Posts Tagged ‘Restaurant Reviews’

Afternoon Tea at Disney’s Grand Floridian {And a Giveaway!}

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Mike and I recently got back from vacation.  We went somewhere warm and sunny.  Actually, it was almost an exact replica of the family vacation we took two years ago, except this time the weather averaged in the high 70s and 80s. (more…)

Lombardi’s, New York, NY

Friday, June 24th, 2011

One of Mike’s favorite places to go in New York City is Little Italy…I have no idea why, other than the fact that he’s watched The Godfather a few (hundred) times too many.  I really have no objection though, since it’s just around the corner from both SoHo and Chinatown, two places I love to meander through.  Last time we were in NYC we found ourselves hungry in Little Italy and craving pizza…since we’ve never been, we had no choice but to check out Lombardi’s.  ;) (more…)

Crumbs Bake Shop, New York, NY

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Before Mike and I headed to NYC I did a little research on the infamous cupcake culture of New York.  Magnolia is the obvious choice when you’re in the midst of New York with a cupcake craving, but I’ve heard mixed reviews.  The biggest offenses I’ve heard about Magnolia’s cupcakes are that they overpriced (which is to be expected…what isn’t overpriced in New York City?) and dry.  I can live with an occasional overpriced cupcake…but a dry cupcake?  Definitely not worth the calories.  If I’m going to indulge in a calorie fest it better be worth every bite (am I right, ladies?).  And trust me, if I’m going to be walking as much as we walked in NYC I will be indulging in an occasional cupcake.  ;)  I found quite a few rave reviews for Crumbs so Mike and I decided to give it a try.

Crumbs is a chain bakery with several locations in New York City as well as other places across the country.  The Crumbs motto is “Made by Hand.  Baked with Love.”  Sounds pretty good, right?  Well it gets even better.  Many of the cupcakes are filled with different fillings, including ganache, flavored frostings, and jams. 

So many choices!

In the picture below, I was trying to take a picture of the cupcake with the pretty flower on top.  Later when I looked at this picture I noticed the clerk in the background…I wonder what he was saying?

There are several Crumbs locations in NYC with seating areas; the location we went to was actually pretty spacious with quite a few tables (especially by NYC standards).

Mike had a chocolate croissant.  He said it was delicious – tender and flaky with the perfect amount of chocolate.

Chocolate Croissant

I had a Cookies and Cream Cupcake.  It had chocolate cake and vanilla cream cheese frosting mixed with crushed sandwich cookies, and was topped with a sandwich cookie.  It was amazing.  The cake was dark chocolaty, moist, and not overly sweet (just the way I like it!).  The frosting was really sweet, but there wasn’t a ton of frosting, so that worked out well.  The only thing I didn’t like was that the frosting was somewhat hardened and dry, but depending on the type of frosting that can happen even if it was made the same day.

Cookies and Cream Cupcake

We ordered a couple of cupcakes to sample later during the week and they are definitely worth mentioning…

I’m usually a chocolate girl, but my #1 favorite was the Raspberry Swirl Cupcake, which has vanilla cake filled with raspberry preserves and frosted with vanilla cream cheese frosting and a swirl of raspberry preserves.  The cake was super moist even though it wasn’t eaten the same day it was bought.  There was a really generous amount of the raspberry filling, and the taste of the preserves reminded me exactly of the filling in a raspberry jelly donut.  It was incredible. 

Raspberry Swirl Cupcake

The Red Velvet Cupcake was my #2 favorite.  It was classic red velvet cake topped with cream cheese frosting, then sprinkled with red velvet crumbs and edged with white sprinkles.  The beautiful red cake was rich with a moist, tender crumb and had the perfect hint of chocolate.  I have to say I think it actually might be the best red velvet cake I’ve ever had.

Red Velvet Cupcake

Next time a cupcake craving hits, I will probably be hitting up Crumbs again (and I probably won’t wait until our next trip to NYC…they have online ordering!). 

Crumbs Bake Shop (Garment Center Location)

1385 Broadway

(Between West 37th Street & West 38th Street) 

New York, NY 10018

Tel.:  212.764.7100

Artisanal, New York, NY

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

live for love cheese, so you can imagine my surprise and delight when I found out that there was a highly recommended fromagerie (called Artisanal) only a couple blocks from the hotel were Mike and I were staying in New York City.  The instant I found out, I called to see if they could squeeze us in, and we were able to go for a very late lunch/early dinner that same day! 

