Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

Dinner at Vistamar

Among the many wonderful and memorable experiences I had while dining in Havana was a delightful dinner at Vistamar, a seafood specialty restaurant located in a quiet residential neighborhood in the Miramar district, directly along the waterfront.  The restaurant calls itself a “Paladar,” which is defined as a private, family-run restaurant operated within their home, that typically serves simply-prepared dishes using local ingredients.

The restaurant is situated on the second floor of a two-story building, in what otherwise would have been the Living Room and Dining Room of the residence, with small tables that accommodate a total of about 20 people.  Additional tables are available on the covered patio on the lower floor, adjacent to the swimming pool, for about 12 people.

The food at Vistamar was fresh, nicely prepared and well-seasoned, and handsomely plated, as well.

Paladar Vistamar is located at Calle 22HavanaCuba.


Above:  The outdoor sign of Paladar Vistamar, located in a quiet residential area of the Miramar District in Havana.  Below:  A view of the entrance to the home-based restaurant, showing the breezeway that extends to the swimming pool and ocean beyond.



Above:  The well-prepared and nicely-presented lobster main course.  Delicious!  Below:  A view of the upstairs seating and the additional poolside tables for cocktails or dining.



Above:  A view of the infinity edge of the swimming pool at Paladar Vistamar and the ocean beyond.  Below:  The second-level dining area, which maintains it low-key residential feel.



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Where is that Drink?

Where is that drink?


This classic martini was served in the luxurious and intimate jewel-box cocktail lounge at Joel Robuchon at the Mansion at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.  In addition to being Las Vegas’s only winner of 3-stars from the Michelin Guide, Joel Robuchon is the recipient of the AAA Five-Diamond Award and the Mobil Five-Star Award for 2009.

The cocktail was followed by an amazing six-course tasting menu in the small, elegantly-decorated dining room (seating around 50 people), bathed in jewel tones, that evokes the feel of being a guest in a sumptuous home, complete with residential style seating and tables, crystal vases and sculptures, and handsomely-detailed accent furniture. 


Above:  A view of the entrance to Joel Robuchon at the Mansion at MGM Grand.  Below:  A partial view of the intimate and luxuriously-furnished main dining room of Joel Robuchon. 




To view the dinner menu (in PDF) from the official Joel Robuchon website, click here.

To go to previous posts in the “Where is that Drink” series, click here.

Photos taken: 3/9/09

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At Pavilion Cafe

We stopped for a tasty casual lunch at the popular and well-known Pavilion Cafe, located in the Luce Pavilion complex of the Honolulu Academy of Arts, in Honolulu.  The Honolulu Academy of Arts, founded in 1927, is Hawaii’s premier art museum, with a collection of more than 50,000 works displayed in state-of-the-art galleries.  The original building (shown in photo at bottom) was named “Hawaii’s Best Building” by the Hawaii chapter of the American Insitute of Architecture (AIA) and is registered as a National and State Historical Site. 

The Pavilion Cafe specializes in casual, contemporary food with Asian and Mediterranean influences, as well as fresh, locally-grown produce.  The cafe’s beautiful setting– amid a large open-air courtyard with fountains, sculpture from the Academy’s collection, and a large 70-year old monkeypod tree– makes it an excellent choice for a casual lunch, snack or beverage before or after visiting the galleries.

During this visit, I enjoyed their popular Oriental Chicken Salad, which is served with Chinese won bok, green onions, Waimanalo greens, shredded roast chicken, and plum vinaigrette.  Delicious!– and one of the freshest and tastiest Oriental Chicken Salads ever!

The Pavilion Cafe is open for lunch Tuesdays through Saturdays.  Reservations are strongly recommended. 

To learn more about the Honolulu Academy of Arts, visit their official website by clicking here.  To view the seasonal menu from the Pavilion Cafe, click here.

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Where is that Drink?

Where is that drink?

