My Good Eats Review: TAG, Denver

TAG Restaurant – Denver, CO (Larimer Square)

April 2016

Rating: 1 (not edible) to 5 (food heaven!): A Solid 4

As part of my annual conference musing, I’d always pick a #worththecalories eatery for my otherwise health conscious team.  Unfortunately because of the weather 3 of my team members couldn’t make it out to Denver.  Ugh… Snow!! & Lots of it!!   Glad we chose this restaurant over some chain (originally was going to hit up a steakhouse), and it was absolutely the perfect choice.

TAG Restaurant is located in a ‘fairy-light’ lined street with multiple boutique shops and small restaurants (almost like a restaurant row…) right next to & across from each other, in an otherwise empty street.  It’s probably because it’s still winter in Denver…

TAG inside:
Decor: open brick wall, booths in the front & back, with high/low tables, and a special 2 seater for the chef’s table.

Service:
We opted for a regular table (half booth/half seats).  Our waiter was awesome, made some recommendations and wasn’t pushy, which we appreciate because who the heck wants a hard sell over dinner?!?!  He was attentive w/o being over-bearing.

Drink: Mocktail – coconut soda! Mmm… it was surprisingly refreshing and yummy!

Food:
Appz: started w/ 1) wild mushroom gnocchi w truffle – this was so rich in taste and well balanced w the roasted garlic, the gnocchi was perfectly soft & chewy. 2) seafood potstickers – this was ok, I wasn’t too taken, the skins could be crispier, the stuffing lacked imagination for your taste buds… however the sauce was perfect! Tangy, sweet, & mildly spicy… I would rather have 2 portions of the gnocchi.

Main: NY strip steak w roasted rustic veggie, it was cooked perfectly at med-well with Asian inspired seasoning (aka soy dressing), coworker loved it.  I had their signature Miso Soy Cod – over edamame and baby sprouts.  I love white flakey fish when it’s cooked right.  This one was delicious, soaked in miso soy marinade before cooking certainly made it more tender, flakey and the edamame complimented the fish.


Closing out the night: deconstructed banana cream pie, over graham chocolate tart crust, banana cream custard, fresh bananas and torched caramelized bananas.  This dessert was very rich, might have been an over kill!  My coworker had Amaretto ice cream… Probably the better choice to end the night (after such a heavy main).   Like I said #worththecalories when traveling!

Happy feasting!

My Good Eats Review: Barrel & Fare, Park Slope

Barrel and Fare – Park Slope, Brooklyn

December 2015

Rating: 1 (not edible) to 5 (food heaven!): A Solid 3.5

It’s a bit off the beaten path away from your usual Park Slope eateries but it’s definitely worth a visit. Nice place situated on the corner, bar seating and cozy decor.

We did however missed out on Happy Hour $1 oysters. It’s from 4 -7pm every weekday, enjoy!

Now, here’s what we stuffed our belly with: Mini Lobster rolls (it was ok – kind of disappointing as the lobster to roll ratio was not proportion, too much bread, not enough meat), over-priced oysters (the shells were very dirty, assuming someone didn’t wash them clean or just bad shucking), short rib empanada (lackluster… sort of bland, as I would expect a more flavorful to the short ribs), Lobster Risotto (tasty & rich – small portion but worth getting), Stuffed Pork Chops (delicious and savory, good portion for an entree), and Seared Salmon (kind of boring – it was forgettable and that’s never a good thing), Brussels Sprouts and Truffle Fries (underwhelmed in taste).  Service was good and attentive, then again… We were the only dining patrons for most of the night… surprisingly for the holiday rush, no one came to dinner.

The menu is simple, some of the entrees packed a powerful punch… However, there are a few miss and would be a welcome opportunity for improvement.

My Good Eats Review: Crab Catcher, La Jolla

Crab Catcher – La Jolla, San Diego

July 2015

Rating: 1 (not edible) to 5 (food heaven!): A Solid 3

While vacationing in La Jolla, we had a girl’s night out and wanted to grab dinner before hitting a bar.  Not familiar with this area, we relied on Yelp! And found this spot right by the ocean.  It’s fairly big but to be safe, we did Open Table.  Hey, we are tourist in this town!

