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Table of Content for dining:

More pages: December 2023 August 2019 July 2019 June 2019 February 2019 January 2019 November 2018 August 2018 July 2018 November 2017 August 2017 May 2017 January 2017 December 2016 November 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 April 2016 December 2015 August 2015 January 2015 December 2014 August 2014 May 2014 August 2013 June 2013 March 2013 December 2012 November 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 August 2011 July 2011 November 2010 June 2010 November 2009





2023/12/31 NYE Dinner at Villa 9 Trois
π 2023-12-31 01:01 in Dining, Family, France, Ndining
We had been there before in previous years, and I was happy to invite my dad and Patricia for another NYE dinner there. It was a fixed menu. Of course it wasn't cheap, as nothing is on NYE, but it was quite good without being too much food:
















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2019/08/08 Anniversary Dinner at La Folie
π 2019-08-08 01:01 in Dining, Ndining
We had already been at La Folie in the past, but it had been a while, and it's a good restaurant in SF, so we were happy to go back for our anniversary (a couple of days early):









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2019/07/01 7 Course Tasting Menu at de Silveren Spiegel in Amsterdam
π 2019-07-01 01:01 in Dining, Ndining
While in Amsterdam, I found a very nice restaurant Yves Van Der Hoff, a young 24 year old chef with much talent.

We got their 7 course tasting menu (skipping the cheese in the 8 course option), and the dishes were quite nice. The price was quite reasonable considering that this easily rivaled michelin star restaurants we've eaten at.
The only thing they could easily improve is having a fancier wine pairing option. The one they had was well priced but also pretty basic wines. They could offer a more expensive pairing option with older and better wines.













2019/06/20 75th Anniversary Dinner with my Dad at Hélène Darroze in Paris
π 2019-06-20 01:01 in Dining, Ndining
This was our 4th time there. The first time was best as she was not too well known yet. That was mid 2000's. By the 2nd time, the prices had more or less doubled and by the 3rth time in 2014, her prices had stayed quite high, but the service had gone way down, to embarassing levels.

Thankfully for this 4th time, the service was back to where it should have been. The base menu price stayed in the expensive range, they finally stopped forcing you to buy pointless bottled water for prices higher than good wines by offering filtered water if you asked enough, but they sure upsold you a lot on drinks with no price at all. They didn't even publish the price of the wine pairing...

The nice surprise is that we got the chef's table by the kitchen and were greeted by Hélène who was working there that day, and took a few pictures with us).
The meal itself was great and my dad was very happy to get pictures with Hélène, so that worked out great as a 75th BD dinner.




















they didn't have 1944, for my dad's birth year, but they had 1941
they didn't have 1944, for my dad's birth year, but they had 1941




2019/02/06 Dinner at Jerome Ferrer's Europea in Montreal
π 2019-02-06 01:01 in Dining, Ndining
I arrived in Montréal with not a lot of research for food and when I looked for a nearby restaurant that offered seared foie gras, I randomly ended up at Europea which had a 10+ course tasting menu and was the top restaurant in town. Somehow I was late enough on the right day of the week to get a last minute table. Lucky me :)



this soup was made by heating up the liquid and making it climb into its mushrooms
this soup was made by heating up the liquid and making it climb into its mushrooms




they gave us VR goggles to watch where the oysters came from
they gave us VR goggles to watch where the oysters came from




then came time for cheese which they made for us from milk
then came time for cheese which they made for us from milk


it didn't have much taste though, salt, oil and vinegar helped
it didn't have much taste though, salt, oil and vinegar helped

I had to paint the next menu for the content to appear
I had to paint the next menu for the content to appear





2019/01/26 Chillingworth Road Fine Dining Restaurant in Christchurch
π 2019-01-26 01:01 in Dining, Ndining
Jennifer found a nice find dining restaurant around Christchurch. It was not too fancy looking, but still had a nice multi course dinner:








2018/11/29 Ohahu Fine Dining #4: Maru Zushi
π 2018-11-29 01:01 in Dining, Ndining
Since we were in Ohahu for a few days, and there were lots of good restaurants in Waikiki where we were staying,
Night #4 was Maru Zushi, another very good Tokyo Ginza like sushi tasting menu with more dishes than we were able to count:












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2018/11/28 Ohahu Fine Dining #3: Senia
π 2018-11-28 01:01 in Dining, Ndining
Since we were in Ohahu for a few days, and there were lots of good restaurants in Waikiki where we were staying,
Night #3 was Senia, a custom tasting menu at the chef's counter. It had plenty of food, but when I saw a bone marrow dish go by that seemed very tasty, I added that to our tasting :)