Now before I continue, I have to tell you that Mike is not a lover of cheese.  He will eat some cheeses – four kinds, to be exact:  Syrian twisted cheese called shalal (which tastes similar to mozzarella but is much saltier), goat cheese, Babybel mini cheese rounds, and mozzarella (but only if it is on pizza).  Given the pungent smell that fromageries are known for having, it was a real sacrifice for him to agree to dine there (I have to say though, the smell was not too bad at this one…only mildly pungent which was a pleasant surprise, especially considering it was such a hot and humid day).  Anyway, being able to endure the pungent smell of cheese for someone else is what I call true love…and for that I am eternally grateful (thank you baby!).  Luckily, in addition to being a fromagerie, Artisanal is also a bistro with a pretty extensive menu and even as picky an eater as Mike is, he was happy with the food choices. 
We had reservations for 5:30 PM and we were seated immediately when we got there.  The restaurant, which was almost empty when we arrived, was just about completely filled up with patrons within the hour.  Our waiter’s name was Antonio and he was wonderful!  He was from Portugal but had spent a decade living in Paris and was very knowledgeable about the menu.  He made some excellent food recommendations for us.
La Fromagerie

To start, we ordered the highly acclaimed gougères.  They were perfect – hot, light, and airy with a slightly nutty flavor from the gruyère.  Even Mike enjoyed them (so maybe I can add gruyère to the list of cheese he likes)!  :)
Gougères
 
Right after ordering gougères, we were brought a huge basket of bread and butter.  The bread was delicious and the selection was amazing – there was country white boule (which had a sourdough-y flavor), rye boule, sliced baguette, and walnut bread (which was slightly sweet).
Bread Basket
 
Mike ordered Steak au Poivre, which was perfectly cooked and very tender with a lovely coating of cracked peppercorns.  It came with fries, which were golden and crispy outside and tender inside, and watercress, which was lightly dressing with vinaigrette.  He was in heaven and his only complaint was that he wished the steak was a little bigger (I think it might have been a 4-6 oz portion.)
Steak au Poivre with Fries and Watercress
 
There is a different dinner special each day and the day we were there it was Dover Sole Meunière.  It was a little pricey, but I went with it anyway (it’s one of my favorites and Antonio said it’s one of the best things on their menu).  I was so glad I did because it was fantastic.  The sole was lightly breaded and fried and the texture was tender and flaky.  The flavor was rich from the butter but bright at the same time because of the lemon.  It might be hard to see from the picture, but there were actually little supremes of lemon in addition to the lemon juice, which I thought added a lot to the dish.  The sole came with a spinach/onion sauté and mashed fingerling potatoes.  Both side dishes were delicious but the fish was the absolute star of the meal.
Dover Sole Meunière with Spinach/Onion Sauté & Mashed Fingerling Potatoes
 
I normally go for chocolate for dessert but being in a fromagerie I absolutely had to order cheese.  I had heard that their cheese portions were somewhat on the small side but this could not have been farther from the truth.  There was a generous amount of each type of cheese – so generous in fact that we couldn’t finish them!  I ordered a flight of three cheeses:  Pierre Robert, Monte Enebro, and Époisses.  I ordered the three condiments that they have available to accompany cheese plates:  quince paste, honeyed walnuts, and fig paste. 
Cheese Plate (Clockwise from 12 o’clock):  Fig Cake & Quince Paste, Époisses, Quince Paste, Pierre Robert, Fig Cake & Quince Paste, & Monte Enebro (Center:  Honeyed walnuts)

Pierre Robert is a triple cream cheese that’s similar to Brie.  It is rich, buttery, and fairly mild flavored (with a very light tang), and has a smooth, almost light and airy texture.  Actually, the best thing I can compare the texture of Pierre Robert to is mousse (cheese mousse, mmm…).  I thought the Pierre Robert was delicious paired with the honeyed walnuts.  Monte Enebro is a creamy Spanish goat cheese with a salty, lemony flavor, which made it an exceptional pair with the quince paste.  Époisses is known as “the king of all cheeses” and rightly so (it was actually my favorite of the three cheeses).  It’s super soft and creamy with a gooey, almost pudding-like consistency.  (If Pierre Robert is cheese mousse, then Époisses is definitely cheese pudding.)  Époisses has a salty flavor and pungent odor and I loved it paired with the fig cake. 

