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Archive for February, 2013

Monday’s Neighborhood: Highlands, Denver, Colorado

Tucked on a somewhat steep slope across the roaring Platte River just northwest of Downtown Denver, the Mile High City’s 250 acre Highlands neighborhood is possibly the new epicenter of what is a Boomtown today for dining and drinking. Long ago we discovered that Denver’s restaurant culture status as a “Cowtown” of old west steakhouses was obsolete. Just think about the city’s importance in the craft brewing world (and host of the country’s most important annual craft brewing event, the Great American Beer Festival) and how chefs including Frank Bonanno and Jennifer Jasinski have become city royalty, almost to Elway levels.

Highland is really the “new” Denver, both when it comes to its recent emergence on the cultural scene, and if you consider so much of its architecture.

Highlands Bridge

Highlands Bridge

A series of three spectacular, modern bridges that all look as if they were designed by Santiago Caltrava lead you from Downtown over the Millennium Bridge to Commons Park (the unofficial official place to walk your dog or go for a jog in the city it seems), the Platte River and its lack of rapids and water, and once initially in Highland, over I-25 (Denver’s closest comparison to a Los Angeles- style mega freeway).

New shiny lofts in Highlands house many of the city’s new young tech work force and the neighborhood has a very rich Hispanic heritage, adding all sorts of charm to its mostly residential streets and three main commercial areas. West 38th Avenue to the north, the Platte River to the east, Speer Boulevard and West 29th Avenue to the south, and Tennyson Street to the west roughly define what is considered Denver’s largest neighborhood.

What exactly started the emergence of Highland as such a culinary neighborhood? Perhaps it was bacon caramel corn. (more…)


Restaurants: Paley’s Place: Portland, Oregon

In the city where food carts populate parking lots everywhere, no reservations-hour plus long waits are the norm at the hottest restaurants, and hangover brunch is the official meal, sometimes it’s easy to forget about the tried and true classic restaurants for relaxed, comfortable meals.

It’s also very easy to yearn for an established, refined dining experience when the rough edges of newer destinations start jading the adventuresome diner in you. Sometimes, you just want to make a reservation, arrive on time, sit down on a plush banquette with a crisp glass of J. Christopher’s Willamette Valley Sauvignon Blanc, peruse the perfectly sized ambitious yet still humble menu, and know that the professional service will pace your meal appropriately.IMG_8657

Dinner might not be an eye-opening tour de force of cutting-edge culinary creativity at the now 18 year old Northwest Portland legend Paley’s Place.

It will, however, soothe you into knowing that there is still a chance to breathe and savor a smooth, very enjoyable meal in this all too chaotic world. This is how neighborhood bistros once were before sous-vide machines and wood-fired pizza ovens became the de rigueur symbols of a neighborhood “bistro.” This is how neighborhood bistros still should be. Remember, “bistros” in France are bustling and mature destinations for weeknight dinners and special occasion dinners alike. They are not gastropubs.

Step off the Portland Streetcar rumbling along Northrup Street at Northwest 21st Avenue and into one of Portland’s icons, almost there with the International Rose Test Garden, the Steel Bridge, and Bill Walton’s 1970’s Trail Blazers teams. (more…)


The Super Crab Bowl: Baltimore and San Francisco Politicians’ Super Bowl Wagers

There is a lot at stake in tomorrow’s Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Obviously, the most important match-up is the one on the field between the Baltimore Ravens and your five time Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers. Then there is the HarBowl element of the Super Bowl, with the game pitting brother against brother, John Harbaugh, the head coach of the Ravens, versus Jim Harbaugh, the head coach of the 49ers.

Intriguing storylines abound. Over a hundred million people worldwide will be tuning in. Beyoncé is performing at halftime. Who knows how many thousands of gallons of jambalaya will be consumed Sunday?

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Add another match-up to watch and analyze Sunday: the food wagers between Baltimore and San Francisco’s mayors, and similar bets between the senators of Maryland and California.

Knowing how iconic crabs are to both cities’ cuisines, is it surprising that the blue or red crustacean plays a prominent role in the wagers? (more…)


Plat du Jour Friday February 1, 2013: Taste of the NFL, What is Confit?, Sri Lankan Cuisine on Staten Island, A Few Oregon Pinot Noir Notes, and Super Bowl Reservations

It’s the eve of Super Bowl Eve in New Orleans. Do you think a few people just might be strolling down Bourbon Street right now? Care to take a guess how long the wait at the bar for a cocktail is presently at Cure? My guess is a good hour to 90 minutes.

The dinner hour is presently ending in New Orleans, unless you’re planning on beignets at Café du Monde for a late dinner/ early breakfast, or whatever a 2 am meal is considered.

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Looking ahead to prime dinner time Saturday night February 2nd, good reservations can still be found on OpenTable for parties of 2. A Mano, Coquette, Lüke (a CBD John Besh spin-off), Ralph’s on the Park, and MiLa all are excellent choices with availability. But, hurry fast. The list is impressive and extensive for those fully booked: Bayona, Cochon, Emeril’s, Herbsaint, Lilette, Pascal’s Manale, August, R’evolution, Sylvain, and Stella!. Not that that is surprising in the least. You can always gamble and try to walk into Galatoire’s…

Then again Sunday night during the Super Bowl, there is even less availability, with nearly all of these restaurants being somewhat formal and not having televisions. Are people not watching the game or are all the chefs closing so they can watch at home or attend the game? I don’t blame them.

