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Dolcetto & Co. can be described as a hip Italian wine bar with a tapas mentality. Located on St. Paul street in the Old Port, the place caters to a well to do mid to late twenties crowd looking for a casual chic evening out. Going for a ocean/beachy vibe as indicated in the rope and anchor ampersand part of their logo, the blue and white striped seats, the captain’s hats hanging off the hooks across the room and the bottle chandeliers, the whole place gives off a relaxed but sophisticated air.
We arrived at Bouillon Bilk on an infamous restaurant night – Valentines day. Yes, it was a night of overbooked restaurants and high expectations. Bouillon Bilk can be hard to notice from the outside – it is situated on a sketchy stretch of St Laurent between St Catherine and Ontario.
GT Fish and Oyster, named after chef Giuseppe Tentori, is a seafood specialty spot in the river north area of Chicago. The decor and design of the restaurant’s interior is both upscale and laid back at then same time. This is indicative of what I hear from Chicago based chefs and staff time and time again particularly when faced with the New York – Chicago question. They maintain (and I would tend to agree) that Chicago has all the culinary muscle of NYC with a generally more laid back attitude.
Club Chasse et Peche gives off an air of exclusivity in the discreet nature of the establishment: to the regular passerby it would be easy to miss the place and walk right by, blissfully unaware of the culinary delights that take place inside. The only indication that it even exists on the middle of St. Claude street is a large stylized logo that is at once easily recognizable while being somewhat indistinguishable at the same time – the icon resembles an eagle spreadings its wings, showcasing a torso made of a coat of arms. I think it’s open to interpretation. There is a little bit of snobbery that comes off as you experience the Club for an evening but it totally works in their favor. It helps that we were knowingly greeting with a warm “Welcome to the Club”.
L’Orignal means “moose” in French. Based solely on the name, you would expect the food served here to be big, hearty and gamey. Actually, after spending over three hours eating here and sampling a good portion of the menu (we were a party of eight ordering a variety of dishes), we came to the conclusion that the portions here were just perfect (what I mean is not overwhelmingly large) and that the food was even better than any of us had anticipated. We first took notice of the restaurant at Oysterfest earlier this September. When we tried L’Orignal’s wild boar-lobster roll, we were hooked. We finally had the chance to come by and it did not disappoint.
An hour and half away from Taipei city by bus, Shen Yen is located in the suburb of Yilan. It is a quaint little restaurant across from an elevated bike path with a gorgeous view of the lush green mountains. The owners of Shen Yen are dedicated to bringing their customers the freshest ingredients and the best food – this becomes quite obvious from the moment you even get a glimpse of the front of the restaurant as they have dozens of large pots full of fermenting soya beans so that they can make their own soya sauce. The garden out back is full of home grown fruits, vegetables and herbs.
Walking into Joe Beef, one immediately senses a kind of warm intimacy few restaurants are able to successfully achieve in terms of both physical space, ambiance and decor. The space out front is quite small; tables are set one next to the other with only a few inches separating diners from one another – for those who sit on the inner banquettes, tables must be pulled out for them to exit gracefully. Even in such close quarters, fellow diners have been the most friendly and cordial I have ever met. The owners have recently closed their luncheonette next door (McKiernan’s) in favor of expanding Joe Beef, creating an oyster bar in its place while at the same time increasing its capacity for more people to stop by. Due to the popular demand for the restaurant’s exquisite food, the terrasse out back has been opened up as well. I had actually never been in the area before and our lovely waitress Vanya was nice enough to show me around. The garden where ingredients are freshly grown and harvested lines the terrasse; adjacent to this, a separate plot of land is sectioned off by a fence – here they house a large metal smoker where they treat some of their meats and fish.