following restaurants come highly recommended by some of our traveling
wino friends. Now that we are immortalizing these establishments
on WinoStuff, you should definitely call ahead for reservations.
Burlingame, CA 94010
1095 Rollins Rd.
The excitement begins when you round the corner just inside Kuleto's entrance to face an immense brick oven and open kitchen. Cooks turn out several roasted appetizers: prawns, radicchio, clams paired with mussels. Pizzas are fine, thin-crusted and not over-dressed. Fresh pasta dishes vie for the diner's attention with succulent fried calamari served with garlicky aïoli or peppery Romesco sauce. Main courses of fresh fish, lamb sirloin or chicken paillard wrapped in pancetta are frequently served with vegetable-and-herb sauces for a light presentation. California wines dominate the wine list. For travelers staying near the SF airport, this restaurant is a most pleasant surprise.
San Francisco, CA 94102
221 Powell St.
Villa Florence Hotel
Pat Kuleto is a restaurateur phenomenon-about-town. He began as a designer (Fog City Diner and
Postrio) and also did the design for this beautiful trattoria and lent his name to it, but he is no longer involved. It is quintessential
Kuleto: marble, turtleback chandeliers and burnished wood. Focal points are a high, Florentine-style painted ceiling and a mahogany bar with a forest of hanging salamis, pastas, herbs and garlic garlands. The kitchen's best starter is grilled radiccio wrapped in
pancetta, but our favorite is the house-made focaccia, a bulb of roasted garlic and an order of fried calamari. We also like the thick-crust pizza with cheese, pancetta and pine nuts.
3121 W. Benjamin Holt Drive
Stockton, CA 95219
Finding a French Continental cuisine restaurant in Stockton,
California is a little like finding a needle in a haystack. Stockton,
for those of you unfamiliar with California, is about an hour from
Sacramento, in the middle of nowhere. Close to Stockton is Lodi, a town made famous by a
Creedence Clearwater song. Everything about Le Bistro screams big city
cuisine and wine list in a small town. We sampled fresh Coho Salmon,
Steak au Poivre, and the Filet; all were exquisitely prepared. The
wine list had an equally impressive list of wines, focusing on
California's varietals. Ask for the table in the wine room if you're
calling for reservations.
Worth a trip to Boulder if you're in the Denver area. The Flagstaff may be pricey, but the service, food, and wine is impeccable. A delightful experience. The bold diner may want to try to match a wine with one of the wild game selections. Or, just ask one of the talented sommeliers on staff.
Bern's Steak House
1208 South Howard Ave.
Tampa, FL 33606
A definite must for anyone who's never been there! This 50 year old
legend boasts one of America's best wine lists. In fact, the
wine list looks like the Manhattan phone directory with over 60,000
bottles stored in the cellar and warehouse next door. (Thanks to
WinoJim for correcting our error!) (Update Dec. 27, 2001
- Alert wino, PuFF-DoGG, informs me that Bern's actually offers over
6,900 different labels and stocks a half million bottles! They
have bottles from the private collections of Napoleon and Thomas
Jefferson. Thanks, DoGG!)
This island resort off the coast of Georgia boasts a Wine Spectator Best
of Award of Excellence for its 35,000 bottle cellar.
Eight members of the staff are certified sommeliers.
Championship golf at its best is available, too.
If you dine at the Main Dining Room, be sure to bring your coat
You ain't going to get a short notice reservation here. The restaurant
has received the Wine Spectator Grand Award since 1993 and was most
recently ranked number one by Wine Spectator. It's expensive as hell,
but the wait may be worth it. A wine list with over 1500 selections
focusing on Burgundy, Rhone, and California hotties.
925 Eastern Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21202
Chef Giovanni Rigato presides over a refined northern Italian venue
that suits a high rolling crowd, but still has the graciousness to
take excellent care of the special occasion diner. With a consistency
few restaurants match, this kitchen turns out an ample list of
classics---pastas like orecchiette with porcini mushrooms and bacon; a
dozen or so fabulous veal dishes; a terrific Florentine steak. Seafood
is always superb, whether simply prepared as in a delicately sauced
Dover sole or all-out baroque like the grouper San Remo brimming with
artichoke hearts, mushrooms and tomato. Listen attentively to daily
specials; there you'll find seasonal splendors, like white truffles in
fall, wild game in winter, and soft-shell crabs in summer. Add a
richly detailed Italian wine list and a lovely evening is yours for
Charleston's restaurant is a great place to go, halfway between
the Inner Harbor tourist area and the Fells Point party area.
If you're in B'more on business, go early or go late unless
you're fortunate enough to get a reservation in advance.
