Surfside lunch at Splashes at Surf & Sand Hotel, Laguna Beach, CA

Some dear friends from LA offered to drive down to Laguna Beach to meet me for lunch while I was out in California visiting my son Eric's family.  My daughter-in-law Casey recommended Splashes at the Surf & Sand Hotel as the restaurant is right on the beach with views of the Pacific waves hitting the shore. That and I had read that Executive Chef, Ron Fougeray served up fresh seaside cuisine. While waiting for our lunch, we nibbled their fresh bread and homemade yummy sun-dried tomato and olive tapenade spread, being careful not to ruin our appetite by finishing it. My friends started with the rich tableside lobster bisque ($18). [...]

By |2020-01-02T17:06:03-05:00February 29th, 2020|Bites from the Road, USA Restaurants|0 Comments

Portuguese Lunch at Fishbone Kitchen & Bar, Laguna Beach, California

After spending time at the Laguna Beach playground with my grandkids, we walked up the street to  Fishbone Kitchen & Bar, a Portuguese seafood restaurant, for lunch. My daughter-in-law asked if the boquerones from the pesticos (appetizer-size little snacks) bar menu was possibly available, as it was one of her favorites. The waitress checked, returning with a plate filled with the pickled anchovies ($12) with tortilla chips and pickled jalapeños. Do not miss this yummy and unusual combo! While waiting for the boquerones, I tried their pineapple jalapeño caipirinha ($13) that needed a bit of a kick and my son tried their Margie ($13) with El Jimador tequila, Cointreau and fresh [...]

By |2020-02-16T16:20:59-05:00February 9th, 2020|Bites from the Road, USA Restaurants|0 Comments

My Friend’s Place, Pickett’s Village Bar, Maplewood, NJ

Maplewood is only a 30-minute ride from Penn Station on the express train. That's where my friend's restaurant Pickett's Village Bar is located. It opened in May 2019 almost one year after her husband Jim Pickett passed away. Heidi Hovland owns it along with Doug and Beth Sasfai, Brinton Brosius and Ashlee Anthony. They opened the restaurant in honor of his memory and the way he lived his life: "with heartfelt appreciation for how connecting over a drink or a meal brings people closer together and how these connections make life, and all of us in it, better." Pickett's has 24 beers on tap, plus lots more bottles and cans. [...]

By |2020-02-05T19:56:35-05:00February 5th, 2020|Bites from the Road, USA, USA Restaurants|0 Comments

A Few Southern California Breakfasts From Our Sisters Trip (3) – Sambos

[Continued from A Few Southern California Breakfasts From Our Sisters Trip (2)] Our last breakfast on the trip was at Sambos a family-owned restaurant offering classic fare to start the day. We sat outside across from the beach at the Pacific for our last meal of this trip, as after our meal we were off to the airport, heading home.  One sister had the garden omelet ($14.85). I indulged in their special Huevos Rancheros Special made with poached eggs, layered fried corn tortillas, black beans, cheese and chorizo all topped with salsa and guacamole ($15.50). That was a meal that satiated me for the first leg of my flights home. [...]

By |2020-02-18T15:39:39-05:00January 12th, 2020|Bites from the Road, USA, USA Restaurants|0 Comments

A Few Southern California Breakfasts From Our Sisters Trip (2)- Bob’s Well Bread Bakery

[Continued from A Few Southern California Breakfasts From Our Sisters Trip (1)] Another day when driving from SLO to Santa Barbara, we stopped at Bob's Well Bread Bakery known for his hand-made artisanal bread. Good bread is something New Yorkers are quite used to, an anomaly in Southern California Proprietor/Boulanger Bob Oswaks was serving that day at this gas station turned bakery. We arrived mid-morning at this order-at-the-counter cafe/bakery and sadly many of the pastries including the Kouign-Amann ($5) that I had read about were sold out. The current cardamom scone ($4) was how I like it, not overly sweet. Also available are sandwiches such as hummus and veggies on [...]

By |2020-02-18T15:39:28-05:00January 12th, 2020|Bites from the Road, USA, USA Restaurants|0 Comments

A Few Southern California Breakfasts From Our Sisters Trip (1) – Kreuzberg

On our sisters' trip to California recently, we stopped at a few interesting places for breakfast that I wanted to share. In San Louis Obispo (SLO), we let my grand-nephew Kailer, who is attending Cal Poly, select Kreuzberg California on Higuera for breakfast day. It's a local art-adorned hangout serving house-roasted delicious coffee and small bites. One grand-nephew indulged in their Belgian waffle with fruit, maple syrup and dusted with confectioners' sugar ($9). [Continued on A Few Southern California Breakfasts From Our Sisters Trip (2) and (3)] I'd recommend each of these breakfast places mentioned in the three posts if you're in Southern California.   Kreuzberg California 685 Higuera St, [...]

