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Post Your Top Ten of 2006!
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  • Post #31 - January 4th, 2007, 2:16 pm
    Post #31 - January 4th, 2007, 2:16 pm Post #31 - January 4th, 2007, 2:16 pm
    While there's some truth in how you characterize my outlook, if you follow the link I provided you'll see that exactly the problem I had with Riva was a couple of mistakes of inattention or blandardization that prevented the meal from being exactly what you say: "delicious tastes and impeccable execution."

    That dissatisfaction has far less to do with me wanting weird and different than with them simply not having someone experienced (and expensive) enough in the kitchen to make the difference between "okay" and "great." Chains are managed to deliver a consistent product across multiple locations using lower-cost workforces executing standardized formulas. Chefs got nothin' to do with it, most of the time, except in the sense that they devised the formula long before, in the perfect conditions of a corporate test kitchen (and let me tell you from personal experience, even a Quarter Pounder can taste amazingly good when it's made by an executive chef at McDonald's corporate kitchen in Oakbrook).

    That is a difference that you can taste on the plate, not absolutely and in every case, and obviously some chains are more chef-driven and less formulaic than others, but more often than not.
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  • Post #32 - January 4th, 2007, 2:21 pm
    Post #32 - January 4th, 2007, 2:21 pm Post #32 - January 4th, 2007, 2:21 pm
    Mike G wrote:While there's some truth in how you characterize my outlook, if you follow the link I provided you'll see that exactly the problem I had with Riva was a couple of mistakes of inattention or blandardization that prevented the meal from being exactly what you say: "delicious tastes and impeccable execution."

    That dissatisfaction has far less to do with me wanting weird and different than with them simply not having someone experienced (and expensive) enough in the kitchen to make the difference between "okay" and "great." Chains are managed to deliver a consistent product across multiple locations using lower-cost workforces executing standardized formulas. Chefs got nothin' to do with it, most of the time, except in the sense that they devised the formula long before, in the perfect conditions of a corporate test kitchen (and let me tell you from personal experience, even a Quarter Pounder can taste amazingly good when it's made by an executive chef at McDonald's corporate kitchen in Oakbrook).

    That is a difference that you can taste on the plate, not absolutely and in every case, but more often than not.


    I'm still not clear on your point.

    Do you believe that there is a qualitative difference between Olive Garden and Brasserie Jo? Are you making a blanket statement or just a generalization?
  • Post #33 - January 4th, 2007, 2:29 pm
    Post #33 - January 4th, 2007, 2:29 pm Post #33 - January 4th, 2007, 2:29 pm
    I try not to show off, but the question did come up.

    In no particular order


    South Indian Vegetarian at the Mavali Tiffin Room in Bangalore – unbelievable Vada and Masala Dosa, crisp, hot, sharp

    Karim’s, in old Delhi, a very old North Indian meat place, roast lamb and ramali kababs

    Kybber, in Mumbai, one of the best power eating places in India, also north Indian meat.

    Dim Sum at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Hong Kong

    Brasarie Balzar in Paris – onion soup and roast chicken

    Iskandar kababs in Istambul, and the place they were invented, Iskander’s

    Diana restaurant in Bologna, Tuscan salami, then tortellini in broth, then bolito Misto from a cart, then homemade vanilla ice cream

    Ting Tai Fung in Taiwan, soup dumplings and dan dan noodles.

    Tavern on Rush, bone in strip steak

    Garrett’s popcorn cheese and caramel mix, chicago
  • Post #34 - January 4th, 2007, 2:35 pm
    Post #34 - January 4th, 2007, 2:35 pm Post #34 - January 4th, 2007, 2:35 pm
    Well, I guess then my point is:

    Many seemingly fine restaurants that belong to a large corporation with multiple operations are run much more like a McDonald's or Bennigan's than many people seem to realize. Saying "I don't care if it's a chain or not as long as it's good" is willfully blinding yourself to the fact that being a chain or not is a very strong indicator of certain operational realities, which in turn have everything to do with whether there's a chef back there making sure everything's perfect before it gets to the table, or a bunch of cooks working out of a manual, popping half-prepared meals out of pouches, and incapable of determining for themselves whether the nicely-prepared baby octopus from station A will taste good once it's drowned in tart vinaigrette at station B.