TIP: If you’re on a date, make sure you get the tables with a view! It’s a beautiful view of the La Jolla coastline!

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We had: 2 dozen oysters (really fresh pacific coast oysters) to start and crab cakes, and dived into the entrees.  We ordered to share 2.5 lb lobsters, 2 different kinds of Alaskan King Crab legs (one was orange and one was red)… I found the red one was much sweeter!  And it came with a nice corn salsa.  Ask them to double crack it, easier to eat. There was also a risotto with scallops special – wasn’t memorable.  Definitely go for their seafood, it’s their namesake!

We had drinks as well, think they were generous with their alcohol – my friends had fun being tipsy! I’m was the non-drinker that night so I had many funny moments laughing at their silliness.

Service was attentive at first but once we got our food, hardly anyone came by to do refills or ask if we needed anything else.  That was a bit disappointing because we really wanted dessert and coffee, however after waiting 20 mins for someone to casually come by to clear our table and then another 15 mins for another waiter to ask… our dining experience was done for the night.

Overall, worth a visit, I’ve had better king crab legs in City Island and would have liked a bigger seafood selection; still when in roam in La Jolla, grab a bite to eat here.

My Good Eats Adventure: Paris & Copenhagen!

One of my goal before turning the big 4-0 was to hit up at least 5 (or more if my bank account allows it!) different Michelin Star restaurants (minimum 2 stars).   So my good eats adventure actually started during my work trip to Las Vegas…  #1) Joel Rubuchon, MGM Grand Las Vegas – his namesake restaurant with 3 Michelin Stars  (rumor has it, it may have lost one star) #2) EMP – Eleven Madison Park, NYC.

That’s 2 off my list and knowing I’ll get the rest in Paris & Copenhagen… priceless (actually very pricey… LOL).

Paris, France – September 2015

#3) Le Cinq – 3M Stars (I think they recently lost one)

Tasting menu,  I will only share what’s memorable to me cuz that means it had an impact on my taste bud… good and bad.

  • 1 shot bites, consists of liquid gelatin with fruity taste, foie gras, & raspberry moose with chocolate – this was interesting as it requires you to eat each item in an order, in one bite without chewing (aka 1 shot!).  The fruity gelatin cleanses your palate, then the foie gras sets up the savory and ends it with a bittersweet aftermath… like a child eating for the first time, shocking your sweet & bitter sides of your tongue.
  • Langoustines!  Mmm… the texture is a hybrid between lobster and shrimp, but so much sweeter!  This was cooked to medium well, as we all know seafood is temperamental – under cooked leaves a fishy taste, over cooked leaves you chewing on a tough texture.  Our langoustines were broiled, seasoned with herb butter and a sweet creamy sauce (yes I know French food is heavy on the sauces but this one is creamy & light).
  • Desserts were amazing… like eating ice sculptures and snow fall all blended inside your mouth.
  • Side note: I cannot believe this is my first time having this wonderful, sweet, mouth-watering shellfish.  How is it possible that I’ve never had Langoustine in NYC, a major food scene until now?  Well, I quickly learned – it is actually extremely hard to harvest as it must stay fresh for a certain amount of hours and by the time it ships to NYC eateries, it must then be eaten very quickly.

 

Copenhagen, Denmark – September 2015

#4) A/O/C – 2M Stars

All I could remember were flowers… and those incredibly pretty clay plates.  Almost 40% of the food on the 18 course tasting menu were raw… and I really do prefer my food cooked.  So the only 2 food item that stood out, roasted sweetbread with edible flowers and clay-roasted baby potatoes, which requires you to hammer it out!

 

#5) Geranium – 3M Stars

I’d like to compare Geranium to a Hermes Birkin bag… every dish looks amazing to the eyes, it’s attractive, well presented, just beautiful to look at…  but it’s not an everyday meal, just as the Birkin is not your everyday bag.  It took a few weeks of observing the booking calendar to get a reservation.  NOMA was a no-go, but glad we had Geranium.