And do ask Foreman
to pair wine by the glass with each course; you'll be treated to some
of his latest finds. A seat in the main dining rooms buys a grand view
of the crowd, but for more intimate dining, ask to be seated in the
Harbor Court Hotel
The Harbor Court Hotel overlooks Baltimore's Inner Harbor area while
maintaining itself at a dignified distance away from the crowds. Many
of the professional baseball players maintain residences in the Harbor
Court Condominiums while apartments exist for actors and actresses
filming in the rapidly growing movie business. Tucked away in the
hotel is a restaurant receiving Mobil's four star award as well as
many other award designations. There's a wine to accompany any of the
menu selections as well as many more. Enjoy a before dinner drink (or
after dinner drink) in the Explorer's Lounge next door.
Iron Bridge Wine Company
10435 Route 108
Columbia, MD 21044
hints: 1) Don’t take your kids no matter how old they are, and 2) if
the parking lot is full, there ain't no seats inside.
Iron Bridge has a substantial (around 30) list of wines available by
the glass. They have an
even more substantial selection of wines available for purchase (and
consumption) by the bottle. I
picked a bottle of Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 and did not
regret the selection. The
Mt. Veeder was priced at $50 per bottle.
That’s about $10 per bottle higher than retail (in a store),
but substantially less than the usual restaurant price doubling.
With a $5 corkage charge, the pricing for a good bottle of wine
did not seem outrageous.
wife ordered a twin shrimp hors oeuvres and I ordered the three-cheese
sampler. We had to order the shrimp quickly since there were only two
remaining. The shrimp was
good and so was the cheese, but I have to admit, I had never heard of
any of the three cheeses on the list.
Later, my appetite was getting the best of me, so I ordered the
duck entrée. The duck
was perfectly prepared, sliced similar to a pork tenderloin and very
tender. Must have been
raised on a farm. A word
of advice to management: Find
a way to store more food. This
was our second visit and both times, we’ve either been told that an
entrée was unavailable or we ordered one of the last ones.
you’re interested in trying a good bottle of wine in a decent
atmosphere, the Iron Bridge is for you.
If your goal is to add a substantial meal to the wine sampling,
find another place.
1401 E. Clement St.
Baltimore, MD 21230
Three cheers for the little guy. This tiny trattoria in an unlikely
Locust Point neighborhood is turning out a small, credible Italian
menu for a growing cadre of ardent fans. The list of Italian reds
complements the selections. The setting is adorable, all moons and
stars and bright colors from base plates to chair seats to wall
coverings. But owner Kim Acton is serious about comfort - tables are
set far apart, even though floor space in this diminutive corner
rowhouse is at a premium. Housemade pasta on the daily menu can be
stunningly good, as in a summery pesto fettuccine or the garlicky
capellini with thyme-scented white clam sauce. Entrées are bold and
generous. We loved the double-cut pork chop with balsamic glaze and
the shrimp scampi in garlic sauce. Garlic can occasionally take a
plate over the edge, but the warning is right there, stamped on the
paper-topped linens: In garlic we trust. Absolutely make reservations
or you'll never get in.
Baltimore, MD 21202
The Prime Rib Restaurant
1101 N. Calvert St.
Sexy black lacquer walls, a leopard-skin carpet, a white, Lucite-topped piano complete with tuxedoed player teasing out jazzed-up standards.
Power brokers and couples eager to find that right place congregate around this place. When that strip steak comes, it will be lush, dry-aged, perfectly seared to a caramelized finish. The prime rib, heaped with fresh horseradish, will drape cunningly across the plate. The rockfish, stuffed with crab and capped with a gossamer imperial sauce, will be fresh, moist, and oh-so-flavorful. And the sides of mashed potatoes and creamed spinach will be wickedly rich. Troll the wine list to discover some fabulous Californians, including the occasional endangered species. This is straight-up American steakhouse dining, and there's not much that can top it.
Ruth's Chris Steak
600 Water St.
Baltimore, MD 21202
No need to ask where the beef is, it's coming your way in great
hulking portions served sizzling hot on metal platters. Filets,
rib-eyes, a gargantuan Porterhouse for two, a classic T-Bone, all
usually topped with a big gob of butter. You'll find echoes of the
chain's Louisiana roots in offerings like seafood gumbo and shrimp
remoulade. This particular location has a stellar wine cellar, some
10,000 bottles strong, intensely focused on California reds. For an
after-dinner cigar or a spot of dancing, wind your way upstairs to
owner Steve de Castro's lively Havana Club rated as one of Playboy
Magazine's top U.S. nitespots.
405 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Beginning with its name, which is Italian for "upside down",
this restaurant shakes many of the Italian restaurant stereotypes. The
food is Northern Italian
cuisine and does not fit the stereotypical mode of parmegian-oriented dishes.