    Are there small chains that maintain higher levels of quality at each and every unit in their operation? Yes, though I think they're relatively few, but more power to them. Is Brasserie Jo good? Yes, and there's only one of it, it's hardly representative of the endless strips of upscale chains in River North or along, say, Butterfield Road.
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  • Post #35 - January 4th, 2007, 2:39 pm
    Post #35 - January 4th, 2007, 2:39 pm Post #35 - January 4th, 2007, 2:39 pm
    I guess you win the "aptly named" prize, Globetrotter!
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  • Post #36 - January 4th, 2007, 2:45 pm
    Post #36 - January 4th, 2007, 2:45 pm Post #36 - January 4th, 2007, 2:45 pm
    Mike G wrote:Well, I guess then my point is:

    Many seemingly fine restaurants that belong to a large corporation with multiple operations are run much more like a McDonald's or Bennigan's than many people seem to realize. Saying "I don't care if it's a chain or not as long as it's good" is willfully blinding yourself to the fact that being a chain or not is a very strong indicator of certain operational realities, which in turn have everything to do with whether there's a chef back there making sure everything's perfect before it gets to the table, or a bunch of cooks working out of a manual, popping half-prepared meals out of pouches, and incapable of determining for themselves whether the nicely-prepared baby octopus from station A will taste good once it's drowned in tart vinaigrette at station B.

    Are there small chains that maintain higher levels of quality at each and every unit in their operation? Yes, though I think they're relatively few, but more power to them. Is Brasserie Jo good? Yes, and there's only one of it, it's hardly representative of the endless strips of upscale chains in River North or along, say, Butterfield Road.


    I agree with that, as phrased. I think we can agree that there are steps along the way, from McDonald's to Spago (one in every town now, but they allegedly aim high) to places like Brasserie Jo or Tru where the restaurant owner or chef owns or works other places.
  • Post #37 - January 4th, 2007, 3:00 pm
    Post #37 - January 4th, 2007, 3:00 pm Post #37 - January 4th, 2007, 3:00 pm
    Mike G wrote:Well, I guess then my point is:

    Many seemingly fine restaurants that belong to a large corporation with multiple operations are run much more like a McDonald's or Bennigan's than many people seem to realize. Saying "I don't care if it's a chain or not as long as it's good" is willfully blinding yourself to the fact that being a chain or not is a very strong indicator of certain operational realities, which in turn have everything to do with whether there's a chef back there making sure everything's perfect before it gets to the table, or a bunch of cooks working out of a manual, popping half-prepared meals out of pouches, and incapable of determining for themselves whether the nicely-prepared baby octopus from station A will taste good once it's drowned in tart vinaigrette at station B.

    And my point is, I don't care. I don't care if there's a chef making sure everything's perfect, or if they work out of a manual, etc. What I care about is: Is everything perfect when it arrives at the table? Does everything taste good? If it does, then I'm happy.

    I've had meals from multi-location chain restaurants where the food and service were outstanding. I've had meals from single-location sole-proprietor restaurants where the food and service ranged from ordinary to horrible. Neither one is a guarantee of success (or worthy of derision). Again, what matters to me is results. And you can get good results, or bad, with either ownership structure.
  • Post #38 - January 4th, 2007, 3:20 pm
    Post #38 - January 4th, 2007, 3:20 pm Post #38 - January 4th, 2007, 3:20 pm
    Someone please call PETA because a dead horse is being beaten.
  • Post #39 - January 4th, 2007, 3:24 pm
    Post #39 - January 4th, 2007, 3:24 pm Post #39 - January 4th, 2007, 3:24 pm
    Yum! Horsemeat!
  • Post #40 - January 4th, 2007, 10:09 pm
    Post #40 - January 4th, 2007, 10:09 pm Post #40 - January 4th, 2007, 10:09 pm
    nr706 wrote:Yum! Horsemeat!


    Which, as I recall, is OK to serve in Chicago! Mmmmm Man O'War rump roast!
  • Post #41 - January 5th, 2007, 9:39 am
    Post #41 - January 5th, 2007, 9:39 am Post #41 - January 5th, 2007, 9:39 am
    nsxtasy wrote:
    Mike G wrote:Well, I guess then my point is:

    Many seemingly fine restaurants that belong to a large corporation with multiple operations are run much more like a McDonald's or Bennigan's than many people seem to realize. Saying "I don't care if it's a chain or not as long as it's good" is willfully blinding yourself to the fact that being a chain or not is a very strong indicator of certain operational realities, which in turn have everything to do with whether there's a chef back there making sure everything's perfect before it gets to the table, or a bunch of cooks working out of a manual, popping half-prepared meals out of pouches, and incapable of determining for themselves whether the nicely-prepared baby octopus from station A will taste good once it's drowned in tart vinaigrette at station B.