I enjoyed all 14 courses of our tasting menu and the oddly juice pairing – we only liked the apple mix – the rest were forgettable.   There were 3 standouts – 1) the Hake Fish with Caviar, loads of it! 2) Razor Clams with edible paper and 3) the mysterious soup where we took a tour of the kitchen.   With all its thought out service and timing, it was incredible to find that they actually “messed” up our courses.   Our servers placed a new plate setting after our amazing hake fish with caviar, which would mean another dish is coming out.  However after 10 minutes have passed, our servers simply came by to clear those ‘new’ plating away.  We didn’t think anything of it.  Turns out, our servers forgot the ‘bread’ course and there were no breads to serve as it was out of sequence by now.  Alas, it was a good feeling that such an impressive restaurant… is still human.

My girlfriends and I really enjoyed our trip, our crazy splurges on food and would highly recommend anyone looking for food excitement to hit up Copenhagen!

 

My Good Eats Review: Parlay, Brooklyn

Parlay – Sunset Park, Brooklyn

February 2016

Rating: 1 (not edible) to 5 (food heaven!): A Solid 4

Such a cute little gem – SHOUT OUT TO BROOKLYN FOOD SCENE!!!  Recently had brunch here and would definitely return for a 2nd round.

While Parlay is nestled in a very quiet street near Sunset Park, it stood out among its neighboring worn-down shops with a clean design – all glass window and dark wood trims.  Some say it’s a trend movement to overtake the used-to-be low income hood with newly hipster bound tenants; but pretty sure some of my fellow Brooklynites welcome the changing landscape.

Self Service: order your food (the limited menu is written on the chalk board), if it’s to-go, take a seat & your cashier/server/barista will call for you; if it’s coffee, she will make it on the spot.

There are about 5 tables for patrons. We were eating in, so we placed our order, paid and took our seats by the windows.  Our wonderful cashier/server/barista brought our coffee & food to us.  Sugar/milk are self-serve right by the counter.

We got a latte & cappuccino, both came with a little foamy heart, never get bored of seeing this cute stuff!

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As for food: spinach & cheese omelette, a side of bacon, banana pancakes w homefries (over fruits, I’m a carb lover!). I loved my banana pancakes – it was perfectly sweet, balanced and not overwhelmed by the bananas, plus it was cooked perfectly fluffy with crispy edges!  My eating buddy enjoyed his omelette, it was well seasoned and not over powered by the cheese.  My fav though was the deliciously AWESOME Home-Freaking Fries! It was perfectly cooked – crispy all around but soft inside with loaded tastes of the infused peppers & onions.

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The only thing I would change is maybe pull down the shades a bit… The mighty sun practically burned a hole in my back…!  Sit away from the window but kind of odd to stare out onto the empty streets.

I also noticed other patrons didn’t tip the cashier/server/barista – NOT nice you cheapo!!  She was the only on working and performed all 3 functions amazingly! So be kind to your multi-tasking cashier/server/barista! GOOD KARMA!

My Good Eats Review: OCabanon, Chelsea

OCabanon – Chelsea, NYC

December 2015

Rating: 1 (not edible) to 5 (food heaven!): A Solid 3.5

What a great find in an unexpected Chelsea area!

I was looking up places to have an early holiday lunch with coworkers nearby and stumbled here via Yelp! So thank you Yelpers!  We came with no expectations whatsoever because every time it’s a “fusion” type place, it just never ends well… This place had tapas with both French and Spanish influence on the menu… So safe to say it’s a fusion restaurant.

The decor is simple, silver metal tables with bar stool high chairs, and simple plate setting. Solo dining at the bar available or smaller tables upfront by the entrance.

We grabbed a table near the back as it was kind of chilly that day.  I actually liked the holiday touches with the miniature nut crackers at each table.

Service: slow but very nice, & at times funny! You’ll have to experience that for yourself.

Food: Beet salads (coworkers loved it! I’m not a big fan of beets… bleh ) escargot (must have!) in olive oil, butter & parsley baked to perfection, serve with crostini!

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Entrees: Salmon burger w/ fries, Roast chicken w/ mash & green beans, pasta w/ shrimps, mussels, and scallops.  Coworker didn’t like the salmon burger, but the pasta dish was good. Get the roast chicken – it’s tender, moist and flavorful!  Everything about the chicken was good, including the veggie pairing of green beans, definitely mash and baby carrots.  I was so full but somehow still managed to have a shared dessert.

