightly higher too...$24.95 a person, but plenty of quality MEAT, MEAT! and more Meat!! The salad bar was includied with the meal which had large you peel out of the shell shrimp (I like to call gambas), marinated artichokes, typical greens, veggies, and a light black bean soup which was tasty. Overall, the salad bar was nothing extraordinary but good. The meat began: sausages, little chickens, turkey wrapped in bacon, beef tenderloin wrapped in bacon, flank steak, pork tenderloin, pork ribs, beef short ribs, roast beef, top sirloin, another beef, mostly just seasoned with salt/pepper and maybe some garlic. Most beef was medium rare. On your plate were some greens, yucca, fried plaintain, rice...A nice salsa and a crumbly root vegetable to put on your rice or meat. The salsa was chunky & NOT tomatoey!!! There were also black beans to put on your plate. Delicious!! But the biggest surprise was dessert--grilled pineapple with cinnamon, sliced on your plate from the skewers like the meat, but then dabbed with butterscoth schnapps; delightful!! The building is a conveted bank. The salsa dancing starts at 11PM. the bar is large, but don't get the sangria. A Brazilian rum drink with ground lime was very tasty--I forgot the name!! I'd go back again!!
  17. I love this place. I weould drive the 2 1/2 hours from South Jersey to go there!! It's great. Tangerine beef rules as does their salmon in ANY sauce!!!
  18. Once again not enough South Jersey representation other than Cape May. We need a section on Camden, Burlington, Gloucester, Mercer Counties!! Cork in Westmont when it opens Water Lily (Asian fusion opening this week) in Collingswood Nunzio's in Collingswood Di Marino's in Collingswood Little Tuna in Haddonfield Chef's Cafe in Cherry Hill Max's in Cinnaminson Sapori's in Collingswood
  19. Baja Fresh has made it to South Jersey finally!! It's in Voorhees (Camden County.) I think the positioning of this chain is perfect. The quality is so much better than pizza or fast food. I had eaten at them since 1990 in California. The takeout containers are great because things don't get mushy as is often the case for Mexican food!!
  20. It's time for South Jersey recommendations..... The Chophouse is getting excellent reviews in Gibbsboro or Evesham. It's on the border. Maybe it's even considered Voorhees. It's very dressup. I haven't been, but several friends recommend it highly. My favorite though is The Library II on Route 73 in Evesham. It's the best of the mini-South Jersey chain. You go up and tell them how much of what cut you want. Superb quality (not cheap), but well worth it because it IS the best salad bar in the universe...I don't know if it's the fresh fruit, cheeses, varieties of homemade bread, the veggies, all types of greens, prepared salads including Waldorf or everything together. It's included with any entree. They also make fabulous mixed drinks!! The beef is excellent!!
  21. Viterelli's is just okay & lousy service. Take it from someone who grew up in Cherry Hill. Delorenzo's in Trenton is mighty fine for tomato pie, but I'll add Restarante Feminina's in Medford as having one of the best "normal" pies I have ever tasted. (Their Italian food is fantabulous & different too!!)
  22. The Chocolate Velvet Ganache Torte with raspberries as well as the individual tarts/desserts we ate on the way up to Brooklyn come from Patisserie de Manille in Westmont, NJ. It is truly a fabulous bakery and they will make ANYTHING you want with ANY ingredients including totally fat-free or sugar free works of art. I have to give credit where credit is due (mango cream pie, key lime pie, coconut/macademia nut tart, chocolate/peanut torte, and mango/kiwi mouse with hazelnut cake). That being said, I agree with all opinions on the pizza places except those grape tomotoes were very sweet in the salad at L&B Gardens. I agree with Katie that the Sicilian which is not usually a favorite pizza needs to be on a different playing field than the other pizzas. The sauce was tremendous with a sweetness not in any sauces of the day. Some people didn't care for the "doughiness" layer in the crust, but I did. The freshly grated parmigiano that "DAD" grated for all customers at DeFara's was a great touch (as was adding garlic powder). I loved the artichokes, porcini mushrooms and roasted red onions at DeFara's too. It was good company, great organization, great food, and who knew you could buy "Gourmet food" so cheap in NY. (Thank you Bari's Pork Shop!!). You CAN eat cheap in NY; you just can't pay rent/ mortgages or have utilities. Mama Totonno's loved the chocolate velvet ganache too. What a class act!!