This great-looking “Dirty Onion” vodka martini, which is mixed with onion juice and garnished with a pepperoncini, stuffed olive and marinated onions, was served at The Beach House, the award-winning and very popular landmark restaurant located on the beach at Koloa, on Kauai’s southern shore.  In addition to its stunning location and commanding ocean views, The Beach House has been recognized as one of the top restaurants on Kauai.  Honolulu Magazine has awarded its Hale Aina Gold Award as “Best Kauai Restaurant” to The Beach House every year since 2002.

The creative menu features a large selection of fresh fish and seafood, as well as meat and poultry.  Our dinner entrees were pan-seared sea scallops, served with baby bok choy, and grilled lamb with asparagus.   

To visit the official website of The Beach House, click here.  The Beach House is open for dinner seven days a week and reservations are strongly recommended, particularly if you want to experience dinner at sunset.  Valet parking available.

To view previous posts in the “Where is that Drink” series, click here.

Photo taken: 1/17/09

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Where is that Drink?

Where is that drink?

This martini was served in a nicely-proportioned, classic cocktail glass in the retro-chic Mister Parker’s Restaurant, the signature restaurant at the hip Parker Hotel, located in Palm Springs, CA.  The dark, intimate restaurant serves French-inspired food amidst an amazing collection of funky and fabulous mid-Century to 1970’s artwork and posters in a truly unique setting designed by Jonathan Adler

According to their website, Mister Parker’s is ”a deconstructed formal hangout for fops, flaneurs and assorted cronies.”  The restaurant is located in the Lobby of The Parker Hotel and is open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner only.  Reservations are available by phone or via

The refreshing cocktail was followed by an excellent dinner.  Among the items ordered were ahi tartare, beet salad, chilled whole artichoke, roast chicken, rack of lamb, and gnocchi.  Desserts included home-made ice creams and sorbets.

To go to previous entries in the “Where is That Drink?” series, click here.

Photo taken: 11/29/08

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Aloha, Honolulu

I recently spent five pleasant days in Honolulu and had an opportunity to visit with friends and enjoy some local food at a few favorite old haunts.  My food stops included, among others…

Mini Garden

I previously featured this long-time favorite place in a earlier post, which you can view by clicking here.  Mini Garden now operates three locations; however, my favorite is the original home at 50 North Hotel Street, where they have been in operation since 1973.  I ordered stewed noodles with roasted duck, together with a side order of choy sum with oyster sauce.  Delicious!  Lunch, dinner and late night eating.  Open seven days a week.  No reservations needed.  808-538-1273.


Ideta is a local institution that has been serving simple, no-frills Japanese food from its location at 620 Kohou Street in Honolulu for over 40 years.  Although Ideta was eclipsed many years ago by newer, flashier restaurants, it still delivers consistent, classic Japanese fare, such as butterfish misoyaki, tempura and sashimi.  Open for lunch and dinner.  Reservations accepted, but not required.  808-847-4844.

Yanagi Sushi

This popular sushi restaurant, located at 762 Kapiolani Boulevard, has been a Honolulu celebrity hangout for many years and the walls of the restaurant are lined with autographed photos of their more famous guests.  The restaurant has a large, diverse menu and serves beautifully-composed sushi platters and wonderfully fresh fish.  Full bar available.  Lunch served 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM, daily.  Dinner served 5:30 PM to 2:00 AM, Monday thru Saturday and 5:30 PM to 10:00 PM on Sundays.  Reservations recommended.  808-597-1525.


Mariposa at Neiman-Marcus

Mariposa is one of my favorite places for a meal, snack or cocktail, as well as an excellent gathering place for a group, which was the occasion for my visit last week.  They offer an imaginative menu with a smart mix of selections that appeals to both locals and visitors.  Plus, they serve the famous, enormous Neiman-Marcus popovers– yummy!  Full bar.  Lunch served from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Monday thru Saturday.  Light menu from 3:00 to 5:00 PM, daily.  Dinner served 5:00 to 9:00 PM, Sunday thru Wednesday and 5:00 to 10:00 PM, Thursday thru Sunday.  Reservations recommended.  Outdoor seating available with lovely views overlooking Ala Moana Park.  808-951-3420.