Of particular interest is the substantial Italian wine list, focusing
on reds. Sotto Sopra is lively, staffed with Italian waiters, intimate
with a maximum accommodation of 80, and fun.
Baltimore, MD 21202
10 E. Franklin St.
Why Baltimoreans party in Spanish restaurants, we don't know. Here's one of their all time favorites. Waiters in red and blue waistcoats with satiny black lapels dote on you, while the chef attempts to beguile you with his fabulous roast suckling pig and his paella
Valenciana. There are, however, three secrets you might want to know before you descend into this whitewashed grotto: They don't appear on the menu, but ask for the potato puffs-divinely crisp twice-fried morsels. If your pockets are well lined, request the reserve wine list for some fabulous old reds. Only if your budget is low should you consider
guzzling the mixture of cheap Spanish wine and fruit; I think we called that mixture Spanada in college. Finally, order a mixed appetizer plate for the table and you'll get the chef's selection of house specialties; it's expensive, but generous.
8293 Main St.
Ellicott City, MD 21043
The dining rooms within this historic flagstone house on Ellicott
City's Main Street are quite congenial. The front room has a cozy,
familial feel complete with china-laden hutch while the back room is
part greenhouse, part drawing room hung with hunting prints. The
Tersiguels - Fernand, Odette and son, Michel, - bring a lot of love to
their country French cooking, gathering herbs and greens from their
own garden and smoking their own trout. The dishes that stick closest
to the family's roots - lamb Provençal with roasted red peppers and
sweet potatoes, grilled pork chops with lentils, beef tenderloin with
a simple wild mushroom sauce - are most satisfying. Less so are those
that edge toward modern, like a creamless coquille St. Jacques only
theoretically infused with lemon grass and ginger jus. For dessert, do
indulge in the very fine chocolate mousse. For single malt lovers, the
modest bar has an excellent selection.
Galaxy Bar and
62nd Street and Ocean Highway
Ocean City, MD 21842
The Galaxy is one of
those restaurants which is always improving.
The decor of this restaurant (modern, California hip with a
flair for the artistic) changes each year.
Last year, the restaurant more than doubled in seating size
with a two story addition. The food
has a California flair and ranges from game (Venison) to vegetarian
dishes. As you might
expect, there's a reasonable amount of seafood on the menu and several
excellent steak and pork dishes.
The wine list, while not extensive, is excellent in its range.
Of particular interest, is the wine selection available by the
glass. Make your reservations in advance otherwise you may not get a
table until after 9:30pm.
831 Nicolett Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Upscale Italian with hints of Asian.
Zelo is celebrity dining at its finest, especially if you're
not one. Forget about the chance of spotting a star at Planet
Hollywood, this upscale Italian eatery makes you the star, bathing its
customers in show-quality lighting and wrapping them in its luxe
interior. The downtown crowds gather almost every night of the week to
people-watch at the long bar, which is decorated with whimsical, and
complicated, sculptures. The food is borderline, but no one seems to
care. Our rater was in town for the Final Four basketball tournament
and the crowds at Zelo were a hit as were the drinks. For a sure-fire
hit, order the affettato misto, a colossal appetizer plate, spilling
over with Italian meats and cheeses. The plate its served on is so
big, your server has to prop it up on a metal stand to keep it out of
the way. Avoid the overcooked pastas when ordering dinner and skip to
the seafood and grilled items. We like the kalbi-marinated baked
halibut with soba noodles, a dish that is more Asian than Italian, but
a nice blend of ginger and soy. In the summer, ask for a table outside
and enjoy Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis' outdoor pedestrian mall that is
free entertainment at its finest.
40 S. 7th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55402
One of Twin Cities' finest, for food and service. Purportedly the best restaurant in Minnesota,
Goodfellow's is the restaurant that the locals described as the best
in town. Everything about this restaurant, from the luxe art-deco
interior, to the list of over 800 domestic wines, to executive chef
Kevin Cullen's stunning interpretations of seafood and game, deserves
praise. An evening at Goodfellow's unwinds as a series of small but
delightful surprises, whether it's an expert reading of the night's
menu by your server or a small accompaniment that ties the entire
plate together. No detail is considered too small to fuss over. The
scallops in the dish of grilled Maine diver scallops with braised
venison blini and blackberries knock you out with their tender savor,
but it's the blini that leaves a lasting impression, an entre in
miniature. Whenever possible we order the foie gras, which is sometimes
seared with sweet and sour papaya, toasted macadamia nuts and baby bok
choy. Cullen lets his imagination run wild across a wide range of
influences (witness the pheasant consomm with Mascarpone ravioli,
white truffle oil, root vegetables and wild mushrooms) but is never
clever for cleverness' sake, because for all its inventiveness,
Goodfellow's never forgets to deliver pure, sweet pleasure.
