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Baby on the Way!

So it has been a severely long time since we had a new restaurant post! We found out we were pregnant and got so excited and caught up in it all we just started slacking.

New posts coming soon and looking forward to sharing our +1 dining experiences with you!

The Smiths

Gramercy Tavern - NYC 2012

Score = 2.0 (Service by waitress)

4.0 (Service by hostess and bar staff)

3.5 (Food)

Price = $$$$

Website:

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Our scoring scale for reference:

1 - Never coming here again; 2 - Edible but lacks significant flavor; 3 - Just fine, nothing exciting or wrong; 4 - Delicious!; 5 - CANNOT MISS restaurant.

Per person: $: $1-20; $$: $21-40; $$$: $41-60; $$$$: $61+

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Another restaurant on our NYC must-try restaurant list for was Gramercy Tavern. We had heard so many great things about it that we knew we needed to try it! So after a hard day at Broadway and watching the amazing Newsies team we headed there for dinner. We have to admit, and sadly so, very underwhelmed. The food was delicious but nothing to shout from the rooftops and the service left a lot to be desired.

Don’t want to dwell too much on a negative review but really, for the cost, there are better restaurants with the same or better food and much better service!

To be fair I think it is important to note the hostess and bartender were quite nice but our server made us feel unwelcome and and second guessing our choice. She did not make us feel like she was happy we were there or that we were worth her time. Just to note not only did we order the prim fixe menu but we also ordered a bottle of wine and multiple desserts and after dinner drinks so it wasn’t like we were trying to be cheapskates here (but even if we were who is she to judge?!).

And enough with the negative - end on a positive right?? They gave us amazingly delicious coffee cake muffins as a take home treat!! They were lovely for the plane ride! Enjoy the pictures of our delicious meal!

LOVE FOOD. ENJOY LIFE. ~ The Smiths




Bawarchi Express - San Diego, CA

Score = 4.0

Price = $

Website: http://www.sdbawarchi.com 

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Our scoring scale for reference:

1 - Never coming here again; 2 - Edible but lacks significant flavor; 3 - Just fine, nothing exciting or wrong; 4 - Delicious!; 5 - CANNOT MISS restaurant. 

Per person: $: $1-20; $$: $21-40; $$$: $41-60; $$$$: $61+

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This is our go-to Indian restaurant in San Diego.  After trying at least 8 other Indian restaurants in and around San Diego this one finally had all the flavors and spices we needed to make it a true Indian meal.  

The other Indian Restaurants: All the other restaurants were flavorless, watered down and lacking in spices.  Many of them actually ran water on the plate when you spooned it on.

What makes Bawarchi different: Strong flavors, intense spices, real butter and oil used!  This is not your SoCal healthy food :)

Now we need to note this is not a fancy sit-down Indian restaurant.  It is a cafeteria style Indian restaurant with 6 or so choices for entrees.

They also have a full menu of entrees and dosa as well.  Everything we have tried is delicious and really feels like Indian home cooking.  Our recommendation is if it sounds good/ looks good try it!

Our favorites:

- Chicken Tikka Masala (yes, this is a white people Indian dish USUALLY but not how they do it.  It is extremely flavorful and has a wonderful blend of spices.)

- Vegetable dish (has carrots, cauliflower, potatoes and is NOT Aloo Gobi)

- Goat Curry (heads up - it has the bone!)

- Chana Masala (chickpeas)

- Carrot Halwa (dessert)

It is also important to note that everyone is friendly and welcoming when you eat there.  ENJOY!

LOVE FOOD. ENJOY LIFE.  ~ The Smiths

NOLA Food! - Sept 2012

Review of multiple New Orleans food stops during a recent trip to the Big Easy!  Lindsay was on this trip for a bachelorette party so, sadly, Russell did not get to participate.

Restaurants:

- Daisy Dukes (24 hour diner)

- Cafe Du Monde

- Sucre (sweets shop)

- Cafe Soule

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Our scoring scale for reference:

1 - Never coming here again; 2 - Edible but lacks significant flavor; 3 - Just fine, nothing exciting or wrong; 4 - Delicious!; 5 - CANNOT MISS restaurant. 

