Seattle Dining: Sazerac

July 31, 2013

Sazerac Restaurant (In the Hotel Monaco)
1101 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 624-7755

Web Site:  http://www.sazeracrestaurant.com/

It’s very rare that I get to sample most of a restaurant’s entire menu within the course of a few visits. It’s even rarer that I get to eat at one restaurant almost every day over the course of one week. In fact, I can’t even recall when I’ve ever done this.

But circumstances presented itself recently when I had the chance to stay for a week at Seattle’s Hotel Monaco, a boutique hotel owned by the Kimpton Group.  I ended up eating almost every dinner meal, two breakfasts and a lunch at the on-premises restaurant, Sazerac.

Typically, when I travel I try different restaurants and I have a chance to go out with different folks, but this was a unique situation where I spent 10 hours a day at the conference center and then came back at night to have something to eat.

I found Sazerac’s food to be so good, that I wanted to explore as much of the menu as I could.

A grand tour awaits at Sazerac in The Hotel Monaco. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Broward Dining: How Do You Roll?

July 14, 2013

How Do You Roll @ Sawgrass Landing
13775 W. Sunrise Blvd.
Sunrise, Florida 33323

Web Site: http://www.howdoyouroll.com

Twitter: @how_do_you_roll

Quick Serve Restaurants, or QSR’s, are all the rage right now in casual dining. The trend of serving “faster, but higher quality” food items than what is served fast food establishments can largely be attributed to Chipotle, which is now a huge success story in the food and restaurant industry.

Since Chipotle made it big, others are trying to figure out what the next big QSR concept is. A lot of stuff since has been various re-spins on the burger concept. Asian cuisine, particularly sushi, is not something QSR as a whole has attempted to tackle yet, due to much higher sanitary standards as well as issues of keeping fish fresh.

How Do You Roll, a QSR chain that originated in Texas (and was profiled on the TV showShark Tank)  is attempting to recreate Chipotle’s “Roll your own” model and success but with sushi and other Asian items. There are currently two locations in Florida, one in Sunrise and the other in Gainesville.

Rachel and I had the opportunity to visit the Sunrise HDYR location on a torrentially rainy saturday night with a group of sushi fans from Meetup.com when business was slow, so we got a chance to observe the franchise under optimal conditions for photography but not necessarily to see how service would perform under busy conditions.

As I mentioned, HDYR is a “Roll your own”, QSR restaurant where you pick from a list of ingredients and the sushi chefs put together your custom sushi roll, rice bowl or ramen soup.

HDYR is most definitely a “beginners” sushi place because there are only 3 raw fish types you can choose from, Tuna (Maguro), Salmon, Escolar (a bland white fish, sometimes referred to as “White Tuna”), and “Spicy” variants of the same. Additional proteins that can be rolled are cooked Beef, Chicken, Crawfish Tails, Surimi (“Krab Sticks”), Shrimp, Eel and Tofu.

There is also a nice variety of fruits, vegetables and a number of different sauces and toppings/condiments which allows for a good combination of things for the diner to create. Pre-designed roll combinations range from $3 to $7, so you’re looking at about half of what a mid-range sushi restaurant charges for similar items.

Like at a Chipotle, or a sub shop chain, you order at the counter and they give you a number and you sit down. When your number is called you either go up to get your order, or depending how busy the place is, they bring it to you. The place was so completely dead that evening due to the weather that we got first class table service.

Is How Do You Roll a fresh or a dead fish? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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The Last Supper with David

May 8, 2010

New York Times’ David Corcoran, who’s wonderful restaurant reviews have graced the “Old Gray Lady’s” NJ Metro/Dining section for 10 years.

My foray into food blogging has almost certainly had much to do with my respect and admiration for the newspaper writers, who’s level of reviewing standards I could never even try to emulate with any degree of success.

The print newspaper and magazine staff restaurant writer is a dying breed, one who’s role has had to change with the times, if not for the challenges that newspapers and  other periodicals must now face in competition with the food blogs and other new media outlets.

That being said, I am sad to see this occur, even if I am a willing participant and advocate in this change of focus towards the Web.

Perhaps one of my saddest moments in this realization was a happy occasion — having a wonderful Chinese dinner with a newspaper restaurant reviewer that I call a friend and mentor, who had told me that this meal would be his final review.

Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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NJ Dining: Tandoori Chef/Madras Bistro

February 26, 2010

Tandoori Chef
258 Main St, Hackensack, NJ

Rachel and I recently re-visited Tandoori Chef, which has been under new ownership for 3 years. Tandoori Chef used to be part of the same restaurant group as the now closed Indian Chef in the International Food Warehouse in Lodi, but has since undergone significant changes, including the re-branding of the cafe space that it owns next door, which used to be Veggie Express but is now Madras Bistro. It should also be noted that Tandoori Chef has recently lowered the price of its lunch buffet to under $10 a person, and we intend on checking that out soon.

Indian Chef and Madras Bistro in Hackensack are serving some of the best North Indian and South Indian Food in Bergen County.

Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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NJ Dining: Huong Viet

February 15, 2010

Huong Viet
358 Passaic Avenue, Nutley NJ

When your favorite restaurants close, there is always a mourning period. Sometimes, you know that they are going to be gone forever, but in other cases, you get a glimmer of hope, hearing rumors that they may open again somewhere else.

One such restaurant was Little Saigon in Montclair, a Vietnamese favorite with a loyal clientele. Little Saigon had closed before, due to a fire in its original Nutley location on Franklin Avenue in 2003. The restaurant  re-opened in 2005 in a much larger Montclair space on Elm Street. In October of 2009, Little Saigon closed suddenly and without any warning.

But late last year we heard rumors that the owners were going to re-open, and re-open it did, in the original town where it all started, in Nutley. However, “Little Saigon” is no longer — it has returned to business, with the same owners, as Huong Viet on Passaic Avenue, in a much more manageable space than its previous location.

Huong Viet is the new Pho King of Nutley. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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NJ Dining: Last Meal at The Citrus Grille

February 13, 2010

Last night, our friends who live in the Ramsey/Mahwah area introduced us to one of their favorite restaurants, The Citrus Grille, located in nearby Airmont, NY, which is owned by CIA-trained chef Steve Chrisitanson, who cut his culinary chops at New York City’s The Four Seasons Restaurant under the late Christian Albin.

I was extremely looking forward to adding another fine dining location to our list, only to hear from our friends that this was the restaurant’s last weekend after 13 years in business.

However, there is a silver lining to this story. While The Citrus Grille will be closing after Valentine’s Day weekend, Christianson will be opening a new restaurant in nearby Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, in a newly constructed space in the Fall of 2010. So think of this post as a preview of great things to come, and not a goodbye.

While the new restaurant doesn’t have a name yet, I’ll keep you apprised of upcoming developments.

I apologize in advance for the lighting/color in the photos, as we were sitting by a nice warm fireplace that was giving off orange light.

What do you start the evening off with? Why, a green tea Zen Martini.

Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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NJ-Based Chinese OTB Groupie Needed

January 18, 2010

Yup, it’s finally come down to this, we’re absolutely desperate. We’re looking for that special someone who can speak Mandarin, Cantonese and other regional Chinese dialects that is familiar with the New Jersey Chinese restaurant scene and knows how to get us “The Good Stuff”.  There are restaurants we’d like to go to, but our lack of Sino-communication skills are preventing us from getting the very best authentic dishes.

If you can tolerate hanging out with a bunch of hungry and loud food-obsessives that like to take photos of every single thing they eat, inquire within to jperlow AT Gmail DOT com.