An excellent wine list.
825 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Good tapas, fish, crab, tiramisu. Palomino is a chain
restaurant, but you wouldn't know it. With Mediterranean-style food
and decor, Palomino looks too avant-garde to be a corporate clone.
Their menu includes a number of excellent house specialties including
tapas, wood-roasted fish, crab cakes, and tiramisu.
During our Final Four visit, Dick Vitale and his family were
seated at a table nearby.
The wine list is brief but impressive for its price range and depth.
Some of the micro brews featured were excellent as well.
Rutherford, New Jersey
The Park and Orchard
An eclectic little restaurant specializing in southwestern and cajun-style
cuisines. A perennial Grand Award winner from The Wine Spectator,
get there early as they don't take reservations. (They do allow
you to call your name into the waiting list when you leave your
house.) Try the Crawfish Pasta for a taste treat that you will
long remember. The wine list includes nearly two thousand wines
and the cellar has 18,000 bottles, rivaling Wino Wally's cellar for
the best in the east.
Chop House and Wine Bar
Bacchus has become WinoBob's home away from home. They feature a
cozy wine bar with more than 50 selections available by the glass, and
a tastefully designed dining room which includes an enclosed private
dining area for special occasions. The food, which consists
primarily of steaks and chops, is well proportioned and equally well
prepared. The wait staff is friendly and efficient and Joe
the Wine Guy has put together an impressive wine list.
6205 Montgomery NE
Albuquerque, NM 87109
We saw Michelle’s name in the Wine Spectator, receiving some
recognition for their wine list.
When we asked some of the locals about the place, many didn’t
recognize it or had not been there.
The cuisine is predominantly German.
Niels Rikhof is the proprietor and sometimes, waiter.
We had duck, wiener schnitzel, spaetzle, and a few other dishes
that I cannot recall. I
did enjoy the wine list. While
not a mammoth list in terms of numbers of wines, the list did provide
a decent variety of European and American wines.
It also had a few difficult to find wines.
Pricing was more than fair, lower than many establishments that
I had recently visited. Recommendation:
Go to Michelle’s for their wines and make sure you know what
you’re ordering from the menu.
1431 Wyoming Blvd NE
Albuquerque, NM 87112
While the Cafe Miche may
be known to Albuquerquians with a yen towards French food and wine, it
ain't easy to find. We looked in the Yellow pages, no luck. Finally,
someone told us how to find the place. Leaving the finer area of town,
Northeast, and heading south on Wyoming, we found the Cafe Miche in a
strip shopping center across the street from another strip shopping
center with a pawn shop, gun shop, and a store called the Bead Dame
(what the heck is that?). Anyhow, the Cafe Miche was a pleasant
surprise. Despite the gloomy surroundings, the proprietor has
made a major tenant improvement on his space with a superbly appointed
restaurant. Wino Bob himself would be pleased by the maple wood bar
and wine room. Shortly after being shown to our table, S.A.W. Sharon
and I were treated to complimentary foie gras and sipping glasses of
vermouth with lemon (we bagged the vermouth but wolfed down the foie
gras). Sharon ordered an oriental salad which was a special and not on
the menu. I ordered the French onion soup. Both appetizers were
superb! We ordered a bottle of 1996 Cain Five Meritage to go with our
dinner. Sharon ordered the Veal Oscar and I ordered the New York
Strip. Despite the cuisine being French, there's nothing like a 24
ounce New York Strip with a bottle of Cain Five. By the way, Cafe
Miche has received Wine Spectator's award of excellence in the past.
Based on their wine list alone, they deserve it. I saw a bottle of
Bourdeaux for $1770, but decided to defer it until Wino Bob visits me
on his expense account. One more thing. I did a search on
Digital City for this restaurant and they had no listing either. Shame
on them. Tell everyone you heard about this place on WinoStuff. You
won't regret it! Wino Wally
1119 Alameda NW
I had been working in Albuquerque for six weeks before a friend of
mine recommended this restaurant. I was specifically looking for a
non-Mexican influenced, East Coast style restaurant (which probably
means more like California). I was directed to Terra and did not
regret the choice. Between the daily special preparation of
salmon and the leg of lamb, the menu selection is very California and
not very Mexican. Terra features a wine list oriented toward the West
Coast of the US. My dinner companions and I enjoyed the Valley of the
Moon Syrah and the Argyle Pinot Noir. I'd give this place 4 out of 5
stars. Wino Wally
de Taos, NM
4167 Paseo del Pueblo Sur
Ranchos de Taos, NM 87557
505-751-4512 A friend of mine who skis every weekend in Taos, told me that
this was the place to go for dinner.
