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Restaurant Industry

The 13 Bites That Defined 2013

What a year for eating. My first bites of the year were in a New Years Day early morning daze at Blue Star Doughnuts in Portland, Oregon (Valrhona Chocolate Crunch was the best amidst stiff competition. These were hands down the best doughnuts of a pretty doughnut-free year). If that’s how a year starts, then the eating surely will continue at a high caliber. Just with less cholesterol.

Belcanto's Skate "Jackson Pollack" and Its Inspiration

Belcanto’s Skate “Jackson Pollack” And Its Inspiration

We’ll break down the trends and analytical stuff in another category this week. This is about those thirteen bites that I still think about and remember almost every detail of. Sure, I could list thirteen bites alone from Pujol or Alma. That wouldn’t be very exiting, would it? Each one of these was an absolute masterpiece that reminded me why dining out can be so special.


Plat du Jour Monday October 7, 2013: When Is It O.K. To Send Something Back?

What a challenging question to begin this first full week of October with. Usually my answer is the always vague “follow your gut feeling.” Well, if you’re gut isn’t feeling so good, you probably want to send the dish back.

I’ve noticed I almost never have to send back food. Cocktails get returned at a far higher rate. Then at a seemingly innocent, low key lunch at the highly respectable Los Angeles restaurant/cafe LAMILL (also a terrific coffee roaster, located in the city’s Silver Lake area), I was forced to do something about this joke of a sandwich delivered to me. Something had to happen. Sandwiches don’t look like this for $7, let alone double the price from a kitchen owned by one of the city’s top toques. Just look at the sandwich “filling” to the left in the picture below. Nothing has been edited. Seriously.

Note the difference between Sandwich A and Sandwich B at LA Mill

Note the difference between Sandwich A and Sandwich B at LAMILL


What’s in a Name? That Which We Call a Restaurant?

Shakespeare and restaurants? Wherefore art thou going for dinner Romeo?

Usually when we consider Shakespeare and dining, we think of going to the corner pub for a pint of bitter hard cider, or Falstaffian feasts, as in, “To finish a dish at Montreal’s Au Pied de Cochon, you must have a Falstaffian appetite.”

I’m no expert on Othello’s diet or Hamlet’s favorite foods, though that would be a fascinating research project to embark on.

However, yesterday’s unveiling of Chicago Magazine‘s annual list of the city’s best new restaurants caused me to think of a particularly famous Shakespearean quote.

Since I haven’t tried any of these restaurants in Chicago, I can’t use any Shakespearean references to exude my slings and arrows of disappointment, or my jocund jubilance over the list.

Beach House Restaurant in Poipu, Kauai. A very simple name.

Beach House Restaurant in Poipu, Kauai. A very simple name.

What I noticed was the creative and often downright strange names of the restaurants on the list. As Juliet once queried Romeo, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any name would smell as sweet.” There are no Capulets vs Montagues- sized rivalries or controversies with this list. In this case, the roses are restaurants. (more…)