7 extra deserts for the road :)
7 extra deserts for the road :)

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2018/11/27 Ohahu Fine Dining #2: Chef Mavro
π 2018-11-27 01:01 in Dining, Ndining
Since we were in Ohahu for a few days, and there were lots of good restaurants in Waikiki where we were staying,
Night #2 was Chef Mavro, a French-like 9 course tasting menu with Hawaiin Flair. It wasn't bad :)









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2018/11/26 Ohahu Fine Dining #1: Sushi Sho
π 2018-11-26 01:01 in Dining, Ndining
Since we were in Ohahu for a few days, and there were lots of good restaurants in Waikiki where we were staying
Night #1 was Sushi Sho, a Tokyo Ginza like master sushi restaurant. It was around 20 courses and they were yummy :)










Oh yeah, we also took the 8 course sake sampler, and the portions were generous. That was probably less of a great idea, too much sake :)

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2018/08/07 Anniversary Dinner Meadowood
π 2018-08-07 01:01 in Dining, Ndining
Jennifer booked us a table at Meadowood 3 months early when their calendar opened up. It's a competitor to French Laundry in Napa, which features Californian food instead of French food.

It was a fancy 10 course menu, well presented, and not as much food as French Laundry (both good or bad depending on how you look at it).
The food itself was good, including a nice helping of good tasting caviar, but the French person in me was disappointed at the total lack of any bread, and when I asked about some, all they had to offer was sourdough, which I politely declined :)

The desserts were ok, but not to the same level as a French restaurant like French Laundry, but I'm obviously biased :)

All in all, it was still a good meal which we quite enjoyed, and their reservations were easier to get than French Laundry, so that's also a plus. A few pictures:














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2018/07/25 Birthday Dinner at Sushi Yoshizumi
π 2018-07-25 01:01 in Dining, Ndining
Was lucky enough to get a reservation at Sushi Yoshizumi in San Mateo for my birthday. It was a bit in the style of Sushi restaurants you can find in Ginza, although maybe not exactly to the same level, but at least the best you can find in the bay area :)

It was pretty and yummy :)














2017/11/06 Ming Court Michelin Tasting Menu in Hong Kong
π 2017-11-06 01:01 in Dining, Ndining
One evening in Hong Kong we had time for a somewhat better dinner. I got a recommendation for Michelin rated Ming Court, and we took their full tasting menu which was a mix of Eastern and Western fares. While it didn't top some of the similar tasting menus we've had elsewhere, they had an interesting mix of things that we hadn't tried elsewhere.

The presentation sure was nice:










2017/08/06 Two michelin rated restaurants in Edinburgh: Number One and Anniversary Dinner at The Kitchin
π 2017-08-06 01:01 in Dining, Greatbritain2017, Ndining
While I was prepared for pretty bad food in the UK, it's actually plenty of decent to good restaurants, and we went to visit some of them. Edinburgh (Scotland), has plenty of good restaurants, and we went to try 2 Michelin rated ones.

Number one had a tasting menu of 4, 7, or 10 courses. For that day, we figured the 7 course one would be enough. Jennifer got the premium wine pairing to go with it:









a few deserts to finish the meal :)
a few deserts to finish the meal :)

Two days later was our anniversary and Jennifer booked a dinner for us at The Kitchin (yes, it's spelled that way), another michelin rated restaurant. We took the premium tasting menu and Jennifer got the premium wine pairing:









Neither were amongst the top restaurants we've eaten at in Paris or California, but they were both a good dining experience, although not quite competitive in price with similarly good options in California (price was similar except it was UK pounds instead of dollars)

2017/05/24 Dinner at Quince, the Latest 3 Star Michelin Rated Restaurant in SF
π 2017-05-24 01:01 in Dining, Ndining
Since we were in SF to go see a Hamilton matinée (great show by the way), we used the opportunity to have dinner at Quince. Funny thing is that it's on the other side of the wall from Coi, with 2 stars.

I guess they are Saison's competitor and honestly Saison was totally overpriced without being better. Quince is definitely a better deal, and had more courses (not that more is always better, but in this case it was).

Some pictures:



















Definitely a good dinner and Jennifer enjoyed the wine course (good pairings).

