Champagne-fueled concept. Have you heard of anything more enticing? I couldn’t wait for this weekend to try this place. Shawn Virene, one of the guys behind another awesome restaurant that we frequent – Brasserrie 19, founded this gem. It boasts of more than 1000 wines on the list and 250+ of sparkling wines. With this nugget of info, me, Dave and our livers were set to go.
The restaurant lived up to the hype. It was already very crowded when we left. The noise level, was kinda high. All the champagne being popped certainly made the atmosphere very festive. We realized as we left that we had three different kinds of booze and none was champagne….Clearly we need to go back!!!
The food was really good. I was already expecting that because of our really good experiences at Brasserrie 19. The drinks really floored us, though. So many good selections and really affordable. As we got home, D already looked at the wine list online that knew what bottle he was going to try next!
I had a wonderful start to my Sunday as we tried this great restaurant offering the most quirky and delicious soufflés. This is the first environmentally conscious salon de soufflé that I’ve been to, utilizing renewable cork flooring, using drinking glasses made from recycled wine bottles. The “serviettes” or napkins are one-of-a-kind antique linen, made from pre-industry flax and hand-embroidered with family initials. All of the flatware is an eclectic mix of antique silver plate utensils from France.
As we paid the bill, we were already planning on what to get the next time we come here. That’s how good it was. Presentation was excellent, ingredients were topnotch and fresh, service was impeccable and execution was above par. Those are my 4 criteria for a good restaurant and Rise no 2 got it all.
Rise n°2 Salon de Soufflé and Wine bar, 1700 Post Oak Blvd #290, Houston
This is another great year for my blog. Although recipes for my cooking has gone down quite considerably, I’ve had a lot of entries from my restaurant adventures. I have actually done a lot of cooking lately but I simply don’t have the time to write. I know I should just really simplify my text and let the pictures speak for themselves. But if that were the case then all i need is just Facebook, the way everyone else does it. So I will take this extra step because, writing, although time-consuming, is a delight in itself.
I chose this restaurant because I wanted D to try the real deal Kobe beef; the one that is certified, with serial number and everything. I have lived in Japan and I cannot say enough about how they obsess over the quality of their Kobe and the measures they take to protect its quality. When Roka Akor opened, a co-food-blogger told me that this restaurant flies their Kobe from Japan. You pay through the nose (it is sold by ounce) but for the real experience, it is still cheaper than flying all the way to Japan. This is my rationalization after picking up that tab today.
This was definitely a wonderful dinner. Totally worth the splurge. When you think that the alternative is flying all the way to Tokyo and have to deal with jet lag and their teeny tiny hotel rooms….this was a steal. I don’t know how long I’ll keep telling myself this, but whatever makes me sleep at night, right?
Fueled by the success of the first true Michelin experience at Bouchon (faux first is Yauatcha-the Houston one I ate at is not starred, only the London branch is), I instantly booked my night for the The Progress. I soon realized the truth in what some chefs have been claiming about these stars…it is extremely subjective.
This is located in downtown SF and for some reason, no valet. It was our lucky night because somehow, we found a spot within the block. My Manolos breathed a sigh of relief. The restaurant is pretty. The design was clever to make what a typical SF dig would be, cramped, seem spacious.
The ordering style is unique, and if you have an open mind, could be interesting. For a fixed price, you get to choose 4 entrees. Each would be shared family-style. The way the waitress explained it was the first 2 should be chosen on the “light” section (veggies) and the next 2 from the “heavy” section (meats).
Prior to serving the entrees, there were a few things “for the table” aka appetizers. We were given three of these appetizers, which I thought was fairly generous.
Then we were on to the entree. The timing of these dishes being served were impeccable. Not a lot of wait time.
This chose a great avocado for this dish. It reminds of the avocado we have in the Philippines, more sweet than savory but still very firm.
I cannot imagine putting the marrow into the dumpling wrap, but somehow that feat was achieved in this dish.
Now this is where the “star” was achieved. Morel mushrooms are a gourmet’s delight. There are apparently people who have to “hunt” for it and takes a lot of skill because it is elusive. It tastes very meaty and earthy and most importantly, for something so packed with flavor, has only 20 calories per cup. This dish probably has 1/4 cup, so….5 calories for the win!!!
Overall, this was not a bad dining experience. Although it is a far cry from Bouchon, if you have to compare. The dishes were really creative and the ingredients, superb. The presentation is a bit dated, for lack of a better word. I love Japanese clay ware but the same kind of plate was used throughout the courses, a variety of shapes/colors would have been better. The thing I disliked most was the way the tables were so close to each other. See how the next diner was so close to me. I overheard her entire tale of Match.com misadventures…
The Progress, 1525 Fillmore Street
San Francisco CA 94115
Madera is a Michelin star restaurant in Sand Hill Road (Menlo Park)—a venture-capital office park—near Woodside, home to many tech billionaires. Surrounded by three of the wealthiest zip codes in the country, this is where techies toast as they successfully convinced us that our life would not be complete if we don’t have the latest iPhones in our hands.