    And my point is, I don't care. I don't care if there's a chef making sure everything's perfect, or if they work out of a manual, etc. What I care about is: Is everything perfect when it arrives at the table? Does everything taste good? If it does, then I'm happy.

    I've had meals from multi-location chain restaurants where the food and service were outstanding. I've had meals from single-location sole-proprietor restaurants where the food and service ranged from ordinary to horrible. Neither one is a guarantee of success (or worthy of derision). Again, what matters to me is results. And you can get good results, or bad, with either ownership structure.


    Completely agree with this, and just had to chime in to say so :-)

    Me, I dont care if its an independent place or a chain. If it tastes good
    it tastes good - to me, in a restaurant, thats all that matters usually.

    There are often comments even on LTH, things like "the wonderful
    old-world atmosphere made up for the food"... to me, that is never
    the case. No matter how great the atmosphere, or the crossection of
    clientele, or how old-school the place is.. if the food isnt great, I personally
    dont think its worth going there. OTOH, if the atmosphere sucks, if it
    looks and feels completely antiseptic, completely Mcdonald-y chain-like,
    but if the food is tasty, then I *will* go there, often. I may just do
    takeout, but I'll still go :-)

    I mean, this *is* a food-based group. Shouldnt the *food* be the only
    important thing, in the end? Not so much the "feel" (hole-in-the-wall, or
    upscale), or the labor-practices (fair on un-), or the farming methods
    (organ, or factory) et al?

    c8w
  • Post #42 - January 5th, 2007, 9:57 am
    Post #42 - January 5th, 2007, 9:57 am Post #42 - January 5th, 2007, 9:57 am
    Stagger wrote:
    nr706 wrote:Yum! Horsemeat!


    Which, as I recall, is OK to serve in Chicago! Mmmmm Man O'War rump roast!


    There is a horse slaughter facility somewhere in IL.

    I have heard or read that someone in Japan did buy a Kentucky Derby winner and had it slaughtered. Wasn't Man O'War though.....but famous enough that i recognized the name (which escapes me now).



    it came to me.....Ferdinand
    Last edited by gp60004 on January 5th, 2007, 10:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #43 - January 5th, 2007, 10:03 am
    Post #43 - January 5th, 2007, 10:03 am Post #43 - January 5th, 2007, 10:03 am
    It is a dead horse, but I have an hypothetical for the chain apologists (including myself, at times*). To preface, let me say that I have had many delightful, low-stress meals at high quality chains such as Morton's and Bonefish. Sometimes one is working and on an expense account and wants the sure thing. So here's the hypothetical, which has actually come to pass many, many times:

    You are in a strange city and you must have dinner: Morton's (or Capital Grill or Ruth's Chris or whatever) or the local one-off steakhouse; Bonefish or the one-off fish house; Maggiano's or the one-off Italian? You're in Chicago or Dallas or LA for lunch and Mexican sounds good: do you go to Chipotle or Chuy's, or do you get tacos from the strip-mall carniceria? Corky's for BBQ in TN, or the neighborhood smoker? Me, I roll the dice every time, usually with some advice, but not always. So do many, maybe most, here. That's why, compliments of this Board and the people on it, you know about [fill in the blank] and not just Bonefish, Morton's, Chipotle and McCormick & Schmick -- potentially fine restaurants all, but with their own publicists and little need for "revelation."

    *I was chastised on another board years ago for expressing my excitement at the arrival in Chicago of the Fogo chain (even though the chain was then limited to Brazil and one other US city). I also like Bonefish (usually), In-n-Out, Portillo's and other chains.
  • Post #44 - January 5th, 2007, 10:54 am
    Post #44 - January 5th, 2007, 10:54 am Post #44 - January 5th, 2007, 10:54 am
    c8w wrote:I mean, this *is* a food-based group. Shouldnt the *food* be the only
    important thing, in the end? Not so much the "feel" (hole-in-the-wall, or
    upscale), or the labor-practices (fair on un-), or the farming methods
    (organ, or factory) et al?