2017/05/06 Omakase @ Mitsunobu
π 2017-05-06 01:01 in Dining, Ndining
I wanted to give Jennifer a change from home cooking, so we went to Mitsunobu for their Omakase tasting menu. It was good :)








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2017/01/22 Fine Dining in Stillwater, Launceston, Tasmania
π 2017-01-22 01:01 in Dining, Ndining, Tasmania2017
As luck would have it, I randomly picked a restaurant in Launceston that was conveniently located where we'd be, and it turns out it was a top rated Michelin rated restaurant. We went with Andy and had a great dinner:





2016/12/28 5 Course Tasting Menu at Alexandre, Bruxelles
π 2016-12-28 01:01 in Belgium, Dining, Ndining
After arriving in Bruxlles, we tried to make a reervation in the nice restaurants that were open, which was hard given that it was between Xmas and New Year's. Eventually some stupid tripadvisor owned side, fork.be, told us we had a reservation at Alexandre, when in fact we had none at all, and they did not expect us at all when we showed up.
Thankfully they very nicely agreed to take us anyway, although we were limited to the 5 course tasting menu instead of the full 9-10 course one. Life can be tough that way at times :)









2016/12/25 Xmas with my Mom
π 2016-12-25 01:01 in Dining, Family, Ndining
Another year, another Xmas lunch with my Mom, brother and family. Nice day as always:






2016/12/21 Multiple Dinners around Xmas with my Dad, Francs, and Hodges
π 2016-12-21 01:01 in Dining, Family, Ndining
Multiple dinners over multiple days with different family and friends. Lots of food, and good times:


















And we also got invited by my brother for yet another dinner :)




2016/12/06 Jennifer's Anniversary Dinner at Benu, San Francisco
π 2016-12-06 01:01 in Dining, Ndining
For Jennifer's 42th's BD, we had a very nice dinner at Benu, the other michelin 3 star restaurant in San Francisco. It was Asian inspired cooking, a mix of Japanese, Chinese, and Korean, with quite interesting ingredients for some dishes.
While expensive, it's noticeably cheaper than its rival Saison while being just as good and offering more dishes to try without coming out totally stuffed or in a sugar comma after 3 or 4 desserts :)




















2016/11/29 Live King Crab at Koi Palace with Jennifer's Parents
π 2016-11-29 01:01 in Dining, Ndining
We all love king crab, so for Jennifer's parents' visit, we went to Koi Palace, and ordered a live king crab. It was big, fresh, and expensive :)
We had them cook it 3 ways, which gave some variety in what we got to try:


nice beast ;)
nice beast ;)

fried
fried

and the rest
and the rest

Yes, that was a lot of food, we had leftovers despite 4 motivated people :) but indeed the steamed crab meat was very nice, better than frozen for sure.

2016/09/09 Dinner at Madrona Manor in Healdsburg
π 2016-09-09 01:01 in Dining, Family, Ndining
My dad and Patricia were visiting and since we went in the Healdsburg area for wine tasting, Jennifer got the good idea to have us all eat a Madrona Manor, there. It would typically be way out of the way for us, but since we were already there, it was a very good excuse to go try it out, and their excellent michelin rated tasting menu.

Their gardens and decors were very nice too:


















2016/08/25 Full Tasting Menu at Edulis in Torronto
π 2016-08-25 01:01 in Dining, Ndining
On our first night of touring Torronto, Jennifer got us a reservation for a nice tasting menu at Edulis. It was differnt from the typical tasting menus in not being too flashy, or in a restaurant that didn't seem flashy or pretentious either, but the dishes were quite interesting:








2016/08/09 7th anniversary dinner at Saison in San Francisco
π 2016-08-09 01:01 in Dining, Ndining
Jennifer found this 3 star rated michelin restaurant in San Francisco, and got us a reservation for our anniversary dinner.

We got a nice table with view on the open kitchen, which was nice:



They also had a very impressive wine list, with some wines that were over 80 years old, at prices that were related to the age :)

$14288 bottle of Château La Mission Haut Brion 1929
$14288 bottle of Château La Mission Haut Brion 1929

The tasting menu was not showy but was quite tasty:






the wild strawberries 'fraises des bois' were very good
the wild strawberries 'fraises des bois' were very good


The the food quantity was enough, but not as much as some of their competitors, the quality was very good, the only issue was the bill, which we mostly knew was going to be steeper than any restaurant we've ever eaten at around the world, but the mandated 20% tip, being no tip anymore but just an extra 20% charge on top of the bill, left a bad taste in our mouth. For comparison:

  • French Laundry: $295 (tip/service included), $325 with tax
  • Joël Robuchon full tasting menu: $320 (tax and tip included/service)
  • Saison: $398 (before tax and required 20% service not included), $517 with tax and tip/service
  • This is another way to say that Saison was 60% more expensive than 2 other excellent competitors which both had around 50% more courses in the meal.