Per person: $: $1-20; $$: $21-40; $$$: $41-60; $$$$: $61+

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Daisy Dukes - 24 hour diner

Score = 3.0 (solid for real diner food)

Price = $

Website: http://www.daisydukesrestaurant.com

I can definitely sign off on their pancakes, bacon and apple pie!  A great spot to finish off the night after being out on Bourbon Street.

 

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Cafe Du Monde

Score: 4.0

Price: $ 

Website:  http://www.cafedumonde.com

No trip to the Big Easy is complete without the delicious fried dough and chicory coffee from Cafe Du Monde!  These pastries are world famous for a reason and definitely worth the experience!

Advice:

- Go early (like before 8:30am)

- If there is a long line just skip the line and order to-go at the window and eat in one of the nearby parks!

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Sucre

Score: 4.5

Price: $$ (expensive for macarons but worth it!)

Website: http://www.shopsucre.com 

We went here on Saturday morning/ early afternoon and it was well worth the bus trip from the French Quarter.  Situated in the Garden District, adorable little shopping and beauty area, it is a quick bus trip down Magazine Street.

I did not try the chocolates but they look amazing.

The macarons are PHENOMENAL though and a must-try for anyone in the New Orleans area that likes desserts!

My favorites: PB&J, Salted Carmel, Almond (traditional)

Least favorites: Chocolate and Hazelnut

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Cafe Solue

Score: 2.0

Price: $$

Website:

This was an adorable little creperie that we found during our trip.  Reviews were fairly solid but I think we hit them on an off night.  They had a private party in their upstairs area so I do not think all hands were on deck for the main dining room.

They had a limited menu of basically only crepes but no one knew how to actually cook the crepes. The first savory course was decently cooked but some crepes were cooked better than others.  The dessert ones were horribly burnt so that was really the icing on the cake for the 2 score.

I want to actually go back and give the another try because the menu looked really fun if someone knew how to cook the crepes!

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Overall the food was great wherever we went.  Even the cheapest diners had good gumbo and shrimp!  It was fun :D

I CANNOT WAIT TO GO BACK!!!

LOVE FOOD. ENJOY LIFE.  ~ L Smith

Le Bernardin - NYC 2012

Score = 5 (perfect score - this one is for the record books!)

Price = $$$$$ (yes, it’s above 4 - purposefully!)

Website: www.le-bernardin.com 

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Our scoring scale for reference:

1 - Never coming here again; 2 - Edible but lacks significant flavor; 3 - Just fine, nothing exciting or wrong; 4 - Delicious!; 5 - CANNOT MISS restaurant. 

Per person: $: $1-20; $$: $21-40; $$$: $41-60; $$$$: $61+

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First we want to say Thank You to the amazing staff at Le Bernardine for making our first experience one that will set the standard for years to come!


Le Bernardin is a 3 star Michelin restaurant that has been on our radar since we deemed ourselves “foodies”. The head chef is Eric Ripert and his menu has always sounded amazing and mouthwatering!

Our dinner was a tasting menu comprised of seafood dishes, paired with wine and delicious homemade breads between each course.


Atmosphere: Soothing, comfortable, inviting all come to mind when talking about the feel of the restaurant.  There was no judgment about our age or why we were there.  We were treated with just as much respect as the table of Japanese business men next to us giving Rolex’s out to their partners.

Food & wine: Fantastic parings!  The only criticism we have of the entire night though was the sommelier was VERY soft spoken and we were not able to hear everything about each wine.

Our Favorites from Dinner!

Peekytoe Crab:

Scallops:

Dessert: This was something really great for Lindsay.  She was not excited about the dessert available on the prix fixe menu and before she even had to ask for a substitute the wait staff asked if she wanted a substitute.  So often when we go to a restaurant with a prix fixe menu there are adamit about “no exceptions or substitutes” but Le Bernardin had no hesitation about serving it exactly as we both wanted it!  

Black Forest (Russell);

Chocolate Peanut (Lindsay):


Overall:  If you are looking for a seriously special splurge Le Bernardin is everything it is hyped up to be!

