where do we go from here?….

Snow-bound. Happy (belated) new year, friends near and far! The first order of business, always, is to set the agenda. Due to a project I’m working on, I don’t expect to be doing as much travel in the first half of 2010. In fact, I’ve only scheduled three trips for the entire year.  And two […]



Happy (belated) new year, friends near and far!

The first order of business, always, is to set the agenda.

Due to a project I’m working on, I don’t expect to be doing as much travel in the first half of 2010. In fact, I’ve only scheduled three trips for the entire year.  And two of those are, at this point, tentative and vaguely sketched.

But I refuse to live without a wish list.  Or, at least a plan of study.  I can already tell you that I won’t make it to all of these destination (unless a winning lottery ticket happens to land on my doorstep, or I discover that I’m the heir to a long-lost branch of one of America’s great Robber Barons), but I sure will try my best to knock off a good half of them:

Atlanta, Georgia
Charleston, South Carolina
Chicago, Illinois
Las Vegas, Nevada

New Orleans, Louisiana
New York, New York

Portland, Oregon
San Francisco, California (and the wine country)

Washington, D.C.

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16 replies on “where do we go from here?….”

“happy new year’ to you. I hope that it will be a wonderful year for you with your restaurant wish list come true.
Actually I have the solution for you so that you can continue pleasing your fan’s with your wonderful reviews: get them to sponser you! ;-)
Well that’s the only thing I could come up with :-)

@ Derek: Sorry buddy, perhaps I’ll wave while flying over on my way to somewhere else. :)

@ nathan: Thanks for the invitation. I will keep it under advisement. I will probably not have much time in Charleston, but will try to fit in as many restaurants as possible.

@ Rose-Maree: Just let me know where I can apply for sugar daddies and mommies. :)

I hope you get to come to Chicago. If you do make it here, I’d be interested to read your reviews on Elysian Hotel’s Ria, Avenues under Duffy, and L2O’s new luxury degustation. Maybe you can also finally write a proper review for Alinea, or write about the tasting menus at some good restaurants that bloggers have largely neglected (ex. Blackbird, Spiaggia, Everest, Les Nomades, Schwa, Takashi). Topolobampo might also be interesting to write about after the Top Chef Masters show.

@ Rich: As you may know, I have been to most of the restaurants you listed. But I am long overdue for follow-ups at all of them. While I visited Chicago twice in 2008, I somehow managed to miss my dear Windy City in 2009. I’ll try to rectify that in 2010. At the top of my list in Chicago are (in no particular order):

NoMi (revisit)
schwa (revisit)
Les Nomades (revisit)
Everest (revisit)
Charlie Trotter (revisit)
avec (revisit)

I doubt I’ll be able to check all of these off the list. Perhaps I’ll have to make two trips…

I have never been to Spiaggia, and I’m really not moved to go. I’ve been to alinea twice and L.20 once, and neither experience ranks high on my list of repeats. Duffy at Avenues poses a very tempting proposition, as does Ria, which I know very little about. I will have to do a bit of research.

I am not a fan of NoMi or Trotter’s. But seeing that you’ve listed some casual a la carte joints, I’ll mention two more that I enjoyed a lot in 2009 (and they are not on your restaurant log): The Gage and Province.

@ Rich: Truth be told, I had a very forgettable meal at Trotter’s – in 2004. I can only imagine how passe the food might be in 2010. But if I were to go to Trotter’s again, I’d be doing it in the kitchen. As for NoMi, I haven’t been since Sandro Gamba’s days – his food was magnificent. I have no idea how the restaurant is performing now. As for The Gage, I have seen the menu and it looks fine – doesn’t really beckon me the way, say, Sepia’s does. Province I know little about. If Vie were closer to town, I’d happily revisit that restaurant too.

As of June of 2009, Trotter is still obsessed with foam and Asian ingredients, which he incorporates in most of his dishes. But he incorporates those elements in a way that is unbalanced and poorly executed. It seems that he is doing “contemporary” for contemporary’s sake, not for the integrity of the food. As for NoMi, my impression of it was formed solely by the one brief visit I paid to the restaurant in 2008. I left feeling the appetizers were good, the cocktails bad, and the sushi overpriced for its quality and execution. Gamba is still the chef there, I believe. Maybe I will give it a proper visit this year. Province is a bit hippie: in-house water filtration, green furniture, eco-friendly restaurant design… you got the idea. But what matters is that the food is quite good – abundant with seasonal ingredients and vibrant flavors.

@ Rich: re: Trotter’s – CLICK.

re: NoMi – Sandro Gamba left NoMi in 2006, if I’m not mistaken. Christophe David has been the Executive Chef since. However, it is not David that draws my interest; it’s his chef de cuisine, Ryan LaRoche. Although I have had the sushi at NoMi, my sense is that the sushi was a child of Gamba’s. Under Gamba, it was quite good and more reasonably priced, though far from revelatory. I have no idea why David kept the sushi program. I would not order it now.

Just looking over the list – the Gage was a good time, but not a “destination.” Spiaggia ranks as one of the worst dining experiences of my life. Blackbird – excellent and quite the bargain at lunch.

Alinea – interesting that you weren’t wowed – what exactly didn’t impress?

@ Michael:
1. Gage: not high on my list.
2. Spiaggia: you are one more piece of evidence as to why I have not gone and have no desire to go.
3. blackbird: One of my favorites – and I especially do like to to take lunch out on their patio.
4. alinea: The service, both times, was meh. The food is pretty, innovative, well-executed, and precise, but lacks any utterance of soul or emotion. I felt completely unmoved after 6 hours.