    We got to see the bay bridge lighting on the way home:


    If you care about a longer review, here's what I posted: Sadly, I have to give this 2 stars described as "I've experienced better" when you factor in that this costs twice as much ($510 per person with tip before wines) than the nearest competition that is also extremely good .

    I'll start by saying that I've eaten in about 20 restaurants like this one around the world, including Joel Robuchon (full tasting menu), The French Laundry, and Alinea in Chicago
    Saison had very good well presented food in a casual atmosphere, but all 3 restaurants I just listed had food that was just that good, or better, and more courses. Saison was still quite good, if you have quality, you don't need quantity on top, except when the bill for the tasting menu alone is $398 per person.
    The very good wine pairing was $298 for just one person (!) and not that many dishes and pourings. The wines were well chosen and the pours were not stingy, but on top of being the most expensive tasting menu, it was also the most expensive wine pairing we've had.

    While we knew the price when we went, I think what tipped it over was:
    when we got the bill (for 2 people) a 20% tip was included on top of the entire bill (including the wine pairing), which added another $109 to the bill, just for tip. But if it's a required 20% tip, it's not a tip anymore, it should be part of the original bill, and actually some competitors already include service in the bill because it's the French way.
    So let's compare: French laundry is $270 with service included, Saison is $510 per person before wines, and don't despair, your bill has a handy line where you can add an additional tip (which I found insulting at this point).

    This is regrettable because the food was good, the service was good, but the meal was not a huge meal with so many courses you can't even count them anymore, and you turning away the dessert cart after you've already had 2 prior desserts. Charging about twice as much as the competition with a mandatory 20% tip that includes the price of alcohol just cancelled out what would otherwise have been a good experience.
    For what it's worth, we enjoyed our table that was facing the open kitchen, and again all the staff did a very good job.

    2016/07/14 2 Michelin Rated Restaurants in Tokyo: Aoyama Esaki and Narisawa
    π 2016-07-14 01:01 in Dining, Japan2016, Ndining
    While in Tokyo, Jennifer looked fancy restaurants we could eat at, and she found two that our hotel was able to make a reservation atAoyama Esaki and Narisawa:

    We went to Aoyama Esaki on thursday evening for dinner. It was a simple traditional japanese food restaurant:





    The next day, for lunch, we went to Narisawa, which was a more fancy lunch with interesting presentation, and Jennifer enjoyed a great sake pairing to go along with it:






    one of the many sakes
    one of the many sakes



    Kobe beef
    Kobe beef




    2016/04/20 Two back to back dinners at Joël Robuchon, Singapore
    π 2016-04-20 01:01 in Dining, Ndining, Singapore2016
    So it wsan't quite the plan, but I knew that Santosa Island (Singapore's Hawaii), had a Joël Robuchon. Honestly, I didn't really think we could go there due to lack of proper clothing, and no reservations.

    Turns out the day we were at Santosa, I gave them a call out of the blue, and they had room for us, so we went to l'Atelier. I naively assumed that we'd never be allowed in the real restaurant. But turns out the Atelier actually had a very good tasting menu ($200 with tax and stuff), so we took that. Honestly, it rivalled many fine restaurants we had eaten at:















    It was an excellent dinner, we barely managed to get home from there :)
    Now, the more interesting part is that I was talking with the French staff, and they told me that the main restaurant has a pretty lax dress code: no shoes, no shirt, no service :) (this is actually because weather in Singapore is truly unbearable and after 10mn outside you'll be drenched in sweat in your clothes, even at night).