 LOVE FOOD. ENJOY LIFE.  ~ The Smiths

Wine Vault and Bistro (yes, again)

Score = 4.0

Price = $$

Website: http://winevaultbistro.com

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Our scoring scale for reference:

1 - Never coming here again; 2 - Edible but lacks significant flavor; 3 - Just fine, nothing exciting or wrong; 4 - Delicious!; 5 - CANNOT MISS restaurant. 

Per person: $: $1-20; $$: $21-40; $$$: $41-60; $$$$: $61+

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So I will not carry on but I feel like I would be seriously remiss if I didn’t write about our experience a few months ago at Wine Vault in San Diego. We did the winemaker dinner with a 5 course tasting menu and wine parings from Seghesio vineyard in/near Sonoma county. The owner/ grandson of the original vineyard owners who came from Italy over 100 years ago, came to the restaurant and shared his family story and the history of their wines. He was captivating but also genuine. You could tell he loved what he does and truly loves his job - which was refreshing! The food and wine pairings were amazing - although still not sold on the Zin and white fish concept….. But overall a completely delicious meal. We would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun an special dinner in the San Diego area. They do the winemakers pretty much every Sunday and you can find the calendar on their website: www.winevaultandbistro.com. I also recommend giving Seghesio a try if you go up to Sonoma! www.seghesio.com

 LOVE FOOD. ENJOY LIFE.

Hash House a Go-Go - San Diego, CA

Score = 4.5

Price = $$ (2.5)

Website: http://www.hashhouseagogo.com/ 

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Our scoring scale for reference:

1 - Never coming here again; 2 - Edible but lacks significant flavor; 3 - Just fine, nothing exciting or wrong; 4 - Delicious!; 5 - CANNOT MISS restaurant. 

Per person: $: $1-20; $$: $21-40; $$$: $41-60; $$$$: $61+

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We had 2 friends in town for different reasons, Jeff and Hahdi, and wanted to find somewhere fun to take them for brunch.  Hash House A Go-Go was definitely a great choice!

First thing to note - GET HERE EARLY - there was a 45 minute wait and we got there before the biggest rush.  

Second thing to note - THE PORTIONS ARE MASSIVE - I would really recommend splitting a dish with someone when you go here.

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Our first experience here was great.  The food was delicious, the service was fast and our tummies were incredibly happy!

Ordered:

- Grilled French Toast: Very banana-y - if you are not a fan of banana I would not recommend it.  Overall good but Lindsay was not as much of a fan with the banana flavor.

- Farm Scrambler (shown above): With eggs, veggies, cheese and other delicious toppings.  Everyone at the table loved this one. The biscuit was a bit dry though.

- Sage fried chicken & biscuits and gravy (pictured below): Very good gravy but the biscuits are a bit dry.  With the gravy quite delicious though!

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Overall we would recommend enjoying the flavors and fun restaurant for yourself :)

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 LOVE FOOD. ENJOY LIFE.

Andy’s Coffee Shop - Pasadena, CA

Score = 3.5

Price = $

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Our scoring scale for reference:

1 - Never coming here again; 2 - Edible but lacks significant flavor; 3 - Just fine, nothing exciting or wrong; 4 - Delicious!; 5 - CANNOT MISS restaurant. 

Per person: $: $1-20; $$: $21-40; $$$: $41-60; $$$$: $61+

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We had a morning when Russell was visiting Lindsay in Pasadena that breakfast was necessary.  A friend, Kristy, recommended Andy’s Coffee Shop as a good greasy spoon kind of place.  The three of us went to breakfast and it was delicious!

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Althought we could have walked we decided driving made more sense.  We both had a large plate breakfast - Lindsay with French Toast and Russell with pancakes.  The coffee was good, the pancakes were like homemade and the french toast was delicious!

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We would recommend this stop for anyone in Pasadena that wants a good diner breakfast!

LOVE FOOD. ENJOY LIFE. 

Wine Vault & Bistro - San Diego, CA

Score = 4 (very solid 4)

Price = $$

Website: http://winevaultbistro.com/

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Our scoring scale for reference:

1 - Never coming here again; 2 - Edible but lacks significant flavor; 3 - Just fine, nothing exciting or wrong; 4 - Delicious!; 5 - CANNOT MISS restaurant. 

