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Margaret Pilgrim

What is your favorite dining style?

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Bouncing off a review of an exchange between Eric Ripert and Bourdain re fine dining, I started musing about how I/we prefer a night out.    Asked this question, i always used to gush how we loved "fine dining".    And I guess we did then.    But now I'm just as happy with bare table tops and odd (but comfortable) chairs.    A single flower in a Perrier bottle makes me as happy as a $1000 arrangement.    I care about the food, how well the chef's intentions come across on the plate, the sensibilities of the people dining around us.     (Don't tell me I've gone Brooklyn!)    But we are finding delight in holes in the wall where the chef is living his dream...until he finds he isn't making any money and goes upscale, most of the time losing a lot of charm and soul the process.   But what joy he brought us until then.

 

You?

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Interesting line of thought....

 

When I was younger and a less experienced cook, I would love going out to nice meals (Michelin 1* type of setting).  I still do (but I am far pickier where we spend our limited 'kid free time'), but I find as my cooking prowess has grown over the years, my desire to shell out $300-$500 for a dinner which I could (more likely than not) reproduce nearly as good (at times, if not better), lessens. 

 

We now gravitate to more ethnically driven finds which I would not typically make at home.  For example, in our rotation we have a fantastic Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, North Chinese and Malaysian place.  All of which can feed a family of 5 for under $60 quite nicely (OK, perhaps not the Japanese joint....).

 

That trend will continue, I believe.

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Depends mainly on the company and the mood. I love fine dining in michelin star restaurants, but I had a couple bad experiences due to the wrong company. I love simple spots (panini, kebab, sandwiches, so on) where you can chat with the owner and he/she cares about what he/she is doing and the ingredients he/she is using. I would love to go to simple restaurants (like our old trattorie and osterie) where food is simple and made with fresh quality stuff, unfortunately they almost disappeared after the advent of pre-made industrial food. I would LOVE to go to ethnic restaurants, unfortunately they are few and of bad quality here.

The kind of place I really can't stand is the all-you-can-eat sushi or similars, where people go to eat crap until they are sick. I saw some horrible scenes and I said myself "nevermore".

Another kind of place I try to avoid if possible (but I can stand if needed) is the kind of hip pizzerie that are coming out lately, where a pizza costs the double of the usual and they try to make fine dining dishes with average results. These places are full with people who want to feel cool, unfortunately the food is not on par with the appearences.

 

 

 

Teo

 

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Teo

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I am reminded of a little place in Florence, Il Padrone, maybe.    All housemade pastas.     And after the waiter had served the table, this head would pop out of the pass, the chef, looking to see our reactions.    It became almost a game, with our showing our pleasure and his beaming his appreciation.    

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3 hours ago, TicTac said:

Interesting line of thought....

 

When I was younger and a less experienced cook, I would love going out to nice meals (Michelin 1* type of setting).  I still do (but I am far pickier where we spend our limited 'kid free time'), but I find as my cooking prowess has grown over the years, my desire to shell out $300-$500 for a dinner which I could (more likely than not) reproduce nearly as good (at times, if not better), lessens. 

 

We now gravitate to more ethnically driven finds which I would not typically make at home.  For example, in our rotation we have a fantastic Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, North Chinese and Malaysian place.  All of which can feed a family of 5 for under $60 quite nicely (OK, perhaps not the Japanese joint....).

 

That trend will continue, I believe.

I am in your same frame of mind.  We don’t eat out much because we can do it just as well 

if not better a at home.  I would rather spend money on great ingredients.

Unfortunately we don’t have good ethnic restaurants close by.

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I enjoy fine dining, but I don't want to do it often. I love small, out-of-the-way local spots that are noted for one thing that they do very, very well. Casual is fine with me most of the time. I do prefer to go in, sit down (in a comfy chair!) and be waited on as opposed to ordering at a counter and getting a number, but I won't reject a place because of that.