    c8w


    Sure, I agree that the quality of the product that restaurants promise you is paramount, but it is impossible to separate the plate of food from the people who purvey it and the environment in which it was purveyed. I mean, by your own admission, you wouldn't actually eat in an antiseptic place that served good food - so you at least recognize that a dining environment plays some role in the experience. It's sort of like going to a dentist who promises to straighten your teeth and caring only about whether, in the end, your teeth are straightened, whilst ignoring the dirty instruments, the dumpy office and rude dental staff.
  • Post #45 - January 5th, 2007, 11:22 am
    Post #45 - January 5th, 2007, 11:22 am Post #45 - January 5th, 2007, 11:22 am
    aschie30 wrote:
    c8w wrote:I mean, this *is* a food-based group. Shouldnt the *food* be the only
    important thing, in the end? Not so much the "feel" (hole-in-the-wall, or
    upscale), or the labor-practices (fair on un-), or the farming methods
    (organ, or factory) et al?

    c8w


    Sure, I agree that the quality of the product that restaurants promise you is paramount, but it is impossible to separate the plate of food from the people who purvey it and the environment in which it was purveyed. I mean, by your own admission, you wouldn't actually eat in an antiseptic place that served good food - so you at least recognize that a dining environment plays some role in the experience. It's sort of like going to a dentist who promises to straighten your teeth and caring only about whether, in the end, your teeth are straightened, whilst ignoring the dirty instruments, the dumpy office and rude dental staff.


    Well, maybe I wasnt specific enough. I *would* eat in an antiseptic place, if
    the food was good :-) To me, the food is paramount - more than the
    environment. The environment can add to the experience, sure - but the
    food is what makes or breaks the deal, for me. Heck, UJ's doesnt even
    *have* an environment in that sense - it is purely takeout. But they still
    have the best 'cue in the city.

    As for the dentist example - maybe. But "dirty" and "antiseptic" are the two
    opposite poles of the spectrum, no? Would you rather go to a dentists
    office that was antiseptic or dirty? Most would prefer the antiseptically
    clean (in both dentists and restaurants, actually). Iam just saying, as
    a food-group, shouldnt the food be paramount, the real goal? After all,
    would you go to a dentist who had a very clean office (rather than
    a dirty one), but failed in his primary job of straightening your teeth?

    To me thats sort of the main question - the primary job of a restaurant
    is serving good food, IMHO. If the staff is rude - Iam willing to take it,
    if the food is outstanding. Johnnie's Beef being the prime example. If
    the restaurant is dirty, Iam sometimes willing to take it, if the food is
    good (old Khan's, for their chicken boti). I think most on this board are,
    actually - they care enough about the food to venture into Khan's, into
    some places where the service is rude (lovingly forgiven as "character")
    etc.

    What I find strange, however, is the vehement objection to a "chain", or
    any chain-like concept - even if it is acknowledged to serve good food.
    Shouldnt that, too, be irrelevant, if the service at Johnnie's or the
    abusive staff at Weiner Circle is irrelevant, or the obviously unhygenic
    conditions at some restaurants we love are irrelevant, as long as the food
    is good?

    c8w
  • Post #46 - January 5th, 2007, 11:30 am
    Post #46 - January 5th, 2007, 11:30 am Post #46 - January 5th, 2007, 11:30 am
    What I find strange, however, is the vehement objection to a "chain", or any chain-like concept - even if it is acknowledged to serve good food.


    Yeah, I'd find that strange too, if I could find any example of it above.

    What I see from myself is a whole lot of "on the whole," "most," "generally speaking," and "more often than not." And an argument (rooted, I might add, in a certain amount of professional experience with a company that does chain restaurant training programs) why chain food often fails to rise to its own level in execution.

    What is fair to say-- and has been said-- is that, on the whole, restaurants taste like they look and feel. Funky, straight-outta Hong Kong Chinese places like Sun Wah taste like they look; spic-and-span Panda Expresses and P.F. Chang'ses taste like they look. Some people like one, some like the other. People at a place like this tend to like the former-- because you don't need an internet food board to find the other!
    Last edited by Mike G on January 5th, 2007, 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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  • Post #47 - January 5th, 2007, 11:31 am
    Post #47 - January 5th, 2007, 11:31 am Post #47 - January 5th, 2007, 11:31 am
    JeffB wrote:I have an hypothetical for the chain apologists (including myself, at times*).