You can tell from their wine book (not list), that they do take their celebrations seriously. Because you know…poverty is loss of options…so they say.
This was a lot of food. I’ve never been in a restaurant where I felt I had to order so much. But everything was exceptional so it was hard to resist. Presentation, as you can tell from the pictures, definitely above par. Great service in these kind of establishments, are a given. From the valet, to the sommelier, waitstaff and the incessant rounding of the manager, everyone worked to get us a great dining experience. This restaurant definitely deserves its star.
I have been watching this documentary in Netflix about international foodies. The term foodie has been used so loosely these days, it seems like anyone who dines out once a week calls himself that. But these people really take the term to heart. There was this guy who was able to dine on ALL three-star Michelin restaurants. There’s a hundred something of those in the world, so that really made a grand adventure! Naturally, I got jealous.
Dining in Michelin starred-restaurants is not cheap. It’s also time-consuming as it entails hopping on planes because as I mentioned, it spans the whole world. This bring up a conundrum because I have to keep a day-job to bankroll this adventure, and said day-job needs my physical self to work well enough to get paid (telemedicine developers!!! you need to chop-chop and get this technology going already). So I will have to make do with dining to as many Michelin starred places when I travel.
Bouchon is a Michelin starred restaurant in Napa Valley (Yountville). I really wanted a to go to French Laundry but the availability was too close to our flight sked, I didn’t want to risk it. Michelin 101: book in advance!!!
My mimosa was absolutely delightful, I had to ask how it was made—it’s a mix of Prosecco and Elderflower liqueur (exact brand is St. Germaine—don’t ask me how i found out, let’s just say it involved some unauthorized snooping around in their bar).
Don’t leave this place without trying the Pomme Frites. It is truffled but not from the usual truffle oil. It has actual truffle shavings! The smell is so heavenly. If Jo Malone would create a perfume remotely close this, I will be buying it!
This is actually my second choice. I wanted to try the duck but it wasn’t available this season. Like all good restaurants, they change/rotate their menu entrees from time to time.
This is light as air, well balanced by the crispy praline. Its of those dishes that individually, they’re not exceptional, but collectively, it’s a bomb.
Like my other favorites in the Bay Area, this restaurant holds a lot of good memories. I took Beans here when he was 3 years old. He did not care much for seafood so I fed him at home. While in the restaurant, the waiters were kind enough to get him some brownies for him to munch on while we were eating. But instead of eating it, he decided to break it in crumbs and scatter it all over the chairs and floor. The huge clean-up necessitated a generous tip, far more than what those stupid brownies were worth….
This has been my bench-mark on how a crab needs to be cooked. High quality crab seasoned to perfection. Worth ruining your manicure for.
When it comes to crabs, I DO NOT SHARE. So D, and to have his own.
This is what he got. Which is almost as good as my order. That thing was cooked in thre kinds of wine, what could go wrong?
I strongly advised against sharing this too.
Crustacean San Francisco
1475 Polk St San Francisco, CA 94109
I have so many good memories associated with food. That’s why I became a food blogger. For some reason, I selectively remember places and events with the food I ate with the experience. Classic example: I cannot name a single pagoda that I have been to in Thailand but I can tell you the specific street corner that sells the most amazing skewered chicken in the country (possibly the world).
Going back to Spinnaker invokes these memories. This is my favorite brunch place in Sausalito. D and I used to take Beans here back when he was just about 5 years old. He loved looking at the kayakers passing under the restaurant. This was also the place where D proudly boasted that he was able to get Beans to eat fish for the first time. The fact that the said fish got puked out in D’s brand news Mercedes later on, makes that memory even more precious.
Our favorite dessert here was cherries jubilee. We were informed that they have stopped making it due to some fire hazard decree. For crying out loud. Now I remember why I left California…. hehe.
It was great to revisit our old haunts.Even better to note that not much has changed, food-wise. Quality is always consistent. Progress requires change. But there’s nothing like familiarity that anchors you down to your history and in this fast-changing world, we need that.
The past weekend was one of nicest I’ve had in a while. I was able to do my favorite “weekend job” of partaking (and reviewing) Houston’s vibrant foodie scene. I could do this all my life, but it can barely pay for the wine that I drink. Day job to the rescue!!!