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

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My favorite dining style these days is sitting in my living room in a recliner with a plate of whatever I cooked perched on my lap while I watch a football game. :D 

- I say the above with the disclaimer that if I lived in a place with a better food scene, I'd probably be more inclined to take advantage of it. There's nothing available where I live that I can't do as well or better myself so a restaurant meal usually means the combination of not wanting to cook, not wanting to clean after cooking and the kid bugging me to eat somewhere all fell into place at just the right moment.

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It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Good fine dining is the best, but half assed fine dining is terrible. I’d rather have run of the mill Italian than mediocre fine dining.  

 

I dont need a tablecloth but I won’t eat with plastic forks or on styrofoam. Stand in line?  If it’s short and the bbq is good. 

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1 hour ago, gfweb said:

Good fine dining is the best, but half assed fine dining is terrible. I’d rather have run of the mill Italian than mediocre fine dining.  

 

I dont need a tablecloth but I won’t eat with plastic forks or on styrofoam. Stand in line?  If it’s short and the bbq is good. 

The first thing I notice upon being seated in a restaurant is the quality of the flatware.     Your knife and fork should feel good.    They will be your "transport" for the entire meal.

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Posted (edited)

I think this is so dependent on locale; here (NYC), we can go out for some pretty good Hong Kong style Chinese, bring our own wine, and spend about $25 per person. But there doesn't seem to be much middle ground any more; that is, a good, slightly more fancy meal, one in which the wine is not brought from home, has inched (or footed) up into the $100 per person range.  

 

But back to your original post; my favorite dining (out) style is one in which the chef/cooks know what the hell they're doing, use good ingredients, and don't muck up my food too much.  With halfway decent service.

 

It's a rather broad category.

 

And back to the "I can do it better at home" trope.  Well sure, but then I'd have to shop, cook, clean, etc. etc. 


Edited by weinoo (log)
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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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9 minutes ago, weinoo said:

I think this is so dependent on locale; here (NYC)

 

9 minutes ago, weinoo said:

And back to the "I can do it better at home" trope. 


That's the thing, it is absolutely location dependent. If I lived in NYC, I would never be so arrogant as to say I can do what any restaurant in NYC does better myself at home. That would be a pretty bold statement coming from anyone. But when you live in a very small town over 500 km from the nearest large city and pretty much every restaurant in town is a variation on a theme (same basic menu, each place has a thing or three it does different) because that's all the majority of the local restaurant crowd will support, it changes the game a little. We've had a couple attempts at something different over the years. They were good... but they didn't include those core items that every menu in town has so they failed. There's hope for it getting better though. The building of a new hospital that is the central medical facility for a lot of small surrounding communities is bringing in professionals from city areas who are wanting more than has traditionally been available here. We now have a coffee shop that roasts it's own beans, a sandwich shop that focuses more on the healthy end of eating and even a 100% vegan caterer/take-out place. None of those would have lasted 6 months here 10 years ago but they seem to be doing fine now.

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It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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2 hours ago, Tri2Cook said:

 We now have a coffee shop that roasts it's own beans, a sandwich shop that focuses more on the healthy end of eating and even a 100% vegan caterer/take-out place. None of those would have lasted 6 months here 10 years ago but they seem to be doing fine now.

 

Watch out, cause pretty soon you'll have a cronut.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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My minimum requirement for a decent restaurant is "would I be happy to serve this food to a guest in my home?".      If not, why am I wasting my time and money.   


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Lunch outdoor on a mild and sunny day in a quiet location (garden, atmospheric village square, quaint side-street, bucolic countryside--any of those will do) where we can linger for a couple of hours with well-prepared regional, farm-to-table food.  A decent, though inexpensive, bottle of wine doesn't hurt.  Sadly, none of those places can be readily found around here so we tend to try to seek them out when we travel.  