    I'll be happy to answer, although I take exception to the use of the highly prejudicial term "apologists". ;)

    JeffB wrote:You are in a strange city and you must have dinner: Morton's (or Capital Grill or Ruth's Chris or whatever) or the local one-off steakhouse; Bonefish or the one-off fish house; Maggiano's or the one-off Italian? You're in Chicago or Dallas or LA for lunch and Mexican sounds good: do you go to Chipotle or Chuy's, or do you get tacos from the strip-mall carniceria? Corky's for BBQ in TN, or the neighborhood smoker?

    I love food, as do most folks here. If I am going to a strange city, it is extremely rare for me to just walk into a restaurant I know nothing about. I usually do my homework in advance, researching in various sources to find which restaurants I plan to go to. In most cities, the ones that sound great are local places, which sometimes are parts of local chains but more often are sole locations. But not always; it really depends on the city. And some of them (in either category) turn out to be great, some don't.

    This past year, I visited Albuquerque, where I went to two single-location restaurants that were wonderful (Artichoke Cafe and Prairie Star); Los Angeles, where I went to a single-location restaurant that I thought was ridiculously overpriced and thus disappointing (Wilshire Restaurant); Indianapolis, a wonderful chain restaurant (The Oceanaire, repeat visit); Grand Rapids, a wonderful single-location restaurant (Leo's) and two wonderful single-location restaurants that are part of a local chain (Rose's on Reed Lake, Blue Water Grill); Lansing, a wonderful chain restaurant also available near home (Mitchell's Fish Market); and Sheboygan, a wonderful single-location restaurant (Margaux).

    In general, I like to try new places (i.e. new to me) when I'm in an area away from home. And that's not just out of town, but also in Chicago, going into the city or to a distant suburb. When I'm out of town or traveling a distance, I prefer to try places I've never been, because there are lots of places I've never been. If I am going out to eat when I'm home, I tend to go to places that are close by, which means I've usually been there before. So near home, I wind up going to chain places like Wolfgang Puck's Grand Cafe, Mitchell's Fish Market, Maggiano's, Giordano's, etc, as well as single-location establishments like Oceanique.

    So, to answer your question, when I'm out of town, I take advantage of the opportunity to try places that are new to me, that I don't find close to home. Usually, they are single-location restaurants; sometimes, they are parts of chains that are not available at home. Occasionally (as in Lansing), I will go to a chain restaurant that is available at home, because it is the best available option, i.e. I know I will enjoy it and am not aware of anything local that was likely to surpass it.

    c8w wrote:I mean, this *is* a food-based group. Shouldnt the *food* be the only important thing, in the end? Not so much the "feel" (hole-in-the-wall, or upscale), or the labor-practices (fair on un-), or the farming methods (organ, or factory) et al?
    aschie30 wrote:I agree that the quality of the product that restaurants promise you is paramount, but it is impossible to separate the plate of food from the people who purvey it and the environment in which it was purveyed.

    I agree with both of you. The quality of the food is by far the most important thing to me. However, the overall experience can also be important to me, primarily on rare occasions when something else is so bad that it makes the entire experience a disaster. I was less than thrilled with Trio when Grant Achatz was there - not so much because of the food (which was extremely unusual but only good, not great, in taste) but because of the outrageous prices - far higher than, say, Everest, with Achatz adding insulting surcharges (to the already-sky-high prices) for dishes with "exotic" ingredients like bits of lobster). One of the absolute WORST restaurant experiences of my entire life was when I went with a group of friends to Crofton on Wells. Even though the food was very good, the hostess was obnoxiously rude and argumentative, to the point of ruining our entire dinner. We joke about it now, still quoting her statements like "I'm not listening to you!" (hands over ears). But we have never set foot in that hellhole again, and never will. So those are two examples of places where the food was good but other aspects made the overall experience less than satisfactory.
  • Post #48 - January 5th, 2007, 11:46 am
    Post #48 - January 5th, 2007, 11:46 am Post #48 - January 5th, 2007, 11:46 am
    I disagree about the word apologist, but that's not about food... :wink:

    P.S., tell us about your finds that won't show up in the guidebooks or the in-flight magazine. That was my point.
  • Post #49 - January 5th, 2007, 11:50 am
    Post #49 - January 5th, 2007, 11:50 am Post #49 - January 5th, 2007, 11:50 am
    And now, after some serious thread drift, back to the title of this post :shock:

    Top ten of 2006 in no particular order, meals out, Chicagoland only

    Ban Le - lemongrass sausage ban mi

    Nhu Hoa - lemon beef salad

    Kuma's - Kuma burger

    Magnolia Cafe - grilled shrimp risotto

    Khan BBQ - chicken boti

    Spiaggia - veal agnollotti

    Agami - spicy tuna rice crispy

    Michael - game three ways

    Art of Pizza meat lover's delight deep dish

    Vie wood grilled hanger steak with braised oxtail

    After reviewing the above, I don't think I would last long as a vegetarian. :)
  • Post #50 - January 5th, 2007, 11:28 pm
    Post #50 - January 5th, 2007, 11:28 pm Post #50 - January 5th, 2007, 11:28 pm
    This thread is difficult for me because my memory is shit and I have a hard time ranking anything, must less my top meals of 2006, but I'll give it a shot in no particular order. Subject to change, of course.

    Top Ten (Chicagoland Only)

    David Burke - Dry Aged NY Strip

    West Town Tavern - Meyer Lemon Souffle Cake

    Custom House - Salsify

    RL - Filet Mignon with scalloped potatoes (So simple, yet such good quality)

    Cafe Spiaggia - Wood-fired roasted Squash with Aged Balsamic Vinegar, Parmigiano Reggiano and Toasted Hazelnuts

    Green Zebra - Rutabaga Agnolletti

    La Pasadita - Steak Taco with Onion & Cilantro

    Spacca Napoli - Bufalina Pizza

    Avec - Any cured meats and wine

    Rosebud - Burger
  • Post #51 - January 6th, 2007, 8:30 am
    Post #51 - January 6th, 2007, 8:30 am Post #51 - January 6th, 2007, 8:30 am
    My second annual gratitude-filled Top Ten Things Introduced To Me By LTH :

    10. Apart pizza - Excellent NY style pizza in my neighborhood
    9. Smoque - Do we really need to say anything more about this place?
    8. Sunshine Cafe - Are they closed forever?
    7. Blue Nile - Nice to have another quality Ethiopian option in town. The sauce accompanying the doro wat was revelatory.
    6. Elephant Thai - Ordered the basil chicken spicy/LTH-style and was not disappointed!
    5. Salam - Really delicious food and friendly service. I've been several times and the quality has been consistent.
    4. Fonda Del Mar - Food punctuated by freshness and skillful execution.
    3. Burt's Place - Favorite pizza in Chicago now, bar none.
    2. Katy's Dumpling House - A real treasure out west. Comfort food at its finest.
    1. Uncle John's BBQ - The most eye-widening, melt-in-my-chair food I had in Chicago this year. Never would've tried it were it not for this forum.

    Two out-of-town honorable mentions for me this year:
    Xiao long bao at Yank Sing in San Francisco - The best dish at the best (if most expensive) dim sum I've ever had.
    Tangra Masala - Wonderful Indian-style Chinese in Elmhurst, Queens. A photo essay is forthcoming.

    Thanks again, LTH! Where would I eat without you?
  • Post #52 - January 6th, 2007, 11:47 am
    Post #52 - January 6th, 2007, 11:47 am Post #52 - January 6th, 2007, 11:47 am
    Top Ten 2007:

    'Little' Three Happiness - Salt and Pepper Shrimp
    Honey 1 - Spare ribs
    Carniceria Leon - Tacos al Pastor
    David Burke - Bone-in rib-eye 40-day dry-age
    Sunshine Cafe - Salt grilled mackerel
    Mike Gebert's kitchen - Home cured bacon
    New Chicago Kimchee - Daikon radish kimchee
    Salam - Stuffed grape leaves (Daily special, Tuesday)
    Lao Sze Chuan - Sliced Beef and Maw Szechuan style
    Khan BBQ - Chicken Boti
    Spacca Napoli - Bufalina pizza
    Ed's Potsticker House - Northern style pancake
    Trixie-Pea and Pigmon's house - Spaghetti bolognese
    Patty's Diner 'Old' Potatoes
    Katy's Noodles - Stir-fried noodles with dry chili
    Hot Doug's - Gyros sausage w/tzatziki, kalamata olives & feta (aka the Gary Wiviott)
    TAC - Crispy en choy
    Timo - Amuse of lardo
    Uncle John's - Tip link combo
    Schwa - Quail egg ravioli
    Ghareeb Nawaz's - Halwa puri
    Katsu - Toro/Matsutake mushroom soup
    Elephant Thai - Duck noodle soup
    Burt's Place - Sausage, onion and garlic with fresh jalapeno pizza.
    Spiaggia - Hand rolled potato gnocchi with ricotta and black truffle sauce
    Sabri Nehari - Charga chicken (currently closed due to fire)
    Hoang Thanh - Salt and pepper tofu
    Kuma's Corner - Bacon wrapped scallops
    Grandmother's house - Toasted bagel and coffee