Époisses up Close:  “The King of All Cheeses”
 
For dessert Mike initially ordered the Warm Chocolate Tart, which came with Salted Caramel Ice Cream.  I couldn’t resist a little taste and I thought it was amazing.  The tart was dark chocolate and had a fudgy texture.  The ice cream was the perfect blend of salty and sweet and complimented the tart very well.  Unfortunately, the menu didn’t specify that the tart was dark chocolate and Mike (with his strange aversion to dark chocolate) didn’t like it at all.  He told the waiter, who took the dessert back (too bad I was too full from my cheese to eat it!) and made a suggestion for a different dessert for Mike.
Warm Chocolate Tart with Salted Caramel Ice Cream
 
Antonio suggested the Artisanal Cheesecake with Pecan Praline and Caramel Sauce for Mike.  It ended up being the perfect suggestion because Mike loved it.  The cheesecake was lusciously creamy and the crust was crunchy and nutty with a nice salty/sweet flavor.  Of course the pecan praline and caramel sauce completely gilded the lily.
Artisanal Cheesecake with Pecan Praline and Caramel Sauce

I ordered a latte to end the meal and then Antonio kindly informed us that the manager was sending over a complimentary assortment of petit fours. 

Latte

There were five different kinds of petit fours:  almond cookie covered in powdered sugar, lemon meringue, citrus jelly, cream filled choux pastry, and chocolate brownie.  At that point we were both so full that the only thing we could manage to eat were little nibbles of each, but we agreed that we both liked the cream filled choux and the chocolate brownie the best.  
Assorted Housemade Petit Fours

Look at that fudgy chocolate!
 
Mike and I left Artisanal stuffed and happy.  The food was excellent, the menu had a wide selection, and the cheese was outstanding.  Not to mention that I’ve heard they have one of the best macaroni and cheese gratins in New York City, which I’m hoping to come back for!
 
Artisanal

2 Park Avenue

(At 32nd Street)

New York, NY 10016  

Tel.:  212.725.8585

Serendipity 3, New York, NY

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Before our recent trip to New York City, Mike had never been to Serendipity 3. I’ve been a few times in the past and have always enjoyed it so we decided to go. It’s somewhat of a tourist trap (but who doesn’t love the movie, right?) so I made reservations, which are available for lunch and dinner. We were both glad for the reservation since there was a pretty long line and the host was telling people it would at least 30 minutes for a table.

The restaurant is cute (but definitely cramped) and the décor is ice cream parlor-ish with a girly flair. We were seated upstairs which luckily is a little more spacious than the lower level.

The Famous $1,000 Golden Opulence Sundae on the Menu

Mike and I started the meal with a Frrrozen Hot Chocolate. (We could have waited until the end and called it dessert…but I really didn’t want to risk being too full for the best thing about this restaurant. ;) ) If you’ve never had a frozen hot chocolate, I have to say that its taste is true to its name. It’s much different from a chocolate milkshake in that it really doesn’t have a creamy consistency; instead it has an icy texture and a cocoa-y flavor. It’s topped with whipped cream and shaved chocolate.

Frrrozen Hot Chocolate

There are only seven items on the appetizer list but surprisingly it took us a while to agree on something. We finally settled on Spudnicks, which are potato skins with melted Cheddar and bacon (we ordered them without bacon) served with a side of sour cream. The potato skins were pretty standard…the crispy potato skin was definitely the best part.

Spudnicks (Sans Bacon)

For his main, Mike ordered Shake, Batter, and Bowl, which is a half-chicken that’s battered, deep-fried, then oven-roasted and served with thick-cut French fries and a small side of coleslaw. The chicken was crispy outside and flavorful and juicy inside. I didn’t taste the fries or coleslaw but Mike said they were ok except the fries being a little cold.