If you’re not spending Saturday night February 2nd at Cochon or Bouligny Tavern, then certainly consider attending one of Super Bowl Week’s always special annual events: The Taste of the NFL. (more…)


Meat Me in Portland: Ox, Laurelhurst Market, and Olympic Provisions

Portland, Oregon might be just a few miles from the Pacific coast and even closer to some of the most fish abundant rivers around, along with being half way across the country from the meat and potatoes heartland. Yet, as is the case for numerous other exciting, major food and drink abundant cities ranging far and wide, coffee to pizza, Portland has a particular forte with meat.

Real, bonafide meat in many forms. Steak. Pork belly. Charcuterie. Foie gras. Salty, fatty, tender cuts of meat, usually in servings more for lumberjacks than ballerinas.

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Portland, of course, doesn’t strike you as a steakhouse town like Chicago or a stock yards town like Kansas City or Fort Worth. Not being a local, I am unaware of any stockyards around the city, but if they do exist, one can imagine they have to be humanely raised and loved as if everything in a “Portlandia” sketch were reality.

Not that Portland is the only city in the country where chefs commonly view bacon as essential a finishing touch to a dish as pepper. This is not a barbeque capital of the U.S., though the likes of Podnah’s Pit are starting to stake out Portland’s power in the genre.

Beef Ribs, Smoked Apple-Jalapeño BBQ Sauce, Pickled Turnips

Beef Ribs, Smoked Apple-Jalapeño BBQ Sauce, Pickled Turnips

This is about two very unique steakhouses that are so much more than just a steakhouse, and a charcuterie maker-restaurant that is almost unanimously considered the runaway leader in its oeuvre. (more…)


Wines of the Week: Soter Vineyards, 2011 North Valley Chardonnay and 2007 Napa Valley Proprietary Red, Carlton, Oregon

Hold the glass for a moment. A wine of the week, or actually, two wines of the week, both from Oregon, and neither is a Pinot Noir? How say you?

That’s no slight on one of the Willamette Valley’s finest wineries, Soter Vineyards. I’d gladly rave about and will rave about Tony Soter’s very handsome flight of Pinot Noir.

This is a fascinating tale, however, about how a former California winemaker, turned Oregon winemaker, can teach his old state’s wine architects a thing or two about the direction California’s signature varietals should be heading.

Soter made wines as a consultant for several of the marquee names in the Napa Valley: Niebaum Coppola, Shafer, and Spottswoode to name a few, as well as the wines for his own label founded in 1982, Etude.

Tony and his wife Michelle are both Oregon natives and returned to the Pacific Northwest a decade ago, escaping the constant pressure of the Napa Valley wine culture. The Soters searched for the heart of New World Burgundy terroir, planting Pinot Noir vines on the Mineral Springs Ranch property in 2002, at the edge of Carlton in the Yamhill-Calrton AVA of the Willamette Valley. Mineral Springs is a very mellifluous,  gently sloped, free-flowing landscape, rich with healthy Keasey soil and clay that are perfect with the near constant regional precipitation. At around 400 feet elevation, high winds and severe weather are not a problem, and the vineyard is inland enough to be welcoming to non-coastal grapes, such as Chardonnay.

If the 2010 single-vineyard flagship Mineral Springs Ranch Pinot Noir is any indication, this certainly is the right terroir for exceptional Pinot Noir. (more…)


The New Orleans Dining Field: Where to Eat When Visiting for Super Bowl XLVII

It’s almost gameday in the Crescent City, where on Super Sunday, February 3rd, the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers will face off in Super Bowl XLVII. It’s annually the biggest spectacle in the country and an unofficial national holiday. This year, even more media and fans will be descending upon the host city than ever before. With New Orleans being the sight of the event and the parties included, food is naturally one of the important components of a visit for the out of towners this week, along with the game.

Here now, we’ll march down the SuperDome field as the visitors march into the Big Easy, with helpful advice on where to dine over the next few days when avoiding the bland banquet food at team and media hotel gatherings. Yours truly actually has been giving insight to members of the San Francisco 49ers traveling party, as they hope to get a sense of the city’s culinary scene amidst the hectic chaos that is New Orleans at any time of year, especially Super Bowl Week.

Keep in mind that with so many visitors this week vying for tables and special events occurring too, many of these destinations, if not all of them, will either be swamped with customers or enormously crowded.

And, you don’t need a dining critic to tell you to avoid the food and drink of Bourbon Street (except Galatoire’s). It’s common sense. Don’t do it. You know better than to dine at the fish and chips carts on the sidewalks.

Many articles here at Trev’s Bistro have extensively covered the city’s dining and drinking scene, so make sure to pay a visit to the New Orleans page when conducting research.

Ravens Goal Line: Breakfast and Coffee

The perfect day in New Orleans will commence with an espresso at the impossibly charming café Velvet on Magazine Street in Uptown, using beans roasted by the masters at Portland, Oregon’s Stumptown. Just don’t have the portrait of Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter be the first alarm clock for your day, or you’ll be jaded for hours to come.

Breakfast, if not at Café du Monde (see below), should be at chef Scott Boswell’s (also of Stella!) morning power meal and all day dining French Quarter stalwart Stanley. They’re the only two restaurants worth your time around Jackson Square (very much worth a visit itself). Consider the Eggs Benedict Poor Boy or the Bananas Foster French Toast, New Orleans standards re-imagined. At lunch, the burger will be ordered or poor boys sporting Korean BBQ beef or a pepperoni pizza caesar salad. It is what it is. Don’t ask why they aren’t called “Po-Boys,” or why a pizza-salad needs to be a sandwich also. (more…)