    Worst:

    Mulan - $65 hunk of pathetic, salty, old cow liver tasting abalone
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #53 - January 6th, 2007, 11:48 am
    Post #53 - January 6th, 2007, 11:48 am Post #53 - January 6th, 2007, 11:48 am
    tapler wrote:Xiao long bao at Yank Sing in San Francisco - The best dish at the best (if most expensive) dim sum I've ever had.


    Hooray for Yank Sing! A couple times every year I have them ship me a dozen bottles of their XO chili sauce. Good stuff.
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com
  • Post #54 - January 8th, 2007, 1:49 pm
    Post #54 - January 8th, 2007, 1:49 pm Post #54 - January 8th, 2007, 1:49 pm
    Excellent list as usual, Gwiv. However...


    G Wiv wrote:Top Ten 2007:

    [Sabri Nehari - Charga chicken (currently closed due to fire)


    Sabri Nehari has been open for a little while now - I kind of figured people
    knew, and so didnt mention it before.

    I was at Devon... 2 or 3 weeks ago, maybe? Was walking along that part
    of the street, and looked over to see if they had perhaps reopened. They
    hadnt, it was still boarded up. However, there was a sign posted... and
    on crossing the street, I found they claimed "now open, across the
    street" :-) So, I re-crossed. They have taken over some spot, I cant
    quite remember who it used to belong to. But it is Sabri Nehari, the
    same guy was there, and while it isnt anywhere near their old size,
    it isnt too small either. And people obviously found out quite soon, because
    it was almost full when I walked in.

    Unfortunately I didnt note a new address, or a new phone number. But
    you cant really miss it - its literally bang across the street from the
    old Sabri Nehari, and a door or two to the east. I just rushed in and
    out, but asked the guy if the menu was the same, and he said it was
    (so the Chicken Charga is, presumably, now available again).

    c8w
  • Post #55 - January 9th, 2007, 8:53 pm
    Post #55 - January 9th, 2007, 8:53 pm Post #55 - January 9th, 2007, 8:53 pm
    c8w wrote:Sabri Nehari has been open for a little while now

    c8w,

    Great news!

    Thanks for the info.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #56 - January 9th, 2007, 9:46 pm
    Post #56 - January 9th, 2007, 9:46 pm Post #56 - January 9th, 2007, 9:46 pm
    with all the fine dining i enjoyed last year in numerous locales, odd how the most memorable food i ate was nearly all ethnic. these are my personal bests:

    crispy ong choy @ tac
    giant prawns on the beach in goa india
    duck pho w/egg noodles, shiitakes and ju ju beads (#63) @ tank
    roasted marrow bones @ volo
    chix boti @ kahn bbq
    isaan lemongrass sausage w/sticky rice @ sticky rice
    rib tips and hot links @ honey 1
    streetfood in varanasi india
    pissaladière @ avec
    raw beef w/asian pear @ san soo gap san
    pot herb w/minced pork and ginger @ lao sze chaun

    honorable mention to extramsg's homemade pastrami ruben @ kenny and zukes in portland oregon.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #57 - January 10th, 2007, 1:04 pm
    Post #57 - January 10th, 2007, 1:04 pm Post #57 - January 10th, 2007, 1:04 pm
    tapler wrote:Xiao long bao at Yank Sing in San Francisco - The best dish at the best (if most expensive) dim sum I've ever had.


    The Yank Sing xiao long bao has become my personal favorite, surpassing NYC's best xiao long bao. There's much to like about Yank Sing (including their excellent chili oil), but paying about three times the amount one would normally pay for dim sum seems almost obscene.

    My Ten Best Foods that I Tasted for the First Time in 2006:

    Sushi Yasuda (New York): Various otoro. Mind-blowingly good.