Turns out that the chef was just voted one of America's 10 best
new chefs by Food and Wine magazine.
Our waitress was extremely knowledgeable and could recite the
extensive and eclectic menu from memory.
When we asked her how long she had worked there, she said at
five years (restaurant opened in 1995).
The signature dish is the steak au poivre, a peppercorn-crusted
fillet of beef tenderloin with smashed potatoes and Madeira mushroom
sauce. I had it and it
was delicious. My wife
ordered the seared monkfish with apple cider reduction, miso butter
and spicy pine nut dust. The
wine list was formidable with a number of boutique wineries, primarily
Californian. I was amazed
at the number of New Mexico wines listed.
Ana Pueblo, NM
288 Prairie Star Road
Santa Ana Pueblo, NM 87004
Many of the locals in Albuquerque will name Prairie Star as the best
restaurant in town (even though it’s outside of town on an Indian
restaurant is located in an old adobe house with walls several feet
thick. The house is attached to the clubhouse of a very new, but
very nice golf course. We
had heard that the restaurant had a fine wine list and were pleasantly
surprised by the depth. It
took us almost 40 minutes to order and receive our wine (part of that
was my fault due to the time it took to page through the wine list).
However, speed wasn’t on anyone’s list this night as it was
almost two hours from the moment we were seated before we received our
appetizer. The food was
outstanding, the wine list had some awesome selections including Grace
Family Cabernets in Jeroboams. I’m
not sure why our table received our food so slowly.
We received an apology from the waiter on behalf of the chef.
However, two hours to appetizer is way to slow no matter how
good the food is. This
place is too good to avoid, but if your service is as slow as mine,
don’t go back again.
113 Washington Ave.
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Inn of the Anasazi
The Anasazi Restaurant, located in one of Santa
Fe's finest luxury hotels-Inn of the Anasazi-is named for the native
Indians who lived there from about AD 800 to 1300.
The restaurant's ambience lends itself to those special
romantic dinners. Patrons feast on innovative and memorable dishes,
frequently prepared with organic produce. Specials are offered daily.
Chile aficionados will appreciate Anasazi's dinner and dessert
offerings. Begin with the chile-rubbed beef tenderloin teased with
cinnamon and served with white Cheddar chipotle, chile-enhanced mashed
potatoes and a refreshing mango salsa. End the feast with the
sour-cream chocolate cake-incredibly moist, incredibly delicioso. The wine list is particularly impressive.
My dinner partner and I tasted several bottles of California
wine that typically don't find their way out of the state.
The wine steward was knowledgeable and helpful with our
Bull in the Ring
Santa Fe, NM
I usually grab a card or pack of matches when I leave a restaurant
that I enjoy. Little did
I know that failing to do that after my visit to the Bull in the Ring
in Santa Fe, I wouldn’t be able to find a listing for the restaurant
anywhere. Not even
Digital City, my usual fall back position, had a listing.
So, I can only tell you that Bull in the Ring is on Washington
Street, just down from the Inn of the Anasazi in the Wells Fargo Bank
Center. For a restaurant
that’s been around for 30 years, you would think you could find a
review on Digital City. Well,
the place was named for the state politicians that hang out there, so
maybe there’s a reason why they keep a low profile.
The house’s specialty is steak.
My wife and I shared a porterhouse which was out of this world.
The steak was pre-sliced and served on a serving plate.
My wife and I received separate dinner plates which had been
coated with a butter and herb sauce.
The method to the chef’s madness was that each of us could
take a pre-sliced hunk of beef, cut it into manageable slices on our
plate while coating it in a buttery herb sauce.
The beef melted in our mouths.
We also enjoyed our different salads:
my wife ordered an asparagus salad which was quite fresh and
tender while I went for the heart of lettuce salad.
Meanwhile, the wines…were impressive according to the list we
reviewed. Since we were
visiting from Albuquerque and had to drive back, we decided to order
by the glass. Unfortunately,
there was only one Cabernet Sauvignon selection by the glass.
Despite that slip up, the service was outstanding, the food was
great, and the list by the bottle was outstanding.
I’ll give this place a second chance.
Editor's note: Alert
reader, Ms. Starr M. Clark, checked in to let us know why Wally
couldn't find a listing for this restaurant. He had the wrong
name! According to Starr, "the restaurant is called The
Bull Ring Prime Steakhouse. It is located in the Wells Fargo
Plaza on Washington Ave and the phone number is 505.983.3328.
Sal Toloumu is the general manager and would be happy to give you any
additional information." Their website is www.bullringsantafe.com.