Shake, Batter, and Bowl

I ordered what I always order at Serendipity: the Young Chicken Sandwich. (I was told by the waiter that this item has been on their menu for over 40 years!) It’s a really generous portion and I left with enough food leftover for another meal. On the menu this dish is described as “crisply sautéed in butter with almonds and served on toasted Irish Soda Bread.” When they say crisply sautéed they aren’t kidding…the chicken was a little too crispy and was actually pretty dry. Sadly, it was not nearly as good as I remember it being in the past. The almonds added a nice nutty crunch but there weren’t nearly enough of them. The Irish Soda Bread was the best part of this dish, with the raisins in it adding a nice little bit of sweetness. The sandwich was served with a side of creamy mango chutney dressing, which was tart with just a hint of sweetness and paired well with the sandwich.

Young Chicken Sandwich

There were two ladies seated next to us who were gracious enough to offer to let me take pictures of both of their desserts. (Thank you so much Jill and Jackie! We hope you enjoyed your trip to NYC!)

“Big Apple” Pie: Jackie said this was delicious and the pastry crust was flaky and tasted homemade

Frrrozen Mint Hot Chocolate: Jill said this was good but the whipped cream had a filmy feel in the mouth…I experienced the same thing with the frozen hot chocolate we ordered, the cream felt a little more oily in the mouth than most whipped cream I’ve had

Mike and I had a good time, but we agreed that if we ever go back it will only be for dessert. Unfortunately, they don’t accept reservations for dessert, which honestly means we will probably only be enjoying frozen hot chocolate from the comfort of home in the future. :)

Serendipity 3
225 East 60th Street
Between 2nd and 3rd Avenues
New York, NY 10022
Tel.: 212.838.3531

Rue Franklin, Buffalo, New York

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

My hubby recently surprised me with dinner reservations at a French restaurant where we’ve been wanting to go – Rue Franklin!  

Mike is so sweet, he even had a local florist deliver a gorgeous bouquet of flowers for our table.  The whole evening was a beautiful surprise…thank you so much, baby! 

I love the interior of the restaurant and there’s a pretty courtyard outside…

The nice thing about the menu here is that it changes seasonally so you know you’re always getting fresh, seasonal ingredients.  The meal started with warm baguette served with sweet butter.  (Is there anything better than warm bread with butter?  ;) )
Bread & Butter
 
To start the meal, Mike had pureed root vegetable soup with pistou (which is a green herb sauce).  The soup had a velvety smooth texture but we both thought the flavor was bland, even with the pistou. 
Soup of Pureed Root Vegetables with Pistou
 
I ordered crabmeat, avocado, and potato timbale with onion relish to start.  The flavors of the sweet crab, creamy avocado, and pickled onion created a very well-balanced dish.  The one thing about this dish that I didn’t like was that the potato layer was cold mashed potatoes, which is something I’ve never been fond of (come to think of it, is there anyone who enjoys cold mashed potatoes?  :) ).  Since this was a cold appetizer, I think the potato portion might have been better as Potatoes Ana, or some other potato dish that tastes better served cold.
Crabmeat, Avocado, & Potato Timbale with Red Onion Relish (the potatoes are the purple layer at the bottom)
 
Mike ordered veal rib chop with Swiss chard and chanterelles as his main course.  In this dish, the earthy flavor of the Swiss chard and chanterelles paired nicely with the veal.  
Veal Rib Chop with Swiss Chard & Chanterelles and Potatoes Ana
 
Mike also ordered sides of Potatoes Ana and rice pilaf to go with his main.  The potatoes were delicious, and the rice was nicely seasoned and flavorful, but was unfortunately overcooked to the point of being mushy.
Rice Pilaf
 
For my main, I had filet of sole with rice pilaf and lobster sauce, which was served with sugar snap peas.  The sole was fantastic – it was flaky and buttery and the sweet lobster sauce was the perfect accompaniment.
Filet of Sole with Rice Pilaf & Lobster Sauce
 
After our main courses we had a cheese plate, which contained Saint Paulin, Brie, Chèvre (goat), and Roquefort cheeses.  The Chèvre was coated in an herb mixture, which I thought somewhat overpowered the flavor of the cheese itself.  The Brie and Roquefort were standard (and delicious) – the Brie was soft and creamy and the Roquefort was complex with sweet, salty, and piquant notes.  I really enjoyed the Saint Paulin, which was mild and buttery with a slight tang, and literally melted in my mouth.
Cheese Plate (Clockwise from the top):  Chèvre, Brie, Saint Paulin, and Roquefort
 
For dessert Mike ordered chocolate timbale with mint sorbet.  The chocolate timbale was a lusciously rich and dense dark chocolate cake, and the mint sorbet was very refreshing with the flavor of dark chocolate.