    So, we made plans to go back the next day for the restaurant and their even fancier tasting menu. It had flights of dishes that came in 3, and that was a very good idea (also sped up the service and turned a 4H+ dinner into a more manageable 2.5H one).
    The menu was not any fancy molecular gastronomy, but it was a very good list of dishes, one after another. We were quite impressed:




    we got some :)
    we got some :)







    this half foie gras half beef smoked was fantastic
    this half foie gras half beef smoked was fantastic

    room for cheese? :)
    room for cheese? :)

    Then came time for dessert. It was painful by then :)





    It was an excellent meal, and apparently cheaper than the Vegas location (although still a steep bill :) )

    2015/12/23 Another Xmas with My Dad
    π 2015-12-23 01:01 in Dining, Family, Ndining
    This year, I arrived on Dec 23rd, without Jennifer who was resting at home after her ankle surgery (better recovery if she's not battling sleep deprivation due hard to beat jet lag, which would often give her a cold, and then even bacterial infection, making the trip not that fun and bad for surgery recovery). Thanks for a good enough night in the business united seat (a bit tight, but lay flat), I was not in too bad a shape when I arrived.
    We went to have some couscous when I arrived:


    Soon thereafter was Xmas Eve, and my brother and his family were invited, which gave my dad a chance to do a round of cooking for us:







    On the 29th, we went out in Paris and had a good dinner at La Fermette Marboeuf and its very nice decors:








    Soon later, for New Year's Eve, James and Lilian joined us, as well as Tata. Tata did her famous sweetbread

    admiring wall art most of which were drawn by James
    admiring wall art most of which were drawn by James



    one of the many entrées
    one of the many entrées




    one of my dad's many nice plates :)
    one of my dad's many nice plates :)


    We had a british Xmas pudding in James' honor
    We had a british Xmas pudding in James' honor


    On Jan 2nd, we went to see a musical "Irma La Douce", which was quite well acted with a few hints of today's changes into a story that's more than 50 years old:





    On the way out, we had a nice dinner close to the theatre:


    And just because we were a bit hungry still, on Jan 3rd, we went to Les Bouquinistes, they had a good tasting menu that was quite reasonably priced:






    And after a day at Google on Jan 4th, which I also used to walk around Paris a bit while weather was good, it wsa time to go home and pack for reasonably early flight on the 5th. Great to see everyone again.

    2015/08/21 Seattle Dinners
    π 2015-08-21 01:01 in Dining, Ndining
    While we were in Seattle, we tried several restaurants, some had yummy seared foie gras :)




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    2015/08/07 Anniversary Lunch at The French Laundry
    π 2015-08-07 01:01 in Dining, Ndining
    We had known about French Laundry for years, but hadn't gone so far for a combination of reasons, but mainly that it was far and ridiculous to get reservations at (well, and also because we do have plenty of excellent restaurants closer by). But, I figured that we should still go one day, so I had our excellent concierge make a reservation for us for our anniversary.

    We got an 11:00 reservation on a friday and we got there after a slightly less than 2h drive (yes, if you do the math, it was more time driving than eating at the end, but I knew that). The French Laundry had been closed for 6 months or so to destroy their kitchen and rebuild a new one. When we arrived they were working out of a temporary kitchen as the new one hasn't been built yet, but that didn't seem to have impacted the quality of the food we got.

    The welcoming and setting were good. They had a menu printed in our name, and it only had 2 options: vegetarian or non vegetarian tasting menu, both at the same price ($300 per person). The menu had 3 dishes where you could substitute a more expensive dish. As plenty others have remarked, they strangely did not have a wine pairing option, which in our opinion is a big faux pas and something that no other such restaurant we've been to, was missing.



    The food was very good, the dishes were well presented and the servers all did a very good job (service is included in the price by the way, which is the French way). In the end, my opinion was that it was very good and well executed, but not worth the 100% premium you pay over other very good restaurants with excellent tasting menus too. Part of my reasoning is also based on the fact that due to their popularity, they of course raised their prices quite a bit over time, but unfortunately also removed some dishes. We didn't come out hungry in any way, but they used to have more courses than they do now.

    Then, my last point of comparison is that they serve very good traditional French food, but it's not as fancy/different as what you'd get in a place like Baume which offers molecular gastronomy, something interesting to try, or Alinea in Chicago where the entire fancy meal is a spectacle around how it's presented and served.
    This may be why their online reviews seem to be a mix of 1's and 5's: people who've enjoyed the still great meal, and others who've eaten at other very good such restaurants in the world and don't find TFL so much better as to justify the price their charge and difficulty of getting reservations.

    Either way, we were still happy to have tried it out and cross if off our list :)

    Actually I should mention that what sets them apart is that they give you a very nice booklet that shows all the ingredients used for the meal, and how they were chosen and sourced. That was a nice touch that other restaurants we've seen, don't do.














    The dinner did finish with a bunch of desserts and sugar, maybe a bit too much for Jennifer, and borderline what I could handle :)


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