Phuket Thai Restaurant

I visited Phuket Thai Restaurant at 401 Kamakee Street, one of three locations in Honolulu, which was named Best Thai Restaurant for 2008 by Honolulu Magazine.  The restaurant serves standard Thai fare which has been adapted to appeal to a broader “western” audience.  The setting is spacious and contemporary and the staff is attentive and helpful.  Outdoor seating.  Full bar available.  Serves lunch and dinner.  Open Sunday thru Thursday, 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM and Fridays and Saturdays, 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM.  Reservations suggested.  808-591-8421.

Pavilion Cafe at the Honolulu Academy of Arts

Open-air dining is at its best at the casual Pavilion Cafe, located inside the landmark Honolulu Academy of Arts at 900 South Beretania Street in Honolulu.  I enjoyed a delicious Seared Ahi Salad, served on an amazing bed of wonderful “Waimanalo” greens– outstanding!  Lunch served Tuesday thru Saturday, 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM.  Reservations recommended.  808-532-8734.  



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Eating in NYC

One of the best things about New York City is the number and diversity of great restaurants.  And new, amazing restaurants are opening every single day; therefore, it’s a challenge to even scratch the surface of the New York dining scene.

During this visit, I was able to visit some old (and new) favorite places, including the following three:

1.  Trattoria dell Arte, located at 900 Seventh Avenue, between 56th and 57 Streets.  This is one of my all-time favorite mid-town eateries and we always stop by during our stays in New York.  They offer a large, beautiful antipasto bar where you can survey the day’s offerings and then “pick and point.”  It’s a good choice for an after-theatre meal.

2.  Pastis, located at 9 Ninth Avenue, between W 12th and W 13th Streets.  This landmark restaurant in the Meatpacking District offers good, solid breakfast fare at reasonable prices.  On a warm day, it’s an excellent place to sit outdoors with a cup of coffee.  (Our thanks to Kathy and Natalie for hosting breakfast here!)

3.  Babbo, located at 110 Waverly Place, at the northwest corner of Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.  Opened in 1998 by celebrity Chef Mario Batali, this charming restaurant in The Village serves classic Italian fare, together with an expansive list of Italian wines.  The restaurant has two levels– a lower level with a bustling bar and (rather crowded) set of tables for dining and an upper level that contains a jewelbox of a dining room, with soft, beautiful lighting and a high ceiling.  (Our thanks to Jeff and Sunda for hosting a lovely dinner here.)


Additionally, we visited Fred’s at Barneys New York and Buddakan.   Click the links to see the previous posts on these restaurants.

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Buddakan New York

A warm thank you and “mahalo” to everyone who joined us for cocktails and dinner at Buddakan New York on 9/28/08.  And our thanks to the Events Department at Starr Restaurants and the staff on duty at Buddakan on 9/28/08 for their hospitality, excellent food and attentive service.


The celebration menu. developed with the help of Starr Restaurants (shown below), featured six appetizers, three main dishes and three side dishes, served in shared, “family” style.  They were all yummy!


And thank you to the many folks who kept the party going later that evening with drinks and conversation at the legendary King Cole Bar at the landmark St. Regis Hotel, located at 2 East 55th St, at Fifth Avenue. 

 Photo taken: 9/28/08

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Fred’s at Barneys NY

One of my favorite places for lunch in NYC is Fred’s at Barneys New York, located in the flagship store on Madison Avenue at 61st St.  Tucked away on the 9th Floor, this warm and inviting restaurant is named after Fred Pressman (1923-1996), the man who transformed Barneys from a discount men’s suit shop into a chic showcase of cutting-edge design for men and women.

I ordered the chopped chicken salad, which included shredded chicken, romaine lettuce, chopped green beans, tomatoes, red onions and avocado– tossed in a delicious balsamic dressing.  It was easily one of the best salads I’ve eaten.  (And, at $23.95, it also wasn’t one of the cheapest.)  Combined with a bowl of hot chicken noodle soup, it was a terrific lunch– and a great way to wrap up my final day in New York.

