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Everything posted by bilrus

  1. Bumping this thread up for a question. It has been nearly a decade since I left my hometown of St. Louis. My mom is still there and is looking for suggestions of a place that is "Something new and different" to buy a gift certificate for a friend's birthday. My caveats - "different" doesn't necessarily mean really funky or "too" ethnic. We're talking about two women in their 60's here. They both live in West County, but anything not too far north or south (in between 70 and 44) is a good guideline. Thanks for the help in advance.
  2. It is just about impossible to compare the two. Burger Bar is a full-service restaurant where you can order your burger to a desired doneness. It starts with thicker, bigger patties. Not to mention the varieties of meats and toppings. In and Out is a FAST FOOD BURGER. It might be a better than average version of the fast food burger, but it is still a FAST FOOD BURGER. Now between Fatburger and In and Out - I'd go for a Fatburger everytime.
  3. I'm a front left for most things, primarily because it is on the side where I do my prep work. My high BTU burner is front right, so that is where the wok and boiling water goes. The back is where the pans I need to show less attention go.
  4. I've searched high and low and haven't found an actual thread on Topolobampo. Sure there are plenty of threads mentioning the restaurant and a few infamous ones tearing Rick Bayless to shreds over his Burger King experience. But no threads dedicated to his long-time signature restaurant? I think I'll rectify that. I've always enjoyed cooking from Bayless' recipes so I wanted one of my two dinners on my recent visit to be at either Topolobampo or Frontera, although I had some reservations. I'm always a little leery of places with big reputations that have been around a while - is the rep based on today or five or ten years ago? But my wife and I were thorougly pleased and pleasantly surprised. We had the tasting menu, along with several margaritas and there wasn't a course in the bunch I didn't really enjoy (and not a jalapeno to be found anywhere). From the Crema de Quelites con Pollo Ahumado - a smoky, salty, creamy bowl of green soup to the vibrant and tender Pork in the Puerco en Mole Verde Queretano. Only the desserts fell a touch short. It reminded me somewhat of Babbo, in that it is a "celebrity" chef's place, turning out "not exactly haute cusine" dressed up a little bit and doing it very well. Is it inspired? No. But they appear to have the formula down pat. While I'd never consider our meal at Topolobampo as "great" as the meal I had the night before at Trotter's, it definitely gave it a run for the money in terms of enjoyment. Maybe it was the margaritas. And I publicly and officially take back anything bad I said about Bayless in any of those other threads. He can endorse whatever he wants as long as his kitchen is turning out food like this.
  5. I wonder if this is something they do often or maybe just for out-of-town guest? We each got an extra desserts that were both superb. I just wish they would have dropped a note in along with our menu to remind us what they were. I guess I can always email them with the picture. ← I don't know. I'm always curious when this happens - In addition to our fruit-themed desserts we were given a third chocolate dessert to share, but this appeared to be the practice at all the tables. Not that I'm complaining.
  6. It was excellent - We were getting full and knew we had three desserts and mignardises coming, but we were happy we made room for it. It wasn't on the menu, so I can't remember exactly. But from my memory there was a small meltingly tender braised cube of what I remember to be short rib, three slices of grilled very tender strip loin, a small piece of barely seared, warm on the outside, cold on the inside tenderloin and a very beefy sauce that was the fourth preparation.
  7. After a long day of trying to get to Chicago from DC last Wednesday (F***ing cab came too late to get me to Dulles early and F***ing gate agent for United wouldn't bend the rules by 2 minutes to get my luggage on the plane despite the F***ing curbside check in people delaying me for 10 minutes.) Charlie Trotter's ended up being just what I needed to get my short vacation back on track early enough to salvage the rest of the weekend. I went through reservations at Tru and Alinea before deciding on Trotter's. Mixed reports about Tru and my wife's reaction to the pictures of the first meals at Alinea ("That just doesn't look appealing at all") sealed the deal. But it is the rare restaurant that doesn't engender both positive and negative reports. As you can see above, Charlie Trotter's is no exception. Others elsewhere have called the service at Trotter's stuffy or even arrogant, but I found it pleasant and soothing. Some have said the food there can be a bit stodgy or out-of-date, I found good ingredients, well-prepared. Some have hinted that Trotter's might be resting on its laurels. This was my first time, but I found a restaurant that felt like it was doing what it does well and not trying-too-hard-to-impress. The courses were always good, some excellent. A scallop, crab and clam dish was a little too plain. There were a few too many dishes featuring mushrooms on my wife's vegetable tasting. But on the whole these are small nits to pick. I thought the squab dish was excellent, in fact my favorite dish so far of 2005. We were pleasantly surprised to be served an extra course of Kobe Beef Four Ways that didn't appear to go to any of the other tables. And when we mentioned how much we enjoyed the macaroons they quickly brought us a box to take back to the hotel. This was a meal that wasn't setting off any fireworks, but not every night is the 4th of July. And most nights I like it that way.
  8. I went yesterday (Monday) at lunch at it was pretty slim pickings but it is up to 50% off now. I managed to get $160 worth of stuff for $80. A few misc. wines, barbecue sauce, oils, vinegars, spices, cookies, a magazine a few other little things I forget.
  9. Cooking, service, everything? I've always had good luck but it's been since last summer since I was there.
  10. I've tried this now. It's not simply a renamed Diet Coke--it tastes totally different. It's actuallly pretty darn good. And both the "regular" Diet Coke, the Splenda version, and the endless flavor variations were on the shelf right next to it. At this point I don't know if this stuff is being sold in anything other than 16 oz. bottles. ← You're right, although I have to say I still prefer the original Diet Coke to all the other versions. I bought a 12 pack of cans this weekend.
  11. I'm ususally there about once a week for lunch and it always seems to have a pretty decent crowd with waits on several registers whever I'm there (and don't even ask me to reminisce about the time I went there the Wednesday before Thanksgiving). This is a huge bummer for me. I know where I'll be at lunch tomorrow to see if there are any deals and or steals.
  12. Sorry, I don't still have the email, but I do know it is still in effect.
  13. It looks like it is doing OK. It appears to be the #3 rated reality show this summer behind Dancing with the Stars (huh? ) and Hit Me Baby 1 More Time (OK, I actually got a kick out of this last week). It isn't in the top 20 overall, but it was #11 last week among the coveted 18-49 demographic.
  14. Ahh, right, there is indeed a well-deserved buzz about Marigold here, ← Not only here. Tom Sietsema, the critic at the Washington Post profiled both Django and Marigold here and in a recent chat said Marigold was his favorite from his trip. I've come to trust his judgements for the most part. I like the whole concept and wish we had a few more comparable places here in DC. We are in good shape on the low-end and the high-end here is as good as anywhere in the country outside of New York and San Francisco. But there are precious few casual, mid-level places turning out really good food here.
  15. The AC was definitely running, but it was too little, too late.
  16. That was the gods punishing you for listening to the nattering nabobs of negativity and dumping a Django res! I'm actually a big fan of Marigold, but despite the recent reactive overshoot, Django ain't exactly a greasy spoon diner. Switching to Marigold wasn't a totally crazy thing, they're both excellent restaurants, but next time, keep your Django table. Don't mess with your dining karma like that! ← I'm definintely shooting for another Django reservation next time. It wasn't so much negativity about Django, but the positive recommendations for Marigold that prompted the change. Fortunately I love close enough that it isn't a big deal to shoot into town on a bit of a whim.
  17. I really wanted to love Marigold. I originally had reservations at Django for my trip last weekend, but on the recommendations of several people I trust I switched to Marigold. My wife and I had two appetizers and two entrees. Both the Grilled Cheese and the Clam Chowder Risotto blew us away with their creativity and execution, especially the bacon foam and the plump juicy clams in the risotto. My wife's smoked paprika tagliatelle was excellent. Only my sous vide braised lamb shoulder was a miss - chewy and fatty but still with a nice lamb flavor that unfortunately was mostly overpowered by a one note middle-eastern spice that I couldn't quite place. Sous vide seems like the wrong way to cook such an initially tough piece of meat. But despite that the food was very good. So what was wrong, and why didn't we have any desserts? Because it had to have been at least 80 degrees in the restaurant (well, maybe it was 78). Last Friday night was very hot and humid and we had to wait a while on the front porch / foyer area which wasn't air conditioned. We got hot and the inside wasn't much better. I don't want this to come off as petty and obviously (I assume) this is an isolated incident. The food was, for the most part, top notch. But a dinner is about the whole experience and I can't say I loved Marigold.
  18. Aqua Terra, near the top of the hill on Main St - not the typical "traditional Annapolis" feel on the inside and not the typical "crabcake and burger" menu either. I had a pulled bbq pork taco appetizer - two big fried wonton like shells with a healthy portion of shreeded duck in a smoky, hoisin based sauce with pickled carrots and radishes - and a crab salad - a fairly basic green salad in a good creamy dijon dressing and a heaping pile of jumbo lump crabmeat dressed in the same dressing. Aside from a few wedges of cottonny spring tomatoes this was a really nice salad. But the duck was the highlight. Worth a stop if you're walking up and down Main St. some day and don't want a corned beef sandwich and vanilla malt and Chick and Ruth's across the street. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
  19. bilrus

