Posts Tagged ‘dining’

Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale’s – Orange County, Los Angeles

Monday, June 9th, 2008

South Coast Plaza
3333 South Bristol Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Opening Hours:
Lunch: Monday – Sunday 11:45 to 2:30
Dinner: Sunday – Thursday 5:30 to 10:30
Friday – Saturday 5:30 to 11:00
Tel. 714.352.2525
Fax. 714.474.2368
Credit Cards: All Major
Expensive-Very Expensive

Charlie Palmers at Bloomingdales, Rendering: Courtesy of the CMS DesignI first sampled Charlie Palmer’s cooking at the River Cafe in New York at some point during the mid-eighties and thought it was very good.

After Palmer served some time at Georges Blanc in France where he was impressed and inspired by the small artisan producers that brought their home-grown or produced goods to the kitchen door of the restaurant. It so happens, that I have spent a few nights dining at Georges Blanc and spent the night in the well-run hotel on the premise in Vonnas, and previous to that I dined at his mother’s famous restaurant in the same location called La Mere Blanc, one of the great gastronomical shrines, at the time, of France.

In 1988 Charlie Palmer opened Aureole in New York and a collection of other restaurants followed across America.
He firmly believes in using produce from small farms and is inspiring farmers, cheese producers and others in food production to keep quantities small and quality high.

This reiteration of Charlie Palmer has just recently opened at the South Coast Plaza and I trust that the tradition will live on in Orange County and I will keep tabs and report on the results.

Settha Palace Hotel, La Belle Epoque Restaurant – Vientiane, Laos

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

Settha Palace Hotel,
6 Pang Kham Street, P.O. Box: 1618, Vientiane, Lao PDR.
Tel: (856-21) 217581-2.
Fax: (856-21) 217583.

Built at the turn of the century as a private residence and later transformed into a French-colonial style hotel the French architecture is set off with colonial decor and period pieces. In 1999 the Settha Palace Hotel has been restored to its former glory. The pool, which has a pool bar and terrace offering light fare is surrounded by large landscaped gardens, in the center of Vientiane, only a ten minute drive from the airport.
The charming dining room of the La Belle Epoque Restaurant offers excellent French cuisine as well as seasonal Lao food or you may enjoy a drink at the Colonial Bar open throughout the day and evening. There is also a Sidewalk Cafe.

You have the choice of luxurious suites or choose from 29 graciously appointed rooms and suites with separate shower and bath. Each suite features a 4-poster bed, hardwood furniture, marbled bathrooms, It is interesting to point out, that this hotel has all the modern conveniences, satellite color television, electronic in-room safe, mini bar, large writing desk, wireless Internet throughout the hotel and IDD telephone; in a city that has not one glass high rise building!

Palate by Octavio Becerra – Glendale (Los Angeles)

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Tel. 818 662 9463
933 Brand Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91204
Opening Hours: Mon-Thurs, 5:30-10 pm, Fri-Sat 5:30- 11 pm; Wine Merchant Bar + Lounge Mon-Sat, 11 am – 10 pm
Prices: Moderate
Wine Prices: Reasonable

Octavio Becerra, a long time chef working for Joachim Splichal at Patina and other outlets in Spichal’s empire, is set to open on the ground floor of the enormous Wine Vault, on the site of the former Cinnebar, located on Glendale’s Brand Boulevard, which is car-dealership row and according to the website of Palate “is a wine-centric, passionate, and down-to-earth”. . . “restaurant, a wine merchant, a cheese cellar, a tasting bar and lounge and an eno-gastronomic library occupying the ground floor of a seven-story Bekins moving depot (circa 1928) turned wine-storage vault.”

Da Paolino Restaurant – Capri, Italy

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

Da Paulino, Capri

Tel. +39 081 8376102
Fax. +39 081 8375611
Via Palazzo a Mare, 11
80073 Capri (NA)
Prices: Moderate