Margot Cafe & Bar, East Nashville, Tennessee

While at the Les Dames d'Escoffier International conference in Nashville, a group of us dined at Margot Cafe & Bar, an inviting restaurant said to have precipitated the gentrification of East Nashville. We were seated in the quiet upstairs making it more conducive to conversation. Our shared apps included the house-made potato chips served with aioli ($5) and small nuggets of corn coated okra with a remoulade sauce, sprinkled with scallions ($12). One friend who loved chicken livers ordered that appetizer batter-fried served with contrasting textured other goodies (fresh apple slices, radishes and pickled onions) in a mustard vinaigrette ($13) and a salad of local lettuces with shaved fennel and gorgonzola [...]

By |2019-11-26T10:22:07-05:00December 27th, 2019|Bites from the Road, USA Restaurants|0 Comments

Lunch at Stonehouse, San Ysidro Ranch, Montecito, CA

After my Connecticut friend who now lives in Montecito picked me up at the Santa Barbara airport we drove up to San Ysidro Ranch for lunch. This idyllic spectacular 500-acre California property is the place where Jackie and Jack (Kennedy, for you millennials) honeymooned as they — guard their guest's privacy. If you recall, Montecito is where the heavy rainfall after the Thomas Fire deforestation caused mudslides forcing the property to close. It reopened this April. Although there's a terrace on the lower level,  we chose the upper one with the spectacular view of the Pacific. We opted for the three-course prixe fixe market menu ($47) that emphasizes local ingredients. [...]

A Birthday Dinner at Community Table, New Preston, CT

We made a day of it, heading up to Northwest Connecticut to see our friend Joann Makovitzky's new home, shop in New Preston and dine at her restaurant. The Community Table is located in Litchfield County, close to Washington Depot and New Preston. It's a casual welcoming restaurant where we enjoyed the cooking of Chef Paul Pearson of Yorkshire, England.   We started with a few apps, enjoying their hummus made from kabocha squash hummus and served with sliced radishes and the homemade seeded crackers ($16) that we saw on sale at The Smithy on Main Street in New Preston.  I loved the rich Raven and Boar Farm pork liver paté [...]

By |2019-11-26T10:23:23-05:00December 23rd, 2019|Bites from the Road, USA Restaurants|0 Comments

Italian Meal at Olio E Limone Ristorante, Santa Barbara, CA

One of my responsibilities before heading to California for a sister's trip was to research dining options. Everyone I asked about Santa Barbara restaurants included Olio E Limone Ristorante on their list. We stopped in for lunch at this Italian trattoria, one — according to the photos on the wall — that Julia Child also enjoyed. We each picked one dish and shared them all. Our favorite (not to be missed) is their Soncino con Anatra, that's thick slices of duck breast roasted until only rare (perfect!) over mâche with clumps of goat cheese all drizzled in a balsamic vinaigrette ($19). That dish and what followed worked well with our bottle [...]

By |2019-11-26T10:24:08-05:00December 13th, 2019|USA, USA Restaurants, USA Travel|0 Comments

Lunch at Mockingbird, Nashville, Tennessee

Maneet Chauhan — celebrity chef, restaurateur, author and celebrity judge on the Food Network’s Chopped! — gave the keynote "Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained" at the opening session at Les Dames d'Escoffier International 2019 conference in Nashville earlier this fall.  Later that day, a group of us headed to lunch at The Mockingbird, one of Maneet's many restaurants. We sipped the unusual cocktails we had selected while we all enjoyed reading the creative names of the food and drinks.  We sampled the La Pamplemousse Is Loose (Cathead Honeysuckle vodka, grapefruit and lemon, $12),  the Old Fashioned-Ish (Buffalo Trace, Mantra Japa Simple, Averna and chocolate bitters ($11) and the cutely named Tequila [...]

By |2019-11-09T14:01:42-05:00December 9th, 2019|Bites from the Road, USA Restaurants|0 Comments

The Fox Bar & Cocktail Club + Nashville Palace

The first stop on our Nashville eating and drinking crawl was at the Nashville Palace to listen to "50 Shades of Hay" country music with singer/songwriter Wendy Newcomer on lead vocal and her husband David Spicher on upright bass. We sipped a drink and nibbled some sweet potato fries while enjoying the music. Next, we headed to the unique Fox Bar & Cocktail Club not far from Opryland Hotel, hidden behind Nicoletto’s Italian Kitchen. The Fox serves imaginative, seasonal cocktails changing its offerings monthly. Its unusual multi-page menu is replete with a drink-key explaining the images that accompany their cocktails. That includes the specific glass, the type ice (one cube, [...]

Folk, Rolf and Daughters’ Sister, East Nashville, Tennessee

Many attendees to Les Dames d'Escoffier International 2019 conference in Nashville last month mentioned dining at Rolf and Daughters, the Mediterranean eats place from James Beard Award-nominated chef Philip Krajeck. Some friends and I instead headed to the chef's newest neighborhood restaurant and bar called Folk in McFerrin Park, East Nashville. It's a hip place with custom artwork from local artist Alex Lockwood and Paul Collins lining the walls. This was our last stop on our eating and drinking crawl that had started with breakfast at the Old School Farm (more Nashville posts to come!) earlier in the day. With pizzas made with flour from non-GMO mills in the region, [...]