On your next visit, be sure to stop by Fred’s for some nourishment (or a cocktail) after your shopping expedition at Barneys New York.  Ask for a table near one of the large windows overlooking Madison Avenue.

Barneys New York
660 Madison Avenue
Open for Lunch and Dinner
Mon - Fri: 11:30am - 9pm
Sat: 10:30am - 9pm
Sun: 10:30am - 6pm

Photos taken: 10/1/08 (except shot of interior, courtesy of Location Magazine) 

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Where is that Drink?

Where is that drink?

This beautiful martini was poured at the bar at Boxwood Cafe, one of seven London restaurants from celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay.  The hugely popular restaurant features an intimate, sleek bar and a warm, luxurious dining room bathed in dark tones.

The food and service at dinner was excellent– a real treat and a memorable evening in London.

To view previous posts in the “Where is that Drink?” series, click here.

Photos taken: 9/20/08


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The Big Easy Eats

Eating is certainly one of the highlights and most pleasurable pastimes in The Big Easy.  During my recent stay in New Orleans, I was able to enjoy great meals at both old-time favorite places, and some newly-discovered places, too.  Here’s a sampling…

Gumbo Shop

I first visited the Gumbo Shop, located at 630 St. Peter St, just one block from Jackson Square in the historic French Quarter, over 20 years ago, and immediately fell in love with their hearty and tasty Creole dishes, including their famous gumbo and etouffee.


I enjoyed a tasty and spicy bowl of etouffee, along with some cooked greens.  Yum.  A few of their recipes are available online via their website.  Click here.


Mother’s Restaurant

Last week I made my first visit to Mother’s Restaurant, a New Orleans institution since 1938, located at 401 Poydras Street, in the Central Business District (CBD), a few blocks from the French Quarter.  The restaurant is hugely popular and the waiting line for the casual “no reservations” restaurant stretched outside the door.  After entering, you place your order with the cashier, grab a table, and wait for one of their servers to bring the food to your table. 

I was eager to sample as much of their cooking as possible, so I tried the hearty combination plate– which included jambalaya, etouffee, red beans and rice, cooked greens and potato salad.  It was delicious! 

The restaurant is a colorful mix of New Orleans regulars (who seemed to have the menu memorized) and out-of-town visitors, which makes for an interesting dining experience.  As we ate, some of the folks in line peered at the food on our table and asked about the combination plate, which I eagerly recommended.  Yum!

Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar and Restaurant

While walking in the Warehouse District in New Orleans, a gallery owner recommended Lucy’s Retired Surfer’s Bar and Restaurant, located at 701 Tchoupitoulas St.  Lucy’s is a relaxed all day restaurant and bar with a funky ’60’s to ’80’s tropical, beach theme– perfect for a hearty brunch of huevos rancheros and a margarita.  The restaurant has a wonderfully laid-back atmosphere, as well as great classic breakfast fare.

Cafe DuMonde

And, of course, no visit to The Big Easy would be complete with out a pilgrimage to Cafe Du Monde, located at 1039 Decatur Street, in the heart of the French Quarter, opposite Jackson Square.   Established in 1862, Cafe Du Monde is the home of the famous New Orleans cafe au lait, made with coffee and chicory, and beignets, the hot French-style doughnuts dusted with powdered sugar.  This busy location is open 24 hours a day, year-round, except on Christmas Day. 

The combination of the cafe au lait and beignets is classic New Orleans– and a wonderful treat!  Long live New Orleans!
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K Paul’s in The Big Easy

While in New Orleans, I made another trip to K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, home of the legendary Chef Paul Prudhomme, who is widely credited with launching Louisiana Cajun cooking to national fame.  The restaurant is located at 416 Chartres Street, in the French Quarter, and just one block from the W Hotel French Quarter, where I was staying.  As always, the restaurant was filled to capacity and many folks without reservations were waiting outside with the hope of cancellations.

I had what I think was the “best ever” blackened ahi at K-Paul’s this week– beautifully cooked and beautifully served!

Long live Chef Prudhomme!

P.S.  I was so busy enjoying the delicious food that I forgot to take any photos of the delicious food, including the yummy molasses muffins and corn muffins.