One evening while I was dining at Da Gemma one of Capri’s renowned residents was making his way through the tables stopping to chat with almost everyone. Prince Francesco Caravita di Sirignano, whom I had known over many years, passed by my table and said to me, “Join us tomorrow in the piazza and we will go for lunch on my boat, but do not expect a yacht, my boat is piccolo—a barca.” Dress accordingly and we will go to the Marina Grande first and my girlfriend Christina will buy the food.” “Do any of you drink wine?” he questioned. “I have given it up at my age, I am 78. Christina doesn’t drink wine but we will certainly have some Capri bianco for you.” he exclaimed.  “Wine costs nothing, less than water in Italy!  Isn’t it wonderful?” Descending on the funiculare from the piazza to the Marina Grande the little harbor grew bigger and bigger as we approached. The boatman had taken off the canvas cover and had made ready.  As we pulled away from the dock and crossed the harbor, dodging ferries loaded with gawking tourists,  Prince di Sirignano pointed to a sheared off part of the rocky cliff above and said, “All that part fell two years ago and buried a man fishing underneath.” We continued around the island past the white grotto, with a stop there for a swim, then through the Faraglioni, two towering volcanic rocks off the coast, one with a large tunnel carved by the waves through the center.  “We usually anchor in the tunnel as it is cooler to have lunch.  However, the traffic on the weekends makes it too rough to do so,” he explained, as he brought the little boat through the passage and into a stiff afternoon breeze.  We will go to the Marina Piccolo near the Grotto Verde and have lunch there”. Everyone was given a bowl with olive oil and crushed basil and oregano in it. Plates of sliced tomatoes, bread and fresh mozzarella to dip into the olive oil and finishing with fresh fruit. The conversation soon turned to restaurants and I asked them, which of the current ones they preferred this season. They mentioned a few and then exclaimed, “although, a must is Paolino. Feeling like the pack mules that used to bring tourists up the mountain years before, we climbed the steep, narrow cobble-stone pathway, at the hottest time of day, toward Monte Tiberio, where the Emperor used to throw virgins off the high cliff into the sea. I was out of breath when we reached a stone wall surrounding Da Paolino restaurant, I walked up the stairs that led to a large patio, with a arbor covered with grape vines and interspersed with lemon trees with grapefruit-sized fruit. In due time, enough to finish an entire liter of Fiuggi water, Paolo and his wife greeted me and I was seated at a table under the lemon trees. A bottle of mineral water and unlabeled wine were placed on the table along with a basket of bread. There was no menu. Paulino approached the table and announced in a big voice, “We have the best potatoes you will ever taste and they are grown right here and after . . . the next course, rabbit, we raise the rabbits over there and of course, white wine we make our own from the vineyards on the side of the hill”. Do not ask me for anything else that is all I have today! The wine tasted similar to the white wine I had drunk twenty years earlier in Capri, before they had so-called sophisticated vinification methods, a wine unfiltered and unfined, slightly cloudy and infiltrated with sediment. A wine, which was genuine, straightforward and earthy with no chemicals used to balance it. It was really a pleasure to drink. Fried potatoes came out of the kitchen scalding hot along with a large bottle of emerald green, olive oil from the trees on the property.  Drizzled with oil they were simply the best potatoes I had ever tasted. The rabbit was extraordinarily good and we finished with a glass of homemade lemon liqueur (limoncello), made from the giant lemons on their trees, a tart finish to what was—a most pleasurable lunch.

La Capannina Restaurant – Capri, Italy

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

CapanninaLa Capannina Restaurant
Tel. +39 081 8370732
Fax. +39 081 8376990
Via Le Botteghe, 12bis/14
80073 Capri (Napoli)
Credit Cards: All major
Prices: Expensive

If you walk down a narrow street leading off from the piazza of Capri called Via Le Botteghe you will eventually arrive at the restaurant. It is on the right side of the street and the De Angelis family or one of the staff will greet you. Try to arrange to be seated downstairs as this room is more fun than dining upstairs, in my view.
The menu features typical specialties of the region, as do most of the restaurant on the island, although there is a more diverse selection than in some other establishments.
The wine list is very extensive with many Italian and foreign listings.

Terazza Brunello Restaurant – Capri, Italy

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

Terrazza Brunella
Tel. +39 081 8370122
Fax +39 081 8370430
Via Tragara, 24a
80073 Capri (Napoli)
Credit Cards: All Major
Prices: Expensive

Terrazza Brunella has a magnificent view overlooking the Marina Piccolo. At night it is enchanting to view the glittering lights on the bay.
The owner is a music fan and he has state-of-the-art equipment to play soft music earlier in the evening and then slowly escalating to light jazz later on. I thoroughly enjoyed the music, it sounds as if it is live, as well as the cuisine and, of course, and the view.

We started with: gnocchi verdi al gorgonzola and linguini frutta di mare and moved on to: scaloppina al funghi porcini ending with frutta fresca. On the wine side a bottle of the local (Campania) Falanghina and finished with a half bottle of Aglianico Corte Normanna. as could be expected both were excellent.

On the wine list all the important regions of Italy are offered. It is about a five minute walk from the Quisisana Hotel down Via Camerelle and then jog left up to Via Tragara.

Frontera Grill, Topolobampo – Chicago

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

445 N. Clark St., Chicago
(312) 661-1434
Closed Sunday & Monday
Quality Mexican
Prices: Moderate

Both restaurants are located in the same building, Frontera Grill (seating 65) is the more casual of the two restaurants and Topolobampo, the higher-end operation, seats only 45. They both share the same entrance and both have outdoor seating. Chef/Owner Rick Bayless is nationally acclaimed for his authentic cooking that represents many of the important gastronomic areas within Mexico. He is relentless in his quest for the finest ingredients and to truly reproduce Mexican cuisine on the highest level. Tamales de Pescado Yucatecan tamales flavored with achiote, filled with fresh catfish, steamed in bananas leaves and served with fresh tomato sauce; Garnachas small homemade tortillas topped with savory pork pibil, pickledonions and habanero salsa; Cazuela de Borrego al Cascabel charcoal-
seared lamb simmered with woodland mushrooms, potatoes and Mexican vegetables; Guacamole fresh and chunky, served with tortilla chips; Tostaditas made-to-order tortilla chips with two salsas; three-chile (cascabel, morita, guajillo) and roasted tomatillo with serrano and cilantro; Puerco en Salsa Roja grilled pork tenderloin in spicy New Mexico red chile sauce with grilled red onions and black beans.