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Archive for December, 2005

John Ash & Co (Santa Rosa, CA) – Where People go to Di(n)e

Went to Campton Place for lunch the other day, none of the other quality restaurants were available Sun last minute, the Porsche wanted to fling itself around curvy mountainous roads, so why not try something to the north?

Armed w/ only my Zagat guide (am I better off blind?), I read through the North of the Bay section. Quite a few restaurants garnered 25s and above (out of a scale to 30.) The few i knew seemed accurate (Farmhouse Inn, Pilar, FL, Jeantry, La Salette) so why not give some new place a shot?

After a few calls, reservations for John Ash & Co @ 7. That’s just enough time for a loud, raucous jaunt up the coast; more terrorizing unsuspecting drivers on the cut back through the mountains to 101; and an 90mph+ sprint to river road. Sounds like fun.

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Manresa (Los Gatos, CA) – One Last Time for 2005

It was time for one last final hurrah at Manresa for 2005. Email sent, reservation made, and for full disclosure, this meal was tailored for me.

Lots of new dishes – fish, black truffles, and even some textural surprises. Many of the tastes and dishes were “clean” – very pure and light expressions of flavor. Whether intentional or not, this motif ran through most of the meal.

This was also the best progression I’ve had at Manresa. Read the rest of this entry »

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Campton Place (SF) – Developing

Time for a city lunch with a professional associate – my pick, same as last year, was Campton Place. It is the most interesting place in the city right now. The interior could really use some work, particularly the horribly worn-out booths, but i’m here to eat, not look.

1. Poached Tiger Prawns w/ Fennel Salad
The prawns were absolutely delicious – they must have been poached in milk b/c they had a slightly creamy flavor that worked really really well. Unfortunately, the fennel salad on top of each prawn detracted from the sublimity of the overall dish.

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Cafe Boulud (NY) – Money Doesn’t Buy Dreams

Cafe Boulud was a waste of my money – that’s about the only thing i carefully remember. Yet another in a long line of NY heartbreakers (Per Se, Mas, Blue Hill,Tia Pol…) beware – I am bad culinary luck.

The Service
Apparently, being one of the 3 people below 50 means you are not entitled to service. We were given our menus w/ no explanation of how to pick & choose items (the menu is a tad confusing) and, after 15 minutes, our waiter came over. I inquired about a tasting menu but he said “just pick & choose”; I asked about smaller portions and again he said “just pick & choose”… so I picked & I chose.

I ordered the white truffle risotto and our waiter says in a condescending tone – “You do know how much it is?” – Read the rest of this entry »

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Lady M (NY) – Eat Your Cake

Lady M might have the best cakes in America. It’s a small sliver of a store on the Upper West Side; a few small tables to enjoy a pastry or sandwich; but the showcase is the long bar of cakes. These are the cakes Upper West-siders have for bar mitzvahs, weddings, and whatever other social functions they attend; it is the cake everyone should have for every function.

The Pretense
Their menu offers a variety of coffee, teas, croissants, & sandwiches for the pretense of a civilized meal. The smoked salmon sandwich was ok, but too much bread. The tomato/mozz sandwich was good but tomatoes were slightly out of season. If you are embarassed by ordering 3-4 slices of cake, you too can follow the pretense and order a sandwich. It’s not offensive fare but it’s not the point.

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