125 Paseo Norte
Taos, NM 87571
Located in the Taos Inn in the center of Taos, NM, Doc Martin’s is
named after the physician who held court within the walls of the
restaurant (when it was a doctor’s office).
The food was great, and the wine list was better.
I was impressed by the number of verticals of certain wines.
More than 14 selections were available by the glass.
A definite choice for dining and wining while in Taos.
a business dinner at Balthazar's.
He was speechless. Here's what Digital City had
to say about it.
80 Spring St.
New York, NY 10012
the trendiest of the trendy new restaurants of 1997/1998, this
artfully recreated (leather banquettes, patinaed mirrors) traditional
French brasserie is elbow-to-elbow with moguls, models,
movers-and-shakers and wannabes... The food is solid along
classic bistro lines, with such dishes as whole roasted chicken with
mashed potatoes, or striped bass over toasted bread infused with a
tomato-Swiss chard broth. The sublime oyster and shellfish bar is one
of the biggest around. The 200+ wines on the list wash down plenty of
good eats. Baked in the adjacent Balthazar Bakery, the bread is
superb. If you can't score a reservation, go for a post-midnight
supper or a drink at the bar that winds down at 3 or 4 a.m."
243 East 58th Street
New York, NY 10022
Located in a former townhouse on a block in Midtown which boasts at
least 12 restaurants, Felidia was worth the trip.
The menu favored seafood and pasta.
I ordered the Mediterranean sea bass, which was brought to my
table whole, and I was given the choice of having it filleted or not.
It was filleted and it was great!
It may have been the most moist, fresh sea bass that I have
ever eaten. My appetizer
was a fresh spaghetti squash with goat cheese and it was excellent as
well. The wine list was
superb. Unfortunately, my
host ordered a rather humdrum bottle of Chianti Classico, which was
too subdued for the selections. I’d
recommend this place for a smaller, quieter place to go in the middle
of the world’s most dynamic city.
152 W. 52nd St.
New York, NY 10019
Before I entered the doors of the JUdson Grill, I was curious about
the unique spelling of its name.
However, in the spirit of joining my group of 12 for dinner, I
forgot to ask the hostess about the spelling.
The Grill is quite a trendy place in Midtown, is appointed with
all the latest in contemporary California look decorations and
furniture. I was
disappointed with the breadth of the menu and the wine list.
I wasn’t in the mood for a steak, but everything on the menu
was so strange sounding that I opted for the aged sirloin.
For starters, I thought I would play it safe with the short rib
soup. The gamble paid
off: the soup was
delicious! It was also
very filling. I was asked
to select the wine for the table.
There was a page of “auction” wines, which were $250/bottle
on average. I didn’t
want to order from this since I was buying.
I didn’t like the meager selection of Cabernet Sauvignon’s
so I opted for the 1999 Zinfandel from Paso Robles.
It was spicy, not too overbearing or alcoholic and just what
the doctor ordered. If
you want a unique dining experience in New York, bag this place.
If you want a fun bar with decent food, check it out.
By the way, the spelling reflects the old style way its phone
number was described, as in JUdson 2 –5252.
24 W. 55th Street
New York, NY 10019
Make reservations online at this restaurant at www.opentable.com
recent business excursion, I was treated to dinner at Michael’s by a
corporate attorney with the same first name.
I complimented him on his choice of restaurants and kidded
about his ego and why he named the restaurant after himself.
He informed me that it wasn’t the case.
The proprietor is a gentleman named Michael McCarty who founded
the Michael’s restaurant in Santa Monica, CA.
That, of course, explained the modern art throughout the
restaurant including the nude bronzes in the foyer (must have been
some great models!). Michael’s
cuisine is very Californian with light pastas, wood grilled seafood
and steaks. The wine list
was superb, focusing on California reds (a Wino John choice).
However, I chose to order a Chateauneuf du Pape which was
excellent. This place
seemed to be frequented by a number of business types, but I’d
recommend it as a place to take your spouse or date.
Quiet, out of the way, relaxing, with great food and wines.
160 E. 46th Street
New York, NY 10017
When I don’t have an urge to visit a special restaurant that I’ve
visited in the past, I usually ask the concierge at my hotel to
recommend a restaurant with a great wine list.
Such was the case this past week in New York. The concierge steered my two associates and me to Patroon,
just two blocks away from our hotel.
A quick glance at the menu and all three of us decided to order
steaks. Interestingly, we
each ordered something different:
an aged sirloin, a filet, and a Delmonico.
After the plates were served, we shared some of each cut to
compare. While each
selection was prepared medium rare, the meats had their own
distinctive and awesome taste. Meanwhile,
I had recently written a piece about the Tempranillo grape used in
Rioja wine. We asked the
sommelier for a bottle of his best Rioja.