Chocolate Timbale with Mint Sorbet
 
I was going to skip dessert (I was so full!) but the owner was kind enough to send over a complimentary bowl of three different sorbets:  grapefruit, banana, and mango.  The grapefruit sorbet (which was my favorite out of the three) was so light and refreshing; it was the perfect way to end the meal.
Sorbet Bowl (They lit the candle because this meal was a belated anniversary celebration…sweet, right?)
 
Rue Franklin
341 Franklin Street
Buffalo, NY 14202
Tel.:  716.852.4416

Kilpatrick’s Publick House, Ithaca, New York

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

During our stay in Ithaca, Mike and I ate dinner at Kilpatrick’s Publick House, which is a cozy, pub-style restaurant and bar in downtown Ithaca with a huge menu.

We were initially seated in the front of the restaurant, which is very homey and inviting with a fireplace and a large mural on the wall (and I have to add that there’s good lighting for taking pictures because of nearby windows!).  Unfortunately, there was a table of about 12 rowdy patrons (our waitress told us they had been there for happy hour) right next to us who were so loud that Mike and I had to scream to be able to hear each other.  We ended up moving to a secluded booth in the back of the restaurant, which was very quiet and private but had very dim lighting. 
I would have sacrificed the conversation and my hearing (ah, the commitment of a dedicated food blogger, right?) and stayed near the windows for the good lighting, but I was vetoed…which is why I had to use a flash on the pictures.
 
The service was wonderful – our waitress (Jocelyn) was attentive and the food arrived quickly.

Our Wonderful Waitress, Jocelyn

Once we were seated in our private booth, we were served fresh rolls.  The rolls were small (two bites per roll) but delicious.  They had a nice crusty exterior with a yeasty smell, an open crumb, and a slightly sourdough-y flavor.

Fresh Rolls, Hot & Delicious

The house salad was brought out with two different house dressings, apple vinaigrette with garlic and orange honey mustard.  The orange honey mustard was a little too sweet for me, but the apple vinaigrette was the perfect balance of sweet (from the apple) and savory (from the garlic).

House Salad with Two House Dressings — Apple Vinaigrette with Garlic & Orange Honey Mustard

To start the meal, Mike ordered Wings over Ireland, which was basically Buffalo wings.  The wings came with celery sticks, blue cheese dressing, and herbed garlic aioli.  The wings weren’t the best wings I’ve ever had (I thought they were just a tad overcooked), but the blue cheese dressing and the aioli were fantastic.  The blue cheese dressing was both slightly sweet and slightly tangy, and it had large chunks of blue cheese.  It was one of the best blue cheese dressings I’ve had.  The aioli was incredible and Mike and I thought it was delicious paired with everything from wings, to raw veggies, to French fries.

Wings over Ireland, Served with Celery, Blue Cheese Dressing, & Herbed Garlic Aioli

As an appetizer, I ordered the Prata Cake, which was described as:  “A hearty blend of chunky baked potato, blended with fresh herbs, gorgonzola and cheddar cheese then deep fried and served with cranberry and raspberry dipping sauce.” 

Prata Cake with Cranberry & Raspberry Dipping Sauce

I was pretty disappointed with this dish.  Instead of having a chunky, baked potato interior, it was shredded potato and quite dry.  Also, as you can see, the fresh herbs, gorgonzola, and cheddar cheese that were promised to be inside were very sparse (I actually couldn’t taste them at all).  I was excited for the cranberry and raspberry dipping sauce, as I thought it would have a nice sweet/tart flavor that would complement the cheeses in the cakes well.  Unfortunately, the flavor of horseradish completely dominated this sauce (and horseradish wasn’t even in the description!).  I ended up slathering on some of the herbed garlic aioli instead.

Prata Cake Interior

For his main course, Mike ordered the Gaelic Filet, which came with a delicious Brotherhood Cabernet Suavignon Reduction; he substituted French fries for the mashed potato that it was supposed to come with.  The steak was cooked perfectly (tender, juicy, and flavorful) and the wine reduction was the perfect accompaniment to it.  The fries were delicious (especially with the aioli ;) ) – golden and crispy outside and soft and tender inside.