    Morimoto (Philly): Lobster Epice. Despite my wife's embarassment, I couldn't stop sucking the shell.

    Crofton on Wells: Crab Cake. Simple, delicate, delicious.

    Butter: Sweet corn risotto folded with Italian parsely and white truffle oil. I'm a sucker for all things truffle, yet this dish still exceeded my expectations.

    Uncle John's: Tip/Link Combo. Best tip/link combo in the city, imho.

    Pepe's (New Haven): White Pizza with Clam and Bacon. Satisfying on so many levels. Pizza honorable mentions go out to Spacca Napoli, Burt's, and Avec.

    Yank Sing (San Francisco): Xiao Long Bao. Bold flavors, yet remarkably subtle.

    Avec: Chorizo-Stuffed Madjool Dates. Avec continues to wow me.

    Chun Ju: Heuk Yum So Bokeum (Goat Stirfry) and the fried rice they make with the leftovers. I no longer believe that Chicago has the worst Korean food of any major city in this country.

    Dry Aged Prime Rib Roast, smoked in my WSM.
    Last edited by DY on January 11th, 2007, 1:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #58 - January 10th, 2007, 1:15 pm
    Post #58 - January 10th, 2007, 1:15 pm Post #58 - January 10th, 2007, 1:15 pm
    trixie-pea wrote:
    Worst:

    .
    .
    .
    Bari – Italian Sub

    Hey, nobody seems to have noticed this or maybe they already know, but I thought that Bari was rather highly regarded around these parts. So what's the story here?

    I've not tried Bari yet, but I do enjoy Riviera's sandwiches quite a bit. For me, the weak part is the bread -- I have yet to get anything younger than a one-day-old roll that probably didn't taste all that good even when fresh. The filling more than makes up for it, but we really need Amoroso's in this town.
  • Post #59 - January 10th, 2007, 1:50 pm
    Post #59 - January 10th, 2007, 1:50 pm Post #59 - January 10th, 2007, 1:50 pm
    cilantro wrote:
    trixie-pea wrote:
    Worst:

    .
    .
    .
    Bari – Italian Sub

    Hey, nobody seems to have noticed this or maybe they already know, but I thought that Bari was rather highly regarded around these parts. So what's the story here?

    I've not tried Bari yet, but I do enjoy Riviera's sandwiches quite a bit. For me, the weak part is the bread -- I have yet to get anything younger than a one-day-old roll that probably didn't taste all that good even when fresh. The filling more than makes up for it, but we really need Amoroso's in this town.



    I too am a big Riv fan (had one yesterday, as a matter of fact, and it was
    excellent as usual - their mozz is alwys incredibly fresh). But yes, their bread
    can be iffy sometimes.

    Bari - its an excellent sandwich, Iam not sure where the OP was coming
    from, myself. I suppose maybe I got lucky with my last one, was not far
    away on a Saturday morning, and made i there at just after 8am I think.
    The bread comes from the D'amato Bakery next door - thats why the
    bakery opens an hour earlier than Bari does. It was less than an hour
    old bread, still almost warm I think. And the ingredients on the day were
    excellent as well. Overall, it was a quite outstandnig sandwich, surely
    one of the best of any kind in the city.

    c8w

    P.S. As for Da Riv... one of my favourite things there is seasonal - made
    a couple weeks before Christmas, to a couple of weeks after. Small
    fig cookies, home-made and supplied to them in smallish quantities.
    It doesnt have any frosting (I dont care too much fro that frosting),
    and is far superior to any Italian Bakeries Ive tried here. They keep em
    by the counter, if theyre there (yesterday, unfortunately, they werent -
    I hope they arent done for the season already).
  • Post #60 - January 10th, 2007, 3:52 pm
    Post #60 - January 10th, 2007, 3:52 pm Post #60 - January 10th, 2007, 3:52 pm
    DY wrote:
    tapler wrote:Pepe's (New Haven): White Pizza with Clam and Bacon. Satisfying on so many levels. Pizza honorable mentions go out to Spacca Napoli, Burt's, and Avec.


    Mmmm Kosher Pizza! Seriously, this is one of the few things that I regularly miss about not living in CT. The red sauce Pizzas at Sally's and the white pies at Pepe's are head and shoulders above any pizza I have tasted anywhere, including NYC and Chicago (thin crust that is). When you can't take the lines, Modern is a decent sub., though not much better than most quality places in NYC to my palate.

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