He proudly brought us a 1995 Muga Reserve. He stated that the 1995 was tough to find, but he believed it
to be the best Rioja available. We
enjoyed the first bottle so much, we ordered another.
Kudos to the chef and kudos to the wine steward!
If you’re dining in midtown Manhattan, check this place out.
190 E. Duane
Duane at Greenwich
New York, NY
ROC is literally on the last corner that you can travel to before
hitting ground zero in lower Manhattan. The weather was warm and
a number of people were dining on its outside patio. The food is
Italian Continental. I had a daily special, Osso Bucco. The
veal practically pealed off the bone, was tender and succulent. The
essence was flavorful and the tomato fresh and light. My
coworker had fresh Chilean Sea Bass which he said was awesome. We
ordered a bottle of Tignanello 1997. I can't find a rating for
the 1997, but Parker rates the 1998 a 91 and says it doesn't match the
1997. Tignanello is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet
Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc. This baby was a full-bodied,
tannin-laden mensch. If Wino Bob doesn't seek a bottle of this
berry fruit, toasty oak, chewy, luscious wine for his BIG RED
collection, he's missing one. WinoWally
19 W. 49th St.
New York, NY 10020
Located beside the skating rink at Rockefeller Center, this restaurant
offers a seafood-oriented menu. Our
table of six ordered four different selections:
salmon, duck, sea bass, and crab cakes.
Everyone raved about the presentation and quality of the food.
I enjoyed my salmon. The
staff was polite, the view was unique, but I thought the prices were a
little steep. The cheapest wine by the glass was $13.
210 E. 46th Street
New York, NY 10017
I recently had the good fortune to be invited for dinner at Sparks
Steakhouse. When I asked
my host about the restaurant’s reputation, his comment was that this
was the restaurant where John Gotti jumped to the head of the mob by
having Paul Castellano bumped off on the sidewalk outside.
I said, ok, different reputation, but what’s the food and
wine like? His answer was
good. After my dinner, my
answer would be great! Walking
into the restaurant, before I spotted the Wine Spectator Grand Award
winner plaques, I spotted the largest collection of Methuselahs,
Jeroboams, Magnums, etc. that I had ever seen.
Everything is this restaurant is big.
The menu is big, the wine list is big, and the servings of food
are big. I ordered one of
the house specials for an appetizer.
It was fresh sliced tomatoes with a house special dressing.
Delicious! Had to
get a steak, so I ordered the 24 ounce Porterhouse.
those of you who have had to suffer the misfortune of ordering a steak
at a national chain house which won’t go below medium due to their
lawsuit concerns, that ain’t a concern here.
I ordered mine medium rare and it was perfect!
The wine list was about the longest I’ve seen (excluding
Berns’ in Tampa). My
host ordered Silver Oak Cabernet, 1996. Just released in February, this Cab had been unobtainable
from my local purveyor. As
usual, quite good. An
excellent choice if you’re looking for steak or lobster.
115 NW 22nd Ave.
Portland, OR 97210
When you walk into Il Fornaio, it's like walking into the old country.
The restaurant includes a café and bar area done in gleaning white
tiles, a sun room with a retractable roof for the rare gorgeous days
in Portland, and a dining room with lots of wood, fireplaces, and stunning large
old photographs. This restaurant is part of a California-based chain,
but the service and cuisine do not feel like you're part of a chain. According to the locals, the best reason for coming here is the bread.
However, when we were there, items such as spit-roasted rabbit
wrapped in pancetta and asparagus wrapped in prosciutto and served on
wild greens graced the menu. For lighter meals the designer pizzas are
enticing, and the pastas usually dependable. The wine list is
impressive with many hard-to-find California and Oregon wines
This place has been around forever, but keeps serving up memorable
dinners and boasts an extraordinary wine list. Recently tied for 11th
in Wine Spectator's top US restaurants.
Pawley's Island, South Carolina
This hole in the wall off of route 17 is one of the local's best kept
secrets. Reservations are tough to get on weekends, but during the
week, it's possible. Look for some of the hard to find reserve wines.
Inn at Little Washington
It's a bit of a drive from Washington, DC (approximately 70 miles).
I'd advise you to hire a limo if you can't get a room at the Inn.
Amazingly, this place has approximately 8 rooms, all of which are
severely pimped out since they're outfitting by a designer who
assisted with the decoration of the London Opera. If you can get a
room, take the wife or the significant other. You'll be on her
"A" list for a long time. I'd recommend this place for that
special anniversary. My wife enjoyed all of the food selections. Make
your reservations far in advance as this place also hit the Wine
Spectator top ten list.
