Philadelphia – 12/27/17 – Abe Fisher

Yet another fantastic spot in Philly and another place I’ve been wanting to try for a while.  The pickled mackerel dip was fabulous even though not what I was expecting with lettuce cups.  The sweet potato was perhaps the favorite, although the chicken was pretty great as well.  So glad I wasn’t dissuaded from this visit.

potato latke, herb sour cream, horseradish, aged cheddar

pickled mackerel dip, bibb lettuce, gribenes, beet pickled turnips

baked cheese blintz, mozzarella, Muenster, barley, roasted mushrooms

gin cured fluke, challah, whipped butter, pickled onion

sweet potato, boursin cheese smoked walnuts, pickled long hots

shakos chicken, dried apricot, parsnips, potato and swiss chard kugel

Philadelphia – 12/26/17 – Vernick Food & Drink

I had been wanting to come here for so long and it certainly did not disappoint.  If I lived in Rittenhouse I would probably be here once a week and hope for a seat at the bar with my name on it.


(I wish I could remember what this one was!)

beef tartare, fresh horseradish

yellowfin tuna & sugar snap peas, olive, yogurt, mint

San Diego – 12/17/17 – Born & Raised

I really want to like Born & Raised. The design is fabulous and I am happy for more high end concepts to enter San Diego. Unfortunately the service was terrible on this and a previous visit and unacceptable at this price point. My first issue, not unique to this restaurant, is being asked for a credit card when ordering the bar. It was not crowded and I was clearly ordering dinner. The bartender cannot keep track of me when I did not move? I despise this practice and what feels like punishment for preferring to dine solo at the bar while doing the restaurant the favor of not occupying a 2-top. I ordered 2 dishes that would be table side preparations if not at the bar (although I am told that if you order more than one table side preparation you will only actually get one). If I am not going to get the added show, could I at least have new flatware between courses? Or actually asked if I want the dishes coursed? While the tartare was excellent, the toast was a horrible choice as far too soft to actually support anything and created a collapsing mess each time I tried. I would have enjoyed a second cocktail, but alas I couldn’t get the bartender’s attention for 25 minutes. Perhaps why they need to ask for credit cards or people would get tired of waiting and just leave.

martini

caesar salad

steak tartare

San Diego – 12/14/17 – Biga Wood Fired Dinner Series

A great introduction to Biga for dinner which was part of their wood fired series featuring guest chef Drew Bent soon to open Lola 55 in San Diego.  All very good and flavorful dishes with the bonus of a surprising dessert that I loved.  I look forwarding to visiting Lola 55 and have already made a return visit to Biga based on the great hospitality.

trio of tostadas
loca ceviche – pineapple, jicama, chipotle
beef tartare – papilla, avocado, leek
fried oyster – basil, tomato, serrano, lemon

beets, potatoes, wood fired octopus, smoked saffron aioli, pickled spring onion parsley

tamale of porchetta, mole manchamantes, pickled vegetables, coal roasted plantain

oak baked yams, charred marshmallow, horchata of allspice & sugarcane

Paris – 11/25/17 – Clamato, Little Red Door, and Balagan

Clamato

Septime’s little sister Clamato is another place where I could easily eat everyday.  Incredibly fresh fish, fantastic flavors and perhaps the best service that I had on this trip.

trout from banka, marinated vegetables & white cheese

cuttlefish, sesame and chili

baked scallops, lard and sauvignon

Little Red Door
Definitely go at opening to the Little Red Door.  What an incredibly cute bar and I absolutely loved the architecture based menu concept.

Balagan
With a fitting name meaning ‘beautiful mess’ in Hebrew, Balagan is certainly un-Parisian aside from being part of the Experimental Group.  While quite a scene, it is incredibly energetic and I couldn’t help but have an amazing time.  And the food was amazing…that pictured as well as a few extras that I didn’t photograph.

frenavon bread

beef tartare damascus, herbs, pepper coulis, tahini

beetroot salad, spinach, arugula, mangetout pea, peas, feta cheese

scallops

Paris – 11/24/17 – Buvette, Le Syndicat and Chez La Vieille

Buvette
I stopped at Buvette for some vegetables to offset the cheese I was eating for 3 meals per day.  They were delicious but the service was truly horrible to the point that I considered leaving before I had even ordered and again after I finished my glass of wine and couldn’t seem to get another.

Le Syndicat
I have had several disappointing experiences at places on the Worlds 50 Best Bars list but had a fantastic experience at Le Syndicat.  It looks like an abandoned storefront in a slightly sketchy neighborhood and you could easily walk by it.  Very cool menu, great drinks and service.  I can’t wait to return.


Biggie Smalls Door
Marc de Bourgogne, Cap Corse Mattei, liqueur de gentiane, et cordial de pamplemousse & d’aneth

Undergroni
Eau de vie de framboise, Cap Corse Mettei, vermouth rouge, et sucette maison au piton

Chez La Vieille
Thank you Daniel Rose for reopening this spot, staffing it with amazing people from Spring, and creating such a fantastic environment.  Perhaps the best time I have had at dinner while traveling and if I lived in Paris I would be here once a week.  I could easily eat poireaux vinaigrette every day of the week and this version was excellent.  But the chicken was quite possibly the best chicken I have had in my life.  Yes everything in Paris seems better, and the chickens are different, but I have thought about this so often since.

Poireaux vinaigrette

Poulet fermier et puree de pomme de terre

Comte