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6 minutes ago, Meanderer said:

Lunch outdoor on a mild and sunny day in a quiet location (garden, atmospheric village square, quaint side-street, bucolic countryside--any of those will do) where we can linger for a couple of hours with well-prepared regional, farm-to-table food.  A decent, though inexpensive, bottle of wine doesn't hurt.  Sadly, none of those places can be readily found around here so we tend to try to seek them out when we travel.  

Bingo!


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Another al fresco person here .  We eat out 7 days a week (5 dinners and 2 lunches).  At our MEX home, we can walk to 25+ restaurants including Thai (3), Italian (4), French (2), Argentine (2), Spanish (3), Polish, German, vegan (2), Greek, Cajun, Chinese (but it's awful), Vietnamese, a myriad of what I'd describe as International or Continental and of course, Mexican.  Only a few have solid roofs from wall to wall.  Most have patios or gardens.  Our weather here allows us to eat outdoors almost 365 days a year.   It's one of the top reasons we chose it!

 

From our FL home we can walk to a dozen non-chain eateries and all but 2 have outdoor seating available.  We are rarely at our FL home these days (only 5 weeks so far this year), but when we visit next month we will seek indoor a/c, for sure).  We aren't crazy. 

 

We make the same choices on vacation.  For the past 5 years our vacations have been to Spain, Portugal, Guatemala and other parts of MEX and we are always able to find very good to excellent restaurants that offer outdoor dining.  

    

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The opposite of haute cuisine for sure. My style is cheap and cheerful (and most of the time it's utterly delicious).

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The meal at a local restaurant above at the fish market. Less than 4 euros for 2 persons.

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Best chips

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Never had stinky tofu this good ever since. Still haven't found something quite like it even in Taiwan where stinky tofu is prevalent.

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Market roaster. Albanians were happy to see me for some reason. A lone travelling female is something they can't even begin to fathom. The rare ones who could speak English had many highly personal questions for me, plus questions from employees and people on the streets they had to translate and ask me.

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That's a sheep's head and yes I ate it.

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@bon vivant  While it all looks fabulous, I particularly love the first picture of bundled diners and jar of hot sauce on the table.    Warming body and soul.


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  We've had the rare good luck to land in a place that combines classic French cooking and  a favorable exchange rate.  

A few nights ago we found a restaurant which is my ideal: Owned by spouses (they live above the business), run by family, (Dad is chef, Mom is seating hostess and older kids wait tables). Excellent food, walking distance to the house, locally grown or caught menu items.  The chef announced he had smoked the trout himself. Wood-fired pizza was wonderful, as was the apple pastry dessert.  Completely unstuffy.

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Bourdain type places, but thank the lord for choices!

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Can't stand un-quite places.

 

Back in the 60's, 70's 80's there was place, Golden Belle, in Billings, Mt.  1880's decor.  The kitchen has "a" chef and several high school age helpers.  During their sophomore year their tasks were: pearl diving, peeling veg., bussing.  Junior year they learned to cook in the kitchen - think puppets on a string.  In their senior year they learned table side - 7 flaming dinners and 7 flaming deserts.  No talking, no listening, un-busy hand at the small of the back. 

 

Liebfraumilch, Caesar for 2(tableside), Butterfly (sauce diablo base)(flamed ts), wild rice/baked pot. Crêpes Suzette(flamed ts), and Coffee Don Juan (flaming).

The Chef reviewed the school Report Cards before the parents did.  In my book the food was 5*, the service was 5*.

 

Every year the maitre d' - "Do you remember [name] from last year?  Received a postcard, he's a sous chef/woking at [name] in San Fran/Denver/NO".

-----------------------

Second on my list is the Shadowbrook, followed by Sudpfanne.

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Right now we have some new choices: Santa Huacal, run by a husband and wife. Miguel works front of house, pours drinks, serves each course (5) and converses with patrons. His wife, Samantha, is a genius in the kitchen, introducing some intriguing flavor combinations that are always surprising and uniformly successful. There are usually 2 choices per course, and always a vegetarian entree option. Fixed price, with wine and other libations extra. Open Thursday through Sunday. They have been in business for about 4 years, so they're not really "new."