Washington, DC 20004
Shortly after opening,
this clubby steakhouse on the Capitol end of Pennsylvania Avenue
established itself as the power restaurant of choice for congressional
Republicans. The menu is much like that of any other up-scale
steakhouse---massive cuts of aged beef, giant lobsters, cottage fries
and creamed spinach. The beef is displayed in the windowed walk-in
refrigerator near the entrance and is equal
to the quality of that at such other famed steakhouses as
Morton's, the Palm, and Ruth's Chris. The service I found to be
superior to the above named steakhouses.
The bar's wide open for cigar aficionados.
If you can get a table in the wine room, do it.
The wine list has an excellent selection of French and
California bottles featuring over 300 wines.
Wine bins are available for rental, many of which go to some of
the nation's powerhouse politicians.
A find for anyone who enjoys a great meal, great wine, and
ambiance oozing power.
The Caucus Room
401 Ninth St. NW
Washington, DC 20004
Billing itself as a nonpartisan restaurant---two of the principals are Democrat Tom Boggs and former RNC chairman Haley Barbour---The Caucus Room proves yet again that Washington can accommodate another high-brow destination for the kind of folks whose faces turn up regularly on C- SPAN and the night's news.
We liked the blackened grouper on brioche with the very peppery coating on the fish---will set you back a fair amount of change. Take heart, though; as the waiter warned, portions are very generous, indeed, so a little can go a long way. Include a soup or salad to start---the Caesar is ambitious with loads of cheese and buttered toast for croutons---but other choices include a seafood timbale with lobster and lump crab meat or Maryland crab cakes. In for the long haul? You might prefer herb-crusted Chilean sea bass or the filet mignon medallions. On tap for dessert, you may find chocolate cake, coconut cake, ice cream in different flavors and bread pudding. The dinner menu stars more seafood and red meat, and of course, larger prices, but not sandwiches. Most dinner entrées are available throughout the day. Breads are wonderful. The coffee is accompanied by real lump sugar and tongs, and the service is deferential. A must restaurant, if you like rubbing elbows with power brokers.
Anacortes, WA 98221
Washingtonians (the West Coast kind) are certainly familiar with
Anacortes as it's the departure and return point for many boaters,
both sailors and stinkpotters. While in Anacortes, we highly recommend
dining at the Nantucket Inn. Although the Inn has a fine reputation as
a bed and
breakfast, Lynda and Doug Bransford have developed a following for the
restaurant's cuisine and wine menu. As you might expect, seafood is
featured on the menu and the salmon and swordfish that we sampled
recently were excellent. While the wine menu focused on mainly US
varietals, we settled on an excellent Washington state wine from
Chateau St. Michelle.
1100 Fifth Avenue
Remember the Renee Zellwigger line “You had
me at hello”. The sweet potato gnocchi at Tulio’s is to die
for. I could have bagged the rest of my dinner with another
order. The sweet potato nicely complimented the cheese, garlic,
and cinnamon (yes, I think there was a hint of cinnamon) and the
dish melted in my mouth. It was so good that my companions had
to steal a bite. The halibut ordered by my friends was
excellent as was my sea bass which was listed on the menu under
its Italian name. The waitress offered to debone it at the
table and was quite skilled at undertaking that mission.
While the wine by the glass list at Tulio’s
is not as broad as I have experienced elsewhere, the wine list
is impressive. After reviewing my choices, I settled on a 2001
Tignanello. Ah, Tignanello, one of the Super Tuscans that one
can only enjoy when dining on an expense account or someone
else’s tab. Flavorful and good to the last drop, the bottle
lived up to its billing.
It was a Monday night (not the best in the
restaurant biz) and the crowd was a little sparse at Tulio’s,
but the food was great, wait staff was great, the atmosphere was
intimate, and the wine was great. I’d recommend this place to
anyone looking for an Italian restaurant in downtown Seattle.
find the restaurant or the city that you were looking for? The following links will
give you additional insight into wine-friendly restaurants:
- Here you can order the 2001 pocket guide entitled Passport to New York Restaurants
written by Wine Spectator auction correspondent Peter D. Meltzer and tabletop designer Amy
Meltzer. The guide sells for $11.95 or you can download a digital version for $9.95. Definitely a must for New Yorkers.
Riedel has introduced a Restaurant Search facility on their web site.
You can look up the details of a restaurant near you which uses Riedel Crystal. This will give you a chance
to explore for yourself the difference that Riedel glasses make to your
enjoyment of fine wines and other beverages.
you have a favorite restaurant with a wino-worthy cellar, drop
us a line and we'll share your treasured little secret with the
rest of the world, thus ruining your chances of getting your special
table ever again.