Gaelic Filet with Brotherhood Cabernet Suavignon Reduction

Golden French Fries

For my main, I wanted to order the Sheppard’s Pie, which sounded amazing:  “Tender Beef Marinated in Jameson Whiskey and Guinness combined with potatoes, carrots, celery and onions topped with creamy potato and our toasted hazelnut crisp.”  Sadly, they were out of it.  Our waitress recommended Corned Beef and Cabbage and I’m glad she did because it ended up being absolutely fabulous. 

Corned Beef with Cabbage & Chunky Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

The beef was fork-tender and very flavorful with the corned beef spices.  The cabbage was tender and mild-flavored, and the mashed potatoes were garlic-y in flavor and rustic in texture with chunks of potato and pieces of potato skin included.  It was an amazingly delicious meal, especially topped with malt vinegar.  The portions were very generous also – Mike even helped eat my meal and we still had about two-thirds of it leftover.  And the leftovers were just as fantastic.

The Perfect Bite

Mike and I both enjoyed this delicious meal and we would definitely go back next time we visit Ithaca.  (I’m still dying to try the Sheppard’s Pie!  ;) )

Kilpatrick’s Publick House

130 East Seneca Street

Ithaca, NY 14850

Tel.:  607.277.8900

Saigon Café, Buffalo, New York

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Recently I’ve been dying for good Pad Thai…it’s literally been years since I last had it.  (My favorite place to get it burned down a few years ago; it was rebuilt and reopened about a year after the fire, but then the restaurant was under different management and ironically the food quality went way down.)   Mike is not a huge fan of Thai food but he was sweet enough to agree to lunch at a Thai place I thought looked cute.  (Plus I assured him that next time he’ll get to pick the place.  ;) )

front-small(It was too rainy and dreary outside for me to take a picture; this photo is from Saigon Café)

 

Saigon Café is a smallish restaurant on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, New York, not far from one of the local colleges.  On the day we planned to go, it was a dreary, ominous day so we didn’t have the good fortune of being able to eat on the patio.  Still, it was cute and modern-looking inside.  The menu (including prices) can be viewed here.

inside-small(I actually forgot to take a picture of the inside; this photo was taken by flickr user Shel & Ryan)

 

The service was excellent – our waiter was fast and attentive.  He poured us very refreshing glasses of lemon-infused water, which Mike and I were both content to drink instead of opting for other beverages.  We ordered two appetizers to start the meal, Chicken Satay and one of the daily specials, the Tempera Vegetables. 

 

The Chicken Satay was marinated in Thai herbs and then char-broiled.  It was wonderfully tender and juicy, and the rich and spicy peanut sauce that came with it was the perfect complement.  It also came with sweet and sour pickled onions, which were surprisingly addictive.

img_9696-smallChicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

 

The Tempera Vegetables included a variety of summer squash, zucchini, asparagus, broccoli, carrot, red pepper, baby corn, green beans, and my personal favorites, mushroom and eggplant.  The batter was light and crispy, and the veggies were perfectly cooked.  It was served with a sweet and spicy chili sauce that paired well with the crispy tempera coating.

img_9704-smallTempera Vegetables with Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce

 

Before ordering our main courses we asked the waiter if lunch-sized portions were available; he told us smaller portions are only available for Monday through Friday lunches.  We were there on a Saturday so we had to order full-portioned meals; this ended up working out ok since we took home enough leftovers for another meal. 

 

Mike ordered the Panang Curry with Chicken, which had red peppers, onions, peas, and scallions in a spicy coconut-curry sauce and was served with steamed jasmine rice.  The spiciness of the sauce was nicely balanced with the sweetness of the coconut.  Mike actually thought the curry was a little too sweet (I did not agree ;) ) so he ended up adding salt to try and mellow the sweetness.  The only complaint I had with this dish was that the veggies were cut very large…much larger than bite-sized actually, which made it a little awkward to eat.  But still, the flavor was worth the extra effort.  I didn’t taste the rice but Mike said it was pretty good.

img_9712-smallPanang Curry with Chicken, Served with Steamed Jasmine Rice

 