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We ended our gluttony with a chocolate “xmas log”.  I didn’t like it but others did.  It’s a toss up!  Overall, good food, good service so I would come back and try other items.

 

My Good Eats Review: Trenasse & Meauxbar, NOLA

Foodie adventure at NOLA – New Orleans, LA – the big easy

Trenasse – NOLA

April 2015

Rating: 1 (not edible) to 5 (food heaven!): A Solid 3

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Working at a conference in NOLA and ended up having dinner here with coworkers. Although it’s located inside the Intercontinental Hotel, the food was actually good.

The space is big and has outdoor seating, although it was raining the whole time during our trip to NOLA – it did heed long enough for us to enjoy a night dining al fresco.  You can tell the waiter is sort of ‘green’ because he couldn’t remember the menu, what the special was and had to go back and asked another waiter.  However, he makes up with his eagerness by refilling our cups plenty!

I had the smoked baked oyster with bacon and cheese; and a seafood stew that consists of a saffron broth with mussels (4), clams (3), scallops (2), shrimps (2) and snow crab legs (4 tiny ones) along with 2 slices of crostini style bread.   Would have liked more bread to soak up the delicious broth, as it was on the saltier side.  Well, both were pretty good, again a little heavy on the salt… however still better than the tourist trap we went to the previous night at Palace Café; which was disappointing and gross.

My coworkers both had the fish of the day – wasn’t memorable to me but they enjoyed it very much.

Decent price, not overly insane expensive – about $30 per person (we each also had a drink). Overall a good meal in NOLA (without all the deep fried grease).

 

Meauxbar – NOLA

April 2015

Rating: 1 (not edible) to 5 (food heaven!): A Solid 3 (took points away for bread incident!)

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Prior to traveling to NOLA for work, I had looked up recommendations from Yelpers on good eats and this one fit the bill.   I will say this… my expectations were low to begin with because I honestly didn’t see NOLA being a foodie type of town.

The location is a bit off the beaten path, I wouldn’t recommend walking to Meauxbar – take a taxi or Uber it.   At night this area looked a bit sketchy… well at least for out of towners like us.   The restaurant sits on the corner of the block (across from possibly a park… it was too dark).  The inside was also heavily draped and dark, with minimal lighting and very cozy.  We got the curve booth – which was great for our group.  Our waiter was a bit of an airhead, he often forgets to bring back certain items… like water… additional small plates for sharing… and then another waiter who serves the complimentary bread ‘accidently drops’ 2 pieces of bread on the table but proceeds to pick it up with his bare fingers and “PLACED” it right back onto the plate.   We did not appreciate that and therefore did not eat any of the free bread.

I wanted to treat my team to a nice dinner so here we go:

Starters:

  • Escargot in Bone, infamous vermouth bone marrow with escargot – recommend!
  • Foie Gras, came with some sort of jam and bread – not memorable… skip!
  • Beef Tartare – pretty boring… skip!

Entrée:

  • Hanger Steak – pretty boring… skip!
  • Confit Chicken Leg – recommend!
  • Scallops – pretty bland… skip!
  • Gulf Fish – recommend!

Dessert:

  • Apple cake – recommend! (if you like apples!)
  • Chocolate trio – boring and not memorable… skip!

Total bill: $200+

I was not impressed by many of the dishes, it was either underwhelming in taste or lacked something to jazz up the flavor.   I’ve had much better Foie Gras and Beef Tartare elsewhere.  It just didn’t “WOW” us at all.  The Hanger Steak was a mix for us, since we shared our plates – 1 liked it simply because it was ‘steak’.  As for the rest of us, we felt the steak could’ve been better with a creamier sauce.  It was kind of boring, like… “oh, it’s a hanger steak”.  The Scallops was nothing special… but the Gulf Fish, which happens to be whatever fish they have on the day of, turned out to be amazing.  The skin was seared, so it was crispy with flakey meat.  It was also well seasoned with lots of leek and veggies, pretty sure that added the extra oomph to the dish.   As for dessert… I like apples, so apple cake was pretty darn good to end our meal with.

Overall, a good dining experience and would recommend visitors to take a trip and enjoy the meal!

 

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