Terry’s Place, Charlevoix, Michigan

Whitefish? My friends told me I had to sample both the Whitefish and Walleye from Lake Michigan while visiting. We headed to Charlevoix to Terry's Place, a restaurant known for their fresh fish. We lucked out getting a table as Terry's does not take reservations. Renee, our lovely waitress, shared that she had worked at the restaurant 28 of the 34 years Terry's was open. Her hubby Matt, the bartender, makes a mean martini — making the cocktail the way he likes to drink them — strong. We each had a fresh whitefish dinner with the green salad. Two of us had the evening's special whitefish ($32) beurre blanc topped [...]

By |2019-09-22T12:21:57-04:00September 15th, 2019|Bites from the Road, USA Restaurants|0 Comments

Zak Pelaccio’s Backbar, Hudson, New York

A group of us were walking the streets of Hudson (NY) going in and out of antique shops when we got hungry. Right next to the shop we were in was a funky area that looked inviting. We sat at one of the outside picnic tables, without even looking at the name of the place or menu. On each table was a checklist of items we could order. Once I looked, I announced to the group to expect really good food as I noticed it was one of Zak Pelaccio's places. I was right on! I had the slushy "where there's smoke" cocktail made from mezcal, chili-infused Aperol and smoked [...]

By |2019-09-22T12:22:51-04:00September 13th, 2019|Bites from the Road, USA Restaurants|2 Comments

Trattoria Stella, Traverse City, MI

We lucked out on our visit to Trattoria Stella an Italian restaurant in Traverse City, Michigan.  We were seated not in the dark dining area of what used to be the state mental hospital but at a quiet well-lit table in an arched walkway. (If you plan to go, ask for the arches when you make your res.) The char-grilled oh, so tender Spanish octopus tentacle with tomatoes, beans and orzo (although the menu said rice) is not to be missed. The documentary film Funke inspired our pasta dish of hand-rolled al dente cavatelli with a sausage and pork ragu with freshly grated Pecorino Romano. Interesting, isn't it, that the [...]

By |2019-08-30T11:08:36-04:00August 29th, 2019|Bites from the Road, USA Restaurants|0 Comments

Dinner at Larimar, Spring Lake, NJ

There's an upscale place restaurant on Third Avenue in the beach town Spring Lake that I'd recommend you try. Both the food from Chef Anthony Palangi and service are quite good. Plus you get to bring your own wine with no corkage fee since they do not have a liquor license. I recommend the refreshing fresh summer strawberry salad with shaved fennel, fresh arugula, toasted almonds and chevrè came in a delicate champagne vinaigrette. Worth ordering. Their veal ragu over short twists (casarecce) of al dente pasta was a bit light on the meat although super-flavorful from olives and capers all dusted with shredded pecorino ($27). I also suggest the [...]

By |2019-08-30T11:21:32-04:00August 21st, 2019|USA Restaurants, USA Travel|0 Comments

Bareli’s By the Sea, Spring Lake (NJ) in the Grand Victorian

Bareli's By the Sea is a fairly new restaurant with good food and service with ocean views from inside the Grand Victorian on Ocean Avenue in Spring Lake. Don't let the hostess's scowl put you off, the rest of the staff are warm and welcoming. I started with their Sinfully Spicy Margie. I was a bit worried about the muddled strawberries over-powering the drink. They didn't.  The drink had a nice spicy kick. I'd order again ($14)! We ordered from the "specials" menu that is so much more interesting than their regular one.  Enjoyed the refreshing chunks of watermelon and tomatoes sprinkled with goat cheese crumbles and fresh mint ($14).  [...]

By |2019-08-15T13:21:46-04:00August 15th, 2019|Bites from the Road, USA Restaurants|0 Comments

Ocean at Main, Laguna Beach, California

While in Laguna Beach (CA), I sampled Chef Craig Strong’s approachable eclectic Coastal California cuisine at Ocean at Main. The restaurant is located in the early 1940’s building that once housed the city's Federal Savings and Loan. We sat outside on the covered patio, which was perfect for us as when we sat down for drinks, both grandkids had fallen asleep — one in a stroller, the other carried in and laid down on the bench. Always trying the spiciest cocktail on the list, I went for their tasty Lover's Beach Retreat made with jalapeno-infused tequila. Quite nice with a slight heat kick All our apps are worth trying, including [...]

By |2019-07-09T10:58:52-04:00July 14th, 2019|USA, USA Restaurants|0 Comments

Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse Dallas Churrasco Experience

By Bite of the Best regional correspondent, Stephanie Amsel We had no idea what to expect when we went to Fogo de Chão, Brazilian Steakhouse, to experience the Southern Brazilian Churrasco that included steak, lamb, pork and chicken. First, there was a lovely salad bar and immediately across from the salads was a plate piled with glistening, crispy bacon. The salads looked fresh and inviting, but the bacon looked amazing! Since this was our first visit, we needed to learn the house rules. Rule #1: Pace yourself You get a little card that is red on one side and green on the other. Keep the green card showing if you [...]