Per person: $: $1-20; $$: $21-40; $$$: $41-60; $$$$: $61+

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A few weeks ago we decided to try a new restaurant that was recommended to us - WIne Vault & Bistro (3731 India St # A  San Diego, CA 92103).  They have 2 menu options: prix fixe or a choice prix fixe menu.

We have now experiences both and they were both a DELICIOUS evening. 

Our review: From the minute you walk in the door you feel like you are walking into a friend’s home for dinner.  Wine Vault gave us some of the best and friendliest service we have had in a long time.  It was refreshing!

All Prix Fixe menus - only open Thurs- Sat - wine pairing for an additional (yet surprisingly) small fee.

The only change we would make is the size of the components in each dish. Example:  Salmon appetizer, there was not enough English muffin to enjoy with the salmon (and we cut we cut the muffin into small portions).

Fun note:  If you like your wine paring you can purchase a bottle and take it home!

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February 3, 2011:

Menu: (bolded show the items we chose)

PRIX FIXE 3-COURSE DINNER - 20 | WINE PAIRING - 15 

pick one from each category below 

 

1st 

nueske bacon raviolo | parsnip | apple | parmesan | mustard sprouts 

2009 atteca garnacha (5 oz. pour) 

  

smoked salmon rillettes | dill | toasted capers | cucumber relish | english muffin 

2010 gérard bertrand chardonnay (5 oz. pour) 

  

griffin farms beets | housemade ricotta | roquette | brown butter | hazelnuts 

2010 cass roussanne (5 oz. pour) 

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2nd 

local yellowtail | chino farms turnips | nori | walla walla onion fondue | pea tendrils 

2008 cazar “sonoma county” chardonnay (or) 2009 cazar “sonoma coast” pinot noir (5 oz. pour) 

  

braised local winter greens | squashes | walnuts | cauliflower | onion jus | slow-cooked egg 

2007 bodegas m “tinto de paso” tempranillo (5 oz. pour) 

  

cassoulet: beans stewed with root vegetables | baby celery | dulce de leche | rosemary 

2009 record “randy’s” red rhône blend (5 oz. pour) 

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3rd 

smoked chocolate mousse | graham ice cream | toasted marshmallow | crumble 

bols crème de cassis (1 oz. pour) 

  

rogue stout cheddar | bourbon onions | apricot coulis | caraway brioche | mizuna 

cossart gordon 5-year bual madeira (2 oz. pour) 

  

apple “tarte tatin” | brown butter cream | ricotta | caramel powder | px sherry 

tuaca (1 oz. pour)

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Or favorites of our first visit here were:
- Bacon raviolo was so good and a surprisingly great pairing
- Cassoulet was amazing!
- Rogue stout cheddar
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Second visit!
San Francisco - First San Fran Trip - Dec 2011

Heads up - this is a long one since we are writing about our entire weekend! 

We went on a weekend trip to the “City By The Bay - Californ-I-A…a-yea,yea!” (as our tour bus driver called out every 5 minutes on the trip, haha.)

We scheduled the trip because neither of us had been before but also to indulge in all of the delicious food choices AND (our most important reason) cheering on our St. Louis Rams at Candlestick park!  

We thought we would use this not only for restaurants but also the fun to-do’s that we decided to give a try.

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Our scoring scale for reference:

1 - Never coming here again; 2 - Edible but lacks significant flavor; 3 - Just fine, nothing exciting or wrong; 4 - Delicious!; 5 - CANNOT MISS restaurant. 

Per person: $: $1-20; $$: $21-40; $$$: $41-60; $$$$: $61+

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December 2, 2011

We arrived at SFO and decided to take a taxi to our hotel, Serrano Hotel, near Union Square.  We LOVED this hotel and would highly recommend it!

We checked in and hopped on the pre-purchased double-decker tour bus a few blocks from our hotel.  (I would definitely recommend doing one if you have never been here before.  Catch them at the right time of the year and you can get 2 days of travel for the price of one - we never used any other public transportation because of the tour buses!)

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Cafe de la Presse

Lunch

Score: 3 for food; 1.5 for service.

