Sat 13 Sep, 2008 07:19 pm
We just got home from a great meal out in our favorite restaurant. It's my favorite because the veggies are always fresh, the menu is innovative and the service is grand. Tell me about your favorite eating out spot.
For me, good food and good service are givens. So for a restaurant to be a favorite, I require more. Atmosphere. A special feeling. Something special and unique to the place that makes it memorable.
I have several favorite restaurants. One is in a townhouse. It is a beautiful place. Grand. Gorgeous. With crystal chandeliers. Gorgeous linens. And a garden for al fresco dining with a fountain in the backyard. Way too expensive for me to go there anymore. But I loved the feeling of being there. The menu was interesting. The service flawless. Everything elegant. I miss dat dump. (This jernt is an E on all dining lists. I miss my expense account too.)
Another favorite restaurant is in the theater district and is a whole other thing. Menus on blackboards. Interesting and varied menus. (Everything's good.) A skylight that lets in the sun's rays at lunchtime. Loud, noisy, nothing fancy. But excellent food, excellent service, and a sense of being someplace that stands out. (Don't go there anymore either, but it's not an E.)
Those places both sound great. My favorite is in an area of St. Louis called The Loop. Very arty; the restaurant has been there twenty years or so, was just sold to his daughter by the owner. They make it a point to buy produce from area farmers. Tonight we had a tomato salad that was to die for, and fresh roasted beets.
I never would pay to have someone cook me vegetables.
Why not? Would you pay to have them cook you other things?
Vegetables are what food eats.
I have tons to say on this subject but have just finished tagging all my own threads, so it's time for a break from thinking. So now I'll just say, good subject!
My favourite restaurant, Sean's Panaroma, is overlooking the beach at North Bondi. It's bit expensive so I can't afford to eat there often, but always enjoy it.
It's 2-hatted, in the 3-hat scale of Sydney - but isn't at all stuffy, like some other hatted restaurants. The food is great always, intteresting, fresh and well-prepared, the wine list has some thought put into it, and the staff are outstanding - just the right combination of friendliness and correctness ( staff say for ages - I see this as a good sign).
And right across the road is Bondi Beach, which looks good in any weather - storms travelling up the coast look really dramatic when you're sitting warm and cosy with good food and drink.
The owner, Sean Moran, is often on the floor, checking how things are going. My elderly aunt was quite impressed when he came up and asked how she enjoyed her birthday meal. Another time, on a filthy day, I went there with a friend in a wheelchair - and he came to see us out, and check she was OK. Great personal touch.
what is a "hatted" restaurant
Ahhh, I see. Well, we had a delicious shrimp dish and a wonderful chicken entree as well!
My current favourite resto isn't great in terms of food or staff. The food is reliably good, the waitress we usually get is a bit ditzy (and easily thrown off by Setanta's singing and flirting), the folks at the bar are usually drunk by 5 p.m., but ... the tea and coffee arrive at the table non-stop after we've finished our main meal and they don't care if we're there for hours talking. It's become a regular stammtisch for our gang. There are a few dishes that really are very good, but we like it best because we can treat it like a living room. No hovering.
I hate hovering waitstaff, almost as much as I hate singing waitstaff.
I'm quite the oldie and have had many favorite restaurants, all for varied reasons, not always re the food.
Here's one of the first, and remains a favorite in memory: L'Ermitage, chef/owner Jean Bertranou
A restaurant obituary, when it closed - it was an important restaurant in US culinary history..
When Bertranou was dying at Cedars Sinai hospital, local chefs brought him food so he would not have to endure the hospital fare..
Aside from the food, both delicious and a learning experience for myself and my husband, I remember it for the dress up/grown up experience, though I must have been well into my thirties when we went there. My husband and I and my husband's teacher, the three of us as thick as thieves for many years, our ages spanning two plus decades with me the mid-age one, went there for celebratory reasons like one of our birthdays. The meals would take leisurely hours. The staff treated us perfectly, the sophisticated teacher and the two learners: competent, neither too friendly and hovering nor snotty. I learned so much...
I like that I know what I'm going to get every time I go into a McDonalds.
We all have a favorite cuisine, though we still enjoy a wide range of cooking styles. Sometimes our favorite restaurant serving our favorite cuisine is trumped by restaurant serving an entirely different style of cooking. Comparing favorite restaurants isn't quite as straigt forward as it might seem. However, here are the things I look for and think about when comparing restaurants.