I ordered Pad Thai with Chicken, which is a well known Thai dish made of stir-fried rice noodles with chicken, egg, crushed peanuts, scallion, and bean sprouts.  According to Pim of Chez Pim, Pad Thai sauce is typically made of fish sauce (for salty flavor), tamarind (for sour flavor), palm sugar (for sweetness), and chilies (for spice).  In this Pad Thai, the noodles were light and not at all oily, and the sauce was well-balanced; they were a little skimpy with the peanuts though.  The one thing I really didn’t like about the dish was the chicken, which was overcooked and somewhat rubbery.  At that point I was wishing that I had ordered it with shrimp or tofu instead.

img_9705-smallPad Thai with Chicken

 

Overall I really enjoyed our meal and would definitely eat here again.  Mike, on the other hand, still isn’t a big fan of Thai food, so next time I’m dying for Pad Thai he’ll probably be at the Indian restaurant next door.  :)

 

Saigon Café

1098 Elmwood Avenue

Buffalo, NY 14222

Tel.:  716.883.1252

Chefs de France, Walt Disney World, Florida (And a Giveaway)

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

On vacation we ate at several restaurants that were new to us, so I thought this would be the perfect time to post my first restaurant review.  I’ve always loved reading reviews that other bloggers post – especially the reviews posted by the lovely bloggers, Lorraine, Heavenly Housewife, and Natasha – so for a while I’ve been excited to post my first review! 

149-smallThere is no shortage of fabulous restaurants in Orlando.  A few of my old standbys are Emeril’s (where I actually didn’t eat this year) and Wolfgang Puck’s (where I did eat, but wish I hadn’t; unfortunately the food and service were seriously not what they used to be).  To name a few of the issues at Wolfgang Puck’s, I ordered macadamia crusted chicken but the waitress brought me a steak, insisting that I had ordered it, only to realize afterwards that it was for another table.  Also, I ordered a molten chocolate lava cake for dessert that came out slightly frozen in the center…needless to say, there was no lava.  :)

153-smallOne of my favorite restaurants that we ate at happened to be right at Disney.  Disney’s Epcot is full of restaurants featuring cuisines from around the world; we ate at several of them so I decided to feature one of my favorites…Chefs de France!  The food was divine and the service impeccable. 

154-smallWe had a reservation for 5 o’clock, which was good since we only had to wait about 5 minutes to be seated.  When we got there the restaurant was basically empty, but within a half hour it was completely full (literally not a table open).  The look and feel of the restaurant was comfortable; it was decorated in gold and yellow hues and we all admired the lovely crown molding.  The only qualm I had about it was that there were 5 people (4 adults and 1 child) in our party and our table was a little crowded…really a very minor thing, which the wonderful food and service more than made up for.

155-smallWe were pleased with the menu and we all decided to order the Prix Fixe menu (you can’t beat $37 for 3 courses!).  We decided to also order a cheese platter (which was only $9.95), since cheese platters are my favorite part of every French meal.

156-small

181-small

The waitress brought our drinks and complementary baguette right away.  The baguette was divine – warm, crusty on the outside, and yeasty and slightly chewy on the inside.  It didn’t need butter or cheese but of course that didn’t stop us from slathering it on anyway.    

168-small

French Baguette

 

 

Cheese platter, clockwise from the top:  Brie, Comté (also called Gruyère de Comté), Chaumes, salad greens perfectly dressed with balsamic vinaigrette, and Chèvre (goat cheese) in the center.  The Brie was buttery, rich, and slightly fruity.  The comté was nutty, smooth, and slightly salty…it was my personal favorite.  The Chaumes was creamy and rich with a mild flavor.  The Chèvre (Mike’s favorite) was tart and slightly salty.  The only change I would have made is to leave the cheese out at room temperature a bit longer before eating it, since it was still a little chilled. 

166-smallCheese platter, clockwise from the top:  Brie, Comté (also called Gruyère de Comté), Chaumes, salad greens dressed with balsamic vinaigrette, and Chèvre (goat cheese) in the center

 

Our sweet and lovely waitress Marilyne brought us complementary wine, a red Saint-Émilion from Bordeaux.  Sadly Mike and I don’t drink, but it didn’t go to waste though…the other adults in our party were happy to enjoy it.