    Dinner! 2005

    Strip steak with smoked paprika rub and chimichurri and Trader Joe's garlic fires (first time for these and they are really good, highly recommended).
  20. Are you sure this Diet Coke under a new name? They no longer produce a product named Diet Sprite, but have renamed it Sprite Zero.
  21. I can't vouch for the ribs (they're only available Friday and early Saturday, I believe), but the pulled pork is very good, but might not be as smoky as some might like. I don't need too much smoke, though, so I am a fan. Their hamburger topped with pulled pork is my go-to.
  22. bilrus

    Dinner! 2005

    I've posted about this sandwich before, but this time I have pictures. Bacon, lettuce, red, yellow and orange on the vine tomatoes (I should have waited a few more weeks, oh well), Monterey jack cheese, fried egg and mayo on challa. It might not look very good, but it is pretty tasty.
  23. My wife and I went pretty basic on our first visit on Saturday afternoon. Chocolate Peanut Butter, Champagne Mango, Cashew, Strawberry Tarragon and Burnt Sugar. The Chocolate was a little too rich for my taste and the Burnt Sugar was good, but ultimately not as "burnt" as I was hoping for (I love Hagen Dasz's creme brulee flavor, it gets this just right). But the cashew was about perfect and the sorbettis blew me away with their sweet, tart fruitiness. Perfect on the miserable humid day that was last Saturday. On the whole, as good or better than my previous favorites at Otto.
  24. I have only watched about 1 and a half episodes so far, but if I hear Susannah tell us one more time about how she's lost weight and that is why she should win, I think I might snap. I'm really hoping Big Eric beats her upside the head with a pork shoulder the next time she says something.
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