Price: $$

The food was just fine - typical French food with good flavor.  The problem - the service was horrible!  It took almost 45 mins to get our food to our table and we only got two small entres.  Also note - it was not busy at all.  We even had the server apologize to us 3 times - however, no manager came to our table and no one apologized when the food finally came out.

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Alcatraz (night tour)

Score: 5

Price: $$

AMAZING experience at night - highly recommend it!  In winter the “night” tour is 4:20pm so you still have the evening after you are finished.  Well worth the money!  If you go at night though be very cognizant of the temperature drop - we both needed hat, gloves & scarf once the sun went down - the wind was rough on the water ride back.

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Fino

Dinner

Score: 4  so good!

Price: $$$

Overall great!  We had gnocchi and risotto and both had perfect flavor and were cooked precisely.  The waiter made a great wine selection as well!

We had tiramisu and cheesecake for dessert and almost all desserts are made in house.  I would recommend both.  We also had a delicious Honig wine with dinner - we would recommend that as well.

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December 3, 2011

Honey, Honey

Score: 2.5

Price: $

We had the crab cake florentine & a strawberry/banana/kiwi crepe - neither were very good.  The crab cake was fine - did have flavor.  The crepe came recommended and was BLAND.  As well, it took 30 mins to come out - after people that ordered after us received their food I asked about ours and it finally came out. It tasted like it has been under the hot lamp for a while. Worth a try, as the menu looked fun, but we will not be going back.

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Walt Disney Museum

Score: 4

Price: $ (our tour bus tickets got us a $3/person discount!)

Really fun for Disney lovers!  It was really fun to see Walt’s dream recreated.  In usual Disney style, the museum takes you to another world full of imagination!  Highly recommend for Disney lovers.

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Cha Cha Cha (In Haight & Ashbury area)

Score: 3.5 - really good on some plates (4’s) and just ok on others (3’s)

Price: $

Chicken curry empanada - Just ok - good and different but not amazing

Pepper and goat cheese sandwich - also delicious!

Plantain fries - different and yummy!

Guac and chips - actually quite good and obviously homemade - big chunks of avacado

It has a super fun atmosphere and we would recommend coming here.  When we come back I will probably ask the server for their favorites.  That is typically a win-win situation.

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Chutney

So this restaurant is on the outer cusp of the “Tenderloin” (bad area of San Fran) but is worth the trip!  And is actually ok to walk to - we would not recommend alone - but it is safe enough.  We would definitely recommend this restaurant if you are close and craving Indian.

Score: 4

Price: $

Paneer Tikka Masala - delicious and flavorful!

Gobi Gosht - Really good!  Flavor was delicious and cooked quite well.

Naan & Papadam - Good - nothing really to report

Chicken tandoori - Good flavor, cooked well (can’t really mess this up)

Mango lassi - really good, a bit thin, but good flavor

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December 4, 2011

Dottie’s True Blue Cafe (Diners, Drive-ins and Dives recommendation)

Score: 3.75 (Lindsay gives it 3.5, Russell a 4)

Price: $

Definitely good for a diner breakfast - but the line is super long so BE PREPARED.  

Bread pudding (yes, we had dessert before our meal)

Meal: Coffee cake (HUGE piece, we couldn’t finish it); home style potatoes; Whisky sausage and mushroom scramble

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Scoma

Score: 4

Price: $$$

Seafood and delicious!  We started with their Lobster Bisque - it was very good, but not the best we have had.  I would get it if you like bisque though!  Lindsay was not feeling well so she did not get any food but Russell got the fresh garlic roasted Dungeness Crab, whole.  The garlic roasted was delicious however, when we go back we will probably get the regular whole Dungeness Crab.

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December 5, 2011

Go Bistro (in the SFO airport southwest terminal)

Score: 3.5

Price: $

Chinese Chicken Salad & Thai Shrimp and Pineapple Fried Rice

Both were quite good!  We were impressed for an airport restaurant as well as the rest of the menu.  We will probably go back whenever we are in SFO.

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Thank you for sharing our journey to San Fran!  Happy New Year!

Russell & Lindsay Smith

 LOVE FOOD. ENJOY LIFE.