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Fearing’s in Dallas

While in Dallas last week, I was able to enjoy an amazing dinner at Fearing’s, the dazzling new restaurant from Texas celebrity chef Dean Fearing, located in the rather glam Ritz-Carlton Downtown Dallas.  Dan Fearing, who is best known as the former star chef at The Mansion on Turtle Creek, in Dallas, was recruited by The Ritz-Carlton to open a signature restaurant in the hotel, which was named by Esquire Magazine as the  ”Best New Restaurant in America” in 2007.

The restaurant includes a beautiful formal bar, drenched in amber tones and dark woods.

The dining room is accessed via a long and dramatic hallway from the bar which opens into an expansive main room with high-ceilings and large windows overlooking the nicely landscaped hotel gardens.  Much of the seating is provided in the form of banquettes” for two,” which is a nice, comfy touch. 


Every memorable meal needs to be kicked-off by a wonderful cocktail (according to me, anyway).  And at Fearing’s, the meal was introduced with a beautifully-prepared martini and a long, spiral-cut twist.  Hello, Gorgeous!

A Southwestern trio, with a tomato soup shooter, made a terrific appetizer.

And the main course was an amazing Blackened Ahi, which was seared perfectly– blackened, spicy and crusty on the outside and warm and very rare on the inside.

Midway through the meal, Chef Fearing stopped by the table to welcome us to the restaurant and to ensure that we were enjoying the food.  What a nice touch of Southern hospitality.  Hats off to Fearing’s!

And here’s a view of the Ritz-Carlton and the striking floral arrangement in the Main Lobby.


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Chiang Mai Restaurant

While in Honolulu, I returned to one of my favorite Thai restaurants– Chiang Mai Thai Cuisine, located at 2239 South King St.  It remains one of Honolulu’s most popular Thai restaurants.  The food is consistently good and the service has always been welcoming and friendly.

Above is the yummy som tum (papaya salad); below, a cool refreshing Singha beer.

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Liliha Seafood Restaurant

With the closure of McCully Chop Suey in Moiliili, I’ve been searching for another restaurant that serves equally fine Oyster Sauce Chicken with Cake Noodles.  Well, I think I found a place– Liliha Seafood Restaurant, located at 1402 Liliha Street, in Honolulu. Their version include a generous portion of roasted chicken, served over cake noodles (which were perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and moist on the inside).  Yum!  Price? $4.50.  Plus, a side dish of choy sum with oyster sauce.

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Maxi Meal at Mini Garden

I made a special visit to Chinatown so I could enjoy lunch at Mini Garden, one of my most beloved restaurants in Honolulu.  I first discovered Mini Garden while walking around Chinatown looking for a place to eat with a co-worker in 1982.  And, they’re still there in the same location, serving the same tasty food, including my favorite– stewed Hong Kong-style noodles, served with roasted duck and choy sum.

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Choi’s Garden

While in Honolulu, I visited Choi’s Garden, a Korean restaurant, located at 1303 Rycroft St.  After reading some very positive reviews on the restaurant, I was eager to try it.  

Several of the reviews mentioned dol sot bi bim bap, which is a mixture of rice, mushrooms, vegetables and an egg, served in a hot stone pot.  It was delicious!  And the array of accompanying Korean side dishes were equally impressive.  Plus, the friendly staff eagerly provided refils of any of the side dishes.  Yum!

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Sushi Loca in Vegas

While in Las Vegas (Centennial Hills in Northwest Vegas) check out Sushi Loca, for tasty sushi with a modern, contemporary twist and inventive (and elaborate) sushi combinations.  The restaurant serves lunch and dinner, daily, with seating in large, comfortable booths, tables or at the central sushi bar.  In addition to a large menu of sushi, the restaurant also serves more traditional Japanese fare– teriyaki, sukiyaki, udon and soba.

Today’s tasty lunch included:

- Seaweed salad with radish sprouts
- Cucumber rolls
- Spicy tuna roll
- Spicy soft-shell crab roll

Check out the restaurant’s listing and reviews in Citysearch.

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