Quality We prefer restaurants that use only fresh high-quality ingredients. We avoid like the plague businesses that use packaged fast foods and stuff that was frozen during the last Ice Age. Use of taco shells is common these days, but even when created on the spot by deep frying tacos made this way stink. That brings me to the next point in considering quality. How skillful and talented was the chef in preparing our food. Some chefs over season, and others never use seasoning, or they do it in strange ways. Some ingredients just don't work well together, and fussy cooking can result in a mess rather than in a pleasant taste experience. On the other hand, if a dish really does need ten ingredients, and the cook leaves out one or two the result is dissapointing. I like my dishes to be cooked/prepared only after the order is transmitted to the kitchen. Food that was made in large quantities hours, perhaps days before we sat down is almost uniformly bad.
Service I positively hate crummy service, where the wait staff is slow, prone to error, sloppy, careless, and sloppy. I expect to be seated quickly when there are empty tables. The table should be as well appointed as possible given the restaurants style and theme. Clean utensils should have to be requested and waited on. I want the menu and a clean glass of ice water quickly. Wait staff should be quickly available without hovering, and they should know their menu backwards and forwards. I want emptied dishes removed promptly, and the check accurate andready when I'm ready to leave. I want to feel like the restaurant and all of its employees value our patronage.
Ambiance To score well with us a restaurant should have its own particular ambiance. It might be warm and cozy, or light and open. If there is a view available, I want to see it. In any case, the place has to be clean and the decor appropriate to the dining experience we expect by entering the restaurant's doors. I've had great meals served in little hole in the wall restaurants, and return frequently for the food served. To keep me as a steady customer though, this sort of restaurant has to score very well on quality and service. We found a restaurant with poor ambiance (scratched linoleum topped tables, noisy a/c that didn't cool the room much, and uncomfortable chairs, but the owner/cook made excellent and unpretentious food. We might still be eating their despite the terrible ambiance, if the restaurant had employed even marginally competent wait staff.
Portions Portions are important, but more difficult to judge. I've eaten at restaurants where the entree was $35 and consisted of a tiny piece of meat stranded in the middle of a plate with some bright sauce design scattered over it. Bad. We seldom eat at buffet style restaurants because their portions, even when the food is excellent, are far too large. We are overweight diabetics, and though our appetite may be large we really should have very modest portions. I like restaurants with specials designed for Senior Citizens and those with dietary restrictions. The best restaurants deliver a full meal. That is soup/salad, entree with two small side dishes, and perhaps a complementary appetizer.
Price Price is related to the elements listed above. The better a restaurant scores on each of those elements, the more I'm willing to pay for my food. Score high on all of them and I have no problem with a check that runs over a hundred dollars excluding the drinks. Score low on 3 of the 4 and I probably will go hungry before eating there. In determining if I believe the price is acceptable, I more heavily weight quality and service.
My favorite restaurant in Michigan: http://www.tapawingo.net/
My favorite restaurant in Boston: http://www.lockeober.com/
My favorite restaurant in Mountain View, CA: http://www.fiestadelmar.com/fiesta.html
My favorite restaurant in Chicago: http://www.ginoseastrollingmeadows.com/
My favorite restaurant in Grand Rapids: http://www.cascadehillscc.com/
Of course it's a private club, and I only get to go when I'm invited, but you never want to turn down that invitation. Best place to eat in town IMO.
A near opposite experience to my L'Ermitage one but still a favorite in memory was the chain restaurant Piece O'Pizza on Wilshire in west LA. It was one of the first restaurants I went to with friends during my school years; well, one of two, the other being a coffee shop. I think I remember oil cloth checked tablecloths. Ordinary pizza, but it was also the first pizza I ever tasted, plain old tomato and mozzarella (well, I think it was mozzarella). I remember the restaurant for the long talks with friends, but mostly for the salad. I'd never had a salad before either. It tasted so good! Must've been some other lettuce than iceberg, which I didn't know about but had at other restaurants later.. or maybe my memory is sending in other lettuce. Must have had an olive oil dressing, and I think some canned pitted black olives. Perhaps it had garbanzo beans, perhaps not. Anyway, learning, it was beginning of learning about food other than at home.
I just checked - geez, they still exist.
Hats are the equivalent of stars in Oz.
Top is a 3-hatted (chef's hats) restaurants - there are about 5 of them in Sydney.
I've eaten at several of them - and it's more like a religious experience than a feed in many.
We've got only nine three star (Michelin guide) in all Germany
Going there is far above my bank account. (I've only been in one or two one star restaurants.)
I think the cooking there really is kind of art, eating done with a religious attitude. (The one and two star restaurants in rural regions - like here - mostly have a 'normal' restaurant as well: food is as good, payable, but without all the bells and whistles. Otherwise they couldn't survive, I think.)