171-smallOur Lovely Waitress, Marilyne174-small

Saint-Émilion Wine

 

Mike ordered French onion soup for his first course.  At first glance the broth looked lighter than what I was used to, and I thought the flavor might not be as deep and rich as I like it.  Despite the lighter-colored broth it was full of rich flavor.  I was happy that the flavor of thyme was distinctive, since I think this really makes French onion soup.  The soup had several croutons and was topped with melted Gruyère.

176-smallFrench Onion Soup Topped with Gruyère

 

 

I had lobster bisque for my first course.  There were large chunks of lobster in a creamy tomato broth…absolutely delicious.

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Lobster Bisque

 

My niece, Rosie, ordered cheese puff pastry for her first course.  The cheese was mild flavored and delicious…it was more of a cheesy custard filling.  It came with a side salad dressed with balsamic vinaigrette. 

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Cheese Puff Pastry

 

For his main course, Mike ordered the roasted chicken and substituted French fries instead of the rissole potatoes.  The chicken was incredibly tender and juicy and the light sauce that topped it was perfectly seasoned.  The fries were crispy outside and soft inside, just the way I like them.  I didn’t taste the roasted tomatoes. 

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Roasted Chicken with French Fries and Roasted Tomato

 

I had the beef short ribs braised in Cabernet with pasta.  The beef was fork tender and full of flavor, and the mushrooms and pearl onions went really well with the dish.  The pasta was buttered (I think), but it was a little dry and plain on its own…that was remedied by tossing it with the flavorful juices from the short ribs. 

182-small1

Beef Short Ribs Braised in Cabernet with Pasta, Pearl Onions, and Mushrooms

 

Rosie ordered the pan roasted flounder with green beans.  (For a 6-year-old she orders well, right?!)  The fish had a really lovely golden caramelization but was slightly overcooked and a tad dry.  The green beans were cooked just beyond crisp tender, but still tasted fresh and delicious.

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Pan Roasted Flounder with Green Beans

 

For dessert Mike ordered the chocolate mousse cake, which was intensely chocolaty and rich.  (I’m a serious chocolate lover and I actually had my fill after 2 bites…but that might just be because I had my own chocolate-drenched profiteroles to attend to.  ;) )

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Chocolate Mousse Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream

 

I ordered the profiteroles with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.  I usually prefer my profiteroles with pastry cream instead of ice cream, but these were really good.  The chocolate sauce tasted like melted semisweet chocolate and there were shavings of white chocolate, which made a nice balance.  At this point I was regretting that I didn’t have more room to finish dessert.

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Profiteroles with Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce

 

Rosie had a giant chocolate chip cookie for dessert.  It had two kinds of chocolate inside, semisweet and milk, and it was soft and chewy (everything you could want in a chocolate chip cookie).

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Chocolate Chip Cookie

 

We all enjoyed this fabulous dinner and definitely plan to return when we visit Disney’s Epcot again.

 

Les Chef de France

France Pavilion, Epcot

Walt Disney World

Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

Tel.:  407.939.3463

 

Now onto the giveaway!  I thought it would be fun to giveaway a large sampler pack of coffee that I got at Disney.  The pack includes 10 (1.75 oz) cans of the following flavors of coffee:  Disney Blend, Decaf Disney Blend, Hazelnut, French Vanilla, Irish Crème, Belgian Chocolate, Hawaiian Macadamia, Coconut Crème, Caramel Toffee, and Cinnamon Pecan.

img_7077-smallTo enter this giveaway, do one of the following or do all four for more entries:

1. Leave a comment on this post telling me one of your favorite types of coffee.  (You can leave one comment each day as long as your answers are different.)

2. Link back to this giveaway and leave a comment on this post with the link.

3. Add me to your blogroll and leave a comment on this post letting me know you did so.

4. Become a fan on Facebook and leave a comment on this post letting me know you did so.

 

The giveaway closes on March 6th at 9PM EST.  I’ll select the winner using random.org and announce it on Sunday, March 7th.  Good luck!  :)

Hello! I’m Faith and I write An Edible Mosaic. This is my recipe collection of international favorites and updated American classics, with an emphasis on seasonal dishes. I focus on real foods that sustain body and mind, bring people together, and make a house a home. Welcome to my mosaic of recipes.

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