  23. Well, I guess I have been remiss since my trade name is "South Jersey Epicurean." I was with Katie for some of her South Jersey list..... Le Me Toujours Evesham (RIP) but Jennifer the chef will will be resurfacing either this month or next month at Cork in Collingswood Tortilla Press Collingswood The Black Swan Mt. Laurel Fiesta Mexicana Hammonton (Mole to die for) & so inexpensive Tavola Des Amici Cherry Hill (red gravy Italian in huge portions) DeLorenzo's for tomato pie Trenton Emerald Fish Cherry Hill Cafe Alicia Cherry Hill Barnicle Ben's Moorestown
  24. Once and for all, get off the Thomas Keller fan train. Bouchon at the Venetian is a total overpriced dud!! It is NOT the French Laundry, it is French Bistro food which I found unimaginative (much like Steven Starr’s French Bistro on Chestnut Street in Philly which closed a couple years ago.) My colleague & I were at the Valley of the State Park, 40 minutes north of Vegas (an awesome side trip) when his cell phone rang at 12:30PM. It was Bouchon calling to confirm our 9PM dinner reservation for that evening. Although I find this practice a bit pretentious, they did take a credit card number (screw them). We had made the reservation two weeks prior. They told us to be on time!! We were with 3 minutes to spare!! They had one of those new computer seating stations programs with times and floor layouts with 4 hostesses and a floor manager hovering about making sure everything was programmed correctly. Might as well have thrown that sucker out. It was useless and so were the people. We waited 40 minutes PAST our reservation. When they finally seated us, they seated us at a table that had been open for 40 minutes. We watched it the whole time and wondered why we weren’t seated. My time is just as valuable as their time!! If you have the gall to call and confirm, then hold up your end of the bargain too!! The décor of the room was black & white with a giant raw bar. The room was long & narrow with tables very tightly together. It was noisy. They wanted to emulate a real French bistro on the left bank. The tables “tablecloth” was white butcher paper, paper napkins with hard rolls placed on the white butcher paper—no plates for this. Sloppy-not authentic! The menu was printed on literally a paper lunch bag in light brown tones with Bouchon set in a rust stripe across it. But the font color of the printed material could NOT be read very well with the small candle on the table. The y should have chosen a black bold font instead of the brown on brown which further infuriated us. From the raw bar: oysters $15.00 for 6; mussels $6.00 for 12; shrimp $16.00 for 6; clams $1.75 a piece; crab & lobster priced daily; Grand Plateau: 1 lobster, 16 oysters, 8 shrimp, 8 clams seasonal crab, special selection for $90.00 Salads: mixed greens with Dijon mustard vinaigrette, goat cheese & toasted hazelnuts: $9.75 I had this—quite frankly, I’ve made this at home for years & my dressing is way better. It was too tart. Endive, Roquefort, apple, toasted walnuts, walnut vinaigrette: $9.75 Bibb lettuce with herbs: $8.50 Chilled leeks vinaigrette with egg mimosa: $10.50 Frisee salad with bacon lardoons, poached egg, warm bacon vinaigrette: $11.25 Hors-D’oeuvres: Terrine de fois gras de carnard: $45.00 for 5 oz. Onion soup: $8.50 Soup de jour : $8.00 Quiche de jour: $13.50 Olives marinated: $4.50 Cod brandade with tomato confit & fried sage: $12.50 Country style pate with watercress, cornichons, radishes: $11.75 Fresh & smoked salmon rillettes with croutons: $13.50 Garlic sausage with French green lentils, garlic confit & pearl onions: $12.75 Main Courses: Roasted leg of lamb with flageolet beans in thyme jus: $25.50 Steak frites: $29.50 (6 oz.) Roast chicken with ragout of wild mushrooms: $22.50 Blood sausage with potato puree & caramelized apples: $19.95 Beef bourguigonne with carrots & noodles: $27.50 Trout almondine with green beans: $23.50 Salmon with leeks & beurre blanc: $24.50 Steamed mussels in white wine, mustard, saffron with French fries: $21.50 Sautéed gnocchi with a ragout of winter vegetables, beurre noisette & sage: $19.50 Open faced sandwich of the day with fries: $16.95 Croque madame-toasted ham & cheese on brioche with fried egg & mornay sauce/fries: $16.95 Dessert: Profiteroles: vanilla ice cream & chocolate sauce: $8.50 Crème caramel: $7.50 Lemon tart: $8.00 Pot de crème: not chocolate $7.50 Ice cream or sorbet: $2.50 a scoop Dark chocolate mousse: $7.50 Cheeses: (served with honeycomb) 2 types of each: sheeps milk, goats milk, cows milk: $9.00 EACH or 3 piece tasting $12.50 Where was the crème brulee? This was a boring menu..French Bistro is boring. I don’t think anything was creative. I had the roast chicken which wasn’t even a half chicken. I’ve had better at Old Country Buffet and for a lot less money. My friend had the lamb—5 oz portion; it tasted good, but nothing special. Service was good, but the kitchen was slow. On a positive note: the wine list was extensive from all over the world & California with a good offering by the glass. We had a Gaston Huet & a Copain Mendocino Haute Brut for $10-$11.00 a glass. I was waiting for my colleague to get his coat when one of the managers asked me how everything was. I replied, “It was okay.” He said, “Just okay?!” I said, “Yes, just okay.” Well he wanted to know why. I wasn’t going to say anything, but he opened the door and was waiting for an explanation. When I told him about the reservation and the waiting for the table 40 minutes beyond our reservation only to be seated at an open table that was open for 40 minutes, he lied about that table being reserved for a bigger party. It was a table for 2 and was sandwiched between 2 other tables for 2 which were occupied the whole time. I told him the menu was boring & very uncreative & the portions were very small given the prices. I told him about the menu, the table setting, the lack of lighting, the noise, the loose rolls. And if this is what you get at French Laundry, you can have it. I did praise our server. BOO BOO BOO Bouchon!!
  25. I've gone to Las Vegas 7 straight years in February. 1) Carman is absolutely right: Lotus of Siam for Thai food is the bomb (& rated the best thai restaurant by Gourmet magazine). It's in a giant strip mall (Commercial Centre) on E. Sahara Ave. Make sure you have Salmon with panang curry sauce & starter of green papaya salad with peanuts & chicken 2) The Bellagio buffet is very good, BUT you should go there for lunch. Better price & way less crowded. Now the best buffet in terms of hoards is at the Rio. I've been to the regular one 4 times but NOT the seafood one which opens at 3 or 4PM--$32.00 a person but includes Alaskan King Crab legs, lobster, as much as you want 3) There is a cool seafood restaurant (very FISH oriented & eclectic cuisine) with awesome bar and decor. It 's in the Rio Suites hotel near their "coffeeshop." 4) My new favorite is the RUM Jungle in Mandalay Bay. The Rodizio is $40 a person, but unbelievable. All of the meats (top grade filet mignon--kobe beef?) & sushi grade tuna is paired in a sauce usually concocted of a fruit & chili pepper (think mango/ancho pepper for example). The chopped salad & sides make this an INSANE meal!!! The rest of the menu is very funky--caribbean, cuban, maybe mediterranean of some sort. 5) AVOID the following places: Bouchon in the Venetian (review is being posted) Aqua in the Bellagio (Way, Way overpriced & not that good) Emeril's Steakhouse in the Venetian (Delmonaco's); very ORDINARY menu; not creative at all like Emeril's in New Orleans; & very expensive for not a lot of food which he DOES NOT skimp on in New Orleans If you want more details, let me know!!
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