 

Al Forno, a pizza/pasta restaurant that is a cut above. Long list of pizzas, including pizza bianca (a favorite of mine), and an equally long list of pastas. We shared the putanesca the other evening and devoured it, making ummy sounds that we hoped weren't audible to our neighboring diners. We started with what I consider to be the ultimate test of an Italian restaurant--bruschetta. Cherry tomatoes, black olives, lotsa garlic, olive oil, fresh basil, on house-made bread, all working together in complete harmony to make a very good experience. I won't even mention the greed-inspiring tiramisú. We will have this restaurant on permanent rotation. Also only open Thursday through Sunday. Open slightly more than one month and already popular.

 

And last but not least, an unnamed taquería. No sign on the door--the only reason you'd know it's open is that the door is open and the lights are on. A family runs it, with Dad overseeing the dining rooms and taking drinks orders (they have the most delicious horchata), Mom making gorditas, sopas, enchiladas and quesadillas, the older son making delicious tacos, and the younger son serving and busing tables. Also open on Thursday through Sunday, though like most taquerías they aren't open before 5 or 6pm but close much later at night than other eateries, so if it's 10:30 and you're starving (and it's Thursday through Sunday) this is your salvation.

 

There are many other less noteworthy restaurants in town that are open more than 4 days a week, serving breakfast, comida and cena until about 9pm. One of them is a block away and is reliable if not exciting, though I sometimes crave the fish tacos. More elaborate dining is available in Morelia, an hour away. But that's another story.

 

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Formerly "Nancy in CO"

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Well, when I able to eat out ~ before food allergies ~ I would eat almost anywhere :o) I was a hungry girl :D I loved fine dining and we did it ~ eh - once a week sometimes - sometimes once every two weeks or once a month  ... we also loved eating very casual places or whatever struck the mood ~ we weren't snobs about it - just whatever sort of struck our fancy ~ we ate just about anything or anywhere ... One thing I could not abide by was dining al fresco *yikes* - just something about dining outdoors that I absolutely cannot do. That and uncomfortable seating. At my fighting weight I was 5'7.5" 110lbs - any hard wood seating was horrifyingly uncomfortable - it's much much worse now!  So, now - when Mr Cat eats out he does so with Cat Son or friends and I live vicariously through them :D ~ eh - it's not the same ... so not the same xD

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On 11/20/2019 at 12:29 PM, liderbug said:

Can't stand un-quite places.

 

Back in the 60's, 70's 80's there was place, Golden Belle, in Billings, Mt.  1880's decor.  The kitchen has "a" chef and several high school age helpers.  During their sophomore year their tasks were: pearl diving, peeling veg., bussing.  Junior year they learned to cook in the kitchen - think puppets on a string.  In their senior year they learned table side - 7 flaming dinners and 7 flaming deserts.  No talking, no listening, un-busy hand at the small of the back. 

 

Liebfraumilch, Caesar for 2(tableside), Butterfly (sauce diablo base)(flamed ts), wild rice/baked pot. Crêpes Suzette(flamed ts), and Coffee Don Juan (flaming).

The Chef reviewed the school Report Cards before the parents did.  In my book the food was 5*, the service was 5*.

 

Every year the maitre d' - "Do you remember [name] from last year?  Received a postcard, he's a sous chef/woking at [name] in San Fran/Denver/NO".

-----------------------

 

@liderbug, I was curious about this place and found a collection of their old menus online (which I think we have a thread about, but I wanted you to see these): https://www.msubillings.edu/lectures/cooking/pdf/FongLecture.pdf


Joanna G. Hurley

"Civilization means food and literature all round." -Aldous Huxley

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Count me "in" the al fresco crowd. I a noise sensitive so an enclosed space can be overwhelming. Of course being in a very temperate cliate it is easier. I also like shared plates. I am more "a bite of this a taste of that" than a plate full of "x" girl.

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