We wanted to jumpstart the weekend with wine-tasting. I had an invite at 13Celsius, but the driver/husband didn’t want to drive all the way to Downtown, so I had to cancel. We went to Beckrew Wine House instead. When we got there, they just opened. There was a big fan on the floor, an attempt to cool the room while the AC was cranking up. For my non-Houston readers, this is a big no-no. AC in Houston heat is a necessity. You. Just. Can’t. And yeah, wine while sweating through your make-up? Not cool. I wanted to rush out but D wanted to stay and be polite, so we ordered a glass of wine each and some bruschetta then fled.
We decided to go to Cru WIne Bar instead.
By Saturday, we were right on schedule. I was asked to write on an old-but-new foodie thing — chilaquiles. It is a traditional Mexican dish that has fried tortillas with green or red salsa poured over it. There is always some sort of meat on the side, usually pulled chicken. This has been popping up in social media, usually as a brunch entree. I chose to go to Field and Tides Restaurant up in the Heights. Nothing like the Heights to keep up with the young and the trendy foodies…
We did our usual trek to Trader Joe’s to forage the foods we will never get in our neck of the woods. Why, oh, why, can’t they open close to Sienna???
We picked up Beans so we can use our newly minted membership cards at iPic to watch Guardians of the Galaxy. Ipic is a movie theater with plush seating and gourmet foods.
Gourmet food? I wouldn’t go that far. All the fried things we ordered came in cold. D had a great filet mignon slider, though.
When we got home, we opened more than a week’s worth of all snail mail (because you know, we’re cool…not!) and found out we had a letter from our new HOA saying that our gate shows signs of rust and needs to be repainted. We had ten days to do it or face a fine. Tenth day is on Monday. WTF.
At the crack of dawn of Sunday, we went to Lowe’s to get all we needed to paint over the rust. There’s no way we can get someone to come in on a Sunday and do the job so we just have to MacGyver it. And MacGyver we did. We finished before 10am for less than $30. We felt that a reward was in order so we booked a table in Tasting Room.
It’s the start of the week now, the dreaded Monday. It’s pouring like crazy. Clinic is slow so I’m finding time to post this all and thank all those I needed to for all the yummy things I had this week. I should really strive harder to have more weekends like that. But for now, back to the day job….
Most women relish the idea of breakfast in bed during Mother’s Day. I don’t. The mere thought of what transpired in my kitchen to produce a mediocre waffle, coffee and orange juice makes me cringe. My favorite peeps — Beans and D— know me well enough that I would probably just wolf down the food as fast as I can so I can go clean up the crime scene in the kitchen that they left behind. So we just skip this warm and touching tradition and hop over to do the things I like best—eating and shopping.
This year, I totally forgot when Mother’s Day was. So i picked up a shift at work for this weekend in anticipation of my upcoming vacation for which I have accumulated a grand total of ZERO in terms of paid-time-off. Since I can’t do backsies once I’ve sign up to work, I had no choice but to celebrate it starting a week before while we were at Fredericksburg.
By noon, Beans was finally up and joined us. We were going to get some boots for me but the selection wasn’t very good, so we went home and I took a nap. Yes, napping is a way of celebration for me. I love napping. And I love it even more if no one disturbs me to tell me that the puppy peed out of the pee pad. So they left me alone.
After a restful nap, it was time to get some dinner. We drove over to Kerrville to dine in 1011 Bistro.
By Wednesday, I still don’t have any Mother’s Day present. It’s time to go to my mother ship—Houston Galleria. It was also a good time to check-out the Michelin star restaurant that my friend from Houston Chronicle was writing about— Yauatcha.
Yauatcha earned one Michelin star last 2005 from their Hawaii restaurant. Technically, the one here in Houston is not starred. But since none of the restaurant here are, this is the closest to the real deal. As a foodie, it is a travesty that I have not eaten at a Michelin starred restaurant. That will soon change when I go to San Francisco next month.
There’s a whole bunch of dim sum. They are a lot tinier that what you would normally get. on the flip-side, portions are diet-friendly.
In my experience, a true measure of a good Chinese restaurant is on how they cook duck.
My verdict—-ugh, so difficult to be honest. I’ve had better. This statement should be taken in a context that I am an Asian whose had an entire lifetime of eating the real deal. If this were a fusion restaurant, I would see it differently. But the dishes we ordered were hard-core Cantonese dishes, so I really have to say, I’ve had better.
Unlike most of the negative reviews I read about this place, I will not balk on price. I hate it when people do that. Their menu and their prices are online. If you find it pricey, don’t go then complain about it. Given their location, brand and decor, I think it’s priced appropriately. The service could use an improvement. I don’t get all the hype that this place generated and I don’t really see how the Michelin was garnered, but should I be shopping at the Galleria and feel like getting some dim sum , I would definitely be back.
Went to Galleria for my present. LV didn’t have my shoe size so it had to be ordered from New York. D, however, found his own present. As of press time, my shoes have not been delivered yet…